I find it kind of ironic that the storm of angry tweets insisting that aces are not welcome and do not belong not just in “queer” spaces but also “safe spaces” all started because I responded to this tweet:
“…i’m extremely confused as to why people are scared of outing themselves as asexual. I didn’t think anyone took issue with it really…?” <— I want to live in a world where this is the impression that everyone has, wouldn’t it be lovely if this was true?
My response was three tweets long, concluding with this one “and of course we’re not queer enough, heaven forbid we go to a “safe space” and expect any support. Not that I’m bitter :)”
Which opened up the flood gates of people… well, making my point for me. The argument went on for two days… yes, 2 days and involved people saying lots of terrible and ignorant things… but only two people decided to dispute any of what I said in defense of aces and below are the disputes:
“S” said that it was problematic that I said that “Heteroromantic is not the same thing as being heterosexual.” They said this is problematic because “Being hetero is being hetero. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people coined the term “straight” to describe hetero people. Hope That Helps.”
I think this is a great example of erasure. The argument is essentially that romantic orientation is the same as sexual orientation, which I guess means that the only people who can identify as asexual are people who are also aromantic? And heteroromantic aces are really just straight people who are celibate? So homoromatic aces are really just celibate homosexuals, too? Props on being able to dismiss asexual as a valid orientation in one sentence. Generally I identify as panromantic but apparently that’s the same as pansexual but the closest label you used in your list of people approved to tell other people what their orientation is would be bisexual, so I’ll go with that, and let me tell you that I can’t imagine using one sexual-minority label as licence to police, deny, and cast out other sexual minorities. A person’s romantic orientation (which you’re arguing isn’t real anyway) does not change their sexual orientation.
The next dispute was from Nona, who said that their problem was my “general misuse of the term queer.” They say this is problematic because “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.”
I find it amazing that Nona knows against whom queer has been used as a slur. This must be some new type of super power to know when and in what context a word has ever been used. Interestingly Nona does recognize that romantic orientation is separate from sexual orientation, recognizing that it’s okay for asexuals to identify as queer as long as they are homo- / bi- / pan- romantic (and thank you so much for that permission, btw). Likely most of the time aces are shamed for their orientation before coming out it’s because people assume that they’re homosexual (well if they aren’t interested in people of the opposite gender then they must be gay…) but it isn’t like the people who are tormenting you for not being heterosexual find out that you are, in fact, asexual, not homosexual, that they go “oh, okay, cool, I only wanted to harass you if you were gay, but now that I know you’re asexual I’m not going to harass you anymore.” Do you really think that’s how it goes? So yes, often I would imagine that the people who are using slurs against aces are doing it because they think they’re gay, but a) those are not the only cases, people do knowingly use slurs against aces and b) when people continue to use slurs, particularly homosexual-specific slurs like “faggot” and “dyke” against aces it’s another form of erasure which compounds the problem – I mean, how often can you get harassed for your orientation (or lack there of) and have your orientation erased at the same time? That’s gotta be good for two bingo squares. But “queer” is not a homosexual-specific slur, it’s thrown at non-cis-hetero-sexual people of all variations and to think that homosexuals have a monopoly on the “queer” market is silly. They definitely have the biggest market share but you’re also a much larger group with more recognition. I would have thought that aces responding with “Queer? Oh god, I’m not one of THEM” would have been a way more offensive response than “why yes, I am a sexual minority, what’s your problem?”
What I find interesting that links these two “disputes” is that they’re both willing to accept non-heteroromantic aces into queer spaces because heteroromantic aces are really just straight people who don’t face any discrimination, oppression, or negative consequences for being out (which makes me think you’re trying to gaslight aces). But that means they aren’t really *accepting* non-hetero-romantic aces either, because if heteroromantic aces are really just straight people, then homoromantic aces are really just gay and lesbian people. What I find amazing is that you’re saying homoromantic aces are welcome in queer safe spaces but obviously it isn’t really a safe space for even the “queerest” of us because we aren’t accepted. I’ve heard the same hurtful ignorant attacks on my orientation in queer spaces that I hear from heterosexuals and the erasure of asexuality as an orientation is the very reason that happens. If you don’t accept aces who identify as heteroromantic then you don’t really accept aces who have any other romantic orientation. You’re just using the existence of heterormantic cisgender aces as an excuse for why “safe spaces” are rarely safe for any aces.
I find it painfully ironic that in queer spaces I am still told that my sexual orientation is just a disorder, either physical or psychological, that I “just haven’t met the right person yet,” that I’m going through a phase, that I can be cured. I hardly consider a space where people feel comfortable saying those things to another person a “safe space” for anyone (and yes, they say those things to me as a polypan ace who according to both of the disputers should be accepted in the queer community, and those same things are said to trans* aces and homoromantic aces and biromantic aces, too).
There were some really excellent comments made on the first part of this dispute post, go check those out, too. Links that were shared on the first post that I particularly enjoyed include “Asexuality and the Queer Community” posted on Lashings of Ginger Beer Blog which was shared by Jenni who has a great blog post on the subject of Asexuality and Queerness, too. I also enjoyed Ace Admiral‘s post “Lazy Math” shared by SlightlyMetaphysical of Asexual Curiosities. Also some of what I’ve said here was shaped by Z’s comment on part one. Thank you to those of you who commented on part one as well as those who opted to discuss the subject via e-mail.