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.
Content / Spoiler Warning: There is no suicide in the book, but there is frank discussion of trans / homophobia and by the end the novella left me with feelings of optimism, and hope. (Full Review)
About The Book: Spiritually divorced from the church, former exorcist Ryan Macy is finding his own path as a ghost hunter. Traveling with only what can fit in his trusty truck, he road trips around America trying to prove the paranormal.
When he’s called to a church to investigate a demon possession, what he finds is unexpected and, perhaps, just as divinely in need: A seventeen-year-old kid named Andrew. Ryan is certain something evil lives within the house: home-grown hate. Kicked out for being gay, Andrew hitches a ride and joins the ghost hunting team. But something is following them…
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.
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.
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.
It’s here! (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
This beautiful leap day I get to show off our newest book cover!!
It’s so cute! We wanted it to really showcase the story’s inspiration of Pokemon Go and other party games. The map is actually based on a cool area around where John lives. If you need a break from everything because the world sure is wild this year, you’re going to love this soft playful story.
I can also officially announce the release day of May 5th! The paperback and ebook version will have an exclusive chapter. Until then, be sure to add it on Goodreads!
Here’s the blurb if you want to learn more:
A new app has turned the whole world into an augmented playground. By reinventing up retro party games, HoloHeroes makes sure it has something for every player. However, Loren worries she’s been missing out. The death of her father and a move across the country makes it feel as though she has to start life over. As a sweet sixteen gift, Loren’s given Ghost Glasses, allowing her to be her own HoloHero. Local meetups serve as a jumping-off point to make new friends, find herself, and win cash prizes. But what started as casual fun turns into an accidental rivalry with a veteran champion of the game and a race towards the national stage.
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.