How Acephobia in Fandoms Spread Ace Terminology

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:

bi and acephobia in fandoms

It started with a post of a straight woman emailing a random Ubisoft staff member. Her demands? Declare Jacob Fray straight. It’s also among the best usages of an official platform using it to protect bisexuals and end biphobia.

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.

Read more about the cross roads of fandom behavior and queerphobia in our media criticism tag.

The erasure of “Tumblr Aces”

Having a blog with a ‘potty mouth word’ in it causes some problems. So them so I’m just rewriting my thoughts of the vilification and erasure of tumblr aces here. This post is a reference to another that said tumblr doesn’t have a “celebrity class” yet it reach on culture is equal to that.

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.

erasure of tumblr aces

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”.