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‘Ally’ inclusion in LGBTQIA+ sparks debate

The LGBT+ community appreciates ally support, but does that mean they can be included in the acronym?

Photo illustration by Mary Altaffer

The LGBT+ community appreciates ally support, but does that mean they can be included in the acronym?

Keyra Ramos, Politics Editor, Puma Press

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On Friday, Feb. 12, I posted a poll to find out what people thought the “A” in LGBTQIA+ means. Within two hours 771 people had responded:

  • 4 percent voted that the “A” in LGBTQIA+ means “ally”;
  • 86 percent said “asexual”;
  • 7 percent said “asexual and ally”;
  • 3 percent said neither.

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network website states that the acronym includes straight allies. It says, “At AVEN we hugely value the role that allies play in our community and in the wider LGBTQ+ movement. However, ‘A’ stands for ‘Asexual,’ ‘Aromantic’ and ‘Agender’ people, as well as ‘Allies.’”

There is no question that the community appreciates what straight allies have done, but should the acronym include straight allies?

I posted a following poll to find out how people feel about whether the “A” in the LGBTQIA+ acronym should include “allies.” Within less than two hours, 1,303 people answered:

  • 14 percent of this sample, being straight, voted that ally should be included;
  • 21 percent of them said that it shouldn’t;
  • 14 percent that were not straight said that it should be included;
  • 51 percent said that that it shouldn’t.

Why did some people answer no? It comes down to how some people from the community feel when straight allies include themselves.

Megan Horning replied to this question on Twitter, “I find comfort in the LGBT+ community because it’s a group of people who share histories of oppression and prejudice. (Allies) might mean well, (but) they don’t share what I consider a crucial part of the community’s culture,” she says.

Horning adds, “I feel like they almost belittle what it means to be a part of the LGBT+ community. It seems insulting when someone just associates themself with an oppressed group to be included, especially considering that if they aren’t queer. So why do they need to be included in our space?”

Many people go on to have similar comments. Straight allies including themselves not only minimize the oppression of the community but also diminish the representation of asexual, aromantic and agender individuals.

Whitney Drake, a participator in the poll mentioned before, says she feels angry when straight allies include themselves in the community.

“The acronym exists to give a community to marginalized people, not as a reward for being a decent human being,” Drake explains.

However, what are some of the arguments of those that believed allies should be included?

One comment by Billy Potts suggested that, although the “A” means ace, maybe another “A” could be added for allies. Yet, there may be a larger argument for this question.

Originally LGBTQIA+ means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allies.

In an online conversation, Alexis Albright told me, “It has always been this way, but some people in the Ace community want ace and allies to be ‘A,’ but some people in the Ace community don’t want to be affiliated with LGBTQIA+ and some people in the LGBTQIA+ don’t want Ace’s to be affiliated with them.”

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‘Ally’ inclusion in LGBTQIA+ sparks debate