Are asexual people LGBT?
While there is a common cultural notion that asexuality is a recent concept, it has existed and been a part of the LGBT+ movement just as long as homosexuality and bisexuality have. As early as 1907, references to asexuality can be found from gay activist Carl Schlegel1 – at a time when the concept of homosexuality had not even become culturally established. Further references to asexuality in LGBT+ literature can be found in the 1950s, 60s and 70s . There's even photographic evidence of asexuals in the LGBT+ community at LGBT activist conferences  and pride marches  in 1973.
Another cultural myth is that asexuals do not need or would not benefit from the political action that LGBT+ communities are often focused around. This is also not true: though asexuals may not be discriminated against as much or in the same way as other LGBT+ identities, they do suffer the consequences of invisibility and a lack of awareness. Being ignored in this way leads to prejudice, poorer mental and physical health outcomes2, and perpetuates the harmful idea that asexuality doesn't exist. Being systematically excluded from the LGBT+ spaces that they have always been active contributors to would be a huge setback in achieving the change that asexuals deserve.
It is therefore up to each asexual person to decide if they belong in LGBT+ spaces or not. Most asexual people feel that as a minority orientation, they should be offered support from the LGBT+ community if they should choose to seek it, even if they may not need it as much as other people. Most asexual people have no access to an offline or local community specifically for asexuals, and so excluding them from the LGBT+ umbrella means leaving them with no offline support. Considering the rates of suicidality and attempted suicide among asexuals2, this can literally be the difference between life and death.
Other asexuals prefer not to associate themselves with the LGBT+ label. This is usually for one of two reasons. First, many asexuals consider themselves to be straight: they might be hetero-demisexual, or heteroromantic-ace, etc., and not see a meaningful difference between themselves and non-LGBT people. Since asexuality is a spectrum, we should expect people to fall into this category, but for the same reason, not every asexual does.
The second reason is that asexual people cannot always rely on finding acceptance in LGBT+ communities. Similar to the hate that bisexual and trans people sometimes experience from the LGBT+ community, asexual people are sometimes victims of ostracism from the very groups that are supposed to protect them. Asexuals most commonly cite fear as the reason why they avoid LGBT+ spaces .
- Schlegel is quoted as saying "Let the same laws for all the intermediate stages of sexual life: the homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, asexuals, be legal as they are now in existence for the heterosexuals" .
- See Anti-asexual bias for more information.
- : Caroline Bauer et al (2018). 2016 Asexual Community Survey Summary Report, p. 45. Asexual Community Survey Team.
- : (January 2020) 1906-1907: Carl Schlegel’s Proselytizing Makes Him the Earliest U.S. Gay Activist. OutHistory.
- : (March 2020) Michael Waters. Finding Asexuality in the Archives. Slate.
- : Pollner, Fran (1973). Lesbian Dynamics. Off Our Backs. 3 (6): 7–7. ISSN 0030-0071. Activists at barnard college providing "labels" including asexual and bisexual, photographed by Susan Rennie. Photo can be viewed here .
- : "Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Asexual—All God’s Children Need Love," 1973; photograph by Crawford Barton, Crawford Barton Papers (1993-11), GLBT Historical Society. Available at the GLBT Historical Society's online exhibit Labor of Love.