As a bisexual person I feel that there is a lot about asexuality that I can empathise with. Both of our sexualities cover a broad spectrum of experiences but are quite simple to explain. Both ace and bi people are subject to inaccurate assumptions, being erased, being doubted (“How do you know you are [asexual / bisexual] if you have not tried…?”) and being asked invasive personal questions. At its worst this can lead to us being shamed, for allegedly being too sexual if you are bi or for not being sexual enough if you are ace – it seems you cannot win one way or the other sometimes.
A few years ago I felt quite isolated not knowing any other bi people and, after I finally met some, not knowing whether there were any where I work. It made it particularly difficult for me to be open about my identity at work. It sounds obvious in hindsight but it did not occur to me until I spoke to a group of ace people that this is a common experience for them too.
So it feels quite natural for me to be an ace ally, be that defending their place in the LGBT+ community (the + is there for a reason and the A in the full LGBTQIA acronym stands for ace after all) or speaking out against aphobia or ace erasure. A line I find myself frequently using is that anyone saying that ace people do not belong in the LGBT+ community is proving why they need to be included as part of the community.
When lastyear the Bi+ Inclusion Team discussed what to do for Ace Week, I suggested we hold a discussion event with a panel of ace civil servants like we did for bi+ civil servants on Bi Visibility Day. I felt that it was important to give our ace colleagues visibility and a space where they could meet other ace civil servants. That turned into AceSpace at the end of October, which was one of the Bi+ Inclusion Team’s best attended events of the year.
Seeing some people at AceSpace meet other ace people for the first time reminded me of how validating it felt for me when I met other bi people for the first time. It was especially rewarding to see so many ace colleagues know that they were not alone, that there were others like them in the Civil Service, sometimes even in the same departments. There is a lot more that needs to be done for ace inclusion but that felt like an important step forward.
If you are an ace civil servant and want to meet other ace colleagues, please join us at our regular BiSpace events and our new AceSpace socials, which will take place bi-monthly going forward.
Want to find out more about asexuality? Read the Civil Service LGBT+ Network’s Asexuality Fact Sheet