A few days ago I made a short series of tweets:
If you want a zine/panel/guidelines/etc to be welcoming & encouraging of asexuality- & aromantic-spectrum people you CAN'T rely on "queer".
— Penny Stirling (@numbatwoman) April 23, 2015
So. Before I talk about this some more, here are some quotes that I’ve seen in just the last few weeks:
“deeply uncomfortable with asexuals being treated as part of the LGBT community and acronym”
“I DO NOT think that being ace and/or aromantic or by extension any of the other things you mentioned get the specific right to call themselves “Queer””
“asexuality is not queer because it is not in and of itself a queer identity since it doesn’t require same sex attraction or pertain to gender identity”
“many queer people are really offended by asexuality trying to claim queer”
“being asexual definitely does not make you queer. being queer makes you queer. i’m not saying asexuals don’t have struggles, i’m saying they don’t have queer struggles because of their asexuality.”
“I think that part of the issue that some members of the LGBTQ community has with asexuality is that some asexuals sometimes want to fall under the LGBTQ umbrella and some gay/queer/trans* folks see that as an appropriation of their struggle.”
“Well, and, regardless of oppression faced by asexuals, queer people have a right to our community; others don’t have some right to bust in on something we built whether or not they face oppression. (I hope it’s obvious that I don’t mean to exclude asexual people who are queer.)”
“LGBT is not a group of ‘sexual minorities’. It’s a group bonded by homosexuality and gender nonconformity. Period.”
“Are you homosexual in any way? Are you trans in any way? No? THEN YOU ARE NOT QUEER. END OF STORY.”
If you want to be welcoming of asexuality- and aromantic-spectrum people, if you want to encourage ace and aro and demi and grey and wtf people to submit stories, to attend panels, to trust and support you, if you want to receive stories about characters who fall under the A, you cannot assume that “queer” will be encouraging to us. We’ve experienced shit from the queer community for being asexual and/or aromantic, we’ve been told that we don’t count as queer, that it’s offensive for us to count as queer. We’ve been welcomed only if we “are actually queer”, i.e. non-hetero or non-cis, which means completely ignoring an important part of our identity. (Then again, even non-hetero and non-cis ace/aros can get told they’re not welcome!)
If you use “queer” or “LGBTQ”, I don’t know whether you’re welcoming of ace and aro or whether you’re very much not welcoming of ace and aro. You might entirely disagree with the sort of sentiment I quoted above, you might have no idea that such sentiment exists — but I don’t know that if you don’t say that. All I see is a Q, and I’ve been told time and time again that I don’t belong there.
(If you use something like “LBGT” or “LBGTI” then I am going to assume you’re not welcoming of me! Because. Hah…)
If you definitely want to be welcoming, add an A to your acronym, or include “asexual and aromantic” in your list.