Ace-friendly LGBT groups

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Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Siggy » 26 Jun 2010, 01:51

Though I've long been in favor of grouping asexuals and LGBTQ together, I've slowly come to the realization that this is what I want rather than what is. Based on accounts from other asexuals, I think it's fair to say that a lot of LGBTQ groups are not any more ace-friendly than any other group. Asexuals encounter disbelief, denial, and ignorance, same as with any other people. Perhaps an even more difficult problem is that the environment is too hypersexual, which makes many asexuals uncomfortable.

I make it my goal as an activist to make a safe space for asexuals in the LGBT community. First and foremost, all LGBT groups should be accepting of asexuality. Second, there should be at least a few queer spaces that don't focus so much on sex in order to accommodate the asexuals (and other queers) who would feel uncomfortable with that.

The first goal seems less hopeless (and it would at least benefit asexuals who don't feel uncomfortable with sex talk), so I'm focusing on that one for now.

What I want to know is, what kind of LGBT group is more likely to accept asexuality? Where in the landscape of LGBT will we find success, and where do we need more work? The trouble is that I have a very limited view of LGBT internal politics, and I don't even know what the landscape looks like. Does anyone here know much about that? Or could you refer me to some resource?

I suspect college-age is the best age group. It's also a good sign if they actively discuss the issues of bisexuality, gender, transgender, and intersectionality. It's also good if the group is political, but in the far-sighted sense. As in, they're more concerned about complete social acceptance than just about marriage equality and DADT.

So there's something to think about as you all go to your pride parades. I can't make it this year :'( but I'll probably make SF next year.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby SlightlyMetaphysical » 26 Jun 2010, 05:06

I make it my goal as an activist to make a safe space for asexuals in the LGBT community.


You know, I don't think I've ever seen that thought expressed before. There's always this passive acceptance of either "Yes, LGBT is a good place for asexuals" or "NO! The twain can never meet!", when we should really be saying "Well, we're entitled to acceptance and inclusion in queer spaces. Let's claim that entitlement." Good for you.

I'm still figuring out if I'm going to join my uni LGBTQ this autumn. Not because I'm afraid of hostility, but because I have so many other societies that warrant more attention, and I've still not figured out how I'm going to fit in my work and social life. Although it would be very nice to do some real-world ace work.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Siggy » 29 Jun 2010, 02:38

Do I need to prod this thread until it goes somewhere? Because I'll totally do it.

In early 2011 I plan to have an asexuality workshop at the Western Regional LGBTQIA college conference. I'm, uh, thinking way ahead of time. Anyways, one emotion I want to evoke in my workshop is embarrassment. I want them to feel bad that LGBT groups aren't more ace-friendly. I know my audience, and I know that they're super sensitive about inclusiveness and diversity.

I'll probably ask AVEN later to provide personal experiences with ace-friendly and ace-unfriendly LGBT groups. But for now, I'm interested in generalizations. What makes a group ace-friendly, and what makes it ace-unfriendly? Any ideas?
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby SlightlyMetaphysical » 29 Jun 2010, 06:23

*prodding alongside you*

I really have absolutely zero experience of LGBT, except second-hand, from asexuals and from a gay friend.
However, in the interests of keeping this thread going, I'm gonna guess:

1. People in the group need to realise that asexuality is a sexual orientation. It helps if they've heard of it before. Often, you get really weird responses, where people seem to assume, at the very mention of asexuality, that you're coming to destroy their identity. It's stupid, but it happens. Also, it'd be lovely if people dropped the alphabetsmoosh. It must be horrible to know that, at any time, someone could point to the sign above the door and say "You don't belong here."

2. I know personally I, and I think asexuals in general, want a very queer LGBT, with discussions on gender and sexuality and so on. Something that really stimulates the mind. And activism work is also important to me. My local teen LGBT is apparently just loads of teenagers hanging around and share music on their ipods. There's no discussion, no activism, no real social life. I think that some of the more mainstreamly queer teens can get on board with that, because they just find it cool to have somewhere to come to terms with their identity and be incredibly normal about it, I think as an asexual, people tend to go to more specifically asexual meet-ups for that kind of comfort, and are looking for something more... useful, in their Queer groups.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Dargon » 30 Jun 2010, 11:49

Back in the day I worked a bit and was involved with the Texas A&M GLBT group. They were asexual-friendly.

As has been said up here, there tend to be two types of GLBT groups. Those that are all about GLBT specifically, and those that are general queer groups. The latter seems to have no problem with asexuals, the former tends to be not-so-friendly.

As for making the not-so-friendly groups embarrassed, that may be difficult. It seems to me they are dead-set in the idea that it is sex with the same sex that sets them apart, and not having or wanting sex doesn't make the cut. The friendly groups may be embarrassed on behalf of the not-so-friendly groups, which could work to our advantage, since their voices probably carry more weight.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Siggy » 30 Jun 2010, 22:24

Okay, so groups with more queer focus as opposed to just GLB. Cool.

For my particular workshop, I'm sure that the audience is mostly ace-friendly, since they are college-age. The conference's mission statement even mentions asexuals, though AFAIK, they have never had a workshop on asexuality to date. I think this is fairly common for LGBT organizations, to list out the whole alphabetsmoosh somewhere, even if they don't actually ever talk about intersex issues and so forth. The idea is that they're stuck in a loop where they lack representatives from X minority, because they don't focus on X issues, because they lack representatives, etc. They nominally include us in case (or in hope) that something kicks them out of the loop.

I wonder if there's anything that LGB people say that seems innocuous, but leaves asexuals cold. For example, when people say, "Everyone is a little bisexual," it's intended to convey the complexity of individual sexuality, but the result is to erase a lack of attraction towards one or both genders. Any others?
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby ily » 30 Jun 2010, 23:45

Good post.

I came out as asexual late in college, so I didn't get a chance to join my school's LGBT group. However, since it was called "Coalition Against Homophobia", it was pretty obvious that it was a gay group, not a queer one. I have no idea what specific queer groups exist for people outside of school, although I would be interested to know. To answer your question about what LGBT groups would be most accepting, we'd need to know the types of groups. Maybe we can come up with some sort of list between all of us.

Personally, I wouldn't have much impetus to join a queer group unless they engaged in some sort of actions or activities that I would be interested in. And I don't think I would join unless I could get some confirmation that asexuals were welcome. I think your second idea, queer spaces that aren't so focused on sex, might be more doable than you think. We probably don't see the people who would be interested in that, because they tend to not be so involved with the community. If I was in a group that accepted asexuals, but the group was really sexual, I don't think I'd be comfortable there.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Siggy » 01 Jul 2010, 12:18

ily wrote:I have no idea what specific queer groups exist for people outside of school, although I would be interested to know. To answer your question about what LGBT groups would be most accepting, we'd need to know the types of groups. Maybe we can come up with some sort of list between all of us.

That's a great idea. I looked at Wikipedia for hints.
-High school and University groups
-Employee groups
-LGBT-affirming religious groups
-LGBT rights organizations (ie GLAAD and HRC)
-Gay villages

When I ask AVEN for personal experiences, I'll be sure to ask what kind of group it was.

Personally, I wouldn't have much impetus to join a queer group unless they engaged in some sort of actions or activities that I would be interested in.

I think I'm totally on the other end, in that I like to join groups even if I don't particularly care for their mission. Hell, I joined a Christian group in my first year at college, even though I'm a bit of an atheist activist. That's just how it goes, different people have different thresholds of interest before they join a group.

And I don't think I would join unless I could get some confirmation that asexuals were welcome. I think your second idea, queer spaces that aren't so focused on sex, might be more doable than you think. We probably don't see the people who would be interested in that, because they tend to not be so involved with the community. If I was in a group that accepted asexuals, but the group was really sexual, I don't think I'd be comfortable there.

The reason I think this would be difficult is that, in my experience, the opportunity to be open about sex is precisely what appeals to many people in the group. I fear that if I said that asexuals tend to want less focus on sex, they'd realize that we're working at cross-purposes! But I think you're also right that many sexual queers are also turned off by the heavy focus on sex, so we're not entirely alone.

Part of the reason that I personally found success in my university's queer group is because I really don't mind the sexual focus. You might even say it appeals to me, as long as it comes in moderate doses. The problem I've always had is that there's too much focus on damn pop culture! I swear, I am so sick of Lady Gaga by now. :lol:
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Paul2 » 03 Sep 2010, 17:47

SlightlyMetaphysical wrote:2. I know personally I, and I think asexuals in general, want a very queer LGBT, with discussions on gender and sexuality and so on. Something that really stimulates the mind. And activism work is also important to me. My local teen LGBT is apparently just loads of teenagers hanging around and share music on their ipods. There's no discussion, no activism, no real social life.


That's in line with my experiences with Dutch LGBT-organizations and with the gay scene in general: there's almost no fundamental discussion anymore. It's either about sex (health or dating), or about equal-rights and public safety. Especially gay men want to be as "normal" as possible and therefore they don't like, sometimes even hate, people who doesn't fit in the ordinary pattern of sex and relationships. If we can compare asexuality a little bit with celibacy (absence of sex), then there is really no understanding for that....
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » 04 Sep 2010, 22:12

I didn't really have a good experience with my Uni's LGBT, I went to one of their out reach (dubbed "Come out and see us" or some similar pun) I just sort of sat in the corner and intermittently spoke up, eventually I saw I was getting some looks 'cause the thing I was saying and the stories I was telling seemed a bit off o them I guess. So I said "yeah, I'm not actually gay, I'm Asexual..." and then every one had an awkward silence and near unison cocking of eyebrows. I was not comfortable I didn't really feel comfortable going to the net meeting.

I got the feeling that even though they are named the Rainbow something-or-other, that they are very much a gay-student group, as opposed to a queer-student group.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby nzkiwi2010 » 21 Oct 2010, 02:59

This debate has only come up recently in Ace circles.

The reception I think will largely vary on the background and type of group, but in general LGBT and A are not a good mix and here is the reason why: Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual forums base themselves on SEXUALITY as there are hardly any other similarities. Some LGB will be right wing, some left wing. some poor, some well off... some promescuous and some in steady relationships... Even transgenders / transsexuals are borderline in the wider LGB arena.

However there are some groups (like in high schools etc) where the emphasis is more on being non-mainstream. We would obviously have some commonality here.

But in general I think not.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby SlightlyMetaphysical » 21 Oct 2010, 03:19

nzkiwi2010 wrote:The reception I think will largely vary on the background and type of group, but in general LGBT and A are not a good mix and here is the reason why: Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual forums base themselves on SEXUALITY as there are hardly any other similarities. Some LGB will be right wing, some left wing. some poor, some well off... some promescuous and some in steady relationships... Even transgenders / transsexuals are borderline in the wider LGB arena.

However there are some groups (like in high schools etc) where the emphasis is more on being non-mainstream. We would obviously have some commonality here.

But in general I think not.


I disgree. We have much more in common with other queer identities than we have differences. There's huge amounts of similarities, starting with identity, coming out, acceptance, non-mainstream sexuality, romantic orientation, etc.

I learnt a fun fact yesterday: 2% of gay men have 23% of gay sex. The average number of sexual partners for a gay man is 6, the same as straight men and women of all orientations. This means the vast majority of gay men and women (I don't know how the survey dealt with bi people, I think it wrote them out of existance) see sex as being something private that only happens in romantic relationships. Essentially, sexuality by itself would make an incredibly poor bonding point for an LGBT group. Most of the similarities that most LGBT groups work with are the fact that all LGBT people are people. They all get a buzz of some sort from human interaction, which increases when they don't have to be cautious about their identities.

LGBT groups spend enough time creating false differences between us, asexuals don't need to start doing it as well.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby nzkiwi2010 » 21 Oct 2010, 03:31

SlightlyMetaphysical wrote:Most of the similarities that most LGBT groups work with are the fact that all LGBT people are people. They all get a buzz of some sort from human interaction, which increases when they don't have to be cautious about their identities.

LGBT groups spend enough time creating false differences between us, asexuals don't need to start doing it as well.


I AGREE from personal experience that there are some similarities in surface issues - acceptance, depression, anxiety, self doubt.... though there is no doubt that we do not suffer the degree of prejudice in wider society.

However I am wondering, questioning, trying to work out whether that's where the similarities end. Keep in mind other 'groups' could also claim the same issues - mental health for example.

I have signed up to a pretty high profile local gay/LGBT forum and started a discussion. I want to hear what they think, what they are saying.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Siggy » 21 Oct 2010, 12:26

nzkiwi2010 wrote:This debate has only come up recently in Ace circles.

You're wrong there. This has existed pretty much since the beginning of the asexual community. It's even mentioned in the AVEN FAQs, which I think date back to 2004.

I think there are actually two issues here. First, are LGBT spaces inclusive of asexuals? And second, ought they to be inclusive of asexuals? Even if many LGBT spaces are not currently safe for asexuals, this is not an immutable fact. If it were immutable, then how is it that at least some LGBT spaces manage to be inclusive of asexuals?

nzkiwi2010 wrote:I have signed up to a pretty high profile local gay/LGBT forum and started a discussion. I want to hear what they think, what they are saying.


When you get a response, you're welcome to link it so we can give our thoughts. The one thing I would caution against is overgeneralizing their reaction. From what I hear, reactions are highly dependent on the kind of community you're in. Many of my friends think that including asexuals in queer spaces is a complete no-brainer, but based on other anecdotes, this is not true in general.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby nzkiwi2010 » 21 Oct 2010, 15:55

I strongly doubt that we are going to get a resolution any time soon on this matter.

Keep in mind that the "Gay" community is far from singular.

It has the following distinct groups:

1. Gay and lesbian
2. Bisexual and curious
3. Transgender / transsexual

Even a very small group like transgendered can't agree within themselves on core issues. A common point of contention is whether a pre-op can call themselves 'trans....' or not.

My vote is that we continue to build our own support and social networks, and where appropriate form alliances with queer groups but I think our wide acceptance any time soon within gay or LGBT is probably pushing the envelope a bit much.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Paul2 » 21 Oct 2010, 18:31

Well, I think as being not part of the heterosexual majority, asexuals are "on the same side" as gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc. - all have to cope with their minority position, and have a certain need to be visible and being recognized.

However, here in the Netherlands I see a rather strange phenomenon: a growing number of especially gay men want to be as "normal" as possible: not only "straight acting", but they want to live as "straight" as possible.

Therefore they don't want to be associated anymore with the gay movement and all the typical gay things like gay prides, gay bars, gay icons, etc etc. This goes very far: for exemple such gay men say that it's the fault of feminine gays and drag queens that the straight majority don't like homosexuality. The solidarity with other minorites is rapidly decreasing...
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby nzkiwi2010 » 27 Oct 2010, 00:48

Siggy wrote:Though I've long been in favor of grouping asexuals and LGBTQ together, I've slowly come to the realization that this is what I want rather than what is. Based on accounts from other asexuals, I think it's fair to say that a lot of LGBTQ groups are not any more ace-friendly than any other group. Asexuals encounter disbelief, denial, and ignorance, same as with any other people. Perhaps an even more difficult problem is that the environment is too hypersexual, which makes many asexuals uncomfortable.


Here is the reality:

Many LGBT groups will tolerate, even accept asexual presence, however we are more like guests then anything else.

However likewise, if they come on our forums then they are guests too. There is a few transgendered/transsexual people present. They are guests as well. If you think this is too un-PC try joining one of their forums.

The only group we could actually claim to possibly be a part of in the liberal pan-Q.

I think the crux of the matter is one of an identity crisis. In other words we are now big enough to have an opinion but small enough to be pretty irrelevant.

Asexuality movement is however growing at a fast rate and in due course will be able to stand on it's own two feet and shape it's own future. It has it's own flag now which is a major step forward. Let us continue.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby FunStuff » 01 May 2011, 10:05

I have a very difficult time understanding why the Asexual community needs to associate with the LGBT groups.
We have nothing to do with them whatsoever. They are sexual just like 99% of the rest of the people in this World.
If we stuck with our own group, I guarantee you that we'd become much stronger and far more united.
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Belle » 15 May 2011, 18:52

When I was in my 'wondering' phase I heard that the 'Q' for some people in the LGBTQ community stood for 'Questioning'. I would have put myself there, but when I figured it out, I started saying to myself that I wasn't gay, and I wasn't straight.

But the thing that bothered me about my local LGBTQ groups is that frankly they were downright scary here. I had a friend 'come out' as gay at uni, he joined the local LGBT group, and seriously changed overnight. He must have bought a whole new wardrobe of clothes, changed the way he walked, started writing for the local uni paper on LGBT issues and the bit that really stunned me was that the group's leader (who I didn't know) found me and told me that my friend was no longer associating with me because they knew I was a Christian... Didn't get a chance to tell them I wasn't homophobic!

This experience has really coloured the way I see at least the local LGBT community in my area. I don't want to join people that are that judgemental. (But I understand that not all groups are like that)

So in my thinking I don't want to parade, (but I'm fine with other people doing it!) I want to hang out at coffee houses with my friends and tell them in small groups and one on one. Which has been working for me. We parade here for health issues. I'm all for a separate Ace community, but you can probably see I have a bias.

But one local LGBT group had a saying that I changed to suit me... They say: "We're here we're queer..." My version: "I'm here... for coffee and a great chat."
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Re: Ace-friendly LGBT groups

Postby Roy » 15 May 2011, 21:43

Siggy wrote:Though I've long been in favor of grouping asexuals and LGBTQ together, I've slowly come to the realization that this is what I want rather than what is. Based on accounts from other asexuals, I think it's fair to say that a lot of LGBTQ groups are not any more ace-friendly than any other group. Asexuals encounter disbelief, denial, and ignorance, same as with any other people. Perhaps an even more difficult problem is that the environment is too hypersexual, which makes many asexuals uncomfortable.

I'm glad this has been brought up, I thought I was the only one who gained an abnormal amount of hostility from LGBT persons for being asexual, which is the last place I'd expect hostility to come from. There's probably an interesting psychological analysis to be made here; maybe they're jealous of our perceived freedom from something which they had to struggle with? Maybe it warrants further investigation for investigations sake. With that in mind, I don't think it's possible for asexuals to integrate into the LGBT community, nor is there any reason to.

Siggy wrote:I'll probably ask AVEN later to provide personal experiences with ace-friendly and ace-unfriendly LGBT groups. But for now, I'm interested in generalizations. What makes a group ace-friendly, and what makes it ace-unfriendly? Any ideas?
Not relevant to the thread, but this made me realize that nobody, not one person, who I've told about my asexuality has been accepting of it. All of them have reacted negatively and continue to do so at every opportunity. It's strange that such a minor and not very threatening sexual orientation could attract so much negative perception, or maybe the people I come into contact with are just angry that I'm not sexual so they have no chance of banging me (doesn't stop them from trying still). I do notice some people get very sexually aggressive in an attempt to "snap me out of it" or "fix" me, which is quite disturbing. In light of this realization, I don't think I can tell anyone else about this integral part of my personality, which is quite of a shame.
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