There is a lot of chatter amongst the LGBTQ community about representation, and how little of it they get. They're right. There needs to be more representation. There is also particular anger over the almost-representation that has been dubbed Queer-Baiting. That is, the idea of intimating gayness without ever explicitly portraying it. You know, loving touches, long looks, BUT NEVER SHOW THEM KISSING UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
There is a lot to be said for this phenomenon. There are undoubtedly instances where this is, in fact, the intention. Let's make it gay, BUT DON'T SAY IT'S GAY! This constant teasing, this constant not-quite-representation must be frustrating for those who so desperately crave seeing themselves reflected in the media they consume.
Yet, in so doing, in so claiming all of these depictions as Queer-Baiting does something I don't think too many who use it as a battlecry think about - it erases asexuality and the asexual experience. It devalues platonic love.
You see, it's not like asexuals do not experience love. We do. And the lack of sex involved in that love doesn't make that love any less real, powerful, or profound. Friendships for folk like me run deep and weighty - for which we would tear the world down, just as sexual folks might for one another. Asexual affection often manifests in ways that folks may assume mean something more than they do - touches, long looks, holding, murder... you know, the usual. Okay, maybe not the murder, but you know what I mean. There is nothing sexual behind any of these actions, but there certainly is a lot of love.
This can be difficult for folks to grapple with, I suppose, especially if they've been brainwashed by the ridiculous modern insistence that affection and admiration must be sexual in nature.
One of the examples that sticks out most in my mind, only because it was one of the first things that clued me into the fact that I was so different from everyone else around me, was The Lord of the Rings. For many around me, the films were their only direct exposure to Tolkein's epic. I have distinct memories of the people talking about Sam and Frodo in the films.
GAAAAAAAAAAY, was the derisive conclusion. I was and am simultaneously annoyed and saddened. Is there love between Frodo and Sam, absolutely! And it is powerful, as love tends to be. But gay? I didn't see gay. I saw two friends who went through hell together, who loved each other, and would stand by one another until the end... like friends are supposed to? I wondered if any of the people screaming GAY at the top of their lungs ever really had true friends. I felt sad for them, because I suspect they did not.
It's also the reason I get really pissed off when folks start 'shipping' good friends in stories or real life. Granted, starved for representation in media, it's only natural that people might start making up their own. I can't really fault them for that. And honestly, fan stories that revolve around those non-canon ships can be absolutely exceptional writing.
It does erase friendship, and affection between friends. It erases platonic/asexual love; and does nothing more than to reinforce the idea that platonic love cannot be as strong, as deep, as meaningful as the love between people who also fuck. It makes friends fearful of being affectionate in public, because everyone will start screaming GAAAAAY at them. There's nothing wrong with gayness, for the record, but I can imagine it would get exhausting and frustrating to have to continually deny it if you're not.
And this has very real repercussions. How many women are the sole source of affection for their partners, burdened with being their literal everything? How many women are forced to carry their boyfriend's emotional baggage? There are studies that confirm that physical affection is incredibly important for human beings, but men aren't permitted to seek or attain affectionate touch from their male friends for fear of the GAAAAY! And their female friends? Forget it. Clearly it's all about getting in her pants or it should be, and if it's not GAAAAAAY. This utter bullshit has real, and potentially devastating effects on their psyche, and their significant others are forced to carry that burden. It's not right. It's not fair.
Women, in this one instance, have an advantage. No one thinks twice about women offering one another a hug, or an affectionate peck, or a protracted, comforting cuddle.
Sometimes there is Queer-Baiting intent in media representation. Sometimes, there is a deliberate skirting of representation. And I absolutely believe that there needs to be more LGBTQ representation in media. But often, more often than not, what we're seeing is two very good friends who love one another deeply, but would be just as likely to fuck the painting on the wall as each other.
Sometimes, it would be nice if people didn't forget the A in the queer acronym.
Asexuallity is real. We're here. We exist.
And our love is just as profound.
Stop erasing us.
And for the love of all things good and green, normalise platonic affection. For everyone's sake.
Right. That's it. That's all I wanted to say.