It’s no community if we aren’t showing solidarity to all members.
Content note for discussions of ace/aro/aphobia.
Ace and aro inclusion in the queer community is still a tense topic. Aphobia, acephobia and arophobia are often rampant. There is some support in the community, but there are also a lot of loud and angry voices which can drown out messages of solidarity. It could be overwhelming for ace and aro folx. Here are five things which should never be said to any asexual and/or aromantic person.
1) “Nobody experiences oppression for not experiencing attraction”.
This isn’t just offensive; it’s also false. A big part of queerphobia towards gay, bi and pan people is that they don’t experience exclusive attraction to people of a different gender. Being queer is about being considered an ‘other’ and asexual and aromantic people definitely fit that category. Furthermore, ace and aro people regularly experience harassment, queerphobia and hatred based upon their identities. There are also systematic stuctures in place that make life far more difficult; this ranges from it being cheaper to actually be in a relationship (and while ace and aro people can have relationships, the centring of sexual and romantic relationships in life is erasive), laws around consummation and marriage, marriage tax breaks, difficulties in having children if single, the pathologising of ace and aro identities and implication they are mental disorders or that people are somehow broken.
2) “You’re just straight really”.
It’s a phrase that has been used against basically every queer person who isn’t gay, and it really needs to stop. People know their identities. Nobody else has the right to talk over them or try to define them. Stay in your lane.
3) “Queer spaces aren’t your spaces”.
Queer spaces are ace and aro spaces too. Queer is a wide umbrella, and it should be inclusive to all of those whose gender, sex, sexuality and/or romanticism go against what is accepted in society. If queer spaces aren’t being accessible to ace and aro people, then they aren’t really queer spaces – it’s more likely they’re just for LGB people (sometimes just L or G).
4) “If you don’t like queer spaces then leave”.
This is a line that could come straight out of the UKIP playbook. Queer spaces should constantly be evaluated. We should be addressing whether they are inclusive towards all members of the queer community and that includes ace and aro people. It also means making sure they’re accessible to queer people of colour, queer sex workers, trans people and queer disabled people. Pulling up the drawbridge is a philosophy that only privileged people use to try to protect their own power. By reaching out though, we’re empowering the wider queer community and making sure nobody is left behind.
5) “Ace and aro people are oppressive to real queer people”.
Such a statement is a tactic to shift culpability from aphobic people to frame ace and aro people as inherently abusive. It is also one of the most dangerous statements that asexual and aromantic people will often hear. It is immediately erasive of their identity as a queer person, and positions asexuality and aromanticism as outside of ‘queer’ which is just not true, nor the place of alloromantic and/or allosexual people. It also ignores the arophobia, acephobia and aphobia from within the queer community. There are harmful myths, for instance, that aromantic people are oppressive because they “chuck and fuck”. This is a smear against aromantic identities. It also insinuates that people are owed romantic love, or some sort of attachment which is emotional coercion. Aromantic and asexual people are made to feel wrong for their identities, which is exactly the same oppression and hatred at the heart of all queerphobia. Ace and aro people aren’t oppressive for existing, but people who say they are actually are the ones being prejudiced.
Asexual and aromantic people have a place in the queer community – if they so choose. It should be about their choice whether to identify as part of the community or not. Nobody has any right to drive people out when they experience the same root oppressions as everyone else who is queer.
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