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Aranea

Heteroromantic Asexuals: Are They "Straight"?

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Aranea

TW: brief mention of the q-slur.

There is a lot of discussion on tumblr about asexuality; specifically, heteroromantic asexuals. The discussions on that site are mostly negative and quite mean, and I don't recommend searching the tags for anything related to asexuality. Firstly, an argument was posed that (cis)heteroromantic asexuals cannot identify as/reclaim the word "queer" due to its historic target audience when used as a derogatory term (gay and trans individuals). Secondly - and the argument this topic is about - is that heteroromantic asexuals are straight asexuals.

As a het ace, being called straight is a nightmare. I don't identify as straight. I don't feel the sexual attraction necessary to be straight (to my own understanding this is heteroromantic heterosexual). Therefore, I am not straight. Perspectives on straight people in the LGBTQIAP+ community are already negative due to heteronormativity, heterosexism, etc. I don't want to be lumped in with a group with entire straight privilege. While I absolutely acknowledged that I have straight-passing privilege - like many other people in the community do, depending on how they present and the gender of the person they date at a given time - I still don't consider myself straight. The argument for het aces being straight seems to be that the definition of "straight" is exclusive attraction to the opposite gender. Does this include solely romantic attraction? sexual attraction? For me, it's absolutely both.

Countering the het ace =/= straight argument is a question of whether or not a homoromantic asexual is gay or not. In my own opinion, however they identify is what matters. I would call them gay myself, and in that regard I can see where the assumption comes from. This person is strictly "into" their same gender. And yet, that tricky, illusive "asexual" comes into play, and the question becomes whether or not they identify themselves as gay, or as asexual, or as something else entirely. Thus, the issue - and answer - comes down to self-identification and the invalidation asexuals experience from within the community on a daily basis.

I can see and understand why people say het aces are straight, but the entire discussion is full of bullying and disrespecting labels. Perhaps I'm taking it too personally because I associate straight as not good within the community. However, the discussion is also, yet again, a prevalent issue of whether or not asexuals are oppressed enough to "count"; and those who have established places in the queer community, distinguished from heterosexuals, continue to label asexuals and talk about their place in the community without consideration of asexual opinions. All in all, the issue is full of problems. Being called straight over and over by users on the website actually caused me to break down crying a few times the other day, and now even seeing it mentioned on that site gives me an anxiety attack. I want to have a civil conversation there, but I know it won't happen. So, like most ace issues, I come to you all.

What are your opinions? Are het aces "straight" asexuals? Can you be "straight" and be in the LGBTQIAP+ community? What do you think of the homoromantic asexual situation, and can the same logic be applied (heteroro = straight, homoro = gay)? What do you think about the community's treatment and discussion of asexuals and asexuality, namely do you see a problem with how the topics are approached?

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Philip027

I consider myself to be, yeah. For me the whole straight/gay thing applies more in my head to romantic orientation rather than sexual.

Even before I learned of asexuality, I'd always considered myself "straight, but not in a sexual way"

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Lost247365

I agree with you OP.

Like I said in a similar thread:

When I think of the word straight I think of someone who directly follows the sexuality of the average person. Anyone who does not have an orientations (or sexuality) "inline" with the majority don't qualify as straight in my opinion.


In fact, I think we are even more different from straight people than homosexuals or bisexuals or pansexuals or anyone in between. All of those people still desire sex. We don't. We are the opposite of that. In my opinion we are more categorically different than all of them in the most fundamental of ways possible.

I think that the reason that it feels like we could be called straight is because since sexual, romantic, aesthetic, and sensual attractions and desires are synchronized for the majority of people they have the privilege of thinking they are the same. We don't have that privilege, and accepting the term "straight" allows for us to be further misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized. It allows for people to think there is something wrong with us as opposed to spontaneously occurring variation in sexuality.

In my mind we are the complete opposite of the word "straight."

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Elluna Hellen

In essence, I think they're not straight, because sexual orientation is defined by sexual, not romantic, attraction. (I.... I think?)

But if someone wants to define it differently and call themselves straight, they are free to do so, too.

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Philip027
In essence, I think they're not straight, because sexual orientation is defined by sexual, not romantic, attraction. (I.... I think?)

The thing is, most people aren't even aware there is such a thing as a "romantic orientation"

I think that if it was more common knowledge, people wouldn't automatically be interpreting "straight" as "heterosexual"

Well, some probably still would, but a distinction would still be made.

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Mysticus Insanus

IMO, aromantic heterosexuals are straight, but heteroromantic aces aren't. It's about the sexuality, not the romance.

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Confusion 0

Why does it have to boil down to sexuality? Why? When I call myself straight, sexual attraction doesn't even come into the equasion.

... Besides, even if your definition of 'straight' is to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex, I still technically count.

Edit: Since this post is still being read, I'd like to point out that since I made this post, I've realised that I'm not sexually attracted to anyone. But I still call myself straight nonetheless.

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Mor

I see being "straight" as heteroromantic heterosexual, so I'd say any variation on that with romantic and sexual orientations not "matching" as such - heteroromantic asexuals, homoromantic asexuals etc., I wouldn't see them as straight, no. Then again, it's up to people to choose how to identify, so if a heteroromantic asexual for example felt that they're straight and decided to identify as such, then I wouldn't really have any issue with that.

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Hazelton

When I'm asked if I'm straight, I will usually say yes. Mainly because I have no interest in describing asexuality or answering questions about it, but also because it's kind of a personal question to ask and it's none of their business. Technically I probably do count as 'straight', just not in the normal sense.

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Philip027

To clarify my stance some, I view "straight" as "you look toward the opposite sex for relationship partners, whether sexual or romantic or otherwise"

Which I do, despite being asexual.

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SkyWorld

It seems to me to be more of an individual thing. If a heteroromantic asexual consider themselves to be straight, then that's fine. If they don't consider themselves to be straight, then that's fine too.

Though I can't help but think of straight as heterosexual... it's what I'm used to since it's more commonly referred to such, as well as gay and lesbian being referred to as homosexual. Though, I try to avoid saying terms such as straight, gay, or lesbian, because it just makes it confusing as to whether or not I'm talking about sexuality or romanticism (or both). With me saying what it is with the technical terms (such as saying (hetero/homo)sexual and (hetero/homo)romantic), it kind of spares the debate whether an asexual would consider themselves straight, gay, or lesbian... despite using the technical terms can be a mouthful sometimes.

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noparlpf

Basically exactly what Lost247365 said. I feel so different from straight people (especially straight cis men, ew) that I can't identify as straight. (Plus I'm only barely not aro/ace anyway, so whatever.)

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Busrider

IDK who has more "rights" to which term. - I'm male. Looking at the homophobics around me - I fear they are still the majority - I guess sorting heteroromantic asexuals under the straight umbrella makes sense. - its not too hard to play a straight prude with dusty manners and at least it will avoid a homophobic stampede.

I can also see how all asexuals have things in common with the LGBT scene, but as long as we don't look queer in the public eye (which should stay outside everybody's bedroom), why would we really belong there? - If I'd hit a gay bar again, I'd apollogize early to be "straight & thirsty" for simplicity's sake.

I'm not out & proud so my POV might not be mainstream. But back to the gay bar: If your neighbor was 6 beer ahead of you, would it really make sense to elaborate about asexuality as an independent orientation?

Sadly there is no social role like "fag hag" for guys yet.

I think we can occupy the sexuals' terms since the sexuality is hidden from society? - If I desired to hold another guy's hand in the sunset I'd label myself "gay", since folks would frown upon me like on any sexual gay.

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KendraPM

I consider myself straight. For me, "straight" means I only seek out romantic and/or sexual relationships with people of the opposite sex. Regardless of my reasoning behind it, regardless of my full orientation, I consider straight, gay, bi, and pan to be umbrella terms that are the simplest forms of a persons whole orientation. (By whole orientation, I mean all 5; sexual, aesthetic, sensual, romantic and platonic.) If one engages in romantic and/or sexual relationship (including QPR's) with only people of the opposite gender, than I consider them straight. Same goes for if they only get involved in romantic and/or sexual relationships with people of the same gender, I consider them gay. (There are exceptions to this, if a person claims a different label, than I respect their wishes, but since the majority of people I've met don't have a preference, I go with the umbrella terms.)

But, after all that, I can see why it would be an issue for some people. The terms "straight," "gay," "bi," and "pan" all give off this idea that the person is that way all across the board. That the four areas of attraction that determine romantic/sexual relationships are all the same, and that's simply not true.

Most of Tumblr has the concept wrong I've noticed. Asexuals, whether straight, gay, bi or pan, are part of the LGBTQA community. I won't go into it all, but anyone who says that asexuals haven't experienced the same prejudices and outlash that the rest of the queer community has needs to open a history book.

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Ms.Frankenstein

I consider myself somewhere on the fuzzy line between straight and not. I don't care if someone calls me straight, unless they're doing it to degrade me or play "oppression Olympics" which is a game I refuse to engage in.

This debacle is the biggest reason why I don't consider myself a part of the LGBTQA++++howmanylettersaretherenowIlosttrack community. I don't see why I should fight to be included in a group that doesn't want me in there, and many of them don't.

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ColdFish

Mmmm. I've lived my life straight.

But recently grasping "ace" and feeling so right with it - I look back - I had just as much lesbian attraction as I did hetero. And I loved androgynous men. But I only ever formed bonds or relationships with men. I'd rather look at women than men. Aesthetically.

If I were not in a relationship (marriage) now, I doubt I would form another. Partnerships, perhaps. Romance? Less likely. Sex? Not at all.

Q? Sure. Why not? Is there some sort of club you have to join, an acceptance committee, or membership card to Qualify to be Q?

I reckon, if you identify as Q, you are. Otherwise, you're not.

It kinda helps me to identify as Q. Just because I'm Cold Fish. I'm not like most of the people I know. Maybe I'm more like a child, maybe I'm a wise old woman. But I'm the only one I know in my circles who clearly identifies with "Ace." So why not Q? Likewise, if someone calls me "straight," it ain't gonna get my hackles up! Whatever! I'm a complex being! There's lots of labels you could put on me, I can't be bothered to take them personally.

Ms. Frankenstein, I laughed at your howmanylettersarethernow/losttrack community! Yep. Whatever!

Ask you heart. That's what you are.

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anon.

Ahhh this is complicated. I think heteroromantic aces are at an "advantage" as compared to the rest of asexuals, but still at a serious disadvantage when compared to normal sexuals.

The way I see it -- and please, no one take this the wrong way -- I would honestly rather be gay than asexual. I'm a huge romantic at heart -- I would kill (not literally) for the chance to fall in love "normally." Sad to say, I care more about romance than I do about money or literally anything....and let me tell you, money is incredibly high on that list. (lol yes, I'm a tad shallow...I admit it)

I do think being gay, you face significantly more blatant discrimination, but honestly, I think part of that is because more than half the world doesn't even know asexuality exists to begin with or if they do know, they don't recognize it's existence. Do I think heteroromantics would face more discrimination than homosexuals, if the aforementioned conditions were met? lmao no of course not. I just think that the gap would be significantly less wide, such that calling heteroromantic aces "straight" (after being privilege to the knowledge that they're ace) would be the apparent insult a lot take it for.

All of that being said, I honestly think just labeling homoromantic asexuals as "gay," is also a bit insulting to them. Because their problems are significantly higher than being gay, as from what I've heard and discussed with a few gay friends, the community is incredibly sexual.

Now, all of that out of the way (and I've said the next bit in a previous section), I do function in society as "straight." I don't mind, and I don't find it insulting because I'm purposely doing it. But what I do find insulting is when someone tells me "oh shuddup, you're straight," after I've explicitly told them I'm asexual (although I have yet to fully commit to that label for reasons).

The way I see it: For anyone that's in the community to actually say heteroromantic aces are completely straight, well you've just gone and erased asexual from the 'big' four orientations. You can't have it both ways -- say that asexuality is it's own orientation, and then (in the same breath) say that heteroromantic aces are straight, which under common definition, is defined as heterosexual.

*the 'big' 4 orientations I was talking about: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual. I don't mean to 'erase' the others, as I know that pansexual, etc. also exists. This is just the most convenient way to refer to it when talking to "normal" sexuals. One, both or neither.

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scarletlatitude

Hmmm... this is one of those times when labels are tricky. I do agree that saying heteroromantics are straight kind of erases asexuality, because most people don't know the difference between sexuality and romanticism. But I can also see how the label fits, because in essence you are attracted to the opposite sex, which is what hetero means. (Literally, the prefix hetero means "different".)

It really does boil down to your individual preference and which label you like.

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Rising Sun

It's totally possible to combine "straight" and "asexual" so I don't see where the problem is. Plus, being straight-something doesn't protect from discrimination or bullying because of other elements. Being straight in some or all areas doesn't erase all other possible identities that can be combined with it. A good example used in another topic is that someone can be both straight and transgender, and their straight label doesn't erase their transgender identity at all.

In the end, using the "straight" label or not is the person's choice, exactly like the "queer" label. If the person wants to use the word "straight" as a label, that's fine. if the person refuses it, that's fine too. The only thing that's not OK is forcing or forbidding others to use it, even when they use the words in strange ways (it's always useful to remind definitions though).

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Philip027

Hmmm... this is one of those times when labels are tricky. I do agree that saying heteroromantics are straight kind of erases asexuality, because most people don't know the difference between sexuality and romanticism. But I can also see how the label fits, because in essence you are attracted to the opposite sex, which is what hetero means. (Literally, the prefix hetero means "different".)

It really does boil down to your individual preference and which label you like.

For me, I identify stronger with my romantic orientation than my sexual one (or lack thereof), so how I respond to the whole "straight" term makes sense for me.

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Sgt Salt

In my opinion? Heteroromantic asexual people are straight. Tagging on the "ace" at the end is how you prevent from erasing your asexuality.

The issue on tumblr right now is straight ace people trying to claim they are allowed to use the word "queer" when they're not (unless they're trans). They're straight. They can't use the word queer.

Discrimination against gay people isn't based on what they do in bed. No homophobic person sees two gay people holding hands and think, "But maybe they're really asexual and just homoromantic, I should lay off." The assumption with any couple is that they're having sex, and although that is a wrong assumption, it still does not change the fact that gay people, whether they're homoromantic or homosexual, are the target of discrimination. Not straight people.

It doesn't matter if someone has had sex with their partner or not. In a homophobic world like ours, doing something as minimal as holding hands can trigger terrifying consequences. Of course, in countries like America, it's gotten considerably better within the last 50 years, but in other parts of the world, it's still illegal to be gay. And it does not matter if you're homoromantic asexual, the mere fact that you experience any form of attraction towards the same gender automatically labels you as gay and you are now at risk.

I identify as a gay asexual. Saying that "straight asexual" isn't correct erases the experiences of people like me (I've personally never been a relationship, but I still have felt hostility towards the fact the identify as male and am attracted to men). There are far more important things than to be sitting around debating over whether or not it's okay to call heteroromantic asexual people straight or not when your homoromantic counterparts are suffering from homophobia - even though they are ace.

Being asexual isn't a trigger for violence a large majority of the time or legal discrimination. Erasing asexuality is frustrating, yes, but it doesn't change the fact that society is far more comfortable with you never having sex with your partner of the opposite gender than you just having a partner of the same gender in the first place.

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FictoVore.

I've seen (some) homosexual people slamming homoromantic asexuals online, for calling themselves lesbian or gay. They argue that ''lesbian'' for example entails ''a desire for sexual relationships with other women'' so one would be giving people false information by identifying as lesbian, when they don't actually want a 'normal' sexual relationship with anyone (normal meaning that both partners want sex, not one partner wants sex and the other compromises, or doesn't give sex at all) ..Many sexual people are not looking for romantic relationships like that and would want to know outright if that's the sort of relationship another person (who would otherwise be potential partner material) wants.

And I know I'd hate to be labelled ''straight'' ''gay'' ''bi'' or ''pan'' as to me, all of those entail sexuality (who I want to have sex with) .. I'm panaesthtic and grey-panromantic, I don't want to have sex with people of any genders/lack thereof though.

Of course it's up to the individual to decide how they want to identify, obviously there is a strong possibility not everyone will agree though.

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Philip027
I've seen (some) homosexual people slamming homoromantic asexuals online, for calling themselves lesbian or gay. They argue that ''lesbian'' for example entails ''a desire for sexual relationships with other women'' so one would be giving people false information by identifying as lesbian, when they don't actually want a 'normal' sexual relationship with anyone (normal meaning that both partners want sex, not one partner wants sex and the other compromises, or doesn't give sex at all)

If I had people doing this to me, I'd be telling them, tough shit. Everyone wants different things out of their relationships; no two people are alike.

People need to learn to get to know one another before just assuming they are in identical boats.

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Ms.Frankenstein

I've seen (some) homosexual people slamming homoromantic asexuals online, for calling themselves lesbian or gay. They argue that ''lesbian'' for example entails ''a desire for sexual relationships with other women'' so one would be giving people false information by identifying as lesbian, when they don't actually want a 'normal' sexual relationship with anyone (normal meaning that both partners want sex, not one partner wants sex and the other compromises, or doesn't give sex at all)

If I had people doing this to me, I'd be telling them, tough shit. Everyone wants different things out of their relationships; no two people are alike.

People need to learn to get to know one another before just assuming they are in identical boats.

My feelings exactly. No one gets to tell me what words I can and can't use to describe myself. They can try... But they won't like the response.

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Reptillian

Let me ask every one of you. Okay, you meet in the street, and you wanted to know if I like women, and I respond. You know that I am cis at that point. That being said, how I respond is on the line of...

"Well, I like looking at women, and I also like the beautiful voice of some women. I can adore looking at their hips, their chest, and I am attracted to them from a aesthetic perspective. But all, in all, I am not a man that participates into sex or romance, and I like them strongly from a distance and it can be as strong as any heterosexual man would like a woman. I don't mind a platonic relationship which can be seen as sexual to the outside viewer with a woman, and I have been there, and we been obviously looking at each other up and down that way even if she was near her boyfriend. "

Would you think of me as straight? Would a random person think of me as straight?

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Cimmerian

What are your opinions? Are het aces "straight" asexuals? Can you be "straight" and be in the LGBTQIAP+ community? What do you think of the homoromantic asexual situation, and can the same logic be applied (heteroro = straight, homoro = gay)? What do you think about the community's treatment and discussion of asexuals and asexuality, namely do you see a problem with how the topics are approached?

I do consider heteromantic aces "straight", but I also don't have a negative connotation attached to straight individuals-- and the majority of those from the LGBTQ community whom I've been around also aren't negative to/about straight people.

I personally put more emphasis on romantic orientations than sexual ones because that is what matters most to me when dealing with other people, so yes homromantic= gay and hetero-romantic= straight for me.

Let me ask every one of you. Okay, you meet in the street, and you wanted to know if I like women, and I respond. You know that I am cis at that point. That being said, how I respond is on the line of...

"Well, I like looking at women, and I also like the beautiful voice of some women. I can adore looking at their hips, their chest, and I am attracted to them from a aesthetic perspective. But all, in all, I am not a man that participates into sex or romance, and I like them strongly from a distance and it can be as strong as any heterosexual man would like a woman. I don't mind a platonic relationship which can be seen as sexual to the outside viewer with a woman, and I have been there, and we been obviously looking at each other up and down that way even if she was near her boyfriend. "

Would you think of me as straight? Would a random person think of me as straight?

I think a random person would say you were straight based on your actions, even if you didn't seek out a romantic or sexual relationship in that scenario.

Well at first I'd probably think of you as "leaning straight"-- since this particular example only mentioned women, but since I rely on romantic-orientation for those terms more, I'd probably just skip to Aro as the seemingly most appropriate label.

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Ms.Frankenstein

Just throwing this out there, to no one in particular. I think the ace community might be the only place that places such emphasis on romantic orientation (for obvious reasons). While most people think heterosexual = heteroromantic, for us it doesn't.

I don't think of a heteroromantic asexual as straight because I don't think of asexuals as straight, though I'll never complain about someone else using the term to describe themselves even if it doesn't fit MY understanding. It does bug me a whole lot when someone tries to pin something on (general) me (or anyone else) after they've been told better. Call me straight? Fine. If I care enough to correct you though, I expect you to stop calling me that. :)

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Aranea

In my opinion? Heteroromantic asexual people are straight. Tagging on the "ace" at the end is how you prevent from erasing your asexuality.

The issue on tumblr right now is straight ace people trying to claim they are allowed to use the word "queer" when they're not (unless they're trans). They're straight. They can't use the word queer.

Discrimination against gay people isn't based on what they do in bed. No homophobic person sees two gay people holding hands and think, "But maybe they're really asexual and just homoromantic, I should lay off." The assumption with any couple is that they're having sex, and although that is a wrong assumption, it still does not change the fact that gay people, whether they're homoromantic or homosexual, are the target of discrimination. Not straight people.

It doesn't matter if someone has had sex with their partner or not. In a homophobic world like ours, doing something as minimal as holding hands can trigger terrifying consequences. Of course, in countries like America, it's gotten considerably better within the last 50 years, but in other parts of the world, it's still illegal to be gay. And it does not matter if you're homoromantic asexual, the mere fact that you experience any form of attraction towards the same gender automatically labels you as gay and you are now at risk.

I identify as a gay asexual. Saying that "straight asexual" isn't correct erases the experiences of people like me (I've personally never been a relationship, but I still have felt hostility towards the fact the identify as male and am attracted to men). There are far more important things than to be sitting around debating over whether or not it's okay to call heteroromantic asexual people straight or not when your homoromantic counterparts are suffering from homophobia - even though they are ace.

Being asexual isn't a trigger for violence a large majority of the time or legal discrimination. Erasing asexuality is frustrating, yes, but it doesn't change the fact that society is far more comfortable with you never having sex with your partner of the opposite gender than you just having a partner of the same gender in the first place.

Coming back to this thread to thank everyone for their input and the dialogue it's created, but also to thank Sgt. Salt in particular. You've really put the matter into perspective for me; something tumblr has failed to do. Thank you for the response.

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Ace of Cakes

To me, if a heteroromantic ace (or aromantic heterosexual) wants to identify as straight, that's great, but I personally do not (I'm demi-heteroromantic and ace). To me, being straight means being both heterosexual and heteroromantic.

I am not out to many people, so most people think I'm straight. Those who know I'm ace, however, had better not call me straight... especially once I've told them to please not call me that.

Even so, as Sgt. Salt has pointed out, I do have a lot of straight privilege. I realize that. Even though I really do not like being called straight and feel that it erases a part of me often makes me feel alone and broken, or in a more positive light, a part of me that makes me unique, I do not feel comfortable calling myself gay or queer because I recognize that I do not face the same kind of discrimination as these groups have historically experienced.

So no, I am not straight, but I do benefit from the illusion of straightness that I possess. (Straight passing, in my opinion, does constitute erasure, but it simultaneously protects from other forms of discrimination, and therefore I do think there is privilege somehow)

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Mysticus Insanus

Let me ask every one of you. Okay, you meet in the street, and you wanted to know if I like women, and I respond. You know that I am cis at that point. That being said, how I respond is on the line of...

"Well, I like looking at women, and I also like the beautiful voice of some women. I can adore looking at their hips, their chest, and I am attracted to them from a aesthetic perspective. But all, in all, I am not a man that participates into sex or romance, and I like them strongly from a distance and it can be as strong as any heterosexual man would like a woman. I don't mind a platonic relationship which can be seen as sexual to the outside viewer with a woman, and I have been there, and we been obviously looking at each other up and down that way even if she was near her boyfriend. "

Would you think of me as straight? Would a random person think of me as straight?

I dunno what "a random person" would think, but I would certainly not consider you straight if you told me that. To be straight, you'd need to feel a desire to boink these women.

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