I’m talking to someone about the Trevor Project’s treatment of asexuals (among other things), and she asked, “In terms of harm reduction for the greatest number of people does it do any significant harm for legitimately asexual LGB people to have the possibility of internalized homophobia be brought up (cuz I know it does a whole hell of a lot of harm to repressed LGB people for it to not be brought up)”?
I have a definite opinion about this, but I’m not LGB, so I wanted to ask those aces who are, in a non-leading way. How would you feel about people suggesting to you that maybe you’re not ace but identify as such because of internalized homophobia, and do you think a question or suggestion like that would be harmful?
(Tagging this with LGBTetc tags as well for visibility.)
I’m an aromantic asexual (though I do identify as queer), and so maybe not your tartget audience, but personally I think it’s incredibly dangerous.
Telling someone, anyone that their experience is false because they must have internalized homophobia isn’t helpful at all. Especially among asexuals, most people have spent huge amounts of time trying to understand their identity, and most have already seriously considered the possibility that they might be LGBT. And so to offhandedly dismiss their identity as internalized homophobia like you know more about their own idendity than they do, when they have probably spent years thinking about this and you probably don’t know anything about them is incredibly insulting.
Furthermore, this isn’t something that’s only targeted at asexuals: it’s also something that’s commonly thrown at bisexuals, when people tell them that they are just “confused” or “trying to hard to be straight” or “too scared to come out as fully gay”. Are there possibly some people for whom this is true? Perhaps, but probably only a small minority. And just because some might be something else doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to deny, question, and doubt, the legitimacy of the identities of an entire group.
Also, I can say this: people who are trying to repress their sexuality and deny their desires because of internalized homophobia will probably not try to hide behind the asexual community - there is too much of a culture of introspection, exploration and deep consideration, which is the exact opposite of trying to repress themselves would try to hide behind. Furthermore, if their internalized homophobia is so terrible, what the hell would they be doing IDing as a sexual minority that already gets a lot of flack from heterosexists?
However, I do think there’s a huge difference between just talking about internalized homophobia, and actually singling out asexuals and telling them that they are products of internalized homophobia. Internalized homophobia is an important thing to bring up, but it can and should be done so without casting negative implications on any identity by accusing them as being merely the result of internalized homophobia.