The Homosaurus has an entry for Asexuality!

This was cross-posted to my Tumblr.

So I just found this LGBT thesaurus called Homosaurus last night via Twitter and, as per usual, I went to look up if they had something on asexuality. And they did:

Prefered Label: asexuality

Description: lack of sexual attraction to others or the lack of interest in sex

Identifier: asexuality

Issued (Created): 2015-11-25

Modified: 2015-11-25

But what’s a thesaurus?

Well, the Merriam-Webster says:

a : a book of words or of information about a particular field or set of concepts; especially : a book of words and their synonyms.

b : a list of subject headings or descriptors usually with a cross-reference system for use in the organization of a collection of documents for reference and retrieval.

They’re basically thematic lists of selected words used mainly by libraries and archives to describe and organize their material. Think of the canonical tags in AO3 and other systems that let you index and filter stuff. (In fact, you can think deeply about that checking this paper on fandom folksonomy. Anyway.)

Tell me more about this Homosaurus thing

Here’s what the front page of the site says:

This is an International Thesaurus of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Index Terms that is currently used by https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net.

This vocabulary was originally a project of the International Homo/Lesbian Informatiecentre & Archives and compiled by Jack van der Wel (with support of Ellen Greenblatt) in 2013. That offline document has been transcrabed [sic] into the Linked Data provider under development here.

The Digital Transgender Archive was launched in January 2016, so it makes sense that they updated their thesaurus by the end of the previous year, before putting it online. The DTA focus on materials created before the year 2000, so currently they don’t seem to have any asexuality related document up, but when they do it should appear here.

Also, in the tweet mentioned above the folks at the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives (CLGA) say they have started to use this thesaurus, and as of now they have one (1) item in their digital collection tagged as such. (Anyone in Canada that can donate them some more?)

Ok, and why is this important?

Well, it means that libraries, archives and other institutions that work with documentation and specialize in sexual and gender diversity now have a reference work that justify the explicit acknowledgement of asexuality while cataloguing ace-related material.

Which… should be like, a bare minimum given the subject of their work. But you never know, especially in places without a strong ace activism or where ace groups haven’t established a relationship with other local LGBT+ organizations.

It also means that it may influence other thesaurus makers in social sciences and sexology and so on to include asexuality in their controlled vocabularies, as well as the people in charge of other taxonomies and classification reference works… like the Dewey Decimal Classification System. More on that, soon-ish.


As a sidenote: Should I contact them to tell them that manga doesn’t have a plural? Or do people in North America say mangas enough for it to be considered the most common and appropriate use of the word?

About Chrysocolla Town

Chrysocolla Town (or CT for short) is a chilean nerd who posts about ace history and the spanish-language ace community at her blog, where one can also find resources on local groups and ace research. She also has a spanglish Tumblr (@chrysocollatown). She is asexual and her romantic orientation is ¯l_(ツ)_/¯. She's currently the admin of the Facebook group Asexuales Chile and manages the related Fanpage and Tumblr.
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4 Responses to The Homosaurus has an entry for Asexuality!

  1. Siggy says:

    I feel like they should also have one for aromanticism. I counted 41 entries that start with “gay” (e.g. gay archives, gay bookshops, gay boys, etc.), surely they can spare one for aromanticism.

    • I wonder if the “huge revision on the way to reflect updates in trans history and terminology” will include it. Maybe i should gather suggestions and send them as a list, just in case.

  2. I just checked that link above to the asexuality topic page in DTA and they now have one archived item there: The S.C.U.M. Manifesto.

    Also yes, i did wrote to them suggesting they add aromanticism –as well as demisexuality– to the Homosaurus. They said “thank you! we forwarded your ideas to those involved in review”.

  3. Pingback: Asexuality in the library: Dewey Decimal Classification edition | The Asexual Agenda

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