Why Acephobia Has No Place In Queer Communities

Every time National Coming Out Day or Pride Month comes around, an ugly form of discourse rears its unwelcome head. Ace exclusionists, or acephobes, actively argue for the exclusion of asexual and aromantic people from LGBTQ+ communities despite the fact that, in a society where queer people still often struggle to find acceptance, breaking the group into factions isn’t conducive to anything good.

For those unfamiliar with the terms, asexual people don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone and aromantic people don’t experience romantic attraction to anyone. Their place in the LGBTQ+ community is entrenched in their very definitions – you can’t be sexually attracted to someone of the opposite gender if you’re not sexually attracted to anyone, so they’re definitely not straight.

Asexual and aromantic people experience many of the worst parts of homophobia, from corrective rape to childhood bullying to ostracism from mainstream society. The world we live in is incredibly sexualised, something you’re probably familiar with, and media is constantly telling people that they should desire sex without ever presenting another option beyond people who never end up in couples because they’re stereotyped as the ‘ugly one’. It’s not much of an option to be presented with – have sex or be unlovable. Asexual people constantly hear ‘you just haven’t met the right person’, ‘you had a bad experience’, or ‘what, so you’re a plant?’. Much like with gay people, people who are external to the community try to impose their own views or their own opinions onto ace people who just want to exist.

No identity on the asexual spectrum is a choice, just like no other queer identity is a choice. Asexuality is not something that needs to be fixed. Since straight people can’t understand and respect these basic fundamentals to someone’s identity, asexual and aromantic people have a right to their place in the LGBTQ+ community as much as any other letter. Luckily most major organisations that recognise multiple identity beyond just gay and lesbian (think bisexuality, pansexuality, etc.) also recognise asexuality; there’s an asexual flag outside of the Stonewall Inn in a beautiful display of solidarity and unity; but there are also people out there who fervently oppose a place for asexuality in the LGBTQ+ community. If there’s one thing that’s been learned throughout the history of the LGBTQ+ movement it’s that we’re stronger together and that excluding people from safe spaces and Pride events isn’t what this community is about. But with any luck, we’re moving in the right direction when it comes to stamping out acephobia within the community.