Post submitted by Children, Youth & Families Coordinator Pallavi Rudraraju
During Bisexual Awareness Week, HRC sat down with Ace Auker, a 17-year-old from Florida who juggles school, work and activism. Auker, an HRC Youth Ambassador, recently won the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award, presented to high school students in Florida who “do the right thing” in the spirit of Frank, the Jewish girl whose diary of hiding from the Nazis -- and who died in a concentration camp -- remains a literature classic.
Driving Auker’s work and accomplishments is a commitment to making the world a better place -- especially for LGBTQ young people. They became involved in activism long before joining the HRC family, including working with National PTA, GLSEN and Hillsborough County to re-write the county’s LGBTQ training policy. They’ve spoken out about inequalities in the juvenile justice system and the need for gun regulations in committee hearings and press conferences. After becoming involved in legislative work, Auker knew they wanted to be a part of an empowering environment for queer kids, which brought them to the HRC Youth Ambassador program.
Auker is passionate about intersectionality -- especially issues facing bisexual and non-binary people within the broader LGBTQ community. From their experience, Auker notes a “lack of acceptance for intersectionality” within the LGBTQ community and urges that the “LGBTQ community be safe for all queer folks.”
“It’s important to have pride in your identity because people try to diminish that,” they said.
Auker shared how “taboo” it can feel to be bi in the LGBTQ community, which can seem rife with misconceptions and stereotypes about bi people.
“There’s a general idea that we’re confused or greedy or cheaters,” Auker told HRC, referring to negative and false stereotypes often associated with bisexuality. Those misconceptions “made it hard to explore who I was, sexuality-wise,” Auker said.
The HRC Foundation’s new “Bi+ Youth Report” found that bi+ young people are far less likely than gay or lesbian youth to be out about their identities to people in their lives -- including family, friends, doctors, teachers and peers.
Auker also discussed how their non-binary identity is also often viewed with confusion and misunderstanding similar to their sexual orientation. Ttheir non-binary identity can complicate how they navigate their sexuality, Auker said, adding that it’s difficult to explain their sexuality as being attracted to two genders when they themselves are non-binary. For them, there’s a constant “grey space” where they can have a hard time feeling comfortable with either community.
For LGBTQ youth struggling with their identities, Auker had simple words of comfort and advice:
“It’s okay to not fit into what you think you need to be. It’s okay to explore. It’s okay to change your name and play around with pronouns. You have the right to that happiness and being comfortable in yourself.”
“Every person is entitled to their own freedom, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.''