A is for (the Equinox video- now with updates)

text reads A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, on an illustration of a girl falling down stairs
The above is the first page of
The Gashlycrumb Tinies: A Very Gorey Alphabet Book by prolific illustrator and author Edward Gorey.

But this post is in regards to the video put out by Equinox for pride month (which you can watch here).

Sorry, Equinox.

A is for Asexuals and Aromantics and Agender people.

A is not for Allies.  Allies don’t get a letter.

To break it down in no particular order:

  1.  Allies are, by the very definition of the word ally itself, not members of the marginalized group.  They do not suffer from the systemic oppression and erasure that affects every member of the group.
  2.   Asexual, Aromantic, amd Agender are primary identities; Ally is not.  The word ally describes a relationship to another group of people (see above), not a identity that stands on its own.
  3.   Priority belongs to actual members of the marginalized community, along with their needs and lived experiences.  Prioritizing Allies contributes to the exclusion and erasure of Asexuals, Aromantics, and Agender people.

Allies don’t suffer from the systemic oppression and erasure that affects everyone in the marginalized group.

They don’t have people telling them that allyship is not a real thing, that its all in their head, that it’s a kind of mental illness or physical debility, that they need to have their allyship corrected with medication or therapy or *corrective violence*. They do not have those same people telling them in the next breath that their allyship must be a trauma response to abuse in their past. They are not harassed by doctors and medical professionals as if allyship is a health problem they are neglecting.

They don’t have people telling them that they’ll grow out of it, that they’re only being immature, that if they tried not being an ally they’d see what they’ve been missing all this time and that would be the end of that. They don’t usually get lectured so much about how they’re only pretending in order to be the center of attention (well, they do, but for different reasons) or because they think they’re so dmn special and better than everyone else.

Whereas a/gray/demisexuals *do* go through all of that (and much more)-
*and a/demiromantics go through a lot of erasure and harassment of their own*-

and agender people have their own erasure and harassments as well (hell I even forgot to mention agender people the first time I posted this!  I am so sorry & also I get agender feels myself sometimes so what the hell) –

and quite often within the lgbtqia+ community itself.

We show up to pride parades and not only find we’ve been forgotten again but also get flak for showing up because apparently we’re not real and therefore can’t be queer. We get left out of so many videos, memes, meetings, parades, conversations. We get left out, erased, and harassed by our own group, in addition to the systemic oppression faced by all in the lgbtqia+ community.

See: Asexual oppression

To repeat:  Allies don’t get a letter because they do not face the *systemic oppression* that the marginalized group itself does.  Allies don’t get a letter because they don’t suffer from *erasure*.

White allies of PoC do not suffer from the systemic racism that PoC do. Feminist men do not suffer from institutionalized misogyny.   Neurotypical allies do not suffer from rampant ableism.

Nobody’s overlooking the stories and needs of white/ straight/ neurotypical/ male-identifying people.  This very debate highlights how people are prioritizing non-LGBTQIA+ allies and erasing asexuals and aromantics.

Asexual, Aromantic, and Agender are primary identities; Ally is not.

Who is an ally?  They are people outside of the marginalized group, who support the group.  Without that group, or the context of that group, describing a person as an ally is nonsensical.  They were people (probably straight/ cis/ dyadic/ heteronormative/ gender dimorphic people) before they supported the marginalized group.  A person’s primary identity is not Ally.  Being an ally is not a core aspect, or even a fixed aspect, of who a person is.

Plus, I would still identify myself as and consider myself to be demisexual even if there were no systemic oppression leveled against me any longer whereas nobody would be termed an ally in that case because there would be no systemic oppression and erasure to fight against, hence no allies in that fight.

Priority belongs to actual members of the marginalized community, along with their needs and lived experiences.

I’m an ally to people of color *and because of that* I know that their community should be centered around them and their needs, and that non-PoC allies *are already at the table*- they were at the table first! If anything, over half the table belongs to them, and they maybe should be offering the more marginalized and oppressed people a couple of their own seats.

Black History Month should center on the lived experiences of PoC, not of white abolitionists.  Women’s History Month should center on the lived experiences of women, not men who gave women the vote.  Autism Acceptance Month should center on the lived experiences of autistic people, not neurotypical cheerleaders.

And LGBTQIA+ Pride Month should center on those marginalized and systematically oppressed on the grounds of gender and sexuality, not their allies.

“But Allies are good”

I get that people think allies should be given credit for, well, for being allies.  Sure.  But that doesn’t mean they get a letter of their own in the very acronym that names the marginalized group.  You know, the marginalized group they are allies with but technically can’t belong to.  Especially when giving allies a letter erases minorities who are still struggling to be recognized as members of the marginalized group.

So, good for those allies for being brave and decent human beings?  Is there an expectation here that allies want payment for treating us with decency and respect?  Let’s remember that the allies are in a comparably privileged position, if anyone is going to be giving out gifts.  No good ally is going to ask for a gift that further marginalizes and erases members of the community; no good ally is going to think they are owed payment for being a good ally.

What if, what if, brave and decent human beings were the norm? Would we still need to give them a letter?  (see above:  if there were no more systemic oppression against the LGBTQIA+ community, they wouldn’t even be called allies anymore.)

What if it is highly problematic to say that acting as a brave and decent human being is a special thing not to be expected from the rest of society? What if it is highly problematic to indicate that brave and decent people belong to the marginalized and oppressed group by default?

Especially when it contributes to the erasure of people so marginalized they are still fighting to be acknowledged by the marginalized group itself?

tl;dr-
It’s the asexuals, aromantics, and agender people here who need to finally be allowed full membership and representation in their own community.

Adding this brilliant comic (source )

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(Also I am horrible at providing trigger warnings but I will add them if you ask; sorry; I’ll get better)

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Privilege

When discussing privilege, the aim should be to realize each other’s experiences as equally real and valid, with a sense of context and history.

A mainstream Christian who claims religious discrimination because someone wished them Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas rightfully offends a Jewish person whose business was grafittied with swastikas and death threats, or a Muslim woman wearing hijab who was surrounded by drunks and shoved and kicked and had a gun pulled on her or was pissed on.

A nondisabled person who complains of reverse discrimination because there are six handicapped spaces in front of Walmart that he has no access to is being an ass.

And I have been in scary situations as a white person, but the police never once assumed that I was a threat to them in routine interactions with me, and I have no one in my entire family who has ever experienced any kind of violence at their hands, no matter our behavior. (They have assumed that my autistic son was defiantly noncompliant for simply not understanding them immediately and acting exactly as they expected, which is absolutely horrifying, but they did LISTEN to me as a white person in a way that I have not seen them grant to people of color trying to explain the same situation.)

Can anyone fire you from your job without excuse or recourse simply for who you are? Because some lgbt people have to deal with that level of discrimination and difficulty.

ETC.

So, is my life all roses and lollipops? No, but I do acknowledge that I have more privilege than some, and that it makes a real difference in our lives.

Passing

Sometimes I feel like every bit of who I am has to pass (or, try to pass, if at all possible) off as something else, like it’s not safe/okay to be me as-is.

I realize that I am privileged in many ways, but I still have this feeling.

My autistic self feels like it has to pass as neurotypical.  My queer self has to pass as straight (and my pansexual self has to pass as bi).  My trans self has to pass as cis.  My non-binary self has to pass as binary (feminine).  My demi-sexual self has to pass as at least as sex-obsessed as the rest of American society.

My political self has to pass as ?honestly America, I can’t tell exactly what your politics are these days, but they’re not mine.

My working-class self has to pass as middle class.  My forty-year-old self has to pass as younger.  My introvert self has to pass as extrovert.  My atheist self has to pass as Christian.  Even my vegan self has to pass as meat-eating (in some places, saying you’re vegan is like making baby Jesus cry).

I am white, so, that’s huge.  So much privilege there.

Not sure what I’m supposed to do about feeling connected to my “roots”, though.  What are white roots minus cultural appropriation and the history of colonization and exploitation?  What am I left with- Wonder bread and tv game shows?  Do I go old school and bust out the bonnets and prairie dresses?  I’m only like 1/18th any particular descent line, so suddenly pretending to honor my Welsh (Irish, German, French, etc) ancestors that I don’t even know the names of would be about as bad as proclaiming my kinship to the infamously ubiquitous Cherokee princess who apparently was great-grandmother to all white people in the U.S.  /sarcasm

Being white gives me so much privilege, but not much real identity. Being white in itself is not something that I feel I can be proud of…  Being a white American invokes quite a lot of guilt and often shame in me.  Sometimes I wish I could pass as non-white (no pigment, no chance) just to escape that.  And then I feel a really complicated mess of guilt and grief and embarrassment over that.  Is there any aspect of who I am that I can be at peace with, in the greater context of society?

Still, I know how privileged I am by being white.  :/

Here’s to a future where no one feels they have to pass, for any reason (especially not for safety or for self-worth/ to avoid shame), because people are accepted, acknowledged, and appreciated for who they are.

Someday

 

jotting

Here is a note to myself to think upon and return again to one day a theme which has been important for humanity probably since the beginning (I mean, off the top of my head is the myth of  Chiron from Ancient Greece ):  the wounded healer.

Our pain is an asset (even if sometimes it is also a curse).

A list of recently-encountered examples I can add to and keep track of:

Lucy Stone’s migraines

Emma Goldman’s constant pain from a “female disorder”

Rachel Carson’s cancer

Emily Dickinson’s (apparent) tuberculosis

Outside the box

I identify as non-binary.  I am genderfluid and do not fit into either/or categories.  Yet the other day I was presented with my first official form (you know, besides facebook) that had more than two gender  options to choose from.  The options were  man, woman, or other.

And I chose woman.

I’ve been thinking on why I made that choice and I wanted to save my ideas here as a kind of historical marker in the journey of growing into whoever I eventually grow to be.  (I don’t know who that person is yet.  Hopefully they will be a calmer, more confident, more knowledgable version of who I am now.)

I chose woman in part because I gave birth to a son and a daughter, breastfed them for two and a half years each, and am known to many people as his mom, her mom, my mom, or just a mom.

I was also a wife for 19 years and was known to many people primarily as his wife.

And then of course I am known as daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and cousin in a generation of only girls.  I am afab and I am predominantly parsed as a woman  every day of my life.

I acknowledge and feel and live my non-binary truth, but society often erases it even as it’s happening.  So you’d think if I had a chance to make my non-binary self official, that’s what I’d choose to do.

But I am seen as woman, and therefore treated as woman. Much of my experience, much of my personal history, is seated in womanhood.  I go through what women go through.  And in that respect, I do identify as woman.

Looking at the choices offered-   man, woman, other- I think:  I am not a man.  I am a woman.  I am other.

Other.  That damn word again.  I am other, and I am often othered by society (for many things, only not usually for gender).  But being othered is not something I would choose for myself.  Being othered is something that happens to me.  Being othered is something that I fight against.

In the end, all these choices are boxes.  They do not really represent any progress in society.  Are you man?  Are you woman?  Or shall we other you?   Being forced into an either/or box that doesn’t fit used to be the only option.  But if the new, additional option is simply to be othered…  That is not progress.

Other is the worst box to be in.

It is not a safe place to be.

My choice makes sense to me now.  I wonder what I’d choose, the later me, somewhere down the road.