In the last two days I received the following disputes via my anonymous submission form on my dispute page. They both stem from conversations I had on twitter two days ago regarding whether or not asexuals have the right to identify as queer.
Name (optional): S
What did I do/say/write that is problematic?: “Heteroromantic is not the same thing as being heterosexual.”
Please articulate what is problematic about what I did/said/wrote here.: Being hetero is being hetero. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people coined the term “straight” to describe hetero people. Hope That Helps.
What did I do/say/write that is problematic?: Your general misuse of the term queer.
Please articulate what is problematic about what I did/said/wrote here.: Queer is a reclaimed homophobic and transphobic slur. It can ONLY be reclaimed by those who are called it- lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* people. It CAN NOT be reclaimed or used by those it is not a slur against. It is not a slur for asexuals who are not homo, pan, poly (ect.), bi-romantic OR trans*. For those asexuals who do not experience some variation of gay attraction and who are not trans it is wildly inappropriate to identify as queer and/or demand entrance to queer safe spaces.
Now, it’s the middle of the night and I don’t plan to respond in full to these now and, honestly, I’d like to take time to think about the concerns addressed in these disputes before I answer one way or the other – particularly since I’m still a little angry from much of what was said during those arguments.
I will say that my initial response is that those arguments started because I used the word queer for myself and then for aces in general (I realize that not all aces identify as queer but really twitter isn’t a good place for elaborating). The initial arguments were that asexuals do not be long in queer spaces and should not expect to have their orientation validated, respected or accepted even (or apparently especially) in safe space. Eventually concessions were made that aces who were homo- bi- pan- romantic and trans* could be accepted but only because they face discrimination as being homo- bi- pan- romantic and trans* and not because of their ace identity (wherever on the ace spectrum they identified).
I went back to look at some of the surveys I have collected and the largest survey I have collected has 250 responses – when I applied filters to it to see how the numbers broke down for cis-gender hetero-romantic responders… there were 10. 10 out of 250. Of those 10 only 2 also marked that they identified as queer. Which makes me believe that a) the presence of hetero-romantic aces in queer spaces is pretty low, particularly compared to the number of aces who are not hetero-romantic and cis-gender. The existence of hetero-romantic aces is used as a scapegoat to explain why all asexuals are discriminated against in many “safe” and queer spaces.
But putting aside that it seems it is by and large aces who would otherwise be accepted as queer who are going to safe spaces, even if we look only at hetero-romantic aces I would still have to say that for those who identify as queer… there’s probably a reason they identify that way and it might be a really good idea to listen to why they identify that way before turning them all away wholesale because of your own misconceptions about the types of negative experiences aces (yes, including hetero-romantic aces) can and do face.
Even as a polypan ace (btw, to those of you who started using that when filling out my surveys, totally love it) I think about some of my worst moments of being shamed about my sexuality… and have never been shamed for being poly or pan-romantic… by I get shamed for being ace almost every single time I come out – in fact I only have 2 examples of not immediately being shamed and/or being told I need to see a doctor to get fixed (oh, or jokes about corrective rape, which never get old). And I would have had those experiences regardless of my romantic orientation.
In fact, many of the negative experiences I hear of are related to hetero-gender relationships that involve one or more ace. I know one of the presentations at the asex studies conference a few months ago discussed a married hetero-gender couple who were asexual who were denied their request to adopt because they explained to the social worker that they wanted to adopt because they were asexual and had no interest in reproducing biologically – and there’s no anti-discrimination laws that say she can’t discriminate based on them being asexual. More common though are cases of ace women being guilted and shamed into sexual encounters that range from rape to less-than-enthusiastic consent (and I am not saying that all sexual encounters with ace women are non-consensual though encounters which are less-than-enthusiastic do seem to be a common theme).
As of right now, at 1am on January 12th 2012 I do still feel that hetero-romantic aces can (and many do) face orientation-based discrimination which may lead them to identify with the queer community and I’m not sure why that’s a bad thing. In fact one person on twitter went so far as to say that accepting a person who identifies as hetero-romantic as queer (if they identify that way as well) is homophobic… which I don’t understand at all. They went so far as to claim that any asexual expecting to be accepted in a “queer”/safe space was being homophobic… Though I’m not sure the same person who made that case is one of the people who submitted a dispute so perhaps that should just be addressed at another time.
I’ll certainly write something later after I’ve had more time to think about this and by all means, please comment to share with me your opinions and experiences from both perspectives so that I can take other positions into account…. I’m not just sure I can, right now, fathom telling someone that they are not allowed to identify as queer despite their own individual experiences of sexual-orientation based discrimination and mistreatment at the hands of partners, strangers (who always seem to think they have the right to give you the riot act…), and medical and psychological professionals (usually with little to no training in human sexuality let alone the relatively new field of asexual studies which actual explore and generally debunk the common myths about asexuality).
I think this is all I’m going to say right now. I’ll take some time over the next two days to read any comments here and to review some of the experiences that have been shared with me via my various surveys, looking particularly at the experiences of hetero-romantic aces.