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In the last few decades, support for LGBT people has grown monumentally. Gay marriage has been legalized and a slowly increasing number of states passed nondiscrimination laws and banned conversion therapy. That is not to say that life is great; many states still argue that it is their right to discriminate against queer people, especially those who are transgender. But this week, we take a moment to look at a group that is usually ignored, yet also one of the most maligned by cisgender people, heterosexual people and other LGBT people: Those of us who are on the asexual spectrum.
This week is Asexual Awareness Week. Someone who is asexual does not experience sexual attraction. This does not mean the person dislikes sex, or that they do not want to have sex or that they do want to have sex. It simply means the person in question is not sexually attracted to people. But asexuality is also a spectrum, including people who are demisexual, which means they are only attracted to people with whom they have a strong sexual connection, along with people who fall into many other categories.
Asexual people have existed for just as long as people have existed, but asexuality is still fairly unknown when compared to other sexual orientations. Asexual people can also fall into any romantic orientation: They can be straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, aromantic or anything else.
Many queer people are no stranger to discrimination from others in the LGBT community, but few groups have faced as much inter-LGBT persecution as asexuals. Many of the more known sexual groups, especially gay men, claim asexual people do not count as part of the LGBT community because they do not experience discrimination or because they lack sexual attraction instead of being sexually attracted to a specific group. They claim the requirement for being part of the queer community is not just to experience an existence that differs from being cisgender and heterosexual, it is to experience severe abuse based on your sexuality or gender identity, which is ridiculous.
This sort of gatekeeping only leads to discrimination from within our community. The LGBT community is meant to be a place of acceptance for everyone, no matter what their own personal experiences are. Asexual people face ridicule and insults from a sex-focused world, including many being harassed and told they are not actually asexual and just have not met the right person, that they are the result of abuse, that they are making a “choice” and more. This sort of attitude, especially from other people within the community, is extremely harmful.
Being part of the LGBT community is not a contest of oppression. You do not have to be able to point to seven and a half times in your life you faced harassment or discrimination in order to be a member. You simply must be part of a minority sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s it. And trying to limit people who are asexual from being part of the LGBT community is extremely discriminatory and against everything our community is meant to be.
Asexual people are no less queer than bisexual people, gay people, nonbinary people or anyone else who is part of our community. We must work to do better in order for everyone who is a part of the LGBT community to feel accepted and safe within the community. We have an obligation to stop playing oppression olympics, to not judge people simply for their sexual attraction or lack thereof. Acceptance is the primary goal of the queer rights movement, and that means acceptance for everyone.
Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.