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"Column: “A” stands for asexuals and not allies" - The Maroon

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An column released today, "A" stands for asexuals and not allies

Column: A stands for asexuals and not allies

By KATHERINE RICHARD (In My Opinion)

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 16:09

While channel-surfing one night, I landed on Kathy Griffin's talk show where she discussed her involvement in the LGBTQIA community or, as she said, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and ally community.

I like to pretend that last one was a joke.

That "A" is not for allies. That "A" is for asexuals. That "A" is for every person who does not experience sexual attraction. That "A" is for me. And quite frankly I do not want to share my space under the LGBT umbrella with allies.

It may seem harsh to say, "Hey, get out of my space!" Allies are people who support me and everyone else who falls outside the cisgendered heterosexual norm shouldn't I be thankful? Well, try having your minority sexual orientation erased because apparently people want gold stars for not being bigots. Then let's talk about harsh.

Much like bisexuality, asexuality suffers from erasure. This erasure tends to render us downright invisible. Sometimes, this erasure is blatant. I have friends whose asexuality has been denied as an orientation, attributed to mental illness, deemed not queer enough to count and regarded as infantile, robotic and unnatural, if acknowledged at all. In the Huffington Post, asexual blogger Julie Decker talks about the night her male friend attempted to correct her asexuality by kissing her even when she had rejected his advance. As she walked away, he stated, "I just want to help you."

Other times, this erasure is subtler. It's the look this woman gave me when I declined going to a student program on dating, because who wouldnt be interested in that? It's being assumed straight or at least interested. It's bringing up asexuality in a class about sexuality since none of the materials mention it. It's family, friends, psychiatrists and doctors hand waving an asexual person's orientation as a traumatic response if they were raped. It's Dan Savage asking in his advice column why an asexual would dare think about "inflicting" themselves on a non-asexual person, as if we are undeserving of love. It's books, movies and television shows all bombarding us with the message that everybody needs somebody. It's writer Steven Moffat's claim in The Guardian that there would be "no fun" in having the title character of BBC's "Sherlock" be asexual since the only tension worth writing about must be sexual tension.

It's the fact that I have to say that the A stands for asexuals, not allies.

Much of this erasure, I hope, is due to ignorance, not malice. I don't think that Kathy Griffin isn't trying to be hurtful when she claims the "A" for allies. I think she is merely ignorant. Teenagers posting on Tumblr how they are done with love and will somehow become asexual just know not what they type. People confusing asexuals with celibates are simply mistaken: the latter is a chosen lack of sexual activity while the former is simply a lack of sexual attraction but not necessarily arousal or activity. Asexuality, like all sexualities, is a spectrum.

Ignorance is understandable but not acceptable. Ignorance reduces visibility for asexuality and contributes to asexual erasure. Though studies by Psychology Today have been published on asexuality and discrimination against asexuals, asexuality still lacks research. The asexual community is primarily online via sites such as The Asexual Visibility and Education Network, but if you do not know what to search for, how will you find it? In order to combat this ignorance and erasure, we need visibility.

So when you say "A" is for ally, you keep asexuality from the public eye. When you say "A" is for ally, you contribute to others' ignorance. When you say "A" is for ally, you ignore us, you erase us and you tell us that we're not wanted.

I'm asexual and I'd like my letter, thanks.

Katherine Richard is an English writing junior and can be reached at

In My Opinion is a regular column open to all Loyola students. Those interested can contact

"LGBT" supposedly originated from the United States in the late 80s and came into regular usage throughout the 90s, GSD (Gender and Sexual Diversity) is a recently proposed alternative. "A" is widely recognized as "Ally"... LGBTA is one of the few amendments to LGBT that has gained any sort of popularity when you think about it

Edited by Raccoons & Arca N.H.

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sound_the_bugle

I've seen a lot of LGBTQ or LGBTQ+. And those rare LGBTQIA or LGBTQQIAA. My college, thankfully, does the latter.

In different circles, the Q can be queer or questioning, and the A can be asexual or ally. It really depends on who's listing them. I'm not here to say if that's right or wrong. Just to say that it's there.

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Philip027

The article has kind of a disgusting "it's all about me" air about it, tbh

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mayve

The article has kind of a disgusting "it's all about me" air about it, tbh

Agreed

I always thought the A stood for allies as well. I guess that makes me stupid huh?

And quite frankly I do not want to share my space under the LGBT umbrella with allies.

To be honest I don't want to share the umbrella with you either sweetie. lol

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VinnyCrow

I think it's good this person is talking about erasure, but yeah, they don't seem to have the right attitude. As soon as they said, "I like to pretend that last one was a joke," something was wrong. Allies are crucial to any cause, and I really appreciate knowing that someone is supporting me despite being different. Having allies makes peace and acceptance between different people, and allies can make significant contributions to the cause. No one is "ignorant" or telling aces they're "unwanted" by saying "A is for Ally".

I see this person's point, but they're fighting the wrong thing. I don't think the LGBT letters should ever be taken very seriously, anyway; everyone knows they don't really cover all identities, they're just a generalised way of referring to the community. I find it totally unhelpful to make LGBT into an enormous chain of letters; I really think if anything was changed, it should be made into something like GSD, yeah.

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katelynntheresa

Personally I don't fight over what the A stands for. One reason for this is that it doesn't really try to identify as LGBT or anything like that. Another reason is that I feel I receive just as much prejudice from LGBT people as I do from non members. We don't face all the same problems although we do share some and even within the LGBT community a lot of people still feel that if you do not experience sexual attraction then there must be something wrong with you.

I'm not saying asexuals shouldn't try to identify with LGBT because if you feel comfortable doing so, then by all means do it, but I myself only identify with them as an ally.

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tristifere

I'd think you have to be aware of the fact that on some websites (I will protect the guilty and not name where I've seen this) WW3 is going on with regard to whether or not A stands for ally or asexual.

Someone will write how A stands for ally, and how all the asexuals should shut up, because they're not part of the LGBT+ community, and some asexual goes berserk and say allies don't deserve a letter, because they're only allies, not an actual gender or sexual minority, while asexuality is a sexual minority and [sic] should be included in the acronym. General nastiness on both sides, because they both think they're right, and no-one will back down and say "hey it's really ambiguous what this letter stands for, it could be for both". Things quiet down, someone else comes with the suggestion that they know what the A truly stands for, rinse and repeat the argument.

If you see this column in that context, it's hardly surprising that the author is snappy and angry about what she perceives as erasure (I'm not so sure it is erasure, unless you're willfully stating asexuality isn't part of the LGBT+ community because it isn't a sexual minority worthy to be included).

So I find it rather distasteful to react so sarcastic towards the author of this article. She feels genuinely attacked when people claim the A stands for ally and not for asexual. *shrug* Personally I'm wondering why we even bother with the LGBT+ acronym still. GSM / GSD variants are far more useful, because it's a catch-all term for ALL gender and sexual minorities without the need for everyone to have a special letter assigned to their specific identity.

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Papageno

I sympathize with the author and generally agree with her point, though I think she may be a bit overly strident. But given that she perceives herself as being erased from the community, it's more than understandable.

My personal view is that having a letter of our own isn't as important, and I am happy to share a "queer" Q, but I would not dream of telling others that my view is more valid than theirs on this topic.

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Philip027
I'd think you have to be aware of the fact that on some websites (I will protect the guilty and not name where I've seen this) WW3 is going on with regard to whether or not A stands for ally or asexual.

Honestly, I think anyone who thinks this is a Really Big Deal (on either side of the argument) has a few screws loose and needs something more... idk, important?... to concern themselves with.

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