We need to stop hating on ace members of the community

Stephanie Farnsworth takes apart the acephobia in the LGBTQ+ community


The bedrock of the LGBTQ+ community wasn’t equality; it was throwing other marginalised people out for political capital. Whether it was excluding trans people from concerns around the marriage equality debates or the cis white washing of the history of Stonewall, a lot of political power still continues to be gained by oppressing the very people we’re supposed to welcome into the community. Everyone who is not cis white and gay knows this. There can’t even be a Bisexual Health Month without cis lesbians wanting to take over a portion of that time to talk about their own health. Instead of fighting for any other time but March to do so, we trample each other in a race to get attention from the cishet world. In the firing line now is the ace community.

The bedrock of the LGBTQ+ community wasn’t equality; it was throwing other marginalised people out for political capital.

There’s a simmering resentment lingering over the fact that ‘A’ does not stand for ally, because in the community we’d rather celebrate cishet people who throw us scraps than recognise the oppression and erasure of asexual people. It’s almost a blessing that no one knows what aro means because there are  no egos looking to make the sole of their boots felt.

Asexual people are routinely criticised for having the gall of identifying with the community while we hand out awards to people who don’t experience oppression, simply because they haven’t said anything mean to us. There are accusations that aces and (sometimes especially) demi folk can’t possibly identify with the community because the LGBTQ+ world was built upon the experience of the attraction to people of the same gender. It’s an argument that fundamentally and deliberately misunderstands what LGBTQ+ means. It’s also a calculated attempt to gatekeep.

It’s also a calculated attempt to gatekeep.

Trans people who are straight are just as much a part of the community, and bisexual people experience horrific mental health rates because of the stigma surrounding an attraction to people of multiple genders. Our demands for equality were founded upon the idea that we can do what we like with our lives and with our bodies – whether that means to have sex or not to have sex.

Fucking while queer can feel liberating but that’s about an individual’s reaction for being told their lust was wrong. It isn’t a statement about the wider community and we shouldn’t be putting pressure on people to fuck queer people of the same gender, unless we want to fully re-enact Orwell and turn into the puritans that oppressed us in the first place.

Sex (and alcohol) often fuels LGBTQ+ spaces. Very often it can be a triggering environment for people who may be survivors of abuse but it’s always oppressive of people who identify in any way as ace. We need different venues and a community that celebrates those who embrace sexuality across the spectrum, whether that’s gay, bisexual, pansexual and/or ace.

We need different venues and a community that celebrates those who embrace sexuality across the spectrum, whether that’s gay, bisexual, pansexual and/or ace.

Our language is sex-centric. Our status in the community is often based on how much we’ve slept around – and don’t even get me started on the ‘gold star lesbian’ concept. Sex is prized above all; we’re supposed to have quick hook ups to be autonomous but when we’re in a loving relationship then sex is also expected. There is no consideration for ace people. The idea of ace terrifies the LGBTQ+ community, as much as it draws scepticism.

For a movement that’s demanded the right to self-define, we almost never let people define as identities that we don’t agree with. We’ve long since forgotten any idea that the community was for freedom, and now the only way to be a good queer is to outdo everyone else with sex. Ace people have as much right and claim to the community as any other LGBTQ+ person. When we rank identities and assign them arbitary ‘queer’ values, then we erase the oppression that so many people face. The community was first designed to be a safe space and yet for ace people, it’s often anything but.

Follow Stephanie (@StephFarnsworth) on Twitter.

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