My Girlfriend Edited That Dancing Pride Alphabet Film You’re All Talking About

When Stacy told me she was editing a collaborative short film between Equinox and the LGBT Community Center for Pride, a film that expanded LGBT out into an entire alphabet of identities, my vision swam with images of rainbow-colored Oreos and Doritos and I wanted to wrap her up in a blanket and tip her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carry her over the sea to an uninhabited island where we could live out the rest of our days without the internet. Our careers have never overlapped before.

When I’m looking at any piece of media, my brain’s whirring and whizzing and cataloguing every way it’s going to be deconstructed in the queer community, on social media, in the comments on Autostraddle dot com. I’m assessing its reach beyond our corner of the world. I can tell you where the conversation will start, how it will evolve, and what will cause it to flame out. I can tell you if it will make it to the deep dark corners of Reddit. I can predict the moment a fandom will self-destruct as soon as two women make eye contact on TV. I’ve been doing this job for so long I can predict the queer internet’s actions with such alarming accuracy I could probably convince you I’m a seer. I can’t turn it off.

Except that when Stacy played her film for me for the first time, for five entire minutes, I did turn it off. I couldn’t help it. It’s one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen.


The film has started to make it’s way around the internet, lots of very high praise and also some heated discussion in its wake. I went ahead and interviewed the editor, since we share a bed.

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Usually I have to go through so many PR hoops to get an interview. For this one I just walked into the bathroom while you were in the shower and said, “Hey, can I interview you?” It was much easier.

And now you’re interviewing me in your pajamas.

I interview everyone in my pajamas. I work from our living room.

Right, true.

So when you landed this film you were like, “Hey, I’m doing this Pride thing” and I was like, “Oh, cool.” And then you emailed me when I was at A-Camp and said it was some of the most beautiful footage you’d ever worked with, and I was like, “Huh, neat.” But then when I got home and watched it, I was shocked. It’s so far beyond any LGBTQ-inclusive branded content anyone’s ever made I almost couldn’t believe I was seeing it.

Yeah, I mean, I was obviously really excited. I’ve never worked on anything like this for our community. And I was nervous at first too because I knew the concept but I didn’t know how the alphabet was going to work out. The agency and The Center decided on that. You and I had a lot of conversations about it early on: Will they choose “a” for “asexual” or “a” for “ally”; “q” for “questioning” or “q” for “queer.” Stuff like that. Is kink queer? You and I talk about this stuff all the time anyway and it’s something you talk about a lot for your job, so I know how important it is. I was so happy and surprised when I got into the room with the agency and they were so open to having conversations. They were already working so closely with the The Center, following their lead.

Elizabeth Nolan, the Equinox Executive Creative Director on the project gave a couple of really cool interviews where she talked about coming organically into a space that’s made up of marginalized identities and figuring out how to amplify those voices, instead of marching in to take up space and speak to people.

Did you feel like your voice as a queer woman was also important, in the room?

Oh yeah, for sure. One of the most interesting things about being an editor is navigating which clients want what kind of feedback from you. I’m often in a room with the agency and the director for weeks at a time. I felt, from the very beginning, that every queer person involved in this project, including me, had a voice at the table. These conversations in the video aren’t scripted. It’s hours of audio of queer people talking about what these identities mean to them. I spent a lot of time thinking about and talking about what dialogue to use, which shots needed more time to fully develop.

What’s different about this than other Pride branded content you’ve seen?

Well, I mean, for starters, it doesn’t stop at gay. And it’s not centered on cis-identities. And it’s not whitewashed. The majority of the dancers are people of color and we’re talking about trans and nonbinary identities. It’s not like, “Oh, look, these two white gay dads also do laundry, just like you.” It’s like, no, these are the voices of our community and they’re speaking to our community, without apologizing. It’s empowering because it’s not seeking acceptance from the mainstream. It’s, like, you know, “Fuck that, don’t ‘miss and ma’am’ me.”

I confess that I feel very protective of you about this.

I know.

There is no way to make something like this and make everyone happy. I exist in that place every day so I have elephant skin but you don’t and —

Right, but it’s like this. We both know that any art that moves the conversation forward is going to come under serious scrutiny. Activists wouldn’t be activists if they just stopped when things got a little better. So this film takes it farther than any branded film before it, and now people want to know what that next step is. Let’s talk about asexuality. Let’s talk about what makes a queer identity queer. Art and activism move the culture forward and the culture moves politics forward, so of course the origin of change is going to be criticized. But you’ve gotta also look at it in the scope of broader culture.

Like right now on Facebook this video is a heated queer community discussion. Whereas on YouTube it’s teaming with conservatives and Breitbart readers and Reddit users who hate us.

Yes. YouTube is just slurs and complete dehumanization right now. So I think you can have these important nuanced conversations while also keeping in mind how radical and progressive something is in the context of the larger population.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are still so many queer people in small town America who can’t even come out, who don’t even feel safe telling their families they’re gay, or holding their partners’ hands in public. Even you and I take that stuff for granted. We’ve been together forever. We live in New York City.

Yeah, I mean now you have the luxury of critiquing a video like this, but there’s someone in rural Georgia like you were not long ago hiding and watching it. I hope, at least. I hope there are people watching this video who are finding language for their identities and who feel empowered to live authentically because of it.

I’m really proud of you.

Hey, I’m really proud of you too.

I would also like to mention our cat has been yelling at us this whole time.

He thinks the “S” should have been for “Socks.” He should check out your Instagram. He is most certainly not underrepresented.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 904 articles for us.

105 Comments

  1. I use a lot of words for my identity and I feel it shifting throughout the years. However, my first one was asexual and even as I feel myself shifting more and more queer and questioning my experience of sexuality (or lack thereof), of sex, of relationships–asexual has been very dear to me. I’m queer, I’m Bi-romantic, I’m not afraid of sex but I don’t experience sexual attraction. It hurt to see so many wonderful things displayed in this video…but…but…

    In the end it feels like a visual representation of so many online and occasional irl discussions I’ve been a part of: you don’t really belong here.

    I know that was not the intention–but, oh, its a little sad anyway.

    • ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I see you, mate. It’s frustrating. Thank you for being you and for all the work you’ve done to love and accept yourself; you’re amazing and you will always be an important part of my queer heart & landscape!

  2. I so appreciate the nuance of this interview, especially the balance of “here are some ways it’s going to be critiqued” with “but here are the ways it’s doing really important work.” Sometimes I forget how important it is to sit and listen in between the two extremes.

  3. I appreciate Stacy’s statement of “Let’s talk about asexuality.” My question is simply: if she wanted to talk about asexuality, why not talk about asexuality in the video? (This is an honest question, by the way—I would be very interested to hear more about the decision-making process behind that choice)

    I understand how revolutionary and incredible this video is, and I’m sure it will help many, many people feel empowered and seen and celebrated. But being revolutionary doesn’t make this video, or any other piece of media, immune from critique—or at least it shouldn’t. I’m a bit frustrated by the theme that I sense in this interview (and, imo, in many of the Autostraddle staff responses to criticism, though that is a much larger conversation) that just because something is good and powerful and will help people, that it can’t also be worthy of criticism. This video is incredible and powerful and moving, and also excludes asexual/aromantic people (actual members of our community) in favor of “allies,” who are not members of our community, breaking with a-is-for-asexual precedent set by most of the LGBT+ groups I know. The good doesn’t cancel out the bad.

    • Stacy was just the editor of the piece. The alphabet was already chosen (by the LGBT Community Center) and so the A had already been settled, choreographed, directed, interviewed, and filmed. We both knew it was going to get huge pushback from the community because the A was for allies and not asexuals. What Stacy was trying to say here is she welcomes the critique because it is valuable for pushing the conversation forward, for awareness, to make things even more inclusive next time; but that she also values this as a piece of art that is more progressive than the ones she’s seen before. And I agree with her. I totally get it, of course. I totally understand being dissatisfied, frustrated, angry to not see yourself represented here. I absolutely do. I think it’s okay to both critique and celebrate something like this, is all.

      • I understand what you are saying, but I can’t help but wonder if you would be defending this piece if it excluded, say, transgender people or bisexuals(not that those two groups haven’t been largely ignored or tokenized by the “mainstream” queer community). This isn’t the first time that asexuals were erased in favor of patting allies on the back. Even the otherwise perfect and radically inclusive Autostraddle only has a handful of articles about Asexuality, and doesn’t even list “Asexual/Aromantic” as an option when creating a profile.

        • I hear you. I’m definitely not trying to defend the decision not to include asexuality. I absolutely understand why that is upsetting.

          Depending on which activists and gay rights groups you ask, the A can stand for asexual or ally. (Just like many are split between queer and questioning for Q.) This specific gay rights organization chose ally. And so what I’m saying is that, yes, let’s talk about why you feel they should have chosen asexual, why all gay rights orgs and activists should settle on the A as asexual. It’s a welcome conversation. I discuss it with people all the time. But also within the confines of the alphabet chosen by the center, I think this is a powerful and beautiful piece of art. I believe both things can be true.

          • I agree that asexual is a better choice every day of the week, though I did interpret “ally” in the context of the video as being an ally/advocate for other/fellow lgbtqai+ people — for instance, as a cissexual, bi/queer person I try to be an ally to trans*, nb, and gq people. But, obviously, the best way to be an ally to ace people is to, uh, let them/us (I ID’d as ace-spectrum for several years) have an actual letter in the alphabet, so.

            solidarity *hugs* to anyone who would like them

        • I think actually there are lots of examples where trans or bisexual or other identities are erased, stereotyped or misrepresented in media, and Autostraddle still chooses to write about them and discuss both the good and the bad. I think it’s a bit unfair to refer to this as “defending” – these pieces of media are relevant to Autostraddle’s reader base and deserve a forum for discussion here, as much to give people an opportunity to talk about the ways in which they’re lacking as to celebrate them. I think Heather has done a fine job here of giving equal weight to the importance of this video and to its shortcomings.

      • Thanks so much for clarifying, Heather! I now have a much better understanding both of what Stacy was trying to say (and I agree with her completely) and of her role in the video’s production. I will take my complaints to the LGBT Community Center 🙂

  4. This is wonderful wonderful wonderful and I think by and large the decisions made were the right ones. I always feel like grouping in asexuality as a queer identity is just another way of saying that queerness is entirely governed by sexual attraction–that there’s nothing romantic or intentional about it. Asexuality is for sure a spectrum, and a valid identity, but it’s a different one from queerness. Not that ally is queer either but I’m just saying, I get why the video was made that way.

    And the visuals of this are just stunning. Ahhh I want to pick a favorite but I honestly can’t, it’s all just so lovely.

    • That’s interesting. All of the ace people I’m aware of knowing I know online and it seems like many (most?) of them are quite intensional in their identity. They had to claim their their identity and accept themselves in the face of a hostile culture just as much as I did as a bi woman.

      I see your concern about making queerness “just” about sexual attraction – I think part of the problem is in the name asexual (and bisexual) – most of the people I know seem to prefer ace or aro because it makes it about more than sexual attraction.

  5. I was curious about what the whole list ended up being and so looked it up.

    A – Ally
    B – Bisexual
    C – Coming out
    D – Drag
    E – Exhibitionist
    F – Femme
    G – Gay
    H – Heteroflexibile
    I – Intersex
    J – Justified
    K – Kink
    L – Lesbian
    M – Masc
    N – Non-binary
    O – Out
    P – Pansexual
    Q – Queer
    R – Real
    S – S & M
    T – Trans
    U – Undecided
    V – Vogue
    W – Womxn
    X – Xtravagant
    Y – You
    Z – Ze | Zir

    I can see a couple of places where A could have been for ace spectrum (agender etc) and something else could have been altered to also showcase Ally if it was so needed (Supportive Ally? Helpful Ally?).

    100% opposite of empowering for me.

      • But of course!

        I think what gets me the most is that … per the interview there were lots of conversations, everyone’s voice was at the table. This means to me either someone said, “hey, asexual/agender/aromantic exist” … and that was dismissed/forgotten. Or there were no asexual/agender/aromantic there / no asexual/agender/aromantic allies in the room.

        I get that speaking up during a work experience is difficult and sometimes you don’t feel you have the space or comfort level…I just find it hard to marry the ‘everyone had a voice’ and the inclusion of allies.

        • In all fairness, there were two non-binary slots (nonbinary and ze)? I see your frustration, but I don’t think it’s helpful to conflate agender with asexual- for me, they’re two very distinct things.

          • I think thats perfectly fair–I’m on the ace spectrum myself and then swing around the gender area (more Nonbinary/Gender Fluid) but since it is one of the A’s I felt like I should point it out in the comment. It was more of addressing other A’s than intending confligation.

            (Its very early for me so apologies if I’m not making the best sense)

  6. “Elizabeth Nolan, the Equinox Executive Creative Director on the project gave a couple of really cool interviews where she talked about coming organically into a space that’s made up of marginalized identities and figuring out how to amplify those voices, instead of marching in to take up space and speak to people.”

    Now, I suppose this is the part I don’t understand. The use of A in the alphabet does precisely that: It marches in to take up space instead of amplifying the voice that belongs.

    I appreciate that this is also more progressive than its predecessors and that the successor will continue that trend, but I also would ask… why? Why is it a positive thing that some progress was made, but it can still be more inclusive, when there’s no reason it couldn’t have been more inclusive this time?

    I’m someone who does champion incremental progress, yet it depends on the situation. Deciding someone gets put on the back-burner because of the broader culture is a slippery, harmful slope. That sort of argument has been used to justify things—white feminism for example—through the past two hundred years. A fear of being connected to more “fringe activism” has allowed a lot of terrible things to happen that there’s still ramifications for. It really bothers me.

    I want to celebrate, but I also know what it’s like to be left behind… moved to that back burner… told “not yet”. It leaves a raincloud over me. 🙁

  7. This is beautiful.

    My heart breaks so often these days when our community refuses to reward that which does not meet the standards carved out of theories on Tumblr and in university classrooms, as if pragmatic prgress is a weakness and not the stones upon which our foremothers built the ground on which we now walk. It is a real and whole shame. We have Trump and still we do not see how we contributed to him with liberal purity theatrics.

    • So… including everyone is how Trump got elected… ? Those “foremothers” also prioritized some over others. Was that really the right decision? How often were American blacks told “not yet” or “too much too soon”? How often were they told to be thankful for incremental progress? How often were they blamed for Democratic party failure?

      I really, really don’t like the slippery slope here. 🙁

      • The least free sort of queer is the asexual? So we’re just gonna gloss right over trans women of color here, then, apparently. I love how cishets (I’m obviously not including trans ace peeps or ace peeps who are lesbian, gay, bi, pan, etc.) feel entitled to our community. Chrissake, remember when the furries tried that? Queer isn’t just about unusual sexual practices, Karen.

        • I’m sorry you felt I was saying that, but that was not at all my intent. I was not trying to imply, in any way, that asexuals are the most oppressed, nor do I adhere to any concept of “oppression olympics”.

          I’m also not sure who Karen is or what your other point was in regards to my comment.

          • Its all good I kinda misread your comment’s tone. The simplest I can boil it down to is that they (cishet aces) can join the club, but shouldn’t run for president. I mean homophobia, biphobia, transphobia all have been institutionally upheld to actively hurt and marginalize people. Acephobia? Yeah it sucks, but it’s just not the same thing. They aren’t being denied any rights in this country on the grounds of their lack of interest in sex, nor have they ever. Queer people, like we’re a community built on a shared history and shared fight that, quite frankly, no cishet person will ever be able to fully understand. And when ace cishets and kinky cishets claim the queer identity, they are trivializing that fight. I should get off my soapbox and go to bed, probably.

          • Bay, I think Hollis’ reply is excellent and obviously far more authoritative than mine. But I do want to respond to some of your ideas. Mainly, your same argument can be used by gay and lesbian people to purport biphobia and transphobia. It’s the same argument used by a lot of people who have marginalized others. As far as I’m concerned, “queer” is an inclusive title… and it’s particularly important to note that people can be queer (read: not straight) and be ace and kinky. So why should your fellow queer people not have their full identity accepted, understood, and embraced?

            This is why there’s articles on being disabled AND queer. How can you see to only PART of a person and their needs? We need to be focused on the WHOLE, because it’s inherently selfish to go in part… and that’s something we’re all guilty of, no matter who we are, because we’re human and we can lose sight of the whole easily.

        • I’m replying here to your below comment:

          “Acephobia? Yeah it sucks, but it’s just not the same thing. They aren’t being denied any rights in this country on the grounds of their lack of interest in sex, nor have they ever.”

          Because actually, yes, we have.

          Not having sex with your spouse is sufficient cause for divorce (or annulment, back in ye olden times in the west when the church was also part of government), and at least currently can cause divorce to not be no-fault–because it’s the fault of the person not having sex that the divorce is happening.

          Asexuality is STILL pathologized in the DSM. Yes, now there’s a small footnote in the extended edition that “oh yeah if this person identifies as asexual and is fine with them then it’s not Hypoactive sexual desire disorder”, but that leaves plenty of people who don’t know about asexuality, or people seeing doctors who don’ know about asexuality out in the cold to be treated for a mental illness that’s actually a normal sexuality. And because clinicians often don’t KNOW about asexuality, even if they’re not giving you a HSDD diagnosis, they’re still using your lack of sexual attraction as diagnostic criterion–oh, you’re not interested in sex, obviously you’re depressed, let’s fix that. oh, so you’re having symptoms of (hypo)mania but no hypersexuality? it’s probably just anxiety!

          Not to mention that corrective sexual assault/rape is A Thing that happens to a lot of asexual folks.

          I’ve faced far more shit for being ace than being trans or queer. Doctors treat me worse for being ace than they do for being trans. I am only out to a handful of people irl as ace because of goddamn awful reactions that include sexual assault. I’m fully out as trans and queer irl (and get some fun street harassment and threats as a result and some really shitty experiences with medical professionals so it hasn’t been a cakewalk there either). I am fucking sick of people telling me that asexual people aren’t treated badly and aren’t actually oppressed because that has not been my experience or the experience of most aces I know.

          • Okay, but with Hyposexual Desire Disorder like… that is a legit medical condition that people suffer from? Particularly people suffering from mental health issues, or on medication that suppresses arousal. And they need access to treatment when they do. Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t suck for ace people to be misdiagnosed as having it, and more visibility is needed, but its existence as a diagnosis is not a sign of systemic oppression.

          • Well… yes? Loss of arousal can be highly distressing, and it’s important that people suffering from it can be treated. It’s also important that doctors learn to recognise that asexuality is an entirely separate thing. What’s wrong with that?

          • Amy- there’s a difference between having low sexual desire/arousal/etc as a side effect of an actual issue (mental or physical) or a side effect of medication, and having low sexual desire classified as its own mental disorder. Having unusually low arousal from depression – that’s depression, not a separate disorder. Same with medication- it’s a side effect. And that can be distressing to the person that it happens to, but that doesn’t mean it should be classified as a disorder.

          • Hollis: Yes, you’re def 100 percent queer as fuck. And acephobia might intersect with other axes (is that the plural of axis?) of oppression, in much the same way that class, race, age, and myriad other factors do. However, just as being a poor person doesn’t inherently make someone queer, being oppressed on the axis of asexuality doesn’t necessitate queerness. That’s not an ideal comparison, but I hope you get what I’m saying. And it sucks bear balls that your doc would treat you shittily for aceness. Its always disheartening when someone that’s supposed to be an expert pulls some nonsense like that.

            Amy: This is a really good example of why this discussion needs a shitton of nuance. Yes, a loss of sex drive can happen, and it fucking sucks (shoutout to antidepressants) but that’s not really what we’re talking about here. Think of it this way: if someone’s anxiety makes them reticent to seek out social interactions, that’s a side effect of anxiety. That does not mean that introversion is or should be classified as a disorder.

            Johanna: I 1000 percent agree that trans and/or lesbian/gay/bi/pan/etc aces and kinky folks are queer. However, as I said above, aceness is an axis of oppression separate from queerness. For context, I’m a nonbinary queer person. I also have depression. My depression sucks, and it’s part of who I am, but it’s not a queer identity. You can be queer and disabled, queer and able-bodied/neurotypical, straight and disabled, or straight and able-bodied/neurotypical. Those variables are independent.

            Everyone: Can we take a hot second out from the discourse to appreciate how Autostraddle facilitates a community where intense issues can be discussed fairly cordially? Queers are so gr8.

          • Yes we can. *pops confetti cannon*

            Now to disagree again. 😉

            Asexuality is typical of sexual orientation. How is it not queer? How does it hurt you to accept asexual people into the community? How are your arguments different than the transphobic ones directed at trans people because LGB peeps didn’t want to deal with that “separate issue”?

          • We can absolutely celebrate that! I’m really glad that, despite our differences, this comment section has continued to be polite and relatively understanding of different perspectives, it gives me life honestly.

            As to why I think asexuality isn’t queer- ace people are not structurally oppressed. Cis straight ace people (which I do believe is possible, even if their straight privilege is only relative to what a gay ace person faces) do not suffer from homophobia or transphobia, and in fact can benefit from + perpetuate it (e.g. cishet aces telling gay people to stop kissing around them, or cishet aromatic people haranguing queer authors for writing queer romance stories, because amatonormativity, or the UK national union of students eliminating the requirement for a gay men’s seat in LGBT councils while mandating the inclusion of an ace/aro one).

            Unlike trans and bi people, they have not historically been part of the LGBT movement, and I’ve yet to see evidence that they have any actual concrete rights that they need to fight for- most instances of aphobia seem to be rooted in misogyny, toxic masculinity or mis-targeted homophobia. And ultimately, I’m not comfortable having people in my safe spaces whose only claim to queerness is that they don’t develop sexual feelings for a while after they first meet someone, or that they’re not interested in having sex, especially when their representation comes at the cost of QPOC representation.

            But I understand that you don’t feel the same way, and honestly, there is a lot of space within queer spaces. I imagine that we’ll all be continuing to have discussions about the limits of the word queer for a long time to come, and I hope that they can all be on the level of the one we’re having here.

  8. Beautiful video! I’m glad this is getting some traction (though this is the first I’ve heard of it.) I agree that it would be better to have asexual, but I also noticed that (maybe coincidentally?) the first few letters are relatively safe and then it moves into more “fringe” territory. I wonder if ally instead of asexual was also chosen to hook viewers with something that is familiar. Not the best reason to have ally over asexual, of course, but the first handful of letters are relatively well known and then the video really goes beyond what most viewers are probably used to. Also, I agree with an above commenter that all of us can/should be allies to groups that we do not belong to be it gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.

  9. The video is gorgeous, the dancers are amazing, and it’s really cool that Stacey got to work on it! I trust Stacey implicitly and I think she did lovely work.

    I really expected to be more moved by this, but it was a bit hard when ally was front and center as literally the first term to come across our screens, at the cost of asexual/ace/aro. Demisexual wasn’t there either.

    And the inclusion of “heteroflexible” really bothered me, honestly. I’ve never heard someone identify as heteroflexible before – if someone reading this does, and doesn’t mind explaining a bit, I would appreciate the education – but it sounds kind of homophobic to me? Like why not bi or pan? Again, if this is your identity and I am marginalizing you, I apologize.

    A lot of the word choices felt off to me. Maybe it’s just an awkward way to make an informative video, making everything adhere to the alphabet?

    I think we can do better. Not because I want liberal ideological purity or something, but because I see our community strive to do better constantly, and I know how brilliant you all are, and how caring!

    I can also empathize (or at least sympathize) with what must be the ENORMOUS fatigue of doing this work, and never ever being able to do something that sits right with everyone, and burning the fuck out. So I’m kind of on the verge of deleting this altogether.

    But I guess I won’t because I do want to say: ace people, aro people, demisexuals, we are here, we see you, we’re with you.

    • Yeah, I was also a lil bit squinty at the whole heteroflexible thing. Like, really? Did that really need to be there?

      Having said that though, I did feel that the inclusion of drag was important, given it’s such a hallmark of queer culture. Maybe if they’d included ace spectrum identities elsewhere, the exclusion of demi would have worked better in that context?

    • Heteroflexible irked me too.

      So did A for Ally but that’s been touched on a lot already in eloquent ways.

      When the term “heteroflexible” came up I squirmed but then the description came up and what the speaker was expressing sounded a lot more like “fluidity.” So then I pondered why they didn’t use that for F but remembered how much I loved “femme” for “F” just one letter before.

      As somebody that does identify as fluid, I really connected to what was said during “heteroflexible”–but really resent that term being used. I googled the term after and it’s definition implies “mostly straight.”

      And tbh, I don’t want “Hetero” showing up in any queer alphabet.

    • Really well said. I felt the same. The video is both flawed and an impressive achievement and it’s tricky to hold all of those feelings at once. (This is where I try to channel my inner Tim Gunn – he’s so good at that).

    • Hmm, I don’t identify as heteroflexible, and have always been a little suspicious of it too, but I watched this video recently and found it pretty interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kfEDUFTSaI (don’t know how to embed, sorry!). It’s especially interesting because Ash talks about identifying as “homoflexible” which honestly is an identify that could kind of fit me — I know if you’re like 90/10 you’re still bi or pan, but, idk! I get the desire to try to be a little clearer about the break-down if you’re v far from 50/50.

      I think in some ways I do wonder, is “heteroflexible” just a more comfortable stepping stone on the way to bi/queer, but I do think there’s nothing really to be gained for correcting someone’s identity, *especially* if they’re choosing it because they’re not yet super comfortable with a “more queer” term. I have at least one friend who is toying with the term and part of it is about not stepping on the toes of “real queer people” (some of which is internalized biphobia, I think, and some of which is legit). I don’t have good answers, but wanted to share this because it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

      In the context of this video though, I feel like it would feel shittier if they interviewed a bunch of people who identified as LGBTQIA+ and then were like “oh, we’re not including you, other queers told us your identity isn’t real.” You know?

      • Also, just to clarify re homoflexible, what I really want is a term that is like, “most of the time I’m just attracted to women, but sometimes I’m attracted to non-binary people and very very rarely I’m attracted to dudes, and I don’t want to contribute to bi-erasure, but I also don’t plan to ever date men and I don’t want to have to explain all of this when I say bi…,” but unfortunately a succinct term for all of that doesn’t really exist (yet!). I can see how, if you felt all of this but sort of from the opposite direction, you might be drawn to heteroflexible. I also like what KatieS said above about how “fluid” might be a better term for the same thing, though!

    • yes, maybe the H could have been better used for het allies (if we want to include hetero- into the alphabet), freeing up the A. and the words could have explained further that of course queer people can be allies to other letters of the alphabet as well.

      next time, i suppose. equinox did seem like they were acknowledging and listening to the backlash on their facebook post (though last i checked they still hadn’t used the legit a-word).

      • I just really don’t know why we would ever need the prefix “het-” in a queer alphabet. I would have loved to free up that “a” for aces though. Should have been a priority.

        None of this critique is catered to Stacy by the way. Our only platform to dissect this video on autostraddle right know is on her interview.

        I think the video is often powerful and so beautifully done. I had goosebumps.

  10. The Ally thing really set a bad tone for the video. It took me several seconds to process that they had chosen to supersede ace/aro/agender with ally, to the point that I wasn’t even fully listening to B or C.

    I see an argument in the comments that asexuality shouldn’t be grouped as a queer identity as it implies “queerness is entirely governed by sexual attraction” (?). I’m not sure how the inclusion of an identity defined by the lack of sexual attraction would make queerness allosexual-centric.

    And as the word ‘queer’ is by intention an umbrella term, it’s hard to say what it really means. But I’ve always thought of queer as easier, but synonymous way of saying MOGII (Marginalised Orientations, Identities, and Intersex). And asexuality is nothing if not marginalised.

    The social context behind taking up the A slot with ‘ally’ is not like replacing ‘bisexual’ with a random feel-good word like ‘bodacious’, for example, since the B in the alphabet soup has never been threatened with the replacement of ‘bodacious’. I certainly wouldn’t have cared enough to comment if they’d started out with ‘Awesome’, ‘Awe-inspiring’, or ‘Amazing’.

    My real question is, if “from the very beginning […] every queer person involved in this project […] had a voice at the table”, then… why didn’t anyone speak up about the Ally issue? I understand that Stacy, as the video editor, had no say in what the A stood for, but I think the fact that Ally even made it through the entire planning, directing, and filming process says volumes.

    If they wanted to have their cake and eat it too, why not A for Asexuality, and S for Support? I see that there was a very intentional choice to have Queer and Undecided to support the Questioning interpretation of Q.

    I get that this is a cool project, but… what it boils down to is this:

    Even 26 letters aren’t enough when it comes to the ace community.

  11. I really loved seeing this video and thought it was beautifully put together, so well done Stacy!!!!!

    I agree with the comments about Asexuality being excluded to be Ally, I wasn’t comfortable about the fact that was the first part of this whole thing, I mean if they’d put “Advocate” instead I’d feel marginally better about it….but personally I still think it should have been Asexual. I do like the point someone made above though as seeing it as us being allies for other groups within our community.

    Also not sure how comfortable I am with K being Kink (see that whole comment section mess on the “Kinky is not Queer” article from a few months ago) and S being for S&M (same reason). I feel Solidarity or something would have been a much better S and then we coulda got rid of Ally.

    Buuuut…..those are conversations which need to be have the next time someone produces art along these lines in order to further push the boundaries and have all voices heard. Continual progress comes from continued conversation about where we failed last time and how to improve it this time.

  12. This will perhaps be an unpopular opinion but asexuality/demisexuality is not entitled to a place under the queer umbrella. I do understand watching this video and seeing things like kink, S&M, exhibitionism, etc. and feeling that asexuality/demisexuality deserve a place in a conversation that includes those things, or believing asexuality deserves a place in the conversation more than ally. Sure. But asexuality and demisexuality are NOT queer identities. Just because a sexual or romantic identity is marginalized doesn’t mean it’s queer. The entitlement here is mind-boggling. You do understand that people with same-sex attractions and trans identities have been systematically oppressed and persecuted by the church, the state, and therefore the broader culture for centuries, right? Homosexuality is still criminal behavior in many parts of the world. Look at Chechnya. Look here at Autostraddle’s news: trans women murdered constantly, lesbian couple physically assaulted on a train. We saw the news this week of a church for tried to beat the gay demons out of a young person here in the United States. Forgive me, but not feeling sexual attraction or not feeling sexual attraction until you have an emotional connection with someone has never and will never lead to the kind of persecution and oppression gay and trans people have suffered. So yes I do understand why asexual/demisexual people want a seat at the table where kink, ally, etc. are also sitting, but frankly none of those identities are queer.

    This is a powerful video and as you said on Facebook Heather a good conversation starter.

    • You may choose to believe that only actively persecuted identities should fall under the queer umbrella, but I (and many others) don’t. Marginalization can be caused by many factors other than overt hostility – erasure, stereotyping, enforced conformity, etc. – and can still have serious effects on people’s mental health and quality of life. This kind of gatekeeping does nothing to help anyone.

          • Bee your comment implies that there’s one formal agreed upon definition of the word “queer” but its an entire branch of academic study with a definition that rolls around and mutates daily. An ace person forced into a marriage by societal pressure with a person they can’t have romantic or sexual feelings for and a closeted lesbian forced into a marriage with a man they can’t have romantic or sexual feelings for are dealing with similar problems. I see no reason that the queer label shouldn’t include a wide array of sexual minorities. If you have to do a lot of self reflection to understand your preferences or identity, and make a choice to disclose your preferences or gender identity and if you have to actively choose when and with whom its safe to do so you are facing similar challenges to the rest of the queer community which is why all these identities should have a seat at the table.

          • Yes. Good! So yes the definition of queer shift and changes every day in academic and activist circles, as Judith Butler said it would! You believe queer to mean what you have just said; I believe queer to mean what I have said. Both of us, it would appear, have given this a fair amount of thought and study. We do not agree. Yet here is a mandate in these comments that says it is WRONG to not include asexual and the RIGHT thing to do would be include asexual. We have proven together that that is an unfair response. Queer, as you say, is not settled. Neither is asexuality’s place in it.

          • Bee, I appreciate where you’re coming from, and I’m wondering if your working definition of asexuality includes the various -romantics out there? I’m under the asexual umbrella (I just call myself queer bc nothing about me isn’t in the middle of a spectrum), so is my biromantic demisexual male partner. I have a queer girlfriend, he’s got a few young men he’s chasing. Do our ace and demisexualities exclude us from queerness despite active participation in queer romance? Or when you want ace excluded from the table, do you mean ace/aro people with no interest in partnering beyond platonic relationships?

          • Erin, I don’t think Bee was saying that ace/demisexuality is grounds for exclusion from the queer community, only that asexuality/demisexuality are not grounds for inclusion in and of themselves- i.e., a lesbian ace person is welcome to call herself queer, a cisgender heteroromantic asexual person is not, because she has not historically been the target of the slur ‘queer’ and thus cannot take part in its reclamation.

          • Reading about the oppressions people on the ace spectrum suffer in this thread, I am of course very sorry that they suffer those oppressions, as I am sorry for all oppressions suffered, but that doesn’t mean that those oppressions are queer, or that they are informed by the same prejudices, bigotries, and hates used to justify harm to queer people. The commenter above who spoke of their struggles with having doctors take them seriously, for example, or the fact that in some states it is still legal to divorce a person for not having sex with you. That is horrible! But that does not mean the oppression is queer. There are many, many, many patriarchal oppressions that are not queer. Queer, historically, was used as a slur to dehumanize people with same-sex attractions and people who were not assigned a gender identity at birth that matches their true identity. Because of those things, the church persecuted them, the state persecuted them, their own friends and families ostracized. They did so BECAUSE they are gay and trans; their persecution was not incidental as part of larger cultural oppresions. Yes of course asexual people suffer oppressions but not because they have been targets of the religions and governments for centuries. If you do not have sex with your partner or were only able to have sex with your partner after you developed an emotional bond with them, do you fear what will happen if your partner gets sick and is hospitalized, that you will not be able to see them? Do you fear that state governments are actively trying to undermine and demonize your relationships? Do you worry that you will not be able to use the correct bathroom or that you will be attacked in public for simply being yourself? Do you worry that you will be refused service at a place you frequent? I am not saying it is a walk in the park to be asexual. I am saying, however, that you will probably not be attacked for walking in the park as an asexual person. When people use(d) the word queer as a slur, they do not mean “A person who feels romantic but not sexual attraction, etc.”

          • Bee, I’m assuming you’d be in favour of minimizing harm for marginalized people, as a general rule. So let’s take that as a baseline. Does it harm the rest of the queer community to include asexuality? The only kind of arguments I’ve ever seen on this point are vague abstractions about queerness becoming “diluted”, which is unconvincing to me. I see no concrete, observable harm being done to anyone. On the other hand, does it harm asexual people to be excluded from the queer umbrella? Based on many comments on this post alone, I’d say it’s pretty clear that it can. There is a reason asexual people often choose to align with a queer identity, and it’s because of the community, visibility and support that we’re all seeking.

            Given the above, and given that it is entirely common and reasonable for people to interpret the already-broad term “queer” as encompassing anyone who doesn’t fit into a cis and hetero identity, it makes no sense to me why anyone would want to die on this particular hill.

          • Amy, actually people who don’t participate in romantic or sexual pairings are very often targets of the slur “queer”.

          • These are very good points, Chandra, and I thank you for making them so rationally and kindly. You are correct in assuming I am in favor of minimizing harm for marginalized people. But see for me I do see concrete and observable harm being done here. I see it being done in the comments of this very article. “If you do not include asexuality in LGBT representation, then make no representation for LGBT people at all!” I believe we can all agree that people with same-sex relationships (sexual and romantic) and trans people suffer systemic oppressions far beyond the oppressions suffered solely for being asexual. So then it also stands to reason that robbing LGBT people of representation will harm LGBT people more than it will harm asexual people. Without positive representation we are at greater risk of being legislated against, being demonized by our churches, being cut off from our families, being denied fair housing, being denied job security, being denied access to public facilities that match our gender identity, being attacked, being physically harmed. This is not true for people who simply ID as asexual. Churches and governments have not spent centuries demonizing and dehumanizing them. I do not think asexuality “dilutes” the “purity” of the LGBT community, but I think that asexual people have not and do not share my same historic persecutions and oppressions and are therefore not in the same kind of danger I am. Yes, their struggles are real and their identities are valid, but we are fundamentally different in this way, in our histories and in the execution even today of the persecurions perpetrated upon us by our identities. I should be able to take great Pride in seeing a trans woman of color and two lesbians of color powerfully speaking truth to their identities in a mainstream media commercial. This is a major moment!. I should not have to reserve my celebration because asexual people — who, I am sorry, have not shared the same brutal history as me — were not included. I do not wish harm on marginalized identites. Neither do I feel like I should be subject to harm by not including all margenalized identites with mine.

          • Chandra, I’ve seen some really, genuinely awful, homo/trans/serophobic rhetoric coming from ace heteroromantic people who use their self-identification as queer to shield themselves from criticism (the most egregious example that comes to mind off the top of my head is the person who threatened to bring a gun to Pride to use on anyone who didn’t feel ace people belonged there, refused to apologise even after the Orlando shooting two days later, and then had crowds of people defending them and even going so far as to compile lists of all the gay and trans people who had asked for an apology and publishing them on tumblr as lists of aphobes to be blocked posthaste). Which is not to say that all aces are like that, but there have been enough to make me feel deeply unsafe around cishhet aces who use the word queer.

            As for the word queer itself, being targeted by a word which is meant for a group you’re not part of (in this case, a homo/transphobic slur) does not give you the right to claim it as your own. My cisgender, heterosexual, homophobic father was also called various queerphobic slurs for being feminine when he was younger, but that doesn’t mean he gets to use them, because he’s not gay or trans.

          • Bee, I don’t see anyone in the comments making any such statements, and again, the hypothetical loss of representation you’re describing is abstract, highly unlikely, and not currently causing any specific harm to any actual individuals.

            Amy, your father can’t reclaim the slur because he is in fact straight. Asexual people are not straight. You say that’s not a good enough reason and I disagree. And no, I really don’t think it’s ok to exclude a whole demographic of people based on the bad behaviour of some.

            I’m scrambling to get ready for a trip and won’t be able to continue this discussion, but I think it’s pretty clear this is a simple question of definitions. I define “queer” one way, you both define it another, and that’s just where we’re at. So I’ll end by saying to any asexual people reading this, I consider you part of my community and I welcome you here. Have a good night everyone.

    • Plenty of people have argued in the past (and still do in some circles) that being trans is not being queer and shouldn’t be included. It was VERY recent within the past ten years that major organizations argued for dropping the “T” from LGBT.

      I don’t think it’s right to engage in oppression olympics OR to espouse the idea that there’s no social consequences for being ace in a variety of cultures.

      Why repeat past mistakes? Why not learn from them? Why not be inclusive and LISTEN?

      • Because ace people don’t face structural/systematic oppression and haven’t historically been part of the queer community like trans people do and have been, perhaps? Whatever you feel about the inclusion/exclusion discourse, it seems a bit off to equate the plight of ace people with that of trans people, or to the civil rights struggle as someone did above.

          • I am listening. I have said I hear and understand and sympathize with the struggles asexual people face, and I agree that their identities are valid. However, I have still heard no convincing argument that cishet ace identities are queer, nor has anyone explained to me how cishet ace identities share in my history of systemic oppression and persecution and therefore deserve my unwillingness to celebrate progress.

          • And since you, the gatekeeper, dictate what evidence is acceptable and when people can be allowed into “your” community, perhaps you’d like to clearly delineate what evidence you’ll accept from other people’s experience and what evidence you’ll invalidate because you know better?

          • I, like Bee, have listened to both well-read ones comments and to ad hominem attacks calling us TERFs and biphobes for being uncomfortable with cisgender hetero-attracted people claiming our spaces and terminology (not so much in this thread as that one about Greek goddesses, I hasten to point out). I just haven’t yet been persuaded by any of it. Perhaps we should simply agree to disagree on this point, given our differing experiences seem to have led us to different conclusions.

          • Rejecting trans people from community on the basis of heterosexuality… yes, that’s transphobic. We can agree to disagree, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be called out on that sort of thing. That’s awful. 🙁

    • I’d also like to point out in addition to the comments before me- many, if not most ace people I know of also identify as some other queer-spectrum identity. For many of us the deliberate exclusion of one part of our identity makes us (at least my friends and I) feel like we have to fake it and hide part of ourselves to not be “kicked out” of the community, especially when people make blanket statements like “asexual people aren’t queer/ don’t deserve to be part of the community”

      • Yikes, I’m sorry people have tried to throw queer aces out because of their aceness. That’s trash, you’re queer as fuck. But, and I’m gonna repeat an argument I made earlier, I’m a queer nonbinary person. I also have depression. My depression is part of who I am, but it is not in and of itself a queer identity. It’s ludicrous to consider every trait a queer person might have to be inherently queer. I’m blonde, that doesn’t make blondeness queer. I wear Doc Martens, that doesn’t make them — actually that’s a bad example, Docs are queer af. Similarly, queers can be ace, but so can cis heteros. Therefore, ace isn’t in and of itself a queer identity.

  13. Okay so this is some amazing choreography and I felt inspired to look up queer contemporary dance groups near me (I haven’t done dance in ~8 years, but after this I want to again!)

    And like. I haven’t yet found any groups that aren’t male-only, but I did find this (warning: VERY NSFW!) (also you’re welcome) https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/young-boy-dancing-group-lasers-butt-queer-art

      • Me too! Maybe an idea would be to get lessons for a few years, then form one? Or alternatively, gather a bunch of queer women who want to learn how to dance together + all do YouTube dance videos at once. I feel like that has the potential for a lot of hilarity and joy.

  14. Just wanted to express my gratitude that we have a space where we can both celebrate and critique things. I think that part of loving something means wanting it to be good. In my mind, criticism is an act of love, when it’s done with good intentions and thoughtful words. I was totally bummed about the ally thing too, and think it’s important to talk about. I also liked the video, and thought Stacy did a phenom job. Both of these things can and should exist side by side. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful words!

  15. The video is beautifully shot and edited–wonderful job.

    Among many disappointing things is that equinox is a rich company with capital and clout. They should do the right thing and not include ally in the alphabet because it’s right, and also, from a business standpoint, it’s ridiculous. They HAVE the well to do ally market from making this video, they could have done what’s right and been ace-inclusive and had nothing to lose.

  16. Woah! The version that I saw going the rounds on twitter was I guess a shorter snippet or like teaser?? It only had LGBTQA in it (I don’t *think* I am making this up but now I am questioning everything). I already thought it was beautifully edited, but this version is so much more powerful and inclusive! Also I was like, it says 6 letters isn’t enough so why are there only 6 letters?? I feel kind of v dumb now.

    I haven’t read the interview yet, even, but I am v excited to! Regardless of little nit-picky critiques I feel like we can all agree that this is gorgeous to look at/listen to and worlds away from what we’ve come to expect from the corporatization of pride (even if we still have a bit to go and in-group discussions to have). Stacy should be super proud!

    • Coming back here to say that the interview was everything I hoped — very sweet and smart and thought-provoking.

      Also, I do want to clarify that I don’t necessarily think that critiques of the video are bad or unfair (I agree with many/all of them!) when I say “little nit-picky.” I completely sympathize with and am mad on behalf of all the ace/aro/ace-spectrum people who feel excluded and erased. Rather, I feel like the critiques are about a very small percentage of the letters chosen and also, at least to me, don’t take away from the general sense that, while definitely not perfect, this is many many steps beyond what you typically see from corporate videos surrounding pride.

      Also, one of my favorite things about Autostraddle and the community here is how willing we are to engage with media with both an emotional and also critical eye, without necessarily negating one or the other as the “wrong” way to look at stuff. Thank you!

  17. Just want to say that I appreciate both the video and the conversation.

    Until the recent thread about ace Greek goddesses I didn’t know that whether ace/aro should be included was an issue. (Although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised).

    I believe I’ve talked before about feeling like a queer Rip Van Winkle (I came out as bi in college in 1990, married a man in 2001, kind of lost touch with the queer community and then started re-connecting a few years ago when I realized I’d accidentally erased my queer identity). When I re-discovered the queer world (via AutoStraddle and other places), I was amazed how many things had changed – there was a bi-pride flag and people talked about bi-erasure. Butch and femme had been reclaimed. There were tons of identities that were more visible that I knew little or nothing about in the early 90s – trans, intersex, ace, aro, agender, demi-sexual, non-binary, pan, gray-sexual, and I’m probably leaving some out.

    I’ve identified as bi for a long time but I’m just realizing that I think I’m demi-sexual as well. And I wouldn’t have even known to name my experience as demi-sexual without the the larger queer community.

    I learned about ace as an identity from queer spaces. Most of the ace people I’ve met have been in queer or queer adjacent online spaces.

    Which is a long way of saying that I wish that ace/aro had been included.

  18. I’m not Ace myself, but I saw Ally and turned the video off. This thing that’s supposedly celebrating our diversity and who comes first, front and center? The freaking straights who aren’t even part of it. Always. ALWAYS. We can’t even talk about ourselves until we let them talk about how great they are for supporting us first. It’s been several days, and I’m still fuming.

    • Same here- I am ace, and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. They could include allies (aka cis hetero people), s&m, kink, and “heteroflexible”, but ace/aro people are left out? I’d be less upset if other specifically non-queer identities/terms hadn’t been included too. I understand that things like kink and s&m have a long history with the lgbt+ community but also ace/aro people (should be, imo) more important than patting straight people on the back.

  19. I first was linked to the video through the email from Equinox — and I almost didn’t watch it because of the inclusion of Ally Under “LGBTQA”. The email to me made it very clear that Equinox considered “Allies” to be a part of the community and an identity and not an action. I don’t need to tell you all this, but allies are by definition straight cisgender people, and thus they don’t experience the same types of oppression as our queer communities. Allies doesn’t get their own letter, you can’t be “proud” to be an ally, and it completely contributes to asexual/ace erasure.

    The video was visually stunning, and I truly appreciated the diversity of the performers and the visual excellence of the video. I in no way want to diminish how powerful it was that such a major brand is celebrating our community. We just have to hold each other accountable.

  20. “I think you can have these important nuanced conversations while also keeping in mind how radical and progressive something is in the context of the larger population.”

    I loved this quote. So great. And the video is beautifully edited and very moving.

    I do think the choice to include ally over asexual was the wrong one. For one, because asexuality is a valid identity and should be treated as such by the queer community.
    But also /beginning/ a video on queer identity with the importance of straight, cis allies leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I recognize that A happens to be first in the alphabet, but it was unfortunate placement and a bad choice. The first time I started the video, I turned it off after the first letter because it felt so disappointing to see straight, cis people still prioritized even in a discussion of queer pride.

  21. The editing of this video was excellent. The choreography was enthralling. The words they chose for each letter? I actually got really mad at this video and then got mad at myself for being unsupportive of something so beautiful. Is there a way to contact the scriptwriters for this video? There was so much good here but I still felt like leading with allies was a slap in the face…

  22. I wish they hadn’t included so many things that aren’t inherently queer. Consider this my counteroffer.
    A: Agender
    B: Bisexual/romantic
    C: Coming out
    D: Drag
    E: Everything at Ikea. Sorry, Karen, your new loveseat is actually bisexual. Deal with it.
    F: Femme
    G: Gay
    H: Homosexual/romantic
    I: Intersex
    J: Jepsen, Carly Rae. She invented the gays. That’s a true fact.
    K: Killing it, with regards to fashion. The straights WISH they could.
    L: Lesbian
    M: Masc
    N: Nonbinary
    O: Out
    P: Pansexual/romantic
    Q: Queer
    R: Reptiles. Yep, sorry hets, we’re confiscating your lizards.
    S: Sick ass haircuts.
    T: Trans
    U: Undecided
    V: Voguing
    W: Women’s colleges, seriously everyone there is queer.
    X: Idk man those x-es they put on your hands when you’re 18 at a gay bar?
    Y: Y’all I’m bad at scrabble.
    Z: Ze

  23. The conversation about prioritizing “ally” over “asexual,” “aromantic,” and “agender” inclusion has happened many times before. This seems like a deliberate decision to throw members of the queer community under the bus so as to appeal to cis straight people. As an asexual agender person, I can’t see this as progress in the community’s representation. It’s just hurtful.

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