We need to recognize those who are underappreciated and misunderstood in the LGBTQIA+ community in this time of need, including the A. It’s time for us to get our letter back.
In an infuriating but unsurprising turn of events, Florida recently proposed an anti-LGBTQIA+ bill that, if enacted, will restrict discussions of sexual and gender identity in classrooms. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill would ban schools from having open and honest lessons about LGBTQIA+ oppression, history, and identities. Clearly, feminists will be in this battle for the long haul, as at least seven states have introduced bills similar to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would limit and silence LGBTQIA+ struggles and issues. discussed in schools. With growing concerns about what this could mean for LGBT youth in these states, we must recognize those who are underappreciated and misunderstood in the LGBTQIA+ community in this time of need, including the A.
For too long, the asexual community, or as, has been invisible to feminist and queer movements. While questions about class, race, gender, and the LGBT+ community are valid and important, queer feminists often forget the “+” at the end of the acronym. And when we’re not just a “+”, we don’t even have our letter. That’s right, the “A” in LGBTQIA+ stands for asexual (and aromantic, agender and androgynous, we see you too!). It’s time for us to get our letter back.
Most people have heard of lesbian, gay, trans, and queer, but a surprisingly small number know what asexuality is when we don’t talk about how cells reproduce in biology. For those who know about asexuality, they often don’t explain it correctly or misunderstand it. However, this is often due to our lack of visibility of these movements, so these well-meaning feminists unfortunately lack guidance. In simple terms, asexuality refers to the absence, rare/weak or conditional feeling of sexual attraction.
Asexuality can be used as an identity term and shortened to “ace”, or it can be used as an umbrella term because asexuality is a spectrum. For example, those who experience no/rare sexual attraction may identify as aces, those who experience rare/low sexual attraction may identify themselves as greysexual/grey sexual/ace grey, and demisexual/half asexual/half ace refers to those who need a strong emotional/intimate connection to someone before sexual attraction is a possibility. People who identify on the asexual spectrum, or the acespec, may be collectively referred to as acespecs or simply as. Those who experience sexual attraction are called queer, or simply allo. Queers would include pansexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals and more.
It is important to note that asexuality is different from libido, arousal, celibacy or abstinence. Asexuality is not a way of life. We all have different attitudes toward sexual activity, which can be broken down into three general dynamics: sex-friendly, sex-neutral, and sex-averse. Sex-friendly people can participate in sexual activities and enjoy them. Gender-neutral aces can be open to sexual activity. Aces who have an aversion to sex may not want to participate in or dislike sexual activities. There are as many ways to be an ace as there are aces.
Our experiences as aces are very different from allos. As Ela Przybylo mentioned in her book Asexual eroticism, aces struggle to be recognized as a valid sexual and queer identity. Our invisibility has created room for misrepresentations and misconceptions (both intentional and unintentional) about our identities and realities. The culture and experiences of aces are often not explored or considered in feminist and queer writing, according to KJ Cerankowski and Megan Milks’ article “New Directions: Asexuality and Its Implications for Theory and Practice”. “.
For this reason, it is vital that allos stand in solidarity with us, include our voices in conversations about sexuality and center them in those about asexuality, and acknowledge their limited viewpoints as allos. Most importantly, allo feminists need to form coalitions with the ace community to not only help us be more visible and amplify our voices, but to shape the ever-evolving feminist movement to be better and more inclusive.
These issues will only get worse with bills targeting the LGBTQIA+ community, and the aces could be pushed into the shadow of invisibility. We cannot and will not let this happen. We must lead the way in addressing harmful discourses, create a space where none are given to us, and not be afraid to be visible in a heteropatriarchal society that tries to make us disappear. I’m the one inviting myself to the feminist table as an ace, and for the other aces who need it, I’m the one formally inviting you to the table as well. So get out your folding chairs and sit down. We have cake.
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