For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

Milking it

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.

Comments on: "Milking it" (15)

  1. Thank you for a well written post. I often want to ask, “What are we waiting for, an engraved invitation?” If you identify as queer, be queer (even if on the internet). A major point of a queer label (or the “alphabet soup”) is to collaborate, to have strength in numbers in opposing cis-heterosexual normativity. Let’s do our things, “claim it and live up to it” and stop feeding the trolls. It certainly isn’t like the B and the T in LGBT got their engraved invitations in the mail either. Yes, it sucks as an asexual to want to find safe space and not find it, and I get why people want to fight to get their point heard. But I also know that people are more likely to listen to us once they know us, not as divisive internet ranters but as collaborative queers.

  2. late comment is late…

    After hearing my and other’s experience with LGBT groups, I suspect more and more that the hateful people are predominantly concentrated online and/or that their loudness and seeking us out to attack us makes them appear far more numerous than they actually are. I’ve had brilliant experiences in my LGBT group, so have other people I know, I have heard so many stories of them being wonderfully welcoming. Obviously not everyone’s is like that, but many are (and I’m pondering whether it’d make sense to try to collect experiences to give aces a rough idea of how to make an informed guess as to how welcoming their group will be – for instance, something I’ve seen people throw back and forth is that groups that welcome trans* people are also likely to welcome ace people and I’d dearly like to know whether that’s actually true). With all the online bullshit I think people are being kept away from support in their local LGBT spaces which they could use and which they could have because they’ve been misled into thinking their local RL groups are going to be as hateful as the online folk. Which is a right shame and makes me very angry to contemplate.

    • Yeah, I’d really love to just reassure people that offline LGBT spaces really ARE fine and accessible. Except that’s a pretty big thing to claim, with limited experience.

      And out of every example of an asexual being validated in an LGBTQ space that I can think of? Maybe 1 of these takes place outside of a school/uni LGBT group (assuming yours is uni-based, and I don’t really know about Siggy, but I’m counting Jenni’s L.G.B.). And apparently non-school/uni LGBTQs are a very, very different culture that I have no second-hand asexual experience of. And it occurs to me that I really should.

  3. You’re blog is very very nice. But I just would like to add that even if LGBT groups shut the door today, if we’re unable to make them get it, it will not be forever. People change.
    Thks anyway for your words

  4. This is some of the best advice I’ve read on this subject and I whole-heartedly agree!

  5. Asexuals do deserve to get part of the LGBTQ+ groups, but I’m unsure about hetero-romantics..sorry I just find it hard to get that around my head. Unless of course they identify as trans* or other non-binary genders.

    • N, I like people to disagree with me on my blog. And, you know, dispite the fact that the last year of my life has brought me and people I know and respect more bad experiences than I’d like to remember with consonant-monikered individuals claiming to want a reasonable debate with us, and then turning round and repeatedly denying our identies, engaging in online harrassment campaigns of individuals and refusing to acknowledge anything we say, I’m still prepared to hear you speak. I’m very happy to listen to you, on the basis that yours could be the one argument that changes my mind.

      But I was thinking about this issue for years before it became a hot-button topic. I’ve written about it multiple times on this blog, and elsewhere. I’m qualified by experience to write about this BOTH by personal involvement with LGBT spaces AND by a subtle understanding of how asexual identities and experiences work, an understanding that can’t always be easily derived through a small amount of outside observation.

      Also, the opposite position, that heteroromantic aces shouldn’t be allowed in queer communities, hurts people. It leaves an (admittedly tiny) number of people without the communities they deserve, feeling broken and isolated. And it leaves the wider LGBTQ+ community, including all it’s oh-so-valued asexual members more fragmented, more bitter. And, I believe, in the “SAME-SEX ATTRACTION (or trans people)!” definition that I’ve seen countless times online, far less able to deal with the nuances of real life and able to stop being exclusive just for snobbiness than the meatspace LGBTQ+ organisations I’ve joined, where the lack of exclusionary policy creates a far more friendly and useful space, because the people who want to be there will, in the vast, vast majority of cases, be the people who have a right to be.
      We should, if we’re unsure, be asking whether there’s good reason NOT to let heteroromantics in.

      In short, if you comment saying ‘I’m not sure heteroromantic aces count as queer’, then, you know, good for you. I don’t see what you really think the world will gain from you expressing that opinion uncorroberated, though. If you give me reasons, experiences, whatever, then I will be happy to engage with those. And maybe you came along and this is your honest first reaction and you don’t realise just how much ink has been spilled over this issue, in which case, I apologise, but if you do, then I find the fact that you thought you could just comment with ‘Well *I* am unsure’ as if that *meant* anything (without associated reasons/experiences/anything else to hang a conversation on) is arrogant in the extreme. Because *I* am sure. And I have listed the relevant experiences I have that make me able to understand this issue and the logical arguments which I use to uphold my stance over and over again.

  6. bobthegirl said:

    about more than halfway through this post i finally understood that the topic was surrounding asexuals that dont support lgbtq or lgbtq not feeling accepted /closing doors to aces? correct?….and i thought, where does this happen??
    honestly i havent experienced this at all. it blows my mind. being ace and queer for so long i guess i just thought the A was silent in lgbtq :p its sad to hear this is happening anywhere at all, ever. but great post, spot on.

  7. […] Do offline stuff. Try to find out what LGBTQ stuff goes on in your area (especially, especially, if you’re a student), and turn up even if they don’t explicitly say anything about asexuality. They’ll more than likely welcome you, especially if you’re non-confrontational at first and they get to know you as a person first and an asexual second. This is a really important thing because LGBTQ groups are in a fantastic position for offline activism. Read more advice. […]

  8. […] downside is that approaching LGBTQA groups can be pretty scary. My personal opinion is that most campus groups are likely to be friendly to aces, but I have no experience with non-campus-affiliated groups. This might therefore be a harder […]

  9. Excellent confident analytical eye to get fine detail and can anticipate problems before these people occur.

  10. […] their perceptions are unfair. Sometimes they want to exclude. Sometimes there are good reasons for them to do so. We should […]

  11. […] their perceptions are unfair. Sometimes they want to exclude. Sometimes there are good reasons for them to do so. We should […]

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