43.1 F
Friday, December 4, 2020

Time to add the “A” to LGBTQ+ Western

Club logo for Western Aces and Aeros. // Design by Anna Russon
Club logo for Western Aces and Aeros. // Design by Anna Russon

Western Aces and Aeros meets regularly as part of the “guild” of queer clubs on campus and has a good relationship with them.

By Sadie Fick

Many queer people know the struggle of finding their identity and community.

This struggle is particularly difficult for people whose identities exist in the margins, such as people who identify as bisexual, agender or asexual.

The asexualilty spectrum, or aspec, includes asexuality, aromanticism, grey-asexuality, demisexuality and others. These are all categorized by experiencing very little to no sexual and/or romantic desire.

Amanda Mollet is the author of several studies on the experiences of aspec college students and a professor at the University of Kansas.

“As students try to think about who they are, college is a pivotal time,” said Mollet. “But, because of the invisibility of asexuality, many students don’t even know what they’re looking for.”

One way to increase the visibility of asexual identities on college campuses is to include the “A” for asexual in the LGBTQIA+ acronym.

Mollet said increased visibility is the number one thing the aspec students she talks to want from colleges.

“It’s indicative of how little acknowledgement there is for asexuality that students can’t even imagine what something more [than increased visibility] would look like, because people don’t even know they exist,” Mollet said.

Elliot Martin, a fourth-year student and president of Western Aces and Aeros, said some people don’t see aspec individuals, especially ones who present as outwardly straight, as part of the queer community.

There’s the impression that aspec people aren’t discriminated against because some can pass as straight, Martin said.

In Mollet’s 2018 study, “Asexual Borderlands: Asexual collegians’ reflections on inclusion under the LGBTQ umbrella,” aspec students reported often feeling like queer communities had the most expectations for them, questioning if they were “queer enough.” 

“I think there are some actual parallels between marginalization that bi folks experience and ace folks experience,” said L. K. Langley, director of LGBTQ+ Western.

To counter the margninalization that aspec students face within the queer comunity, Langley said they specifically mention aspec students at workshops for faculty and they try to have aspec speakers and panelists at events. They also meet with students of all orientations to provide individual support and connection to resources.

Despite Langley intentionally making LGBTQ+ Western events inclusive of aspec students, neither the promotional materials for events nor LGBTQ+ Western’s website make it clear that aspec students are invited.

Langley said they don’t refer to particular identities in promotional materials, instead they use general terms like “queer” or “LGBTQ+” in an attempt to include all identities.

This can leave aspec students still wondering if they are “queer enough.”

“I’ve never noticed any gatekeeping in the [Western] community,”  Martin said. “Cis heteronormative culture pushes sex so much, and a lot of the time queer communities can be a safe space away from that.”

Western Aces and Aeros meets regularly as part of the “guild” of queer clubs on campus and has a good relationship with them, Martin said.

Western’s queer community is inclusive of aspec identities, but it’s difficult to know that before joining those spaces.

Martin said they want Western LGBTQ+ to include “I” for intersex and “A” for asexual in the acronym to make it clear that aspec identities are part of the queer community at Western.

“I think it sends a message when those letters are included,” Martin said.

Langley said they hadn’t had any conversations about adding letters to LGBTQ+ Western but would love to think about it. However, they said they can’t add letters before considering rebranding concerns.

But Mollet said she doesn’t think adding another letter to the acronym is the whole answer.

Mollet advocated for creating space for aspec students in queer communities and having aspec-focused groups, activities and resources outside of that.

This makes space for students who aren’t sure if they are included or who don’t identify with the queer community.

Western nearly follows this model, with both LGBTQ+ Western and a separate student club providing space for aspec students.

“There are a lot of cis, asexual, aromatic people who ace club is their only point of contact with the rest of the LGBTQ clubs on campus,” Martin said.

Adding the “A” to LGBTQ+ Western would be a strong step in inviting aspec students to see themselves as part of the community.

“It [is] such a beautiful moment when students realize ‘I’m not the only one. I’m not broken. I can have a full life, a full future. I can imagine relationships that will work for me,’” Mollet said.
Visit the Asexual Visibility and Education Network online for more information about aspec identities and communities.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Zoom bombing halts Shred the Contract meeting

Tougher security will help stop future zoom bombings Generic zoom photo

Holiday shopping could make or break small business during the pandemic

A gift guide to popular Bellingham businesses Local ingredients at Clara’s Canning...

Best sports memories from notable Bellingham figures

Stanford’s David Shaw, others recall favorite Bellingham moments. WWU’s 1996...

Latest News

Laura Wagner and Althea Frye selected as the first co-vice chairs of the AS Senate

The vote came to a 10-10 tie, leaving decision to AS Senate Pro-Tempore

Western Volleyball signs new recruits

During the early signing period, the Western Volleyball Team signed three new recruits for the 2021-22 season.

COVID-19 cases surge across Whatcom County as holidays grow closer

Cases nearly tripled since last month This graph shows the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Whatcom...

Western students save $44.79 on student fees

Board of Trustees pass 7.5% reduction for winter 2021, less than fall 2020 11.4% reduction  Students will...

Work on changing systems instead of yourself

Clothes dryers in WWU’s Birnam Wood main laundry room.  // Photo by Sadie Fick By Sadie Fick

More Articles Like This