I used to think I was straight.
Through introspection and education, I climbed out of that box because it didn’t fit me, and yet there are people would push me right back in again.
As understandable as it is that LGBTQ+ communities* would want to protect their safe spaces from cisgender straight people, if they’re going to do that as well as exclude people like me, then they had better offer a different reason for choosing to do that, because I am not straight.
*I don’t always use that intialism, but when I do, it’s to refer specifically to groups (i.e. clubs, organizations, etc.) that would use that term themselves. GSM (gender & sexual minorities) is a more inclusive term with fewer letters.
I never was straight, but it’s taken me years to be able to say this. I believed, for a long time, that in the absence of sexual attraction to the same gender, there was nothing left to call yourself but straight, a paradigm that did me far more harm than good. That’s why I’m fighting it now.
To reiterate what I’ve mentioned before, I’m making this argument as what we’ll call a loosely-cisgender kinda-heteroromantic gray-a, and while each of those labels is iffy and uncertain, for some people they’d be enough to write me off as straight . You can tell me that I don’t deserve to be able to call myself queer, and I won’t object. That’s fine. You can have that. No argument. And am I straight-passing? Oh yeah. More than I’d like to be.
But I’m not straight.
I say that because the word “straight”, in terms of orientation, is used to mean heterosexual, and I’m not heterosexual. I do not experience sexual attraction to people of a different gender than myself. I am not “a straight person with a low sex drive” or “a straight person who doesn’t have sex”. I’m on the asexual spectrum. Regardless of my romantic orientation, I do not experience sexual attraction to any gender, and that’s including genders other than my own.
Q.E.D. I am not straight, so stop implying I’m straight.
This discussion keeps making the rounds now and again and every time the whole thing is insufferable.
If you want to declare that straight cis people shouldn’t be allowed in queer spaces, okay. And I’m not straight. If you want to declare “the only aces allowed in this specific club are trans* and/or queer/pan/bi/homoromantic aces”, then okay — that puts aromantics in a weird position,** but I have no desire to hang out in a place where I’m unwelcome anyway.
**Aro aces always get the short end of the stick in this debate. Where do they go? Nobody knows.
Allow me to sum up.
Okay: saying you don’t want any cis people who don’t experience romantic or sexual same-gender attraction in your specific local community.
Not okay: calling anyone on the asexual spectrum — even heteroromantics — “basically straight”, unless that’s what they call themselves.
Call me straight and all you’ll be communicating is that you aren’t educated on what the asexual spectrum is. Which, incidentally, we might be able to do more to fix if more people were listening to our voices.
Sometimes then the argument becomes “but asexuals don’t face discrimination” which just proves, again, people aren’t doing their research.
There might be some heteroromantic aces out there who self-identify as straight. That’s their business. But don’t make generalizations. I’m on the asexual spectrum — romantic orientation pending — and, queer or not, I am not straight.