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.
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”.
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.
The spilt attraction model can be confusing. Here’s a trick to make it make sense so you can better understand others. Or maybe yourself!
Let’s start with the basics. SAM stands for the split attraction model. Fairly common in aro and ace communities, but by no means an a-spec exclusive term. Its a model that says sometimes sexual attraction and romantic attraction will be mismatched, or split.
The model makes no judgment of what those combinations are. Nor does it favor any combination. People with matching attractions often don’t feel the need to double up on labels. It’s a completely opt-in way to help explain feelings. Or personally ignored in any situation the label wearer decides.
Its historical precedence goes back to the Greeks. Believed to be first used towards sexuality discussions by a gay advocate in the 1800s, and then reused by asexuals in the last twenty years or so.
There is a long standing tug of where between groups over where aros fit, and has it’s own set of purity politics that follow. This article is not gossip explaining interpersonal community friction, at its core more queer theory specially on how a-spec communities organize.
I think all this tension, and often infighting, is the product of being upset with intersectionality. I personally find asexuality and aromantism’s twin like behavior and shared history a boon. It’s a ven diagram, that as far as I can tell, skews ace. And no other community probably overindexes aces as much as the aromantic one. Which creates a tension of ‘why can’t we have our own things’ as it does equally ‘why aren’t aro aces doing more for aros specifically.’ Mind you, I think the second is unfair. But the point I’m trying to make goes as follows.
I was listening to this philosopher and he said that humans often dissect to understand concepts. Spitting things apart, and apart, until you reach the atom. And then say aha an atom, the smallest thing, from the word which means cannot be spilit! And then, oh dear… we split the atom. Now there’s protons, neutrons, electrons, and then maybe there’s more things in there too, and hey what’s this quark I keep hearing about? And these dissections makes the world more complicated. You see this all the time as a complaint about the a-spec community. Why new words, why spilt attraction model, and so on.
Going back to our example, well maybe you were looking to heal what ails you and now people are talking about things on a cellular level. And don’t get me wrong, that sort of understanding is a net gain for doctors to help you. But the lgbtq communities whose sole goal is “people should be allowed to be who they are without limitation” makes such exact concepts on how to do that more complex. Now that’s as true for a-specs as anyone else.
But I feel like for a-spec people, some want to just pull an proton out without realizing the electromagnetic force that keeps the neutron nearby. And I find it deeply ironic that communities based on the acceptance over the lack of strong attraction, have trouble viewing two separate things, that often times share in lived history, share experiences, and by the changing of language which spilit a previous understanding of asexuality further to help make sure aromanticsm was not forgotten, do have an electromagnetic-like attraction to each other.
And honestly? That spilt and pull towards each other is not unique to asexuality. Maybe it’s telling that Karl Heinrich Ulrich invented the spilt attraction. This division to better see the communities parts, to further explain them in English this has been going on for a century now. While it is important to learn through the dissection of human sexuality, we mustn’t forget its complicated because humans make it so. This means it’s natural state isn’t complicated at all. It just is, like the grass just grows.
I wish I could quickly explain that rainbow community “spaces” are not geological territories based on land. The idea that queer people will abuse each other over this concept of a club that has no physical barriers is mine numbingly incorrect.
This dream of fully protecting a community from outsiders that would do it harm is a false one. “I want the rainbow community safe from people who have a privilege” is noble, but flawed.
We don’t kick cis people out because there’s trans people in the community. Nor do we kick white people out because there’s people of color in the community. We don’t kick abled people out because they’re disabled people in the community.
And this idea that we can even kick people out, at all, is a false one. Our communities are multiple communities, ranging in physical location, online platforms, and the idea of human categorization itself.
You can keep your interactions with the people you deal with as safe as you believe. Measured by whatever metric you believe in. But it is impossible to wholesale protect the community from all harm because you are not all knowing, all present, or responsible for anyone besides yourself.
Exclusion does not only fail because asexual‘s are inherently targeted by hetronormality. Exclusion fails because we are not one community, but the many. Liberation is not won on a single front. We are, and it is, endless.
You can no more protect the rainbow community and the people with in it from harm than a parent can protect their child from harm.
All you can do is be a loving environment in yourself and teach what you know so your child may protect themselves with or without your presence.
We never should never fool ourselves into thinking this is a country. There’s no authority, we are all equal, and while that makes organization harder at times it’s a constant reminder of all own worth.
Let’s talk about abuse and asexuality and gender for my final thoughts for the #BelieveAces series.
I was talking with someone the other day, and we were having a very frank conversation about asexuality and the the abuse we faced in life. Awful things that got us targeted because we were both asexual. And this person kept saying things like, “you’re a girl, you get it”. A bunch of times. And this article holds no ill will or blame because I didn’t correct them for it. For a curious reason I’d like to explain.
Now this is based on my personal interactions with cis women. Trans people have every right to completely halt a conversation until they are properly seen. For me, I’ll sometimes allow it because these situations always show my ever fraying connection to “womanhood”, whatever that means. And makes me realize that whatever it does mean, I don’t feel it in such a literal way.
Interactions where I can nod along and agree to “I was targeted by men because I am asexual.” Are common. Let me say that first. They are so jarringly common that opening our ask box can be triggering. But the point I want to make is times when I am able to nod along, and say this is shared abuse because we were seen as women who were unavailable. That’s really the only connection to womanhood I do feel. But trauma bonding is not gender.
Bigots excuse abuse and asexuality as something else.
Sometimes abuse faced by asexuals is dismissed simply the abuse of women. A wildly dismissive thing because multiple genders are ignored. My ability to say “Being asexual made me a target” is honestly the only detail I like sharing. And by hearing cis women say the same thing is validating in a way. I get told often that any aggression I face is misdirected. But by listening to others stories reaffirms my own ability to clearly describe my own experiences and what caused it.
As a society we don’t listen to abuse victims, and when it comes to aces even less so. Same with trans stories. Because identity is treated as an excuse for detractors, not a factor. My assumed in-availability towards sexually entitled men connects me to women, and connects me to lesbians, and connects me to aces of all genders.
While we all should be more aware not to assume gender of those we are talking too, I don’t really find this empathic reaction as a complete failure. Instead it should be a reminder that we are all people. All living in this society that only views us as binary and straight.
– Roses from a digital typewriter Be sure to share this series with anyone who might need to hear it.
There are some hard truths about asexuality that we get in the Fuck Yeah Asexual ask box. It’s such a high volume. But we do our best to answer them all like a one on one conversation with someone. Occasionally, they there’s a curious statement. And if I’m really lucky, it will rattle a bigger thought forward. Something so big, and in need of a conversation.
Today, I introduce the #BelieveAces mini-series. Its goal is to show the endless amount of ways that people are not believing the community. That’s one of the first truths about asexuality you learn.
We have an FAQ, but there’s a question not on the list that’s just as popular. “People keep using this script when they talk to me. If I say something off book, I’m dismissed.”
It’s enough to fill a bingo card. “Oh, you haven’t met the right one.” “Oh, you’ll want kids someday.” “The abuse you face was caused by something else.” “Maybe you are just lying about what happened in the first place.”
The fact that abuse victims are not believed. Mixes in with the fact that bisexuals and asexuals have the highest rates of abuse. We must also consider the fact that ace communities over-index in having trans people.
There’s a culture of disbelief of our community from outsiders. That’s the hardest truth of asexuality.
The demands placed on asexuals and the wider queer community are so often an arbitrary bar. They demand that sexuality become performative. “Be out how we say. With the words we declare are okay.” Aces are told they must simultaneously have had sex. And abstain in order to know if it’s for them. Abuse, or mental illness, or anything that doesn’t make us a gold star individual is further used to not only undermine personally. But us as an identity. By treating asexuality, and being out, as a spectacle we will lose and have lost, so much to erasure.
People rarely discuss the reasons asexuals have sex. The occasional article about it usually frames the topic as a compromise for an allo partner. But still does not dig down to the why of the behavior. And there’s a ton of whys. I know my mods and I do our best to point out every reason. Including boredom. But widely? It’s a good day if asexuality isn’t treated exclusively as life long virginity.
The seemingly contradictory facets of asexual lives make it hard for aces to see themselves. It isn’t because aces aren’t diverse. It’s caused by disbelief on a large scale. The general social unawareness that asexuality is one thing. But there’s a culture of not pathologizing those who do.
Aces who marry are omitted. Historical figures with any known sexual history are excluded. Those who stayed chaste their whole life are still excused away. Some of this is done in bigotry. Some isn’t. That is why sharing our stories, and sometimes even the complications in facing compulsory sexuality and abuse are so important.
Even recent history is too easily forgotten is another one of those hard truths about asexuality.
Every single ace story has something important to add to the conversation. Each with their own intersections that connect us to others.
The spark of this article was an ask that said: “I think asexuals are more present than others.” On the surface that can find sound like the 1960s line: “If we give up men, we will have more time for the revolution!” But one of the hard truths about asexuality, it’s context had a spin on the idea that put a spotlight on the assumed.
A highly specific and particular ace point of view that unifies every ace. A-spec people aren’t really playing at anything in social situations, at least not the same love games as everyone else.
This isn’t a problem either. An asexual point of view can actually help people be more present in certain moments. The harmful lies of heteronormativity, compulsory sexuality, and amatonormality can be further disproved by our existence at the table already.
Not only does this help asexuals be aware of their choices when navigating through their own lives, a feat more distracting than it is a time-saver, but our collective possibility helps to point out that falsely assumed. Asks people to throw away their social scripts of harm systems, and may allow people to become more fully present in their own choices in the hopes that their life is liberated. That it becomes lived by their own design.
Maybe A stands for more than our identities.
It as easily could be for Anarchy. For that’s the accidental call of any a-spec person. The last of today’s hard truths about asexuality. Live your life without needing any authority besides your own wishes. Find your absolute freedom of self. This is not a truth unique to our community, but the heart of any revolution.
LGBTQ Mircolabels are much talked about. In this short article, I’ll explain how looking at identity labels as addresses is a really good way methodology. And how we can’t forget that LGBTQ mircolabel’s focus on intersectionality is not only normal, but actually a healthy thing.
I’ve always loved the term intersectionality. I think it’s a brilliant word that gives you a visual right off the bat. It was coined black feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989.
“Stay in your lane” also fits this instantly understandable visual. While to me it sounds like AAVE, the earliest date for the metaphor from 1972 and largely something football players would hear from coaches to remind them to focus on their own task on the field. In recent years, it means to stick to your area of expertise.
Sports metaphors and black feminist theory don’t often overlap. But we can take these visuals metaphor further to explain a large number of problems I see daily in the queer community.
LGBTQ Mircolabels vs Umbrella terms
Often times people feel they have to choose between the two and if they pick an umbrella term it’s either a lie or holding something back. But we‘d all be much better served by looking at these two things as part of the same address.
Some people very much identify with their state. New Yorkers for example. In this case, New York refers to both the city and the state. For many, that’s enough. It’s all people need to know, but others may use a micro-label as a stamped letter that uses a street address or a zipcode to be even more precise.
Which parts of your ‘address’ you tell someone greatly depends on the situation. The info you share on with someone out of the country will differ from the info you share with people in your apartment building. One doesn’t supersede the other.
While you might know where you are, other people are lost in a big city and need the exact words right down to the GPS coordinates in order to find themselves, each other, or call for specific help. This sort of location pinpointing saves lives. As valuable as that information is, plenty of people will never need to get that specific in their daily lives. Those details still exist even if they aren’t known, mentioned, or are grouped as one.
A lie I often hear is that LGBTQ microlabels prohibit change, hide your “real” identity, or other assimilation type lies. I have people come to me all the time worrying about labeling wrong. They want a label, they knew what feels like them, they even recite the definition of the word, but… what if…
And my answer is always, “and what if?” If it feels like home then that’s where you should be right now. And if for any reason it stops feeling like home, there shouldn’t be shame in “moving” to a new address. It doesn’t make your first address fake. You lived there for a time, and even if it wasn’t fully “your address” it was enough of a safe place for you to grow. Some people move often. Others don’t. There shouldn’t be any stigma in it.
In order for a soul to be free, it must have the ability to move or stay put as it desires. Be able to build a nest as intricate or as simple as they want. Labeling is no different. Even if it takes years or micro-labels to get everything just right.
When we are limited to “gay or straight” that is not freedom. LGBTQ mircolabels says these are all the intersections I cross. It makes assimilation harder because it’s a reminder that no identity is just one thing. Society just ignores labels that are in power.
Our truths will never be nurtured if we refuse to admit a forest is made out of individual trees. On average there are around 3,700 trees in an acre, each a little different than the one next to it. In that same group, there are nearly 70 different species of trees. Why would humans be any less diverse?
Do you need to learn every about tree or address in the phone book to be a decent person? Absolutely not. But it‘s dangerous, to others, to run out in the middle of the street bemoaning that certain words exist because you refused to stay in your lane when pulling up to an intersection.