“Pride is not just for the G”. This was the slogan carried by a member of the Green party at the Pride in London parade. It got me thinking. Just last week I wrote about the reasons why I’ve never gone to Pride as part of the Christians at Pride group. In a twist of events, I have accompanied my friend Helen and others as part of the LGBT+ Conservatives group.
In the previous blog post I have left the question open about feeling like trespassing on someone else’s territory. This is related to my view of where the asexual community stands in relation to the LGBT one, and despite Helen vehemently disagreeing with me as usual, it was not an easy one to shake throughout the day. I still look at myself as an ally rather than part of the community.
My reason why I don’t think the asexual community as a whole should be included in the + that now follows LGBT (and it’s a really contested issue) is that heteroromantic demi/asexuals (like me) are basically straight minus the primary sexual attraction, and homoromantic and biromantic ones are included in the banner because they are LGB minus the primary sexual attraction. This leaves a grey area for those who are entirely aromantic, but given the history of oppression behind Pride (and the abuse the Conservative group has always had to endure for challenging the dogma that you can only be left-wing if from a minority) one still wonders whether people who just spend their life alone are truly oppressed. Some would say they are, because of people who keep asking you questions about when you will find someone, or just because people have a hard time understanding what asexuality is. Maybe there are more legitimate argument that I’m unaware of, because that’s not my experience, but either way I don’t feel like Pride is the right place to highlight that we exist and we should be embraced as we are.
Unless you’ve known me for over 10 years, you’re probably going to be puzzled by the premise of this article because, while I was very active in the asexual community in my late teens and early 20s, the amount of drama and identity politics to the extreme was something I couldn’t really bear. The worst for me was people who couldn’t fathom how people can be sexually attracted to others (often expressing it in very insulting terms), whining about how people who are biologically wired to be sexually attracted to others did not take them seriously. For a long time, it has left me quite unsympathetic and unwilling to be an ally to the community by either identifying with it or at least promoting awareness. Now I’m in my late twenties I’m not as bitter, but as a Catholic woman who is expected to be celibate until marriage anyway there is hardly any point in telling people “Btw, I don’t get the hots for people based on what they look like”.
The difference between primary and secondary attraction is that primary attraction is “based on instantly available information (such as their appearance or smell) which may or may not lead to arousal or sexual desire”, while secondary attraction is a “sexual attraction that develops over time based on a person’s relationship and emotional connection with another person”. Asexuals experience neither, and demisexuals experience only the latter. It is purely at a level of attraction and does not reflect on whether your body functions as it should. To make it easier to understand, granted that the parallel is not entirely correct, demisexuals are like the husband who wrote to the photographer who photoshopped the boudoir photoshoot of his wife saying he loves the body she truly has because it tells the story of their love and the family they built together. He is blind to what she looks like because of how he feels about her. Sex became more about intimacy and making the other person happy than anything to do with pure, unadulterated lust. The husband is still in a way attracted to her body, while for us the emotional link is all there is to it, but otherwise it’s a parallel that works. Asexuals never get to the point where they feel about someone that way.
So, back to Pride. Despite starting the morning with Justine Greening and her partner (I’m willing to bet she’ll ask me where’s my girlfriend when I see her again at the TRG Summer Reception since Helen won’t be there), the Tory contingent only had 3 women, one being me. There were many women in other groups, but still in a lower number. Everybody was very welcoming, except for the bit of trouble from the people outside the march (we’ve got given plenty of Love Hearts by a group marching behind us). I cannot really fault the group (it’s hard to get people together when members are across the country) for the limited diversity, but being right in front an all-male chorus and near an all-male football team probably didn’t help my perception that the Green Party was right in bringing up the presence of 3 more letters, one which is exclusively female and two which also apply to women, long before we get into the territory of what counts in the +. Given the history of misogyny in the community at the hands of gay men, the perception that Pride is a G thing isn’t entirely misplaced. This is without entering into the merit of the argument of why many gay men don’t like association with Pride either. Ironically, the lack of women made it less awkward to be there despite the Asexual vs Ally debacle, especially as part of a group that already faces a lot of troubles for their political views. In that respect, we Tories stick together. It felt like it was important to be there as a Conservative woman, so that Pride would not be just for the G. Still, I had fun, despite the heat and long wait, and I look forward to Croydon’s Pride Fest next week with my local party friends, but I think next year I’ll join the Christian group outside the march, hoping that our party group manages to get together a few women to replace me. And, maybe, I should have a placard of Tory love for good measure, too.