Responses Wanted: Aces, what has your experience been with LGBT or Queer groups?

I’m going to be helping give a workshop on making asexual safe spaces this weekend at a youth conference for the GSA network, and one of the things we’re hoping to do is share the voices of more aces than just the presenters.

In particular, we’re looking for your own words about any experiences you may or may not have had with groups like Gay-Straight Alliancesm or Pride or Spectrum groups, or other LGBT or Queer groups:

Did things go well?

Did things go not so well?

Do you prefer to seek out such spaces? why or why not?

Do you have access to such spaces?

Do you feel welcome in such spaces? As a queer person? as an ally?

Any quotes would be anonymous, and really anything helps – even just a few sentences. If you’ve posted anything on the subject that you wouldn’t mind letting us share, that would also be awesome.

If you have anything to add, please feel free to message me, submit, or just add it in a reblog! It would be a huge help to us, and I think it does good to have voices from a wide variety of experiences and perspectives.

-Many Thanks

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About Sennkestra

I'm an aromantic asexual and a bit of an [a]sexuality nerd, recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in linguistics. When I'm not reading stuff on the internet I like to cook fancy food, watch anime, and make costumes and other arts and crafts projects.
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5 Responses to Responses Wanted: Aces, what has your experience been with LGBT or Queer groups?

  1. Gemina says:

    I’ve had two main experiences with LGBT groups (actually, it was the same group twice, but a year later the second time); the first time I went there, I was greeted with the idea that I was “vibeless” (the girl I was talking to seemed thrilled with herself, because that apparently explained why I hadn’t shown up on her “gaydar”) and then a “discount lesbian”. I got a lot of the typical “how do you live without sex?!” and “How do you know if you’ve never tried it??”. The meeting itself actually opened with the leaders of the group making a snide remark about how they’d wanted to include favorite sexual positions in introductions, but the asexuals had complained, so they wouldn’t (everyone still mentioned theirs anyways, except the couple of people uncomfortable with it). It was hurtful, and I decided it wasn’t for me and didn’t come back until the following year. The atmosphere was changed when I got there and more accepting (though I still got a few bewildered LGBT individuals who could not understand it or accept it, and suggested I’d been abused). The only reason I continued going to this group was because that’s where I met my asexual girlfriend.

  2. Maria says:

    I feel that I am welcomed as an ally to LGBT spaces. However, as a queer person, I have felt excluded from because my experiences have only been with hypersexualized LGBT safe spaces. Beyond the whole “asexuality = lack of sexual attraction, though not necessarily lack of sex” basic definition of our orientation, I think a lot of (a)romantic aces [including me] are trying to bring about more discussion about the fluidity of human relationships and how sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and sensual attraction are very different things. While some LGBT people I’ve talked to support and are interested in these ideas, the few groups I’ve visited, for the most part, acted as if I was attacking an essential part of the ‘gay identity’. While of course every queer and ally is different, my encounters with LGBT groups and communities have indicated that they see asexuals as different, valuable as allies but outsiders nonetheless. I used to want to be a part of the LGBT community, but even though I’m sure there are more inclusive groups out there I just haven’t meet, I’ve become a bit disenfranchised from seeking them out. So I am an LGBT ally from a distance, and mainly hang around the handful of active ace safe places I know of.

  3. I tried to leave my response on the tumblr post for this but nothing makes me feel old and un-savvy like tumblr so let’s try this again…

    I asked some similar questions in one of my informal surveys last year and I’ve collected more responses since then but these posts are from what I collected after having the survey up for a little over a month:

    http://acesanswer.tumblr.com/post/10913790547/whoops-the-orange-slice-is-supposed-to-be-labeled

    http://acesanswer.tumblr.com/post/10913813411

    http://acesanswer.tumblr.com/post/10913742541/with-time-i-hope-to-be-able-to-say-asexual

    If people gave me permission to include their name with quotes then I did, if not then I gave them a number.

    As for my answers:

    Did things go well? – I was involved with a college group, identifying as generically queer because I didn’t know about asexuality and I felt pretty awful not having any way to describe what I was feeling and it was actually an event that the group held (bringing David Jay to speak) that was my light bulb moment that there was a word for what I was! I’m forever grateful to that group leader for being more aware than I was. Immediately after I graduated I volunteered with an LGBT community center and members of the center (mostly teens) said a lot of really unkind (though mostly just uninformed) things about being ace but the director always helped to inform them so that I didn’t always have to out myself when it didn’t feel safe and I’m also extremely grateful to that director for making those first couple years of identify as ace easier by not having to defend my orientation when I wasn’t prepared for it.

    Did things go not so well? – Years later I was involved with AAW and I contacted both the LGBT student group and LGBT Community center that had previously been Ace Positive and I was told by both that they were not interested in doing any Asexuality-Related Programming. The Community Center (which used to have pamphlets about AVEN) no longer had any materials for aces but assured me that “everyone” was welcome… even though they weren’t interested in doing any education about asexuality for its members and, as far as they knew, didn’t have any asexual members. Tip for Queer Group Leaders: If you think you don’t have any ace members, it’s probably because they aren’t out as ace… and what should that tell you about how safe the environment feels?

    Do you prefer to seek out such spaces? why or why not? – I used to and I still occasionally attend group meet-and-greets but I haven’t gotten seriously involved in any for years.

    Do you have access to such spaces? – Yes, there are groups where I live now.

    Do you feel welcome in such spaces? As a queer person? as an ally? – Depends on the event. I usually test the waters a little before coming out. I remember being at one event and saying I was ace and not having to explain what that meant or answer a bunch of hostile questions and that was awesome, but that’s not usually how it happens. Generally I expect that I’ll be greeted with some hostility and disbelief when or if I come out (based on past experiences) so the sentiment toward aces has to be tested at every group, every meet-and-greet.

  4. Pingback: Linkspam: December 21st, 2012 | The Asexual Agenda

  5. Katter says:

    A belated response:

    Both in undergrad and graduate school (I went to a different university for each), I contacted the staff of the office in question about whether they had any spaces or groups in place for asexuals (there weren’t, but I was informed that such groups were welcome to use the space). In both cases, the directors, etc. I talked with were very supportive, and I feel like I gained support from my sporadic meetings with them despite the fact that my attempts to establish an asexual social group from the student body were unsuccessful in both cases. In both cases, I was offered the use of the physical space, but it was left up to me to do the work of actually constructing the group.

    And alright, fair enough. My attempts in undergrad fell flat, around the same time it became clear to me that I didn’t have the first clue about how to establish a student group. I never quite rallied my willpower, and never gave it a second try after the first attempted meeting attracted exactly zero other asexuals (though the director did print out some copies of the asexuality pamphlet created over at Aven years back, and make them available on the wall of pamphlets). My attempts in grad school worked out a little better; I was also able to place an ad in the weekly gender and sexuality center email, and attracted three or four fellow asexuals to a meeting (this was a larger campus, too, which I think meant my odds were better in the first place). This time, the group faltered because while all of use who got together that night got along well, found common interests, and talked a good deal about starting a group properly, none of us took the reins and actually did it. I was in the second year of seeking my master’s degree, and frankly I was not in a great emotional place, and adding the responsibility of organizing a student group was too much.

    In both cases, I never really hung out or tried to meet the regulars of the queer space apart from a handful of aborted attempts. Despite the fact that everyone I met in each space was very friendly, I always felt like a bit of an imposter for being there. In grad school I attended some meetings for a general queer activism group, initially because their description said they’d be addressing asexual issues amongst many others. After the first few meetings revealed that asexual issues weren’t really high on the agenda, I stuck around because the stuff we *were* advocating for was still important, even if it didn’t directly benefit me. Ultimately, I didn’t stick around through even a full semester there, either, because by that point the stress of grad school had set in, and I tend to respond to stress and depression by becoming as much of a hermit as a city-dweller can be. I think I had a better chance of becoming a part of the social group at the gender and sexuality center of the second university, both in terms of that space being right for me and me being in the right place in my life for it (as an undergrad student, it took me longer than I like to admit to get out of a heteronormative mindset I hadn’t realized I had), but it still came to nothing because I got derailed by my own issues and my own priorities at the time.

    In both cases, I approached the issue wrong, by thinking of the queer space/support structure as a vehicle to create an asexual space/support structure. I was at a point in my life when I really wanted an asexual meatspace, but perhaps I would have been able to contribute to and receive support from the existing community if I hadn’t gone in with that mindset. As it was, I wasn’t around long enough in either to get to know anyone or probably to be missed when I disappeared again.

    Feel free to quote, etc. This is not my usual screenname, so you can use it without concern that any of this would be linked back to me in a potentially negative way.

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