Be Nice It's Tuesday


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Plus

I think most people know the LGBT acronym, standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, which has been used for a long time. I don’t know how long, but I know that’s how I first heard the acronym several years ago. Nowadays it’s often written as LGBTQ, although people often get confused about whether the Q stands for Questioning, Queer, both, something else entirely. And I guess that’s the biggest problem of the acronym; confusion.

Writing and saying LGBTQ does start to become a bit of a mouthful, but it’s still leaving so many people out. The longest I’ve seen it written is LGBTQIA. Here we’ve got the A, standing for Asexual, Aromantic, Agender and (???) Allies, and I for Intersex, which is not the same as transgender, non-binary or agender. And even once you’re writing a 7 letter acronym it’s missing people out. Where’s the P for Pansexual and Polyamorous? Why should demisexual/romantic people have to share the already over-crowded A?

I absolutely support people using these labels, and I absolutely condemn the (minority of) (usually) straight people who make ‘jokes’ of writing the acronym with many random letters, or who say they are all ‘made up’ labels. I also understand that for many people, particularly those who are heterosexual and cisgender, it can be difficult to keep track of such detailed, ever-developing language.

But I hope that you, whoever is reading this, can understand how it feels to not be cis-het, but be left out of the acronym. I can only speak from the perspective of being asexual, but I imagine other people share my feelings. Every time I see someone write or say LGBT, or LGBTQ, or more recently frequently LGBTQI, I think ‘but what about me?’ (a very selfish thought, I know, but I’m only human). It feels like just another reminder that so much of society ignores my very existence, and why I still don’t feel able to come out to most of my friends and family. Not because they wouldn’t accept it, because they just don’t know what it is. But this isn’t just a problem of a predominantly straight society. So many people within the LGBT community only talk about LGBT or LGBTQ, which feels even more like being shunned from what should be a safe, welcoming, inclusive community.

As I said, I understand how confusing it can get. And in general conversation you probably don’t have breath left for that many letters, and if you do it just hurts your jaw after a while (is it just me who dislikes acronyms in general?). But! There is an easy way to get around this. A way to include EVERYONE, without having to remember so many letters and orders etc. And that is the +. Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with this, the plus sign (written +, said ‘plus’) can be added to the end of the acronym to mean ‘and others’. A lot of the time it is used. But a lot of the time, and not just by straight people, it is neglected. You might think it is a small and insignificant detail, I mean, who even notices? Me, I notice. Sure, I’d love it if everyone included asexuality and all other identities at all times, but I’m perfectly happy to sit on that little + rather than be completely left out.

Seriously, I don’t expect many people to really understand how much impact the presence or absence of a + can have on someone (outside a maths class), I was surprised by my own feeling on the matter. But please, whoever you are, listen to what I have said, and do one thing for me. Every time you need to talk or write about people who are not cis-het, use the plus. LGBT+, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, whatever you use, just add the +.

Please.

Thank you.

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So…I’m ace

I think the first time I heard the term ‘asexual’ was in about year 9 when my friend and I were discussing another friend, I’ll call him Ben, who had been saying he would never be in a relationship. The friend I was talking to said ‘Ben must be asexual’. I think I was also told by a friend that straight people fall in love with people who are the opposite gender/sex (this was way before finding out that those can be different things), gay men fall in love with men, lesbians fall in love with women, bisexuals fall in love with anyone, and asexuals fall in love with no one. And while over last two years I learnt a lot more about different sexualities and gender, my thoughts on asexuality didn’t change. So when I started to question why I had so didn’t want to do any sexy stuff when loads of other people were, and I was in love my boyfriend and he wanted to, I never really considered that I might be asexual. After all, I was in love, I had been before, I had ‘liked’ several guys, and mainly enjoyed being in relationships (although only with people I’d already been friends with, I never ‘dated’ or anything). I honestly thought there was something a bit wrong with me, because I didn’t understand why people were so obsessed with sex, and people talked about wanting to do stuff with people they didn’t even know. Like I can see that someone is aesthetically nice to look at (I am so impressed that I just spelt that right first try), but that’s all the feeling was.
Over the summer I started watching Evan Edinger on YouTube, and sound his video about being demisexual, and thought, hey! This sounds like me! But then I started reading and talking to people online (always be careful doing this, especially non-adults out there) and watching videos and learning so much about the ace and aro spectrums. And it is pretty confusing. I’m always torn about all the labels out there; only having a few labels and expecting people to fit neatly into one is never going to work. But everyone is different, and labels can be restricting. Very simply, I’m saying I am grey-asexual.
This New Year Ben, who I’ve lost touch with a bit, announced on Facebook that he has a girlfriend. I told a friend this at a party and he said ‘Strange, I always thought Ben was asexual’. I replied ‘Well he still might be, there’s a difference between asexual and aromantic’. I got a non-committal ‘eh’ in response. I also got rather fed up this holiday with my friends talking of sex all the time, one of them making jokes about the fact that my ex and I had never slept together – which is out of line, whatever the reason for us not doing it – and just generally the constant feeling I have from them that we all should be having sex. But I don’t really feel like I can tell them, and one of the main things putting me off is knowing how much explanation I would have to give.
So I urge you all, whether you think you might be ace or you know you aren’t, to educate yourselves a bit on this topic, because I have no hope of explaining it all in a coherent way. I think YouTube is a good place to start, as well as Evan Edinger’s My Sexuality, I’ve been watching Ashley Mardell’s videos about ace and aro, which seem to explain every term that could possible be out there, and AmeliaAce. I would recommend all of these, and a lot of them give links to more things that you can read. I know there’s also loads more out there, so if you have any suggestions, or just want to say anything about ths topic, please leave a comment.
Having this new perspective on myself raises questions and potential problems, but it’s made me feel so happy and at peace knowing that it’s not something wrong with me, and there are other people out there who feel like me 🙂