In response to Joey’s LGBTQ History Month calendar, I wanted to challenge myself. I’ve been working to raise visibility for people of colour and faith within the LGBTQ community.
As a member of those communities, I feel I have some knowledge about our divergent experiences.
However, like many of us inside and outside the LGBTQ community, I am constantly learning. Popular society has begun to view gender and sexuality as more fluid than ever before.
In my aim to learn about less represented sectors of the LGBTQ community, I chose to look at and write about today, Day 19: find out when the asexuality flag was designed.
To learn about the history of the asexuality flag, I wanted to learn more about what asexuality is. The Asexual Visbility and Education Network (AVEN) describes an asexual person as ‘someone who does not experience sexual attraction’.
Asexuality is described as an umbrella or spectrum. This ranges from individuals who only experience a romantic or aesthetic attraction to others, to those that experience neither.
There are asexual individuals that lie between the two, known as ‘grey-ace’. A demisexual for example is someone who only experiences sexual attraction to someone once an emotional bond has been formed.
Due to this spectrum, how asexual or ‘ace’ people choose to identify can vary. As such, great thought went into designing a flag that would represent all these aspects and nuances.
Users from various asexuality forums voted that they wanted a flag to represent asexuality. Some felt that AVEN’s triangle symbol was representative of the organisation, and that a separate symbol for the wider asexuality community was needed.
The flag was designed by an AVEN forums user and was chosen by vote on August 2010. The flag consists of 4 stripes, black, grey, white and purple.
The black symbolises asexuals, grey for demisexuals and grey-aces, white for sexuals (those that experience sexual attraction, also known as ‘allosexuals’), and purple for the asexuality community and those that surround them.
As far back as 1948, sexologist Dr Alfred Kinsey added a grade in his sexuality scale for asexuality. Despite asexuality’s long history, the asexuality flag allows for greater visibility for asexuality across queer and non-queer spaces.
Since 2011, the asexuality flag has been used at LGBTQ pride events, in the news and across social media. Emi Salida, YouTuber and asexual activist says: ‘Sexuality and romantic identity are fluid and what I fundamentally know about myself now is that I’m asexual and proud.’
In researching the asexuality flag, I learned a lot about the history of asexuality itself, and how the asexual community worked together to create a symbol that represents who they are.
What will you challenge yourself to learn about for LGBT history month?
people have a gender identity that sits outside of the (socially constructed) binary
where male and female are the only options.
person might use gender neutral pronouns they/them, or they might use he or
she. They have no legal recognition in the UK.
people are trans people. You cannot say you support trans rights and trans people
if you don’t support non-binary people as part of that.
My hometown non-binary role model is food writer Jack Monroe. Fox (a filmmaker) and Owl (a columnist) are a couple, and prominent non-binary people in the media.
thinking today of my non-binary colleagues and friends. As a friend commented
on my piece about trans role models, all trans (including non-binary) people are
role models for being themselves when the world constantly tells them not to
after a morning 10k in Hyde Park with LGBT running club London Frontrunners, I
was chatting to Michael. I’ve been in club member for 8 months. He’s been a
member for over two decades.
fortunate that I have amazing queer friendships with LGBTQ people who help me navigate
my gay life now. That’s usually means me saying far too too much about my love life.
But often those friends at work or at the bar are the same age as me.
Talking to older or younger generations gives a different perspective and insight. For older LGBTQ people, this might be first hand accounts of the AIDS epidemic or their first romances when homosexuality was still illegal in the UK.
LGBTQ people there’s often a fearlessness in sharing their identity and being visible
role models and allies to all LGBTQ communities.
know that bullying in school and LGBTQ youth homelessness is a huge problem as
well as loneliness and isolation for older LGBTQ people.
Today is a
chance to hear the stories of people who you don’t always chat with. If you
have personal LGBTQ friends who are younger or older, give them a message today.
Today on the LGBTQ History Month Calendar we’re learning about the third of four flags. Here’s some questions to help you (and a handy website).
Who designed the flag?
When was it first used?
What do the stripes represent?
Last year the British government held a consultation on
reforming the Gender Recognition Act, so that it is easier for trans people to legally
change their gender.
This opened up a lot of discussion in the press and social
media, presenting trans rights as a debate.
Trans rights are trans rights. They are not a debate. Someone’s
identity is not a debate.
The intensity of attacks in the media is similar to the
attacks on gay and bi men in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic.
Attacks are never just limited to the media. Two in five trans people in Britain (41 per cent) have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months (Stonewall, 2018).
Your sexual orientation and your gender identity is only one part of who you are. It’s a hugely important part to many people, and it relates to different parts of your identity such as race, faith or belief, age and gender.
You might hear discussions on this called intersectionality, identity politics or multiple identities. It’s about how we’re never one tick box identity, but recognising in real life those different parts of who we are inter-play to form our identity.
This means your identity, and how society views it, creates a unique experience. BAME/PoC LGBTQ people have a different experience from white LGBTQ people.
(BAME means Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity. It’s a demographic term in the UK used in censuses and reporting data. PoC means People of Colour.)
Half of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people (51 per cent) have experienced discrimination or poor treatment from others in their local LGBT community because of their ethnicity (Stonewall, 2018).
My BAME/PoC role models include articulate trans model and activist Munroe Bergdorf, alongside my friends Josh and Adam.
three resources to help you learn about BAME LGBTQ experiences and role models: