Aren’t You GLAAD? – The History of “A is for-” & #GiveItBack

I was recently reminded that if want the history of disabled friendly online activism remembered I actually gotta 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, and it shows that debating if we (as aces) wanted to add an A letter to the English speaking alphabet soup that is was and is the acronym has been a thing for at least then if not before. 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 really a media watchdogs for the community at large. They will praise good representation of LGBTQ characters and call out harmful stereotypes or even the lack of diversity itself. 

#GotYourBack was an ally focused events for people should visibility show up for the community. As you can see in this screencap below it is focus was #GotYourBack but also [A] if for Ally.

And for much of the non-AVEN ace community that praising felt like non-queer allies were being centered 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, despite where your personal ace group was.

#GiveItBack was the hashtag coined by FuckYeahAsexual to ask GLAAD to change their phrasing so we could be included. So that allyship was not praised at a cost to us. When I started it was A for Asexual and very quickly it was debated that even we could do better than that. Why not share the A with any queer identity that inherently faced a negative? Within the first day of reaching out to GLAAD, A then 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, and we a-specs said ‘we get that, you can be heard with us.’ 

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

“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.

A screenshot of a cell phone  Description automatically generated

This is absolutely how you do it. The respect communities cheered for this really 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 and so on. 

A screenshot of a cell phone  Description automatically generated

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. 

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.

A close up of a sign  Description automatically generated

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.

The erasure of “tumblr aces”

People don’t like listening to my commentary when I attach ‘potty mouth words’ to them so I’m just rewriting it 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. 

The erasure and vilification of “tumblr aces” “A is for Asexual, Aromantic and Agender” was not common until “a bunch of tumblr aces” told GLAAD that one of their campaigns would harm our communities.  

 GLAAD agreed.

Maybe it’s just because I work in publishing but Big 5 ace books used to be very allo written about how aces were weird to be with. But tumblr bloggers keep collecting our history, and those books over the next years turned into ace written even at least twice mentioning in the books themselves mentioning 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. Because as the community stopped out from AVEN’s forums to more shared spaces we gained a visibility that was more consolidated before. Tumblr allowed aces to be in spaces shared by everyone, instead of their own spaces online.  

Mirco-labels are a 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 coined 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 fyeah heavy because it was a reaction making sure the whole of the community feels seen. And the push back is largely here and spread just as far as people using the term.

“Inclusionist” was specifically used to allow aces and any one else others targeted by Trans Exclusionary Radical Fems. So 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 leanding. Even though it was indeed the opposite of the E from TERF. This is 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”.