Ace Day History Through My Eyes

Hi! My name is Rose and in 2013 I founded the FuckYeahAsexual 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.
Some day in April 2015, I was asked to help with Ace Day. There was some raised concern about its proximity to 2015’s Blackout Day (a tumblr event of selfies) and Trans Day of Visibility both of which probably did have an influence The Asexuality’s Blog’s (TAB) desire to make an event for aces. Personally I was just asked thing? And I was like wooo thing! You see, everyone on tumblr was trying to make new things to celebrate and find a way to have a moment. Twitter still does this, but tumblr doesn’t anymore really. Anyways, 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 only event. Sure they were totally encouraged, and were 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.)
It’s important to note, if TAB and I had to make a choice and were torn between us on something I’d make my point but deferred to her since it was her idea first. (This didn’t happen on anything important until later.)
The date of Ace Day was an issue from the start. And continues to be an issue to this day. In 2015, largely aphobes, but also some good people very early on were roughly like “Hey, this is so close to other stuff it’s getting distracting. Let’s move it.” We both agreed that time.
So 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 it was put up to a clear, correct, and multicommunity wide vote.
In 2015, I wrote a lot about why the asexual community deserved a pride focused day in the first place. Pointed out there shouldn’t be restrictions to when, where, and how pride is shown. That some ace events should be reserved for us, instead of actively working on allo awareness that day. I also made it clear on which day I thought was best (I wanted a front half of the year day away from other pride events and I loved the word play of “May the ace be proud”. Also pointed out that people did not want aces to celebrate at all so no matter what we did or what day we picked there would be a pushback. (Which isn’t an ace specific problem either.)
During the following months, TAB and I, decided to put an Art Book together because so many people drew things specifically for the 2015’s Ace Day. It had also been first time I remember anything ace focused trending on Tumblr. TAB did the legwork of buying our Creative Aces domain, and 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 in May.
TAB around this time, after getting more criticism largely about the date, tells me she wants to move it to November. I told her that was silly given she had agreed with general consensus of everyone, and extra silly seeing as the art book was already done and mentions the celebration earlier that year. But in the end, she wanted to move it to November. I don’t have the message anymore but it was clear she was run down with people still trying to pick a new day and she thought people would allow the ace community “international cake day”. Yet, that caused its own problems being so close to the American Thanksgiving and some people not liking the further associations with cake memes. (Which is totally unfair.) I basically told 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 personally went pretty dormant after that. It didn’t trend, but that wasn’t the importance or goal of the day anyways. Any really fond memories with other dates are wonderful, just not a history I have to share with you. To me it felt 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 further sparks wide participation. There’s whole threads I wrote about what that original date meant to me, and the now 5 year old 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, and so 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. I’m the only one left. To make an overly dramatic metaphor it was like our baby was 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 are willfully misrepresented, out right ignored, or deliberately underminded. Worse to me is when aces do it to each other.
For an aged example, it happened when AVEN broke a 4 month radio silence earlier in 2015 to roughly say “Eh ignore those other aces, you can share our A.” A statement that did nothing since days later, 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 as if Tumblr aces were being sold out for hypothetical future allosexual acceptance of us, when Ace Day was always meant to be by us and for us. I think that’s why it trended on Tumblr in 2015, and trended on Twitter in 2020. It never needed media attraction. Was never about allosexuals doing something that day. It was about self love, and love of the whole asexual spectrum.
If you really want a deep dive, you can view the blog’s history on Ace Day here: fuckyeahasexual.tumblr.com/tagged/aceday or use the archive feature and sort by date here: fuckyeahasexual.tumblr.com/archive.
Yeah, those are both tumblr links. And I will never apologize for that. Because “tumblr aces” were the ones who had articles written about how they were piecing together historically lost ace history, the ones who made GLADD show up big time, had Big 5 books published staring the very same “tumblr aces.”
Activists there get belittled at every turn. Making fun and shunning people from tumblr as a whole has always been about attacking the ones most vulnerable in a fight about respectability politics. It’s targets are largely the trans community and really anyone who breaks a binary.
I think a lot these days about a line from a TAB Ace Day Post in 2015. It read: “We can all be infinitely visible” and got choked up when I first saw it again 5 years later. Nearly just another line, another post, that would have been lost to history forever if not for tumblr’s reblog style of blogging. The days after this years Ace Day was a floodlight on of how easy history is forgotten if no one looks in places that are new to them. How eagerly context is stripped away to replace it with whatever someone else wants.
I often think about all of the other activists that said it was too hard, unsafe, financially, or just emotionally unfeasible to continue. So they become quiet. There are wonderfully clever and effective aces who are 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.
On the blog three of us are disabled and 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 (another dismissed and mocked tactic) because it’s more sustainable for me, and encouraged people to do the same for them.
Ace Day wasn’t ever about seeking allo attention like it’s 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 now how to grow your own self love and celebrate the differences in even the seemingly the same so aces may have a stronger future.

🌹 Reviews: Waking Up The Sun

Waking Up The Sun front loads a protagonist who has anxiety and has already learned ways to cope with it. It mentions magic almost right away too, but my favorite part of that is that a potion is considered magic instead of just having a spell go “cure” him. It’s a great bit of world building I wish more things had. Having a lead character who has to consider their racing thoughts and find medicine because that’s part of their basic needs is so a plot point, instead of a casual one off line. That’s amazing to see.

Around the 20% mark you see the consideration of being lost in the woods and having to wash your clothes. These are such small things that most writers just ignore because they think it will ruin— whatever. But these are the exact things that makes Waking Up The Sun real and something that feels new.

The only criticism I have of this was I thought the writing could be tighter. Sometimes I thought why is this being mentioned now, or at all. It may not be the best read for the sex repulsed for similar reasons but maybe this review can serve as your content warning.

With that said, this book is why I like to read from LGBTQ authors, generally found from small publishers. They have a number of important things that aren’t found elsewhere. Both men in the pairing are sweet. Awkward only in an realistic way instead of being an often sexist adorkable trope. I think my favorite thing is how much they check in with each other, ask if the other is okay.

[Learn more or buy your own copy here.]

Understanding ableism is a piece of cake!

Do you like my sweet clickbait-like title? Surprise, I meant it literally! I’ve noticed that people understand topics better if explained with food, so today let’s talk about how simply saying “just stop worrying” and similar things without any consideration is a form of ableism.

Most recipes go from scratch to complete, but since I’m trying to deconstruct an issue I’d like to work backwards. Consider all platitudes about positive attitude, mind over matter, and yoga as the sprinkles on a cake. Some cake doesn’t even have sprinkles, but to some those sprinkles are life changing. But no matter how many rainbow flecks of candy you pour onto something, if the cake underneath has problems, they aren’t going to help all that much, if at all.

The next level is the frosting. For a lot of cakes, the frosting covers almost every inch. So much of a cake (and person) to others is this outward appearance. This is how you get sayings like “Oh, you don’t look disabled” or “I’d never know you suffer with depression.” You can’t see the cake. Relatedly, you don’t know what type of cake it is by looking at it. One can only assume, sometimes to a harmful degree, what’s inside.

Frosting can also be really helpful to make up for other concerns within the cake. A cane or a wheelchair could be considered the frosting. Sometimes religion or a “positive attitude” can be considered frosting, in that they’re both outwardly perceived and many times fully incorporated throughout the cake. Now I don’t want anyone to assume that you can pray and smile your way to not needing a mobility aid, so consider personal perception the flavor of the frosting more than the frosting itself. For example, if you decorated your cane with flowers, that would be a cheerful flavor. But that cheer will never replace the frosting itself, just like how orange extract alone doesn’t make frosting. In that case, it’s a bit of the outermost level of decoration being incorporated into the whole. Some people need that frosting, some people have it to make their life easier, but with all the different types, it’s up to the person how they want to go about it.

This next part isn’t an ingredient, but I think an important factor is how the cake is baked. What tools were around to help you? Some people are born into a full kitchen, others work with what they have. So if you tell someone to use a tool that they don’t have, to them, it’s useless advice. You have to consider that maybe not everyone has a raspberry-colored kitchen aid stand mixer.

Also, the experience of the actual baking plays a part. Some situations are traumatic and might burn the people who had to deal with them. Maybe the environment that person was in made them “grow up too fast” and once the cake is made you can’t go back and change those lived experiences. There is no “just get over it” when it comes to things like PTSD, and suggesting they should is ignoring the importance of their lived experiences. It’s asking them to re-bake a cake.

And at the most basic level, the type of cake you have will come down to ingredients and their amounts relative to each other. Think of these as factors beyond your control, and never could have been situationally in your control. Basically, the ingredients are your genetics. Now, if you compare several cake recipes, you will see that many have similar elements, but they combine in ways that make vastly different things.

In one of the first recipes I looked up it reminded you that measurements matter. Which is the best example I can explain for neurodivergent issues. Some people are born with no eggs, less flour, or simply not the right ratio to each other. If you try to tell someone ‘hey, just don’t worry’ when their issue is they need eggs, it’s useless advice. That is not the solution they need. While some people can find solace in that, many simply can’t. And even if it was your fix for the same issue, it might not be theirs.

I used to have really bad anxiety, to the point where I was anxious 24/7 and barely could remember a moment where I didn’t feel like the other shoe was going to drop. Sometimes people would tell me to just stop being anxious, just do the thing even if it makes you more anxious, and they completely didn’t understand how much worse they were accidently making it, or that is was fundamentally impossible. There was a disconnect of people telling me to just add more sprinkles when I really needed a cup of flour.

So before you give advice that has worked for you, ask what they need. If they don’t know, that’s when you can share the recipe your mother swears by.

Dragon Age, Glowing Hands, and Disabilities

There is a new genre called empathy games. These games have the goal of making you empathize with the main character to show a point. Generally that you aren’t the one in power, but to some small degree I believe all games are empathy games.

I think a lot about representation in fiction, and lately about the representation of disabilities, everything from ‘my knee gives me a lot of trouble’ to those who rock a wheelchair. (I’ve been thinking a lot of legs specifically because mine have been hurting a lot. But, stay tuned maybe I’ll talk about a abdominal pain like I’m a Super Bowl ad.)

I’ve been fairly impressed when it comes to TV characters who have leg troubles. On TV now, there’s Raven from The 100 and Felicity from Arrow. As fantastic as they both are I started to wonder if there was a medium that could showcase the constant struggles better. And after a really tough and unusual boss battle I realized video games are perfect for this narrative.

No other medium makes you face the struggle. Books, TV, and movies are setup so we are empathizing with someone else. But with video games you are living it. Also little needs to be done to make these Triple A titles show disabled characters of all ranges.

Yesterday’s game of choice was Dragon Age: Inquisition so I’ll loosely use it to explain what I mean then you can apply it to your own beloved game.

This whole train of thought started because Dragon Age doesn’t have cure anymore. I’m usually the type of player who likes having a full health bar in order to kick ass, but now that’s practically impossible. After playing for a while I noticed how I played was different. I didn’t get nervous if it wasn’t full, I’d even take fall damage to save me some time. I started to live with that fact that health isn’t going to be perfect. And as someone who now has a chronic illness riding shotgun that’s a pretty good metaphor. You have to live with your “health bar” not being at 100% most of the time. In video games saving the world with very little health left is almost common place.

The game now has barrier instead of heal. Barrier gives you an extra bar that lasts a certain time and protects your real HP. Now it isn’t an exact comparison but imagine this was your self care. Even if you’re a squishy mage or have low health it doesn’t matter as long as you protect yourself in other ways.

Health is less important than it’s ever been before in other Dragon Age games. Your character is undeniably disabled, but no doubts arise because of this from the other characters. You are still their leader.

In Dragon Age you are given a party of four. In the real world asking for help can be tricky, but the game encourages you to have the help of others. You could play solo, but parties are actively rewarded.

And in video games in general, starting all the way back with Doom, you learn to keep fighting even with a busted up and bleeding face. If you or the NPCs get knocked out they get up for the next battle. All really important life lessons.

Yesterday, I had three mages and a rogue face a boss that had 39 times more health than my whole party combined. It was horrid planning on my part, but the party made me happy and now we were stuck. I had to shake things up and literally bring the fire. By taking my time and breaking the problem into smaller bits I was able to win.

So even if your real life “health bar” isn’t what others have, you just need to plan and take your time in order to knock down really any beast in the world. In Dragon Age Inquisition that sometimes means the boss and sometimes means the day because your glowing hand is acting up. I’d love to see games actually incorporate their graphic interfaces to show disabilities in a real way because no other platform can show it like they can.