The Asexual-Bisexual Mirror
Ace and Bi people are marginalized in many of the same ways.
TW: Sexual assault, sexual coercion
From 2004 to about 2008, I identified as asexual. I was out to friends and people I dated, and in many cases I was the first asexual person they had ever met. I experienced a lot of erasure, hostility, and ignorance when I wore that identity, yet most of it was un-nameable and therefore impossible to do much about. Since I didn’t know any other ace people, I didn’t realize how common my experiences were, and could not see them as part of a larger tapestry of aphobia.
Sometime around 2010, my identity changed. I experienced physical, sexual attraction to people of a variety of genders. I started wearing the label “bisexual”. In the years that followed, I experienced so much erasure, hostility, and ignorance that I frequently chose to take that label off. I only began to recognize my experiences as biphobia a few years ago, when I befriended other bisexual people and learned about their very similar experiences of being marginalized, doubted, and ignored.
When I take a step back, and look at my accumulated experiences of being marginalized, I can see that aphobia and biphobia are mirror images of one another. The biases I faced as an asexual person, and then a bisexual person, were uncannily similar, even though one group is stereotyped as being frigid and sexless, and the other is seen as wantonly slutty and undeserving of trust.
Asexual people and bisexual people are both binary-breakers. Their identities flout heteronormative expectations, and they often approach their relationships in ways that break existing social scripts. Understanding and respecting asexual and bisexual people requires that you be thoughtful, and that you question your existing assumptions about how desire and relationships are supposed to work. When people express intolerance towards ace or bi people, something in that process has broken down.
And if a person doesn’t want to put forth effort into understanding, they end up viewing both ace and bi people as inauthentic attention-seekers who really are just straight.
Aphobia and biphobia are parallel prejudices, rooted in the exact same heteronormativity and hatred of…