This post is finally getting dragged out of my drafts folder because I felt obliged to answer the call issued by Queenie’s #(ALL THE POSTS ON RELIGION AND ASEXUALITY PLEASE) tag, so you can blame her for this.
I’ve always been a bit conflicted about the concept of “pride”, as applies to LGBT+ parades and celebrations, but that opinion was always an irrelevant one until I realized I wasn’t straight. This post is not about questioning the necessity or validity of the concept that “pride” is used to refer to in anti-oppression contexts — that of a bold, confident, positive display of a marginalized, maligned, oft-ignored identity. I get that. On a personal level, actually. As I’ve said before, I’d be aggressively and flamboyantly asexual if there were a culturally-coded way to do that.
Ah yes, the perks of invisibility: not having your own oppressive stereotype (supposedly) but also not having a recognizeable middle finger to give to the world.
So, while I’m limited in my ability to participate, I support and endorse audacious displays of identity as a loud, triumphant reaction to silencing and shame. In this context, pride is good, important, and fun. The happier side to righteous anger, if you will. What I want to address, though, is something personal — how my relationship to the concept of “pride” is complicated by a Christian background. This post is about that — about the intersection of healing the asexual “brokenness” and maintaining an ideological loyalty to more general religious principles: where the LGBT rhetoric of pride meets the Christian rhetoric of humility.
Reconciling the two isn’t mentally difficult or anything. But.
As an ace, I don’t have a way of articulating the concept of “asexual(-spectrum) pride” without the word “pride”, because anything I could use to replace it would lose its intelligibility as an analogue to better-known prides, and I have to wonder, a little bit, how gay and bi and trans Christians reckon with this — with anything, really, considering how often queerness and Christianity are pitted against each other as natural enemies (and to be fair, Christianity started it) — but little things like this, too. Call it a matter of semantics, but in the Christianity I grew up with, pride is not a virtue.
It’s the opposite, in fact.
Pride is selfishness is the essence of all sin. This idea is an integral component of the religion as I know it. Christians are supposed to be humble.
You may not adhere to a Catholic conceptualization of the “Seven Deadly Sins” (whose relevance lives on only in pop culture, as far as I can tell — maybe there are Christians who still employ this as a framework, but it seems like it’s brought up and toyed with by non-Catholics more often than not) but you cannot, in my conceptualization of Christianity, find any room for a positive interpretation of “pride” — at least not a pride that would, under that lens, be referred to as pride.
“Inner peace” is the closest alternative I can think of, but that doesn’t have the same aggressive ring to it. Anglophonic Christianity is kind of temperate in its language that way. “Spirit” or “zeal” could work, maybe. I’m scouring lists of synonyms and virtues here. “Steadfastness”? “Fortitude”? What century is this again?
Point being, it’s a concept that’s hard to find other words for. What the use of “pride” in gay, bi, trans, and ace contexts is meant to get at, as far as I can tell, is a sense of acceptance of the self, or a specific aspect of it, and a loud rebuttal to silencing and shame, a definition very specific to its context.
What “pride” refers to in many Christian contexts is equivalent to arrogance, conceit, and egotism. These things get viewed negatively in a more general sense by about near everyone, but especially so within a framework of definitive monotheism. There, pride is always treated as a bad thing, while its inverse is exalted.
I’m not saying this directly conflicts with the queer version of pride, since each use the word to refers to different ideas, but that’s the background that I’m coming from, the kind of language that I’m used to hearing in circulation. In that sense, I’m not proud of being ace. It’s not a personal accomplishment.
I’m content with being ace. I’m happy with being ace. I’m nervous and scared and excited and defiant and melodramatic about being ace.
I’m still working on an alternative shorthand for the idea — not because I see an inherent problem with other uses of pride, but because even if asexuals have a right to the word, I can’t as easily apply it to myself. LGBT+ Christians could use it anyway, of course, but I’m just generally not fond of pride as a term for what the community intends it to mean anyway, even if I respect its history. And given the association of asexuality with lifelessness, I’m liking the sound of a phrase like “asexual zeal”.