Representation and inclusion

3 minutes

Learning objectives

After completing this unit, you will be able to:

  • Explain how an ace or aro person with an underrepresented identity can feel excluded from ace and aro communities.
  • Describe the relationship between LGBTQ+ communities and ace and aro communities.
  • Identify the lack of diverse ace and aro representation in the media.

Asexuality, aromanticism, and other identities

Ace and aro communities tend to be disproportionately white, female, and young. Ace and aro people who have identities that are underrepresented in ace and aro communities may feel alienated from them. While they may find some comfort in interacting with other ace and aro people, some aspects of their experience may still be misunderstood in those spaces. At the same time, they may feel alienated by other groups or cultures that they belong to because of their asexuality or aromanticism.

Personal identification as LGBTQ+

Survey data suggests that most ace people identify as LGBTQ+ because they see asexuality as an LGBTQ+ identity or because of other identities they hold. Many ace and aro people identify with an LGB+ romantic or sexual orientation, and a large number identify as trans, non-binary, or both. Naturally, these people tend to identify with the LGBTQ+ community and often see their asexuality or aromanticism as an important part of that identity.

Some ace and aro people do not consider themselves to be LGBTQ+ for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, this should not be taken as evidence to exclude ace and aro people from LGBTQ+ communities and organizations.

Inclusion within LGBTQ+ spaces

Early in the ace advocacy movement, LGBTQ+ communities and organizations were somewhat hesitant about ace and aro inclusion; however, these groups are increasingly including ace and aro people in their parades, community centers, and educational work. Although outright exclusion has become quite rare, ace and aro people can still have difficulties accessing LGBTQ+ community spaces.

Because ace and aro people often face homophobic and transphobic discrimination, access to LGBTQ+ communities can be crucial. This is especially important when no active ace or aro community group exists near someone who is struggling. Ace and aro people might need support as they come out, explore non-normative relationships, and navigate other challenges, especially if they are young. LGBTQ+ communities and organizations are perfectly positioned to play a supportive role, so their inclusion of ace and aro people is critical.

Inadequate media representation

While ace awareness is increasing, little accurate or explicit ace and aro representation exists in the media. Ace and aro characters are often written as stereotypes, perpetuating negative perceptions of ace and aro people. Characters implied to be ace are often comic relief or are cured by the end of the plot, while those implied to be aro are often cold, sadistic villains.

In news media coverage, ace and aro airtime is typically limited to an introduction to the basics of asexuality, with an occasional mention of aromanticism. Occasionally, media networks put out content without input from ace or aro people, and this content is often inaccurate or misleading. Ace and aro perspectives are not typically considered on public issues that might affect them, and more in-depth issues are usually ignored.

Across different forms of media, ace and aro people are almost always white, male, cisgender, and nondisabled. This lack of diversity invalidates those who don’t see themselves represented on screen or in media.

Further reading