What do T.E. Lawrence, Isaac Newton, Janeane Garofalo, and Emily Brontë have in common? They identify and identified as asexuals. Like these people, I am also asexual.
Due to my self-identifying as asexual, I have experienced negative comments ranging from disbelief to amusement. I have also felt like I was not normal, and because of the negative backlash, I was afraid to tell anyone about it. There is a growing need among asexuals for a support group to discuss these experiences and feelings and the LGBTQ community has been the only support group for minority sexualities thus far.
Contrary to some beliefs, asexuality should be included under the LGBTQ umbrella because it is a minority sexuality that is ostracized by society through prejudice, discrimination, and ignorance.
There has been some defensiveness on the topic of including asexuals in the community. The use of the Q, for “queer” within LGBTQ, to describe asexuals has been opposed by some members on the grounds that the gay rights movement has been active in fighting for their rights while asexuals have remained silent.
They have also argued that asexuals have not faced discrimination or prejudice, and, even if they have, theirs is not as bad as prejudice faced by the LGBTQ community.
The community uses the term “queer” to describe sexual minorities that have been stigmatized by society; asexuality fits this description. Our society is obsessed with sex, and consequently, asexuality is often regarded as non-existent or abnormal. Asexual people are, therefore, as excluded from the social norm of heterosexuality as gay, lesbian, or transgendered people. In fact, this exclusion and isolation is more apparent with asexuals as they only make up one per cent of the population.
With this exclusion and isolation, asexuals also share the process of “coming out.” As I noted before, we share the same feelings and experiences of doubt and discrimination.
Furthermore, asexuals can help the LGBTQ community gain more social acceptance of alternative lifestyles through their support. David Jay, the founder of Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), argues that 90 to 95 percent of “aces” are either supporters of the LGBTQ community or define themselves as LGBTQ. I, myself, am among one of these supporters.
The argument of the lack of discrimination or prejudice towards asexuals by some members of the LGBTQ is wrong, as asexuals have experienced rape and death threats, corrective rape, and sexual assault.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, asexual activist and blogger Julie Decker recalled an incident where a male friend tried to “fix” her by sexual assault. Decker also noted the death and rape threats she has received by online commentators on Youtube and her blog. In my own experience, the mantra “all he/she needs is a good raping” is an all-too-commonplace response to asexuality on the web.
It is important that asexuality gets the recognition and respect it deserves within the increasingly tolerant world of the 21st century. Most of all, though, asexuals need support from a community. This awareness, tolerance and support can only come through the strong foundations of the LGBTQ community.