Who has access to queerness, a potentially unifying identity for those who are non-cisgender or non-heterosexual, is often contested, especially when considering the position of the ace community. One does not have to look any further than literal polls that have provided a platform for people to argue whether asexuality should be included within the queer community to unearth the existence of this fervent debate. For example, in a 2012 article in The Huffington Post, readers were given the opportunity to choose whether "groups like asexuals and the polyamorous" should be included under the queer umbrella. This article, listed within the "Queer Voices" section of the site, was essentially positing asexuality as a sort of fringe group that may or may not be entirely queer, using language such as "groups like asexuals..." in the title and later not defining it as "traditionally" queer. The existence of a poll of this nature also demonstrates that asexuality is not perceived as wholly queer, but exists on some arbitrarily defined borderline, floating between those who are understood as "traditionally defined queer people," as the article states, and those who are not queer.
Yet, amidst these problematic polls and debates, many never seem to bother to specifically ask how ace people themselves perceive their own asexuality in relation to the LGBTQ+ community and queerness, simultaneously speaking over them and omitting their critical perspective in this discussion. According to the "The 2014 AVEN Community Census," a survey of the ace community that received over ten thousand responses from ace people, most within the ace community do identify as LGBTQ+ and queer, with 74.6% identifying with the LGBTQ+ community and 57.8% claiming queerness. Thus, a majority of ace people, despite external debate, feel that they belong within the LGBTQ+/queer community. The difference in percentage between LGBTQ+ versus queer may likely be due to the prevalence of gatekeeping regarding queerness, a phenomenon that operates to exclude certain groups from feeling a sense of belonging to the queer identity. This often takes form in the exclusion of the ace people from queer spaces, being made to feel that their asexuality does not make them queer or that it does not exist at all.
Therefore, asserting the queerness of asexuality continues to spur opposition both inside and outside the queer spaces and the community overall, only perpetuated further by polls that put the queerness of asexuality up for debate. All of this affects the manner in which those within the ace community perceive themselves in relation to both the LGBTQ+ community and queerness, as well as where asexuality fits in relation to those entities. This is portrayed in the AVEN community census, with only 11.5% of ace people stating that they feel unconditionally welcome or accepted within the LGBTQ+/queer community, revealing how widespread feelings of not being "queer enough" are resonating with ace people. Additionally, although 74.6% of ace people identify as LGBTQ+, nearly half do so with reservations over this personal identification, with similar results regarding the 57.8% of ace people who identify as queer. However, despite these apparent issues and difficulties in grappling with aversion, a staggering 88% of ace people in this study stated that asexuality should be included under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Thus, although a significant portion of ace people struggle to personally identify as LGBTQ+ and queer, understandings of asexuality as queer remain evidently independent from self-perceptions and identifications. The results are clear: despite only a small percentage feeling accepted or welcome in the community, most ace people still identify as LGBTQ+ and queer. The overwhelming majority understand asexuality as being a part of this unifying umbrella. It is time that detractors and the opposition to asexuality as queer actually listen to the voices they are actively silencing. Asexuality is queer, whether you think we're not "queer enough" or not.
Michael Paramo is a queer asexual Latinx demiguy who is both a graduate student and passionate writer. They are currently researching, writing about, and amplifying asexuality, queerness, as well as their intersections both online and offline. They are also the founder of TheAsexual.com and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal.