I’m not ace myself, so I’m coming at the whole acephobia thing from an outsider’s perspective, and as such, it’s not my place to speak to the experience of those on the receiving end of it.
However, as a bisexual dude, I can observe that many of the arguments that are employed to establish that ace folks have no place in the queer community are strikingly similar – indeed, at times practically word-for-word identical – to the arguments that were for many years (and in some circles still are) employed to establish that bisexual folks have no place in the queer community.
It’s enough to make a guy suspicious on general principle, you know?
I’ve gotten a few messages asking for (well, in some cases more “demanding”) elaboration, so: here are a few of the primary areas in which I’ve observed that arguments against bi inclusion and arguments against ace inclusion tend to exhibit significant overlap. There may well be others – these are simply the ones I’ve run into most frequently.
The Passing Argument
It has been argued that bisexual folks don’t have any grounds to complain about discrimination and violence suffered in relation to their orientation, because a bisexual person is able to pass as straight simply by choosing partners of the appropriate gender. Therefore, any discrimination and violence that a bisexual person does experience must be construed as voluntarily undertaken, since they could have passed, and freely chose not to.
This argument is similarly applied to ace folks via the assertion that being ace poses no particular barrier to seeking a partner of a socially acceptable gender, so any failure to do so must likewise be construed as voluntary.
The Performativity Argument
It has been argued that bisexual folks ought to be excluded from queer communities because sexual orientation is purely performative; i.e., being gay is defined in terms of currently having a sexual partner of the same gender. A bisexual person who has a partner of a different gender is functionally indistinguishable from a straight person, and must therefore be regarded as straight. Conversely, a bisexual person whose current partner is of the same gender must nonetheless be regarded with suspicion, because they could “turn straight” at any time simply by leaving that partner.
This argument is similarly applied to ace folks via the assertion that their orientation has no discernible performative component; an ace person is functionally indistinguishable from a straight person who simply isn’t involved in a sexual relationship at that particular moment, so ace folks must therefore be regarded as straight by default.
(An astute reader may notice that the passing argument dovetails neatly into the performativity argument: those who choose not to seek partners of a socially acceptable gender may be dismissed because any violence and discrimination they experience is a consequence of their voluntary failure to pass, while those who do seek such partners are performatively straight and therefore to be shunned. It’s a neat little system.)
The Mistaken Identity Argument
It has been argued that, while bisexual folks may suffer discrimination and physical and sexual violence, they’re not targeted by such acts because they’re bisexual. Any discrimination and violence a bisexual person suffers in relation to their orientation is suffered because they were mistaken for a gay person. Any effort on their part to discuss such experiences is therefore to be regarded as appropriative, in spite of the fact that they personally experienced it. In short, a bisexual person’s own experience of violence and discrimination doesn’t truly “belong” to them: it “belongs” to the purely hypothetical gay person their persecutors allegedly mistook them for.
This argument is applied to ace folks practically verbatim – no particular adaptation is necessary.
I have nothing to add except my gratitude for this