Thursday, May 8, 2014

Putting the cart before the horse: homophobic but ace-positive

This post was crossposted on The Asexual Agenda.

Last week's linkspam saw an article about asexuality on Conservapedia.  Among other things, the article notes AVEN's "alliance" with the GLBTQ community.  You know what's coming next:
This ignores the fact that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian sexual desires but does not condemn asexuality (so long as it is not a form that substitutes sexual self-stimulation for sexual relations between man and wife).
Conservapedia is a US Christian conservative wiki which has already been widely criticized for many years.  I think it is giving too much credit to Conservapedia to talk about this one article (which is the work of only one editor in any case).  Nonetheless, the article reflects some of my fears about how asexual visibility goes over among American conservative, LGBT-negative audiences.

To the point, having people accept asexuality, but not gay and lesbian people seems wrong.  Almost as wrong as accepting asexuality but not accepting asexuals who like self-stimulation.  Like they haven't accepted asexuality at all.

But hold that thought for a moment, as I critically examine it.

It seems absurd to suggest that every social movement should wait for every other.  Should asexuals wait for people with autism?  Should people with autism wait for black women in the US?  Should black women in the US wait for black women in Africa?  Should black women in Africa wait for submissive men?  Should submissive men wait for people who can't find jobs?  Should people who can't find jobs wait for asexuals?  Demanding that every social change should wait for every other is really a way to demand we keep the status quo.

It's also worth noting that it doesn't go both ways.  Accepting asexuality without accepting homosexuality seems gross to me, but accepting homosexuality without learning about asexuality seems like a small step forward.   It's fine when people learn about bisexuality before asexuality, but when people at an ace workshop ask what bisexuality is, I mentally facepalm.  But isn't this just reinforcing the power structure in the queer movement, putting gay and lesbian people at top (despite them neither having the most problems nor being the most numerous)?  Or is it perhaps expressing the prejudice that asexuality is "complicated" while gay men are "simple"?

I submit that the ordering is partially based on practical considerations. Gay and lesbian activism is much older and more widespread than asexual activism.

But aside from that, it just goes against our whole messaging.  To start, we don't want to be put on a pedestal.  That includes homo/bi/pan- romantic aces, who do not want to be put on a pedestal just because they are not homo/bi/pan- sexual instead.  (Plus some of them may seek homo/bi/pan- sexual partners, and may even have sex with them.)

Another thing is, we are not just a community of asexuals.  We also harbor many who are Unsure or Ambiguous.  People think that an asexual identity might be stifling, as if it prevented people from exploring their sexuality.  Asexuality is not stifling, but you know what is?  Not accepting homosexuality or same-sex sexual behavior, dammit.

I am grateful that I don't have to spend any time spreading asexual visibility among LGB-negative conservatives.  If anyone has tried educating LGB-negative conservatives, I'd like to hear from you.  Is it as frustrating as I imagine?