How Ace Visibility Helps Queer People

First of all, because some aces are queer.

In theory that should be enough for you.

However, since apparently you’re still reading past the first sentence, perhaps you’re interested in considering another (albeit lesser) reason.  This post is going to approach the issue from the perspective that not all aces are queer, at least not via being asexual, and in doing so, it’s going to demonstrate how raising awareness for those non-queer individuals still has additional residual benefits.  To clarify, I’m writing this post as a response to those in the queer community who fear that asexual visibility will somehow prove harmful to young non-ace queer people, muddy the waters with identities that aren’t as important, or even provide cishets with further justifications for oppression.

On that note, an alternative title for this post could be: “A Personal Journey in Becoming Less of a Heteronormative Crapbasket”.

We’ll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

I’m not sure how well the phrase “conservative Christian” would describe me now, if only because it comes with associations I don’t want and have never wanted, but in order to put this evolution in perspective, it might be the best way to introduce where I was starting from.  I was your standard ignorant victim-blaming heterosexist and incidental chruch-goer.  Thank God I didn’t actually know any out queer people at the time, so at least nobody had to suffer that part of me at the time.  My mother snuffed the worst of it pretty quick.

I had a ways to go, though.

No point in walking you through some of the thoughts and early perspectives I had, since they’re typical and inane, but things got a little more messy once I got stuck, later on down the line, on a basic turn of logic.  All sins being equal,* if pre/extramarital sex is as much a sin as homosexual sex, then what justice or sense does it make to devote efforts to prohibiting one while ignoring the other?  Considering extramarital cis-straight sex can be estimated as the more frequent occurrence compared to queer sex (extramarital or otherwise), it seems a very non-strategic use of the Church’s time to focus on the choices of a minority.

*This is a debatable premise and somewhat misleading, but if anyone’s interested in my theological ramblings, it’ll have to wait for another day.

So at that point, when asked if I opposed marriage equality, I couldn’t really find a reason to — by my own reasoning, if I did that, I’d have to support a law against all extramarital sex as well, and that’s just not going to fly.  At the same time, I wasn’t supportive either.  My perspective on the matter was in suspended animation.  How you view non-heterosexual orientations* is heavily impacted by how much you view orientation as a choice, and I was entirely unsure — but I felt no pressing need to investigate.  So, privileged jerk that I am, I was able to shrug and leave it at that.

*I would just say “queer orientations” or something like that, but remember, we’re not acknowledging asexuality itself as queer, so that would be incorrect.

Image unrelated.

That might’ve been the position I held indefinitely if it hadn’t been for an unexpected turn of events.  You must keep in mind that during all of the above, I believed myself to be straight.  This is not because I never reexamined my identity and orientation.  I wanted to be honest with myself, and whenever my thoughts prompted it, I would reconsider and give myself the opportunity to confront the matter: Could I be gay?  Could I be bi?

Hmmm.  No.

I could tell I didn’t feel sexual attraction toward my own gender, and even though I felt compelled to mentally test myself now and then (due to stuff I might write about another time), I knew my sexual orientation was neither gay nor bi.  However, because this part of the States has some nonexistent asexuality awareness, I was unequipped to realize there might be a better word for what I am rather than straight.

So I kept on identifying as straight.  Nobody told me there was anything else.

This is important because it delayed an eventual, powerful, personal realization: people cannot choose their orientation or change their pattern of attractions.  I’d already been told that before, but conventional campaigns to change minds on the issue hadn’t reached me.  It took my own struggling over whether or not I’m someone who experiences sexual attraction to realize, to my dismay,* that I couldn’t have made myself experience sexual attraction (to any gender) if I’d wanted to.

*I say “dismay” not because I ever thought being asexual sounded sad and horrible but because, in my own case, it would affirm some stereotypes I didn’t want to affirm (and thus have certain social repercussions).  Nonetheless, the stereotypes shouldn’t stop anyone, because as has already been mentioned before, we’re all bad aces in the end.

Once I accepted it, it all made sense from there.  One (out of several) key things that are missing from the logic of people trying to “convert” gay people* to being straight is that sexual attraction is not some ball that you have to hold in one hand or the other.  Their models are based on monosexist assumptions that all people experience sexual attraction to one gender, and if you push it hard enough, orientation can be flipped to one side or the other like a light switch (the flipping kind — not like the sliding kind, which would be a tad more accurate but still wrong).  But if you acknowledge that asexual people exist, it calls the whole premise into question.

*I specify gay here because I cannot honestly recall any anti-queer theistic organizations ever acknowledging that bisexuality and other orientations exist.

This is a lot of text to take in. Have another image.

So really, the Church has no valid excuse for not supporting marriage equality, if for no other reason but to reduce the frequency of extramarital sex.  And I could go on about how the anti-gay crusade is actually a very poor strategy and has weak sacred-textual support and is more costly than any kind of useful from a logical perspective, but forget logic,* because it never got me very far.

*I mean that temporarily, of course.  Don’t leave me, logic, my darling.  I need you.

Back to our priorities, however: The end sum game is that asexual awareness made me cut back on the heteronormative crap.  Regardless of how big of an impact that has, I think that’s valuable.  That’s not to say that don’t still have some of that junk still in my brain.  The point is now I’m on watch for it, make a point to flag it as garbage, and believe in holding myself to that as an obligation.  So if I’ve messed up in this post here, I would be embarrassed but also thankful if you told me.

To clarify, some of the obstacles keeping me from learning to be more accepting and less obnoxious were problems specific to the experience of being a gray-a with aromantic tendencies.  I didn’t understand how anyone could be sexually attracted to the same gender; I didn’t understand being attracted to other genders, either, but the grinding mill of heteronormative culture had acclimated me more to one than the other.  If the environment I was raised in had featured more asexual visibility, it wouldn’t have taken me this long.

I’m still ticked off just thinking about how long the knowledge of asexuality was kept from me, but my progression to understanding my orientation was a cakewalk compared to what a lot of aces go through.  If you’re sick of me and want to hear from some actual queer aces, I recommend starting with this excellent post by Carlin, an ace who is panromantic and transgender.  Really, what are you even still reading here for?

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2 responses to “How Ace Visibility Helps Queer People

  • Calum P Cameron

    THANKYOU.

    No, seriously, as a raised-in-the-Church-of-Scotland Christian who’s spent far too much of his life arguing with people (including my depressingly-stereotypical fundamentalist mother) over whether or not it makes one iotum of sense to assume that God is some sort of heteronormative crusader, it is SO GOOD to find proof that conservative Christians are actually capable both of critical self-analysis and of ACTUALLY CHANGING THEIR MINDS when something starts to look a bit unquestionably wrong.

    [Disengaging Venting Mode]

    • acetheist

      Haha, yep. The Church isn’t so great at fostering a critical thought community, but given the right mix of factors, individuals can come to their senses now and then. There is some hope.

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