About the whole anti-GLAAD “#Giveitback” thing

Update: Glad has changed the phrasing “A is for ally” to “Be an Ally. Build Acceptance”, which fixed really the only thing about this that was potentially a problem, so kudos on them for a prompt and reasonable response.


So I have mixed feelings about the whole #Giveitback thing that’s going on right now.

On the one hand, I like seeing the outpouring of support for asexual/aromantic/agender people and the clever messaging. On the other hand…the GLAAD campaign is not who we should be targeting with this, and I feel like some of the people throwing themselves into this have sort of had a reactionary response to the phrase “A is for ally” without actually looking at the context it came in. There are a lot of shitty instance of people trying to insert “Ally” into the LGBTQIA acronym while excluding other identities, but this is not one of them.

If you read through GLAADs campaign materials, you can see that they are very, very careful never to equate being an ally with being LGBT, not do they ever imply that there should be an A for “Ally” as part of the LGBT acronym. (Heck, even the graphics emphasizing the A clearly use it in a manner unrelated to the LGBT acronym).

Yes, “A is for Ally” is often used to erase asexuals in other contexts (i.e. when defining LGBTQIA as including ally but not asexual) but this is not what GLAAD is doing here. It’s an unfortunate choice of wording by them given how easily it’s misinterpreted, but what it isn’t is actual erasure. The focus here is on allies because the whole point is to focus on people who are not LGBT, like…..allies.

This campaign is asking allies to do exactly what allies should do – which is support LGBT people by using their privilege and position to help fight anti-LGBT attitudes in their communities.

It’s not coming from a place of demanding that allies have access to LGBT spaces, it’s responding to the fact that a large portion of the straight cis populace still expresses discomfort at the idea of being near or even seeing LGBT people – and pointing out that straight/cis allies have the power and the obligation to help change that.


About Sennkestra

I'm an aro ace and a bit of an [a]sexuality nerd; an officer worker by day and an ace community organizer and activist by night. When I'm not reading stuff on the internet I like to cook fancy food, watch anime, and make arts and crafts projects.
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4 Responses to About the whole anti-GLAAD “#Giveitback” thing

  1. Ace in Translation says:

    I agree with you. GLAAD isn’t perfect, but I think the noise about “giveitback” is taking away from the message GLAAD is trying to send about needing support from people who don’t consider themselves part of the LGBT+/queer community – which is important for us A’s too!
    Using the [A] in their campaign is perhaps the most recognisable way to appeal to (potential) allies – even if it’s a rather unfortunate word choice considering the sensitivity of some people about the whole “A is for ally” business -, but I don’t think inherently trying to erase asexual/aromantic/agender people from “the cause”.

    I was actually surprised by the number of hits you get when you search the GLAAD website for “asexual”. They’ve got some articles about us (the latest during the awareness week) which are really great educational and supportive posts. For a big LGBT organisation that’s … surprising. Most don’t even like to mention asexuality on their website – let alone making attempts to explain the larger ace spectrum and mentioning aromanticism: http://www.glaad.org/blog/busting-myths-honor-asexual-awareness-week

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s fair to say that GLAAD isn’t specifically out to erase the A-spectrum community.

    Here’s the problem, though. Too many people, both outside and within the LGBT+ community, have never heard of asexuality. Or, if they have heard of it they still don’t understand what it actually is and that it’s a real thing. Let alone the fact that three whole identities must share a letter that’s not always included in the acronym.

    By not informing people what the “A” is actually intended for, especially with how this campaign is designed and set up, the only assumption any bystander could make is that the “A” stands for “ally” instead. This *is* erasure, whether it’s intended or not! Why? Because this assumption prevents awareness. It prevents people from asking “What’s that A stand for?” since they already assume it’s for allies.

    Yes, it’s important to raise awareness for gay marriage, bullying and so on and get people that are not in the community on board. However, it should NEVER be at the expense of a community that is struggling for a voice as is. It shouldn’t be OK to back a campaign that we know by experience is so easily misleading.

    • I agree. The whole “ally inclusion” thing has always made me feel a little… wary. It seems like this is the only movement that puts so much emphasis on those outside of the community. You don’t see the same focus on what white people can do for racial minorities, or able-bodied people can do for those with disabilities. Yes, there’s always the “give what you can” theme, but not to such a degree that people in those communities are silenced. And when they are – when the media focuses more on white contributions to the ending of slavery, for example, there usually IS a community uproar. And we should have one too. Enough people in our community already think asexuals don’t belong; having more emphasis on allies than an actual portion of the community can only be seen as erasure, as well-meaning as it was intended to be.

  3. Pingback: Linkspam: February 13th, 2015 | The Asexual Agenda

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