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Celebrating Pride - A personal perspective

Why the + is so meaningful in LGBTQ+

Why is the + in LGBT+ so important? Do we need all those letters? Isn’t there some umbrella term that would cover everyone so that we don’t have to remember such a long acronym like LGBTQIA(+)? Queer is good enough right?

Queer isn’t good enough. I’m not Queer, I’m asexual, and I want the freedom to express myself with the term that was made for people like me.

Here’s why it’s so important to me to have that word represented in Pride:

I grew up in a pretty accepting family, and plenty of people throughout my life were able to safely come out. Gay and Lesbian were words I heard from a young age, both of which I was taught the true meaning of by my parents. Transgender was a word I learned in high school, when a friend of mine admitted to our friend group that she wasn’t actually sure she was a lesbian at all, because she felt more like a straight guy. From then on, he started transitioning, and we all learned how to support him through that. But I never heard anyone mention the word asexual.

I think there’s a misconception that you grow up knowing this thing about yourself and you just have to figure out which word it is that applies to you, but I don’t think that’s right.

I was different, but I wasn’t really aware of it.

In high school I thought I was just going to be a late bloomer. In university I thought I was broken and there was some switch in my brain that just never flicked. It wasn’t until I heard the word asexual online later that I finally realised that maybe that explained things, but it wasn’t just an overnight realisation and understanding of myself, it took years of questioning myself before I could even accept that the term fit me.

Coming to terms with being asexual was HARD. I still thought I was broken. It was like being handed a diagnosis. There was no cure, there was no switch to flick, there was no more waiting to become the late bloomer I thought I might still be. I just wasn’t going to be interested in sex the same way other people my age were. I was going to have to tell boyfriends. I thought I would end up alone. I wondered if I should just pretend I was normal so that I could still have relationships. I thought about just going through with whatever my partner might want to do, despite not wanting it too. It ate me alive thinking about these things.

I still don’t talk about this side of myself with anyone other than romantic partners. I hate the thought of people knowing that I’m different, I hate the thought of people walking on eggshells around me to make sure they don’t accidentally offend me or say the wrong thing, and I ESPECIALLY hate the thought of anyone imagining what on earth I do in a relationship or how I could even HAVE a relationship.

Even coming out to other LGBTQIA+ people feels terrifying (and so does using the words “coming out”), because I don’t feel “Queer” enough and don’t feel like I deserve to fit into the acronym.

There are so many people out there gatekeeping the community, and now I feel like I belong nowhere. I can’t even bring myself to capitalise the word like I do for Gay and Lesbian and every other term, because they deserve to take up that space but I still feel uncomfortable taking up any space for myself. A capitalised Asexual feels like something I’d read in a textbook or a research paper.

So I have the burden of keeping this to myself and celebrating Pride quietly, as a supporter of others but never for me.

I wonder if I would be so ashamed and scared to show this side of myself if people had been talking about the word asexual when I was growing up, like they talked about Gay and Lesbian. If it had been something I understood from a young age rather than learning about it on the internet in my early 20’s. Maybe I would feel more comfortable with myself too, knowing that I wasn’t broken right from the start.

This is why all those letters of LGBTQIA+ are important. If you take them away then you take away respect for every single person that is represented by one of those letters, and you tell them that their identity shouldn’t be recognised. No matter what a person’s identity is, it should be recognised and valued and supported.

Happy Pride Month x

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