Written for the September 2014 Carnival of Aces
Allies are marvelous, of that there is no doubt. In some spaces, it’s pretty trendy to rag on allies right now. Allies, after all, are not actually members of the minority group they ally with. They don’t know exactly what it’s like to be a member of that minority (although they often have a better idea than non-allies). It can be argued that they don’t have a big a stake in achieving equality as actual members of the minority group. After all, even if their parent, sibling, child, or significant other is a minority, it’s still not the same as being one yourself, having your entire life often decided by the way society and individuals view that minority group.
And yet Allies are probably one of the most important factors in advancing equality for any group. As much as we (rightfully) want to treasure the voices of the minority group members themselves, as much as we want to give them the attention when dealing with X minority group issues, as much as we want to criticize allies for their perceived faults (doing it for self-glory, only it so long as members of X group are nice enough to them, wanting to be the savior of X) they still are members of the majority. The majority that we want to convert to allies, that we want to convert to believing in our cause and aiding us in making political and social changes that we want made.
It’s only by converting a sufficient mass to ally-ness of some kind that we achieve a change in society as a whole.
So I like Allies. But where are the Allies for asexuals? I haven’t met any. I can’t say what affect they’ve had on me, on the asexual community, because I’ve never met any. Never met a blogger that was non-ace that blogged regularly about ace issues (even just as a side-facet to a larger focus on feminism, human sexuality, or LGBT+ rights).
I don’t think asexuals have a lot of Allies. Sure, we have some people that acknowledge that we exist, that asexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation. That’s good. I’ve even seen some non-asexual people stick up for asexuals and for the validity of asexuals.
Does that make an ally? Is that what we should consider an ally to asexuals? I do think that allies would have to be/do those things, believe asexuality is real (obviously!) and stick up for its validity and stand up against misinformation. But isn’t that setting the bar a little low? Shouldn’t Allies be doing something more than just believing we exist and telling some jerks off?
Shouldn’t there be at least some Allies doing actual advocacy work for asexuality? Increasing visibility, spreading information, providing resources?
For an example of the kind of work an asexual ally could be doing, we can look at The Trevor Project for instance, an organization to aid young LGBTQ people, that is neither ace-ran (as far as I know) nor ace-focused, and yet has made the effort to provide resources for asexuals in need. That is the work of advocacy. That is the work of an Ally.
So why are there so few asexual allies? There are non-asexuals out there that believe asexuality is real after all. I think it’s because they do not see the need for asexual allies, for ally work. A lot of people say “oh so you don’t want to have sex. How could that negatively impact your life?” or “no one cares that you don’t want to have sex” or “why are you even bringing it up?” or even “I think life is easier for asexuals.”
I think it’s hard for many people that aren’t actually ace to realize the problems aces deal with on a day-to-day basis. The problems and negative impact of sexualnormativity just isn’t felt by non-asexuals; how could it be? So if they don’t know the issues we face, the problems, how can they feel that there is a need for change, for improvement for aces? For advocacy, for activism? There is this belief that asexuals don’t face real problems because of their asexuality, that the only issue we have is “visibility”, and that that is a minor problem.
What can we do to change that? Well, we can stop being satisfied if someone like a friend, family member, or partner just acknowledges that asexuality exists and is real. I know; it feels amazing just to have that, but we need to push further.
We need to do deep visibility work, and get people to understand not just that we are ace and we exist, but to understand what it is like to be an ace, the problems that we face. To understand why they need to be allies, activists, and advocates as well. We need to convert our supporters into Capital-A Allies, who go further than just believing asexuality exists and supporting us as individuals. We need to make them see the reasons to work personally on improving ace representation and visibility.
Non-Ace Allies are vital and we need more of them.