With the burgeoning of LGBT activism and acceptance in the 21st century, as well as many MOGAI identities seeping into public awareness, some people may think that the LGBT community is no longer in danger of discrimination or oppression. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although lesbians, bisexuals and gays can now serve in the military, get married and adopt kids, these are all things they couldn’t do until recently. Even today lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people are more at risk of being the victims of hate crimes than any other minority group.
Many LGBT members, still struggling in society, have debated whether or not a certain subset of the LGBT community (cisgender heteroromantic asexuals) should be included due to differences in the discrimination they face and their values as a group. It is not their lack of sexuality that caused members of the LGBT community to be discriminated against, but rather their romantic interest in others of the same sex, and gender identity that didn’t correlate with the one they were assigned at birth.
From the Holocaust when gay men were forced to bear a pink triangle as a badge of shame, to police raiding the LGBT bar “Stonewall Inn” in 1969, to the creation of the rainbow flag, to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s, to Bill Clinton’s DADT policy, and finally to president Trump in 2018 reversing the legalization of trans people in the military, things have never been easy for LGBT people. Ever since the beginning of history, exclusively people labeled as trans or gender nonconforming (GNC), bisexual, gay or lesbian have been systematically oppressed and prejudiced against.
As one can see from this quick synopsis of LGBT history and oppressive forces, it doesn’t seem to include cisgender, heteroromantic asexuals and other extensive MOGAI identities except as allies. Even though these identities existed historically without labels, asexuals haven’t been denied certain rights.
It’s true that America is a hyper-sexualized culture in which sex and romance are expected, and that is undoubtedly difficult for people not interested in intercourse to navigate. There’s no doubt that cisgender, heteroromantic asexuals have been on the receiving end of prejudice and discrimination. Corrective rape is a real horrific threat that persists today which is used to “fix” asexuals. However, this is used to “cure” LGBT people as well. In general, people pressuring and abusing others to get sex isn’t only a matter of discriminating against ones’ sexuality; it’s also matter of misogyny and rape culture.
The LGBT community was created as a safe place, a political alliance created by people who face shared experiences of homophobia and systemic oppression; people who are rejected by their families, neighborhoods and workplaces. People that are in danger of physical abuse, rape or even death.
Therefore if the LGBT community was formed with the intention of protection against societal and systemic oppression, it begs the question: are identities that don’t face this same systemic oppression welcome in LGBT safe spaces?
Additionally, even though the “A” in LGBTQIA has historically stood for “ally” (mostly added so that LGBT people could stay in the closet while accessing LGBT resources), cishet asexuals have taken a quieter part in the LGBT movement, many of them as allies.
Most cishet asexuals would argue that they don’t fit in the mold of heterosexuality. Yet some LGBT members would contend this by saying that the cishet asexual agenda doesn’t align with LGBT values and needs, such as explicitly expressing sexuality and gender identities that have been systemically repressed and criminalized.
So do people who lack a transgender identity and sexual attraction belong in the same safe spaces as people whose desire for sex and declaring their true gender identity has been outlawed and criminalized for generations?
While cishet asexuality is a valid identity and no one should be policing the labels people use, some wonder if cishet aces are fit to reside in the LGBT community, or whether the two go together like oil and water.
Photo credit: Jenna Jacobs via Unsplash