#GiveItBack – The History of GLAAD saying “A is for-” and #WeGotYourBack

To save the history of disability friendly online activism, one must recap it. So this is about the blog’s 2015′s #GiveItBack campaign and how cool @glaad was about it, and how they continue to really show the fuck up lol 

The earliest post I can find is from 2003 debating if aces wanted to add an A letter to the English speaking alphabet soup that is the common acronym. It’s been a long standing question however. There’s always been thoughtless reasons, and thoughtful reasons why A could be ally or an endless amount of things.

But our story really starts in 2015. With GLAAD’s #GotYourBack campaign. GLAAD as a nonprofit is huge, and media watchdogs for the community at large. They will praise good representation of LGBTQ characters, and call out harmful stereotypes or the lack of diversity itself. 

#GotYourBack started as an ally focused event. As you can see in this screen cap below it’s focus was #GotYourBack but also [A] if for Ally.

#GiveItBack GLAAD Allyship

And for much of the non-AVEN ace community that this centered allies at the cost of our communities. This was on the heels of years of feeling excluded from the community at large. While that wasn’t GLAAD’s intent, it was a sign that the asexual community was not on their radar.

Awareness and fighting invisibility was key issue to the community at that time.

#GiveItBack was the hashtag coined by Fuck Yeah Asexual on tumblr. They asked GLAAD to change their phrasing towards inclusion. And not at a cost to others. We started with A for Asexual, but very quickly we realized could ask more than that. Why not share the A with any queer identity that inherently facing a negative? Within the first day of reaching out to GLAAD, A stood for Asexual, Aromantic, and Agender. While aces and aros didn’t feel included at all, tons of agender people also didn’t feel seen in ‘big tent’ organizations. So a-specs said, ‘We get that, you can be heard with us.’ 

GLAAD agreed within 3 days. An impressive feat for a group that large. (AVEN disagreed. And made its first public statement in 3 months. Belittling the work of non-AVEN activism, and was a message that stayed on AVEN’s front page for at least another year. Despite their founder praising FuckYeahAsexual’s lead activism.)

#GiveItBack GLAAD Allyship

“Acceptance of LGBT people, not just among non-LGBT folks, but also members of our own community. And this includes increasing acceptance of and being good allies to the Asexual, Agender, and Aromantic community.

“Let us say without equivocation, the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA represents millions of Asexual, Agender, and Aromantic people who are far too often left out of the conversation about acceptance.

“Part of being a good ally is learning how and when to do better for those people you support. For us, that means making sure the Asexual, Agender, and Aromantic community knows we’re #GotYourBack.” 

This is the best apology I’ve even seen in my life. May ever see. It not only says sorry, it says it is their duty to constantly do better based on community sentiment. It also absolutely follows the meaning of their #GotYourBack campaign. 

Not only in that, but in next few days did GLAAD further change the campaigns branding to no longer center A is for Ally.

#GiveItBack GLAAD Allyship

This is absolutely how you do it.

This was asexuality’s first huge endorsement of “Yeah, you’re us, we see you. #GotYourBack.”

And the following year in 2016, #GiveItBack was used against to call out American Apparel’s ally focused rainbow capitalism. Further raising awareness for asexuals, aromantics and agender people. It trended as an article on Buzzfeed, Yahoo News wrote about what the A was supposed to mean. 

#GiveItBack Allyship

And American’s Apparel also used both hashtags from the GLAAD precedent in their apology. Not as good as GLAAD’s declaration of acceptance but again it’s a clothing company. 

#GiveItBack American Apparel Allyship

And not only did GLAAD help set the standard by listening to use “tumblr aces” it also continued to include more queer diversity in other projects they did. Like in these 2016 #SpiritDay posts.

#GiveItBack GLAAD Allyship #SpiritDay

And in 2020, I learned that because of the 2015’s #GiveItBack campaign, GLAAD reached out to ace communities to include such a-spec heavy arcs in Bojack Horseman from 2016-2020.

Like GLAAD originally said, your voice matters. Use it. You just might accidentally sent a new standard for how people treat you, and your whole community, with respect. Continue reading about our asexual activism here.

The erasure of “Tumblr Aces”

Having a blog with a ‘potty mouth word’ in it causes some problems. So them so I’m just rewriting my thoughts of the vilification and erasure of tumblr aces here. This post is a reference to another that said tumblr doesn’t have a “celebrity class” yet it reach on culture is equal to that.

Words like “aspec” and “allosexual” were born or popularized on tumblr from disabled activists speaking up. The phrase “A is for Asexual, Aromantic and Agender” were not common until “a bunch of tumblr aces” told GLAAD that one of their campaigns would harm our communities.  GLAAD agreed.

erasure of tumblr aces

Big 5 ace books used to be from a very allo pov. Written about how aces were weird to be with. But tumblr bloggers keep collecting our history. And books over the next years turned into ace written stories. Even two of these new novels mentioned what it felt like to first see themselves via a tumblr post. There’s been a literal explosion of asexuals canonically in fiction around this time as well.

What caused the erasure of Tumblr Aces?

After the community stopped out from AVEN’s forums to more shared spaces we gained a visibility that was consolidated before. Tumblr allowed aces to be in spaces shared by everyone, instead of their own niche spaces online.

“Mirco-labels” are a common tumblr thing. Because they were labeled as such as a push back against those communities were gathered socially and publicly on tumblr. The queer theory written about them furthered that lexicon both on and off tumblr.

What community popularized allosexual? Tumblr aces. I was actively there for, and debated on which label should be use and why and what all the nuance of that specific choice and others should mean.  

What community re-popularized the split attraction model and saved the gay history behind it? Tumblr aces. It allowed for an more open and sure complex discussion on how we are the same and how we are different but how we are still one with not only ourselves but the wider queer community.  

“Ace-spec” and “A-spec” were also coined by fyeah mods because it was a reaction making sure the whole of the community feels seen.

The aphobic push back spread just as far as people using the term.

“Inclusionist” started to be used specifically to allow aces and any one else others targeted by Trans Exclusionary Radical Fems. In 2018 if someone said “They are an exclusionist” probably mean they are an acephobic. In 2020, they may use it more widely, but its use is still heavily a-spec leaning. It was indeed the opposite of the E from TERF. Because it phrasing was popularized by trans aces. 

Making fun and shunning tumblr has always been about attacking the ones most vulnerable in a fight about respectability politics. “Those non-binary colored hair queers with micro-labels.”

So my question about even the phrasing of “tumblr aces” or “tumblr queers” as an insult is this: Do we want to be a community that fights oppression wherever we see it. Or do we want to remake Mean Girls one tweet or post about superiority over those who debate and advocate? What happens when people on tumblr even start saying “Oh those parts of ace tumblr”  vaguely without context what is actually being discussed?

There’s no citizenship under a platform. The fact that tumblr is supposedly full of “cringe kweers” is and always was ableism mixing with racism and transphobia to create new brand acephobia that eats at ace history and those who laid the bedwork of everything that is commonly found across all ace spaces.

Tumblr’s power, and fyeah’s contributions, and the contributions of all “tumblr aces” is the same that was AVEN’s before they came so allo facing. It’s decentralized, allows for anonymity to safely join, no one’s opinion was inherently worth more simply because they aren’t public facing or a “celebrity”.