We are back with our co-op approach. At least as much as we all can be in this still very unsettled world right now. I’m sure one of the biggest things this time of year is setting your goals for the coming months. It’s the same with us! There’s so much to think about, and we gotta factor in there will be wins and loses when it comes to publishing obstacles.
Overcome publishing challenges with more than platitudes.
Along with goals we still gotta prepare for the curve balls that come our way. You gotta always plan for the best and the worst and all that’s in between. Our goals at AoC? We want to keep growing and pushing forward with the co-op approach to publishing. We want our authors to have the help and control they desire over their work. Even if you aren’t published with us we want to be able to offer help where we can to improve self publishing goals. There’s a lot of fine details to comb through but it’s something we all are passionate about.
Obstacles? Sadly… Yes. For all us. I’m sure you can guess it. Covid-19. All that comes with it. Some of us are essential workers and still working 40hrs, others are struggling with adjusting to a different life outside of work. The balance can feel uneven. Right now, finding a balance to continue growth under these conditions during such a difficult time is our main hurdle. We can get through it though. We won’t give up. If you are ready for a co-op approach tackling your publishing obstacles to submit to us. We’re ready for you.
This also brings us to GreatAce.Club. The original goal was to be a zero dollar online subscription that featured new authors and delivered you a free ebook from them every month. Sadly the obstacle here is we don’t feel that isn’t sustainable for these authors anymore. And while no one raised any objections, its our goal at Art Over Chaos to put authors first in a way most publishing does not. So this year, Great Ace Club will embraces it’s deep original roots and focus on its book club nature. We’ve lined up a dedicated book blogger to choose a new line-up and steer the discussion questions in a way we’ve never have before. This will give you another way to be a part of our growing community as an author or a reader. So be sure to sign up for that newsletter by clicking here!
There’s a long standing joke that Asexuality’s superpower was invisibility. It started as a way to reclaim being made to feel invisible all the time. It was such of a thing that when Assassin’s Creed’s Evie has the master perk of tuning invisible I joked that was her ace canon confirmation. This jokes appear all over and even have Stonewall Nominated nonfiction books named after them in “The Invisible Orientation” which is dedicated to discussing asexuality.
But ‘invisibility’ is not a trait exclusively asexuality’s superpower. I’ve talked before about bi erasure and how that too renders someone’s identity invisible.
As of writing this, Supernatural ended after 15 seasons last night and there is lot of behind the scenes story to talk about where most people just laugh it off as queerbaiting to be mean. But it is truly a case of queer process as well.
Because if 2020 has taught me anything it’s that the process we make as a community in huge part is done by otherwise unknown queer people showing up and and fucking running full speed at something. If and when caught or where tip toeing is needed say a “Legacy” show owned by The WB. It becomes an Elementary school style red light green light game.
Queer writers and actors under contacts are often reduced to near morse code proxy of liking tweets. For example Misha going back and liking his own tweet from 2013 after Castiel being queer was made canon in 2020 to confirm that he did indeed attempt to reassure a nervous queer fandom now and then.
At the start of this year I had a celebrity encounter that also played out in this fashion. The more known a queer person is as queer the less freedom to create radical change they have. To those who stick it up dedicated to added representation gain it in inches.
Even this blog is under more scrutiny because it is now considered by some as a “big name player” despite just being a tumblr blog. Our perceived tone becomes an issue, if one of us is hurt and says ow, we get dehumanized. How dare we as activists show a pain. We basically get told “You can’t say ow in public you’ll scare the kids. You can’t make waves, it will scare off new allies.”
And I tell you all of that because that’s in spaces where money is not exchanging hands. There’s no “Man” paying our salary no “Corporate is here today” visits. No network demos, no cons planned around the fandom. Once you add that all in, you have something well… supernatural.
For the seven years I’ve been an asexual activist the general main focus of everyone within the community was awareness. But we must never forget that invisibility is asexuality’s superpower.
I wish it was something that wasn’t needed. That we could freely be, and do, and write the tv scrips we believed in without subtext. If you haven’t been spotted. Pick a lane and drive like hell. But sometimes to make progress you have to be spy-like and plant seeds of change in the things you do when no one is looking.
This is actually a cross post from the Fuck Yeah Asexual blog, since I always find the subject of asexual characters important and thought it should be shared in a new format here.
It started with an anonymous ask that went like this:
“I have been seeing a lot of smut with asexual characters having sex. I understand that some Asexuals will still have sex. But I don’t get why some Ace people want more Asexuals in smut. Isn’t that like wanting Gay people in heterosexual smut? I just don’t understand the defense of non tagged asexual characters in fanfiction.”
Here’s our answer if asexual character’s should, well, do it:
We can agree content should be tagged appropriately to help people find or avoid it. The anon’s question is wildly dismissive of the aces. People they already fully acknowledged exist. Why should one person get to see their experiences represented but other’s can’t? Why must we deny expectations of a singular ace experience. Since it would deny the lives of so many people in our own community.
More importantly, we should we never insist on a narrative that contributes directly to our own oppression. One that would ensure allos, allies, and aphobes walk away with a tremendous misunderstanding of asexuality. One that encourages a narrow understanding of what asexuality is. We were there for this type of asexual exception before. We worked for YEARS to shut it down, to spare future aces. So know learn it now: this attitude that aces can never engage in sexual things is one of the most violent tools in the aphobe quiver.
The not so cute sleight of hand attempt at equating the very existence of the fictional asexuals in sex scenes as always wrong makes it clear that the anon asker desires a world where aces are a stereotype. You’ll find no support for that here, and we will not cast stones at aces writers who do write sexual content.
There should be discussions on the number of stories that feature ace characters who are sexless and those who aren’t. Concern about the difficulty of finding the content that does exist due to inadequate tagging are also very understandable complaints, and we’re sympathetic to them.
That’s not actually what the anon asked however. They specifically lashed out at their own community–not the fictional representation, but the real, living, human aces who create or ask for or enjoy that content. Their complaint *as worded* is not a gripe about the fiction landscape, it is an attack on real people, and one that directly mirrors specifically oppressive movements among aphobes.
The anon didn’t ask for sympathy in their difficulties with finding the kind of stories they want to read. They asked us to join them in leveling vitriol against “aces who want [the content anon doesn’t like]” and against aces who “defend [portrayals of their own lives].” That is absolutely not a conversation we will participate in. Especially given how closely it echoes aphobic arguments that do things like deny any ace the right to consent, put forward rape apologia, exclude aces from relationships of any kind, and homegenize and dehumanize the entire community. Let alone echoing the very schisms that have haunted this community since it’s inception.
There’s a lot of history behind this question.
We’re more than happy to encourage conversations like the one this anon wanted to have. Or about how best to accommodate those experiences and where things might be falling short. But that will not happen at the expense of our own community members.
We can have good faith with each other even after comments like this which can read as harsh. Here’s proof of that as the original anon came back and added the following:
“Hey! I was the Anon about Aces in smut. I’m really sorry if I hurt you in any way. I am trying to learn more about Asexuality after one of my friends came out to me recently and was talking about that subject specifically. I am a pretty young lesbian and am trying to learn more about the entire LGBT+ community. Thank you for responding, I appreciate your time! Again I apologize for any hurt I caused, that was by no means my intention. I hope you have a good day!”
Dew adds, Hey thanks! I really appreciate the follow up on this. I know I came out swinging on that ask, but you unintentionally hit on some very tender points. In some really specific ways that unfortunately mirrored attitudes that have historically been very dangerous for the ace community.
But I’m really glad to hear that the underlying motive for that anon ask was ignorance and not malice. Please know that ignorance is not a character flaw; it’s the natural state of humans and easily changed. It sounds like your heart is in the right place and you’re eager to learn more so that you can be a better ally to your friends. That’s awesome, and if you want some more resources on how to approach this topic with a better understanding of ace community history and respect for the diversity of ace experiences.
Others brought up that they actually trust aces writing this more than others. Dew went on to say: There’s definitely a wide range of the quality of depictions of asexual characters of all sorts of experiences. It can be easier to trust ace-spec writers to be coming from an informed and respectful place.
I would of course caution that this doesn’t fall perfectly across clean lines based on the identity of the writers. Nor dismiss the efforts of allies who also approach the subject respectfully. (Recall that the broader aspec community does include allo members!) Nor discount that aces can also externalize their own possible struggles with internalized aphobia.
However, it can be particularly cruel to dismiss the efforts of ace writers. There are valuable discussions to be had about the differences in writing asexual characters from and internal vs. an external perspective. Especially considering how plentiful misinformation and erasure are.
When people suggest that only aces should write asexual characters we have disagree with that blanket statement.
Fuck Yeah Asexual doesn’t stand for stark divisions across identity lines. We can and should talk about what constitutes a respectful portrayal, where the common pitfalls are, and what damage can be done from irresponsible or misinformed understandings of ace experiences without this level of insularity. Not every ace will magically produce a great ace character, and not every allo will magically produce a terrible one.
If only reading works by other aces is a boundary you want to set in your own life, please do so! As I addressed in the previous ask, there are patterns in play that make that an understandable choice.
We won’t, however, support extrapolating that boundary out until it cuts off anyone who isn’t asexual (and this effort nearly always wants to exclude the wrong “”kind”” of asexual. People must be free to write about aces in ways that don’t push way questioning folks or all the allies-in-the-making who won’t ever learn what their mistakes are because we’ve isolated ourselves from them. Nothing good or productive comes from broadly applying that kind of us vs. them approach to entire communities. – Dew
But honestly the media we’ve gotten from a main stream source has been from allosexuals inspired by aces, ace works, and ace activism. It’s more of a conversational story feedback loop. That’s the nature of all media.
To save the history of disability friendly online activism, one must 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
But our story really starts in 2015. With GLAAD’s #GotYourBack campaign. GLAAD as a nonprofit is huge, and media watchdogs for the community at large. They will praise good representation of LGBTQ characters, and call out harmful stereotypes or the lack of diversity itself.
#GotYourBack started as an ally focused event. As you can see in this screen cap below it’s focus was #GotYourBack but also [A] if for Ally.
And for much of the non-AVEN ace community that this centered allies 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.
#GiveItBack was the hashtag coined by Fuck Yeah Asexual on tumblr. They asked GLAAD to change their phrasing towards inclusion. And not at a cost to others. We started with A for Asexual, but very quickly we realized could ask more than that. Why not share the A with any queer identity that inherently facing a negative? Within the first day of reaching out to GLAAD, A 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. So a-specs said, ‘We get that, you can be heard with us.’
“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.
This is absolutely how you do it.
This was asexuality’s 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 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.
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.
I have truly witnessed acephobia in fandoms like no other. Truly one of the funniest moments in a fandom for me was in 2016. Ubisoft posted under a long tumblr post debating Jacob Frye’s (bi)sexuality this simple message:
But there’s more to this story. To aces in the dragon age community, we knew her URL. SolasTheWolf was what ace fans called an “Allo!Solas Fan.” The term allo means other, and allosexual meaning someone sexuality attracted to others. Basically a word based on existing naming conventions to mean non-ace.
A New Open World For Acephobia in Fandoms
Dragon Age: Inquisition released late 2014 and a huge active fandom until around 2016. Before this allo was used only by aces. Key question here: Why did a bunch of aces call a group of predominantly straight women allo rather than straight?
It’s because for every ace fan in a fandom space there are camps of acephobes. They’d actively go around harass asexuals for seeing themselves in the characters. The Allo Solas fandom in particular did this like no other. By setting themselves up in direct opposition to aces, their behavior became defined by their allosexuality, not their heteronormativity. This is the pivot when acephobia in fandoms became actively willful. It wasn’t about them being straight, it was about them being anti-ace.
Some of the allo dragon age fandom was also really racist. They vowed to “give us” a black character in the game as a “trade”. Why? It’s because they didn’t feel sexually entitled to a black women being a largely straight white group of women. They wanted Solas. A “bad wolf”. All the ace coding in the world did not stop from their violently aggressive patriarchal projections onto his character. These fans also would tweet the Dragon Age writers asking to confirm that Solas had sex with the player character. The writers never did. A year later the DLC confirmed it in canon dialogue. (The second funniest fandom moments I’ve been a part of.) But they stopped short of giving Solas a label.
Calling people “allo” here was never about aces being separate fellow LGBTQ people. It was pointing out the sexual entitlement of characters who weren’t sexual. Aces showed up, publically in fandom spaces.
Using Solas to help explain the nuances of asexuality to groups who never heard it before helped spread asexual visibility.
And it’s also why I have such a strong negative reaction to those who try to sort of Allo!CharacterName pattern. Because the history of that is one of white sexual entitlement. The assumption that those who weren’t overtly sexual were secretly dirty, nasty, and kinky underneath. Words used by straight women about their own desires.
It became a near meme to stick “Allo” before character name, or brand your url with it. Some would say “I’m a proud Allo!!” instead of embracing their own queer identity. They picked up the sex negativity left by those straight fans and turned it on themselves. Falsely claiming aces were the ones called themselves dirty. Relating to the sex negative lie of sex being dirty. While the straight women were gleeful with it their kinkiness and acephobia. LGB people doing this in the community doing were choking on homophobia. They hadn’t unlearn and started in on their own acephobia as if that was the cure for it.
“Allosexual” is not an sexuality on its own, it’s sole purpose was to help explain asexuality and acephobia. It’s far more like “cis” than any other community term.
For good or bad, asexuality and allosexuality became far more common words after this. The biphobia around Jacob Fyre and the acephobia surrounding Solas are linked by the same thing. Women who wanted bad boys who only wanted women. Nothing else would do for them.
I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and the activism that takes place on it. Largely on twitter, but similar could be said about Facebook and Instagram, and the general “Headlines Only” absorption of news and the increasing polarity of people.
But let’s focus on twitter. In college, I gave a speech about how activists during the Arab Spring used twitter to effectively organize and fight back. And as a disabled person, digital activism allows me to participate in ways inaccessible before. Since there’s so much advertising on Twitter it’s also useful when trying to reach a company to ask for change. Which makes it’s impossible for me to just shrug and say “twitter is pure evil what can I say.”
As I was discussing this with the ace community, someone anonymous messaged me to say, ‘twitter is also more full of minors than tumblr. And minors are more prone to spreading misinformation about events because they weren’t there for it.
And I thought on that for a second. It absolutely is common issue that queer history not being taught. And I don’t think this behavior is for a lack of critical thinking either on “the youths” part, or compete lack of care for it. I think it’s an issue of speed.
Twitter moves at such a fast pace, and with so many people trying to get attention on so many valid concerns that in order to even attempt to address all the ills in the world you have to juggle it all. Sometimes literally only taking a second to decide on an issue. “Does that sound like some other thing? Close enough, toss in the same pile. Whatever, we got 12 other things to focus on.”
Since twitter comes at you so fast, and often in an such unfiltered way, it’s overwhelming. So instead of technology adding in productivity that leads to a next level of consciousness type of singularity, it creates more of a mental DDOS attack.
And it’s not all that different from capitalism demanding you be productive at all costs, and that by the end of the day you are so tired you can’t sort out things. That’s a feature of it, not a bug. You want to strike for better working conditions? Have fun risking starvation during the process.
And I think the “turn yourself into a commodity via your tweets” is most evident by the fact that any popular tweet’s second reply is often “I don’t have a sound cloud to promote but here’s my—“
It’s actually kind of funny because a big sticking point of people leaving tumblr a few years ago was that it was too slow. Without realizing that twitter is a multi-lane highway that every user often has to cross on foot. And that result ends up with a bunch of banged up people who feel so beaten down that any criticism is meet with “please don’t cancel me!!” Which is not anyone’s goal when correcting false information or asking for accountability.
I’ve gone on multiple twitter hiatuses after abuse I’ve faced on the platform and each time to do I’m struck with this sense of how quiet it is despite twitter’s feed making no noise. It feels like you just left a room full of people screaming, that to some level had been such a constant you didn’t realize just how loud it was until it wasn’t there anymore.
Words like “aspec” and “allosexual” were born or popularized on tumblr from disabled activists speaking up. The phrase “A is for Asexual, Aromantic and Agender” were not common until “a bunch of tumblr aces” told GLAAD that one of their campaigns would harm our communities. GLAAD agreed.
Big 5 ace books used to be from a very allo pov. Written about how aces were weird to be with. But tumblr bloggers keep collecting our history. And books over the next years turned into ace written stories. Even two of these new novels mentioned 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.
What caused the erasure of Tumblr Aces?
After the community stopped out from AVEN’s forums to more shared spaces we gained a visibility that was consolidated before. Tumblr allowed aces to be in spaces shared by everyone, instead of their own niche spaces online.
“Mirco-labels” are a common 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 popularized 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 coined by fyeah mods because it was a reaction making sure the whole of the community feels seen.
The aphobic push back spread just as far as people using the term.
“Inclusionist” started to be used specifically to allow aces and any one else others targeted by Trans Exclusionary Radical Fems. 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 leaning. It was indeed the opposite of the E from TERF. 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”.
A few days ago, on June 30th the asexual flag hit it’s 10 year anniversary. Born from a community poll, and then faced many rounds of rounds of discussion on AVEN. Not by, on the website in a really collaborative way. You can see a more complete history collected by Asexuality Archive which comes into more detail about why the flag is the way it is.
Each stripe of the asexual flag was given a meaning.
Grey: Grey-Asexuality and Demisexuality
*White: Non-asexual partners and allies
*Over the past at least two years people wondered about the white stripe. Said ‘hey we are no longer mostly on AVEN. The collective direction isn’t ally focused anymore. Maybe we should change the white’s meaning.’ Common suggestions include romantic variation. White means the sum of all colors so the white stripe could reference some other diversity within. Which would help tie it to the aro flag more, and the trans’ white stripe. All work without taking anything away.
With that preface, I want to talk about where the purple came from. Which is actually a really cool story I have never heard before in my 7-8 years of being in the community.
Before 2010, ace symbols included shades of grey gradient. AVEN’s logo is a prism for that reason. The demisexual’s flag is also reference a prism. Do you know why purple was added? Never even thought of it before this.
The story goes purple was a 2001 addition. Specially choosing the amethyst crystal shade for it’s relationship to the Greek (or French Poet 1528 – 1578) story that mentions a nymph named Amethyst (or Amethystas). In it, Dionysus flirts with her. She wasn’t into it, and Artemis protects the nymph by turning her into white quartz. Dionysus then showed he made a mistake and poured wine over the amethyst stone, staining it purple.
Here’s some art from a different version of the story, where Dio was less hitting on her, and more accidentally on purpose angry with her. Risking the mortals life via threat of tiger. It ends with Dio crying wine in remorse turning the stone purple.
As you can see above a white to purple gradient appears. Whatever the original version of the story. The heart of it is the same. Artemis saved someone from harm and the person who caused the harm realized their grave mistake.
Later stories tell of wine goblets carved out of Amethyst. Reminding royals would think of Dio’s mistake so they didn’t make their own. Which not only makes my pagan heart happy. To forever now know the ace shade of purple has Artemis meaning. But also how that shade of purple meant don’t harm people who aren’t interested in your advances.
Which in a strange way makes me like that the pesky white stripe could be an ode to allies (ace or not) protecting aces. Because no matter where the story came from isn’t it such a timeless, thought out, over arching connection. One that goes back far more than just the 10 years of the asexual flag itself.
Asexuality history goes back so much further than just that flag. The earliest I know of is from a translated Sappho poem.
There’s so much even recent ace history that has been saved for us thanks to aces, thanks to projects like The Wayback Machine, thanks to how threads work, how google works. I know it’s technology, but it can be pretty magical if you have a curiosity to learn. It’s a gift we mustn’t ever lose to a click bait nature of social media today.
As Sappho also said, “Someone, I tell you, in another time will remember us.”
Hi! My name is Rose and in 2013 I founded the Fuck Yeah Asexual blog. Two years later, The Asexuality Blog and I created Ace Day! It’s a cheerful, digital event that focuses on celebration of self and the whole asexual spectrum. I celebrate it on May the 8th! We need to back up earlier into 2015 however.
In April 2015 TAB asked to help with Ace Day. There was some raised concern about its proximity to 2015’s Blackout Day and Trans Day of Visibility. Both of which may have an influence The Asexuality’s Blog’s (TAB) desire to make an event for aces. That isn’t uncommon behavior now, or back then.
I was asked “Thing?” And repled “Wooo thing!” You see, everyone on tumblr was trying to make new things to celebrate. Twitter still does this, but tumblr doesn’t anymore really. Ace Day wasn’t themed off Blackout Day. But I can’t deny the repeated word usage between “Ace Visibility Day” and TDoV. A solution to which I pretty such said, ‘Ace Day works better anyways. Let’s go with that instead’. The event was also never meant to be a selfie event. They were encouraged. Even popular way to celebrate the day in 2015. (Tumblr doesn’t do selfies a lot anymore, even though LGBTQ selfies are now a weekly Twitter thing, but I digress.)
If TAB and I had to make a choice, I’d make my point but deferred to her. She was the original lead. The date was an issue from the start. Any dates were. And continues to be an issue to some. In 2015, largely aphobes said “Hey, this is so close to other stuff it’s distracting. ” We both agreed that time.
The democratic solution of voting
I ran a poll with the most common suggestions of new days. It was a strawpoll so people on tumblr, twitter, and elsewhere could take part. 5200+ people voted, 2100~ people picked ‘May the 8th. (May The Ace)’. It’s the only time Ace Day was put up to a clear, correct, and multi-community wide vote.
In 2015, I wrote a lot about why the asexual community deserved a pride focused day in the first place. Said there shouldn’t be restrictions to when, where, and how pride is shown. That an event should be reserved for aces. Instead of actively working on allo awareness that day. I gave my reasons on why I liked May the best. For the word play of “May the ace be proud”. To be in the first half of the year away from Asexual Awareness Week. I also pointed out that people did not want aces to celebrate at all. That no matter what we did, or what day we picked , there would be a pushback. (This isn’t an ace specific problem either. Happens for every trending LGBTQ event.)
In the following months, TAB and I decided to put an Art Book together. So many people drew things specifically for the 2015’s Ace Day. The first time anything ace trended on Tumblr. TAB did the legwork of buying our Creative Aces domain. I contacted all the artists, formatted, published what turned into the first ever asexual art book, What You See. It released in October 2015 during Asexual Awareness Week as a throwback to everyone’s celebrations on May 8th.
Around this time, TAB gained increasing criticism largely about the date, tells me she wants to move it to November. I told her that was silly given since we had a general consensus. Extra silly seeing as the art book was already done. And even more art mentioned the celebration earlier that year. But in the end, she wanted to move it to November.
I don’t have the message anymore, but she was run down. Burnt out by people still trying to pick a new day. She thought people would allow the ace community “International Cake Day”. That caused it’s own problems being too close to American Thanksgiving. Other’s hated the day for further associations with cake memes. (Which is totally unfair.)
All I could tell her something like ‘okay, do what you want. November is really bad for me. I won’t be able to participate much at all.’ Ace Day went pretty dormant after that. Both personally, and as a trend. Allo awareness wasn’t the importance or goal of the day anyways so whoever celebrated still found joy I hope. Any fond memories with other dates are wonderful, just not a history I have to share. To me it started to feel like how someone celebrates International Something-You-Like Day. You remember it only days before, or even the day of, and you cheer for a bit then move on.
5 years later, its now early May 2020. An active aro ace on twitter tweets me saying “May 8th Ace Day?” and AVEN cheers them on. So I basically reply “Awesome! My favorite day for it! Here’s all the fun things I did in 2015 with the “May the ace” slogans. The call for “No pride restrictions” and mentioned the card suit selfies. And that joy sparks wide participation. There’s whole threads I wrote about what that original date meant to me.
This is old tumblr history I was personally there for.
If you never saw The Asexuality Blog running, it’s heartbreaking to say TAB is gone. Has been for a bit now. It broke my heart when she vanished. When people came to me on their own, like “Hey the 8th?” I thought if anyone is in charge of this thing TAB and I did, it’s me. The only one left. With our baby now abandoned and I decided to take care of it the way I knew how. By returning to the heart and origin of the Ace Day. It was heartfelt, and a historical touch point of aces of 5 years ago to aces now.
Things went pretty off the rails shortly after again. Because there’s a history of undermining the community works of tumblr aces. Things willfully misrepresented. Out right ignored, or deliberately undermined. Worse for me is when aces do it to each other. This time the 6 months that followed.
For an aged example, in 2015 the ace community was not one group. (If I ever was.) Nothing shows this more than when AVEN broke a 4 month radio silence to say ‘Ignore those aces. We give you permission to have the A.” A statement that did nothing besides hurt people further. GLADD released an apology to the asexual, aromantic, and agender community. And followed through with remembering a-spec inclusion that reshaped media representation for years. Point being? Similar is happening again.
I felt Tumblr aces were being sold out. Just for hypothetical future allosexual acceptance. Despite the fact that when Ace Day was always meant to be by aces and for aces. That’s why it trended on Tumblr in 2015, and trended on Twitter in 2020. It never needed outside media attention. Was never about allosexuals doing something that day. It was about self love, and love of the whole asexual spectrum.
This history never hidden. Some chose not to look at tumblr aces. Which is why I will never apologize for tumblr links. The bloggers piecing together lost ace history. The ones who made GLADD show up big time, had Big 5 books published staring the very same “tumblr aces.”
Making fun and shunning people from tumblr has always been about attacking the most vulnerable. It’s a fight about respectability politics. It’s targets are largely the trans community and really anyone who breaks a binary.
Thinking a lot these days about a line from a TAB Ace Day Post in 2015.
“We can all be infinitely visible.” – Ace Day 2015
I choked up seeing it again. Nearly just another lost line. Another post that nearly forgotten if not for tumblr’s reblog style. The days after 2020’s Ace Day were a floodlight. History easily rewritten. Eagerly removed from context. Replaced it with whatever someone else wants.
I often think about all of the other activists that said it was too hard. Unsafe, financially unviable to show up, or just emotionally unfeasible to continue. So they become quiet. There are wonderfully clever and effective activists that refuse to touch the community because of subtweeting nature of things. I want the community to be safer, I want it to love itself.
It’s endless. Maybe I know why TAB left. Three mods of fyeah are disabled. The amount of “Oh, do you need help to get more attention?” ever since we’ve spoken more about being disabled blew my mind. I’ve always leaned towards online activism as a writer. Not because I was incapable of doing “bigger things”.
Ace Day wasn’t ever about seeking allo attention. That was neer going to bring our One True and Only source of liberation. It’s goal was to help teach yourself, and be an example for aces around you, how to grow your own self love. And celebrate the differences in even the seemingly the same so aces may have a stronger future. Together.
I don’t know what the new year holds, I just hope it’s brighter for everyone.
Transactional sexuality. I’d be willing to wager that phrase makes you think of sex work. That is one type of transaction. Definitely not the first I learned. For me the first example was in the animated Aladdin. I can still picture Jasmine in the red outfit. Like flipping a switching and beaconing the bad guy in a hither tone of voice.
That is my first memory knowing that sexuality. Particularly women’s (a)sexuality, was something that was not so much felt, but offered. Only ever seen as a type of transactional sexuality for something else. Behavior for behavior.
The next time I saw this was a Stargate SG-1 episode. Hathor chemically seduces the men, women are locked up instead. Their plan? Hike up their shirts and get their flirt on with the male guards.
Science fiction is a common offender of this trope. Not only does this say fair reaching things about the assumed submission of women to men. It also takes agency from men, claiming they are slaves to their urges.
Today, let’s highlight how these examples teach aces that sexual behavior is something offered in exchange for something. Aces may date because when needed a friend. Or have sex because protection is wanted. These events are at times consensual, but are transactional in a less obvious way than sex work.
Without feeling earnest sexual attraction asexuals have less of a chance to make course corrections. Dangerous situations happen with misread behavoir.
This article does not paint a complete picture of the reasons aces might have sex. Instead asks for a growing awareness that the diverse behavior of aces. Many who are simply trying to survive when compulsory sexuality and amatonormativity are demanded.