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Freedom Requires Wings FRW The #1 QUILTBAG opinion blog on the web. We aim to open minds and help the queer community. News, blogs, video, worldwide suicide prevention and more. Worldwide

"QUILTBAG" and "Ally" are NOT Mutually Exclusive Identities!

Freedom Requires Wings | by on




(via George Takei's facebook page)
Happy June, everyone! June is (at least here in the U.S.) LGBT Pride Month, and as a result, I’ve noticed the image at the beginning of this post resurfacing a lot on various social media websites. As in previous years when it’s come to my attention, while I love the fact that there are so many allies out there who are being boldly vocal and posting this image as a reflection of themselves on the internet, there is something about the wording of the image that has always bothered me. Even before I fully self-identified as asexual, I always wanted to post this image in support of my LGBT friends, but felt that I couldn’t, because it would be a lie to claim that “I am not gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, intersex, or asexual.” I want to be an ally to my friends and family, but I don’t want to misrepresent my own identity in doing so. This begs the question, which has been on my mind a lot lately: Do you have to be straight to be an ally? And if so, why? Why should the fact that I am asexual mean that I can’t be an ally to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. communities, and vice versa?

I will start off by saying that I don’t know the answers to these questions. Everything I have to say about this topic is pure speculation on my part, just the musings of my own mind. I don’t have research or studies to back it up, and I’m not throwing it out there as fact, just as my own observations and reflections on the situation.

I don’t remember the first time I became aware of the existence of the QUILTBAG community. I have no recollection of not knowing and then being introduced to someone, or anything like that. I do remember that at one point during college, three of my closest friends came out to me (one as bisexual, two as lesbian) in the span of about a month. I remember feeling really good about the strength of those friendships, for them to feel like they could confide in me about such a personal topic. I also remember wanting them to know that as their friend, I would be there for them no matter what, especially being aware of the general lack of acceptance in society. I always identified as an ally, since at the time I didn’t even know that asexuality existed, let alone anything about my own sexuality. My crushes had always been guys, so I just assumed I was straight (societal heteronormativity, anyone?). So whenever online quizzes or memes (this was in the ancient, pre-facebook days) would ask, my answer was always that I was straight, but that I supported gay rights/gay marriage, because I have always believed that love is love, and love does not discriminate.

When I finally began to recognize my own asexuality, at first I figured I was in a pretty good position as far as coming out. I had so many friends who were already heavily involved in the LGBT community, it seemed like a built-in support group. And it was true to some extent. The first people I chose to come out to were all family and friends who I knew were either actively working as allies, or members of the community themselves. However, I quickly discovered something I hadn’t previously been aware of. While the LGBT community was very vocal and visible (I had already been to at least one Pride festival at that point), I still felt like an outsider among them. To quote my favorite holiday television special of all time, “How do you like that? Even among misfits, you’re misfits!” Even though we try to unify our community under the QUILTBAG umbrella, there is still an inherent division between the different identities among us.

So, getting back to this troublesomely worded image. Every time I see it, it makes me cringe a little bit. I want so badly to post it, because what it says about equal rights is exactly how I feel. But I will never be able to post it, because the qualifier of identity excludes me. So I ask again, why can’t I be asexual and ALSO be an ally for the other identities in our community? Why can’t we support and stand up for each other? It seems to me that should be just as important if not more so than having the support of individuals outside of the QUILTBAG spectrum. After all, how can we ask the hetero-dominated world at large to accept us as equals if we can’t even ask each other?

Obviously, there’s a simple solution here. I could just create my own image to post on the internet that preaches the same message of equality without excluding fellow QUILTBAGers from participation. There’s no reason why belonging to the umbrella community should preclude anyone from being an ally to others who fall under different parts of the umbrella. The problem isn’t the image itself. It’s the message that we’re sending to our own community. It’s a message of division, the same “us vs. them” mentality that keeps equality from becoming our reality, but working internally, within our own ranks. As the old saying goes, “united we stand, divided we fall.” In order for equality to triumph, we need to be working together, all of us as allies to each other, as well as our straight allies out in the greater global community. If we continue to define ourselves as separate, as different, as something to notice, how can we expect the world to see us as true equals, as nothing to give a second glance to, as the same as any other human beings?

So rather than create a new image to post all over social media, I simply say this in honor of Pride Month: I am asexual and proud. I am also an ally and equally proud. And I challenge each of you to say, do, and live the same, so that we can achieve our ultimate goal of equality for all.
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