Question of the Week: August 2nd, 2016

How do you feel when people think the A in extended LGBTQ+ acronyms, like LGBTQQIAA, stands for allies? 

A few months ago I came across a LGBTQ+ group whose explanation for the longer acronoym included that one A stands for asexual and the other allies. This time aromantic people were erased, but I’ve also seen ace people erased by a similar narrative. I usually feel pretty frustrated and freeze up. I want to voice my opinion and email them, but have yet to bring myself to do it. I think the authority of such a large website plays into my silence. I also really don’t like confrontation. How do you feel when people say the A stands for allies and if you feel negatively like me, how do you deal with it?

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is
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10 Responses to Question of the Week: August 2nd, 2016

  1. Alex says:

    I usualy correct folk. And then spark the sort of argument that ends with raining cats and dogs. It’s bad because that A counts as at least 4 As as far as I know: Asexual, Agender, Aromantic and Allies. And I’m part of two of those cathegories.

  2. When I was in college, that is what it stood for. I think some groups are slow to change, and many don’t really even know that we exist.
    I’m a fan of dropping The Acronym™ altogether and shifting to something general and deliberately inclusive. The Acronym™ is completely unsustainable. You can keep adding letters, but someone somewhere will always get left out, and then people will still use the fact that someone got left out to say “You’re not on the list, you don’t belong here.”

    • sparris says:

      Yeah, good idea. The list will only get longer and look more and more ridiculous and soon nobody will be able to remember what any of the letters stand for. 🙂

  3. Sennkestra says:

    I don’t really feel negatively about it, just because that’s what I’ve seen it mean for years, and it’s only recently that anyone has even thought to include “asexual” at all. So I see “A is for asexual and ally” as a step forward, not step back.

    And like, objectively speaking from a linguistics perspective, when people think the A in LGBTQIA stands for ally….they’re usually correct. Having the A stand for anything else is a very new proposal, and I don’t think lambasting people for not knowing that or ridiculing them as ignorant for thinking that helps change things.

    In some ways I actually have a fondness for the Ally-A in acronyms because as an ace person back in ye olde days of 2010, blatant inclusion of allies made spaces feel safer for me – an atmosphere that welcomed allies also tended to be one less likely to have a lot of “you must be this gay to ride” style gatekeeping; and places that had an already expanded acronym seem to have been much more open to adding in the A for Asexual as well.

  4. Victrix says:

    My state has a Commissioner for Sexuality and Gender. I believe in an interview following her appointment she explained she doesn’t use the acronym as it isn’t inclusive enough and isn’t able to accommodate the growing number of identities.

  5. Siggy says:

    I don’t really like the acronym in general. People can always just say, “I’d like to include more people, but what a mouthful!” and I sympathize with that because it’s not like I’m going to go around saying LGBTQIAP all the time myself. The message of the acronym is that including more people comes at a price, and the mouthful of letters is symbolic of that price. The acronym runs contrary to the message that unity is strength.

    When people include A, but only for allies, it’s like they’re willing to put in the effort, but not willing to put in the effort for us.

  6. The Asexual Mathematician says:

    I let people know based on how comfortable I am with them and how comfortable they are to the notion of people being non-straight. Otherwise, I, like you, tend to avoid confrontation.

  7. It gets me pretty riled up to hear people say that the A is only for Allies. I don’t mind them being included because it is an important part of the community to have, but I am also quick to correct people who forget about the other 3 A’s.

    I did a paper for one of my classes on the Modern Gay Rights Movement and how that has transitioned from Gay Liberation into the Acronym From Hell and how it has many smaller branches (like Asexual Awareness). So what I did in my presentation for it was to spend two slides discussing the acronym and why Allies are not the only A. It was a little like hitting my classmates over the head with a blunt object repeatedly, but it got the point across really well in a way that they understood.

  8. Rachel says:

    This is a weird one for me. On the one hand, I passively avoid LGBTQ+ spaces, so the whole “A is for Allies!” at the expense of the other As is more hypothetical than real (as it effects me). On the other hand, it reinforces my, for lack of a better way to put it, mistrust of LGBTQ+, as it demonstrates a lack of consideration for or acknowledgement of us aces, aros, and agender people. On the other other hand, I completely agree that The Acronym ™ is extremely unwieldy, which is why I stick to LGBTQ+ to save on typing, even at the expense of leaving out the letters I do occupy.

  9. Jen says:

    I used to think that everybody assumed A stood for “allies”, but I make a bigger deal about it these days because visibility is important. I never felt like I belonged in queer spaces until one of my dance mentors defined the A as “asexual” when explaining who should be applying to her queerlesque school and festival. That inclusion gave me the confidence to sign up and actually start performing so that made me recognize the importance of the A standing for “asexual”.

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