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…
Truly one of the funniest moments in a fandom for me was in 2016 when Ubisoft posted under a long tumblr post debating Jacob Frye’s sexuality this simple message:
It was after witnessing a post on tumblr where a straight woman showed off her emails to and from a random Ubisoft staff member demanding that Jacob Fray be declared 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. The woman who felt entitled enough to email random Ubisoft staff members was what some aces knew as 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.
Enter Dragon Age: Inquisition released late 2014 and a huge active fandom until around 2016.
This is also when allo stopped being used near exclusively in ace circles as a nondescript marker when discussing non-aces and started to be used about specific fans. Now 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 were also camps of acephobes who would 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.
Some of the allo dragon age fandom was also really racist and declared they’d “give us” a black character in the game as a “trade”. Why? It’s because they didn’t feel sexually entitled to black women being a largely straight white group of women. They wanted Solas. A “bad wolf” and 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. It was so highly debated that in DLC the following year the writers confirmed in dialogue that he did not sleep with the player. (Which was also among the funniest fandom moments I’ve been a part of.) But stopped short of giving Solas a label.
Calling people “allo” was never about aces discussing fellow lgbtq people, it was pointing out the sexual entitlement of characters who weren’t sexual.
Aces showing up in the fandom. 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 “reclaim allo” or stick allo in front of any character who is often headcanoned as ace. 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.
As time went on with any headcanoned or canon ace character more lgb people started using it too. 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 identities. They picked up the sex negativity left by those straight fans and turned it on themselves, saying aces were the ones called themselves dirty because they too related to the sex negative nature of it. But while the straight women were gleeful with it their kinkiness and acephobia, in gay hands because they were choking on homophobia they didn’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. In my mind, the biphobia around Jacob Fyre and the acephobia surrounding Solas are linked by women who wanted bad boys who only wanted women. Nothing else would do.
A few days ago, on June 30th the asexual flag hit it’s 10 year anniversary. It was made by community polling and design scouring then more 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.
You also my or my not know each stripe was given a meaning.
Grey: Grey-Asexuality and Demisexuality
*White: Non-asexual partners and allies
*Over the past at least two years people have said, ‘hey we are no longer mostly on AVEN and our direction isn’t so ally focused maybe we should change the white’s meaning.’ Common suggestions include romantic variation, to other white means the sum of all colors so the white stripe should reference some other diversity within. Which would help tie it to the aro flag more, and the trans’ white stripe.
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. But, I never knew why purple was added into the mix. Never even thought of it.
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 was hitting on her and she wasn’t into it so Artemis helped protect 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 a 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: Artemis saved someone from harm and the person who caused the harm realized their grave mistake.
The dating of the story is debating because it’s thought in Greek/Roman times, wine goblets were carved out of Amethyst to protect royalty from getting too drunk and making fools of themselves in the same way Dionysus had before them.
Which not only makes my pagan heart happy to know forever now know the ace shade of purple has Artemis meaning, but also how that shade of purple meant that people were reminded to ‘not make the mistakes of the past and make fools of ourselves that harm people who aren’t interested.’
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 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 easiest 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.”
I’m so excited to bring you my cute book full of queer people having fun and being silly!!
If you preordered the ebook, unfortunately you’ll have to order it again do to an amazon error. But everything is good to go now for both ebook and paperback versions on Amazon or GreatAce.Club!
Haven’t heard about Press Start? Now is a great time for this fun, low stress read about a group of friends bonding over video games.
Blurb: A new app has turned the whole world into an augmented playground. By reinventing 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.
I’d be willing to wager that phrasing makes you think of sex work, and while that is one type of transaction, it’s definitely not the first I learned. The first example of this for me was in the animated Aladdin. I can still picture Jasmine in the red outfit, flipping a switching and beaconing the bad guy with a come hither tone of voice.
That is my first memory knowing that sexuality, particularly women’s asexuality, was something that was not so much felt, but offered. The next time I saw this type of behavior was a Stargate SG-1 episode where the men were chemically seduced by Hathor. The women were locked up since they are unable to be controlled in this fashion, hick up their shirts and get their flirt on with the male guards.
Science fiction is a common offender of this trope, which says fair reaching things about the assumed submission of women to men, and how men are slaves to their urges.
But today, I’d like to highlight how these examples teach aces that sexual behavior is something offered in exchange for something. This is a wildly dangerous situation when aces date simply because a friend is needed, or when aces have sex because protection is wanted. These events are at times consensual, but are transactional in a less obvious way than sex work.
For aces in particular, depictions of Jasmine’s red outfit inspired sexuality, or Stargate’s flirt ploy, can dangerously misinform aces about how to navigate the topic. Women’s sexuality is displayed as a weapon towards men, and one that far to easily can turned against us. A weapon not of our own consumption￼, and not for our own empowerment.
And without feeling earnest sexual attraction we have less of a chance to make course corrections into situations that make us feel respected.
While this article does not paint a complete picture of all the reasons aces might have sex, but it does ask for a growing awareness that the behavior of aces, and many other groups, are the result of simply trying to survive in a world where compulsory sexuality and amatonormaity are demanded.
And acknowledgment ￼that aces face this, that women face this, that anyone may￼￼ face this, might be able to keep our sexualities from feeling as if they were for sale to the hetro-patriarchy.
I wish I could quickly explain that “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 lgbtq community safe from people who have a privilege” is nobel, but flawed.
We don’t kick cis people out because there’s trans people in the community. We don’t 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 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.
I was talking with someone the other day, and we were having a very frank conversation about 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.
So often bigots want to excuse abuse faced by asexuals as simply the abuse of women, and it’s such a dismissive thing because multiple genders are being 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.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the removal of labels.
Largely posthumously, like in the cases of Stephen Donaldson and Martha Shelley, activists of the 1960’s. In life they commented on how they took flak from leaders for being bi. How their relationship was treated as a scandal because they weren’t visually performing their sexuality in a way that was useful to others. This is such a clear cut case of bisexuality only being valued if it reads as homosexuality. It happened when they were alive, and it still happens when people discuss them, and their specific concern.
Another recent after death label change was done by Rolling Stone magazine. One of their staff writers, with a habit of making fun of asexuals, decided to target Yasmin Benoit for her connection to Bianca Devins. Yasmin is the creator of #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike, and her path briefly, and digitally, crossed with Bianca when Bianca submitted herself to the AsexualLooks instagram. This disbelieve of not only Bianca’s words, but Yasmin’s is endemic of society at large.
People don’t believe asexuals when they speak.
Even more recently, a Wikipedia editor refused to accept that labeling of a celebrity as ace as proof. Locking the page, and claiming that the actress was being too ambiguous. This real time erasure makes coming out an arbitrary bar people need to clear in order for outsiders to consider them as the words they use for themselves. And the point here isn’t even about trying make sure a label sticks to someone. Or the historical record either. It’s to point out that at all points, asexuals say something and are not fully believed at any time of that journey.
A visit to our FuckYeahAsexual inbox shows countless cases of this happening in countless ways. A quick scroll shows three messages raising the concern of people denying their label for wanting to have children. Two express concern that asexuality is being confused with virginity and having their labels denied eitherway that coin falls. Other asks are a point blank statement. “I’ve tried to explain asexuality to people and they don’t get it.”
Asexuality is a sexuality of it’s own, it intersects with queer theory, but like the field of study the reductionist review of outsiders deciding what is of isn’t asexuality is serving no one, and nothing besides ignorance.
Allosexuals need to interact with aces in a way that allows for our infinite diversity. Not only in race, gender, and ability, but behavior. There isn’t a single facet of asexuality that is a fixed point. Any idea to the contrary holds us all back. It’s high time we start believing aces and the words they say. Other people’s sexuality don’t need to meet any’s preconceived ideas of it.
It is my hope that when we start believing people, we will start truly seeing them as the people they are, or were… Whether they be, bisexual, asexual, other any other queer identity.
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.