Back again. Continuing reviews on Part 2 (I know, it’s long).
The part I’m talking about is titled “Society, Discrimination and Queer Communities”. In it, Julie Sondra Decker discusses the asexuals’ link to the LGBT communities and discrimination that asexual people themselves face. Homophobia, in particular is very well known and exposed in the media. Studies from respected health organisations, such as “Youth Beyond Blue” in Australia, point out that LGBT youth are statistically more vulnerable to both physical and verbal abuse due to their orienatation, perceived orientation or gender identity. I don’t deny that. However, as Decker pointed out, asexuals have faced their own battles.
One of the biggest issues facing asexuals is invisibility and not being taken seriously. I think this is a valid point. I’ve wrote before here that asexuality should be discussed in schools when talking about sexuality in PDHPE classes. Students NEED to know that it’s OK not to be interested in sex!
Another issue that was specifically mentioned in the book, and a reason why asexuals may want to link with LGBT communities, is the fact that there is a lack of asexual – specific support groups, informatoin sessions, or meetups. I’ve only read about a couple on Facebook myself, mainly in the US. Maybe this is due to a lack of awareness, but also, like I was saying before, a lack of known persecution against asexual people. The main reason wny, for example, gay clubs were formed from the 1970’s onwards, was so gay people could mingle and hang out without a fear of being attacked, or, before the 1970’s in many cases, even persecuted by law enforcement (it may be obvious, but I”m talking about people in the West. I do acknowledge that in many cases, legal prosecution of gay people is still a serious issue).
A number of asexual people identify themselves as allies to the LGBT community. Some LGBT communities are open to welcoming asexual – identified people, however, some are hesitant to welcoming them within their circles because they deem the asexual community as having “heterosexual privilege” , especially those who identify who identify as aromantic or heteroromantic. To some degree, I can see how it can be perceived. Heteroromantic and aromantic people, naturally, are not being criticised or being persecuted for being same – sex attracted, like LGB people. However, like Decker argued, it’s not the same as being straight. And even LGBT asexuals (those who are homoromantic, bi – romantic, transgender, poly/ panromantic etc), can face dismissiveness from the LGBT communities. As a blogger was quoted as saying:
I find it painfully ironic that in queer spaces I am still told that my sexual orientation is just a disorder, eihter physical or psychological, that I ‘just haven’t met the right person yet’, taht I”m going through a phase. that I can be cured. I hardly consider a space where people are feel comfortable saying those things to another person a ‘safe space’ for anyone (and yes, they so those things to a polypan ace […] and those same things are said to trans aces and homoromantic aces and biromantic aces too}.
I just want to point something out, in regard to the last quote. Many people, myself included, have a habit of lumping LGBT people together as if they’re all one in the same. However, it’s not always harmonious in these communities either. I’ve lost count, for example, of how many blog posts I’ve read about the alienation that bisexual people can face from the gay community. They are either not believed, or they are negatively stereotyped, (e.g. they can’t be in a monogamous relationship and remain faithful). Transgender people, too, face alienation from the gay community. Earlier this year, Australian model/ DJ, Ruby Rose made a video on YouTube in which she strongly criticised transphobia within the gay community. So negative attitudes are not exclusive to asexual people.
There is a misconception, too, that asexual people share in “straight privilege. As i’ve argued before, even ‘passing’ as straight has it’s own strugggles (read about it in my post here). Also, just to be clear, asexual people are NOT straight and asexuality is NOT the same as celibacy. Asexuality IS a separate orientation characterised by a lack of sexual attraction. Celibacy, on the other hand, is a choice, and that choice can be reversed most of the time. Asexuality, however, can’t be reversed. It may change, yes, but not by conscious choice. . They are part of a sexual minority. Hetero – romantic asexuals, for instance, are not straight because they are not SEXUALLY attracted to people of the opposite sex. In fact, Decker pointed out in the video, that hetero – romantic asexual couples (even married couples) can be denied adoption rights or have their marriage made annuled because of lack of sex, which, to me, is quite ridiculous.
Asexual people can face some employment and housing discrimination too, particularly in the US. In 2012, MacInnis and Hudson noted that asexual people face negative attitudes in mainstream society and even in legal matters (property, etc). These prejudices were seen as more prevalent against asexuals than LGB and heterosexuals. In the video on Asexual discrimination (which I showed in this post), Decker explained that at the time the video was being made, US states, New York and Vermont explicitly prohibited discrimination agianst asexual people on the basis of their orientation, like LGB people. She also pointed out that last year when she made the video, Texas had a bill that, if succesfully passed, would also prohibit discrimination against asexuals. Does anyone know whether this actually passed?
With all this in mind, do we need to align ourselves with the LGBT? Not necessarily. Each person to their own view on that one. But what I believe it does show is that there is problems with discrimination faced by the asexual community. Does it happen to everyone? Not necessarily. But it DOES happen.
So, that’s all for today in this post. Yes, asexual people do face their own challenges, not necessarily “worse” than other minorities, but it’s not something that should be ignored either. And I do applaud people, including members of the LGBT, (like bloggers hessianwithteeth), that do acknowledge and respect the asexual community. From me to all of you, I say ‘thank you’.