I’ve been browsing some of the tumblr stuff this morning. Short version: Some people are doing what looks a lot like privilege-denying- deciding that a group of people they know nothing about has no problems and no right to discuss their own experiences, and, with no sense of ironic self-awareness, using models of privilege to justify it. Some asexuals are still attempting reasonable dialogue in the face of a lot of people shouting really loudly that they’re being oppressed and ignoring all personal boundaries. I wish those asexuals luck, I don’t think I could have carried on for this long.
The main thought I want to share today is that there’s a really easy way to win this battle. We have all the tools to win right now. Because it’s important to remember firstly that these people who are so incredibly angry at the asexual overlords are a very, very small number of people right now. They’re a group of idiots on the internet in an ocean of idiots on the internet. And, secondly, that this overwhelming level of anger is easy to summon up when you’ve spent 5 minutes failing to read what someone has written. It’s harder when you’ve spent 5 minutes talking to someone.
The important thing is not really that this viewpoint is disproved. We can argue using logic all we want, but the reality is that someone who hears that asexuals are privilege-denying and oppressive will make that their default assumption about asexuals, at which point the onus of proof is on us. And often no level of evidence is enough to make someone change their mind, even if it’s a lot more than the evidence that got them believing the original thing.
So, if you, like me, don’t have the energy and determination to make a tumblr just to argue with people who will never concede an inch, here’s the top-secret plan to win this debate and get accepted into the LGBTQ community. It’s split into 2 sections, depending on how much time and energy you can commit:
1. Turn up at local LGBTQ groups (or online LGBTQ groups, I suppose, but personal connections are harder online). Introduce yourself to people. Make friends. Do it for you, primarily, and the asexual community second. Don’t be The Asexual, just be [your name], casually out. Homoromantic and trans asexuals, do this wherever the hell you want, and just make it abundantly clear that you think heteroromantics are LGBTQ as much as you are and won’t budge on the issue if it ever happens to come up in conversation. The point is not that you’re agressive and assertive, the point is that you’re normal. You’re clearly one of them. Heteroromantics, don’t loose faith. I’ve heard of heteroromantics ending up running LGBTQ groups, and the only group I have personal experience of has a heteroromantic* as one of the most regular members. A lot of people are seriously fine with all asexuals fitting under the LGBTQ banner, especially when their first interaction with an asexual is face to face.
This works best if you be yourself and remember to spend as much time talking about issues which aren’t primarily seen as asexual issues, things like trans rights and blood donation. That is, if the LGBTQ group you join is largely issue-based, and not just a socialising thing. If it’s just a socialising thing, just socialise.
*(The politics of which labels are adjectives and which are nouns is interesting here. In the same way that I have a worse reaction to the phrase ‘a Jew’ than I do to ‘a lesbian’, asexual as a noun is something I’m fine with. Heteroromantic as a noun is something I’m deeply uncomfortable with. Which I think speaks to how much this categorisation doesn’t make sense to us.)
2. Get actively involved in LGBTQ groups.
Take minutes, act as treasurer, bake a cake, co-blog, help mod a forum, come to campaigns. Organise campaigns (campaigns about LGBT stuff, not just ace stuff). Do a volunteer shift in LGBTQ charities. Be a really, really good ally to LGBT rights, even those that don’t intersect with your own. Obviously this only works if queer activism/community-building is something that appeals to you personally. But I know that one or the other is likely to appeal to a lot of the people who might read this. And the point here, by the way, is not to gain rhetorical points in arguments with trolls. We’ve given up on the trolls. The point is that every single person who sees you, knows you’re asexual and knows how hard you fight for the rights of other LGBTQ people is another person immunised from the rediculous idea that the asexual community is denying LGBT oppression. Also, that, if the topic comes up, people will be more likely to respect your right to be there as a heteroromantic, or your opinion that heteroromantic people have a right to be there.
This is about controlling the idea before it spreads. This is about acting fast and creating something positive. Because right now, the patchwork of LGBTQ communities, of LGBTQ minds, is like a long corridor of doors, one by one slamming in our faces. We can struggle really hard to open a door that’s been locked, we can sit in the hallway and bemoan the fact that the doors are slamming on us. Or we can go into the rooms which are still open. I firmly believe that to be most of them. Right now, we effectively have what we want. If we argue about getting it, people will notice and it will disappear. If we claim it and live up to it, we will have it forever.