Its Pride month and advertisers seek to display their openness to diversity and cash in on the queer dollar! Is that cynical of me? Maybe.  Either way, representations of LGBTQ persons in ads become one of the primary ways the straight majority learn about non-straight identifies, and that, in my book is a good thing.

Some ads do this in a wonderful way. An ad for Colgate comes from Mexico and does an especially great job of displaying a very real moment.

 

However some people will find any ad worthy of criticism. American Apparel is getting hammered over their line of LGBTQIA+ clothing, meant to celebrate Pride and diversity.

According to BuzzFeed, the backlash started when the retailer posted a picture on its Instagram account “with the term ‘ally’ on one of its LGBTQ tote bags.”

People called the retailer out for swapping out the asexual identity that usually represents the “A” in the “LGBTQIAP” sexuality spectrum, and replacing it with “ally” in order to emphasize heterosexual people that support the LGBT community.

The “A” can also represent “aromatic” and “agender,” Fusion reports. Although “ally” can be used, it is not common to do so, according to BuzzFeed. As a result, people felt that the company completely disregarded the asexual identity.

I think this is simply hilarious. I don’t even know what the hell aromatic is in terms of the rainbow of identities! (I think the desired word is aromantic)What’s most hysterical about this is the fact that to claim what’s common is so rich! Most people don’t even use a long alphabet soup of letters to begin with, and for those that do, ally, is a common part of the mix. Some would say, ally is an essential part of the mix.

Part of the controversy comes as some struggle to have asexual even understood as being a sexual orientation. I belong in the camp that believes if a person wants to self identify as asexual, they have every right, but scientifically, there are only three sexual orientations and people sit upon a spectrum from fully heterosexual to fully homosexual, with most being some mix between these two extremes, or bisexual. But some kiddies live on-line and whatever the urban dictionary may say must be the truth.

In my opinion, a person who experiences no sexual attraction probably is fully unaware of their sexual orientation because their feelings or lack there of don’t help them understand themselves. Asexuality is a resistance to the social/societal norms and expectations that say you are identified as being solely a sexual being. These individuals seek to be identified by more than their attractions.

 

The alphabet soup of LGBTQIA+ (I have never become accustomed to it having a “P” in it) has always been highly controversial. On the up side, letters can refer to multiple identities. The “T” for example can include Trans persons, transgender persons, transsexuals and transvestites. In fact the use of trans* is also a good inclusive shorthand. On the down side, people will always argue about identity and agency. Using “A” is great as it can include asexual, agender, and allies.

The asexual network identifies the “A” as including allies:

A is for Asexuals, Aromantics, Agender people… and for Allies

GLAAD, an internationally renowned LGBT rights organization, created a campaign called “Got your back” with the tagline “A is for Allies”. 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.

Happy Pride!

Added note: While I may not understand asexual as an orientation, that doesn’t mean it isn’t. Here is more information on asexuality. It is a useful read.

 

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