How Acephobia in Fandoms Spread Ace Terminology

I have truly witnessed acephobia in fandoms like no other. Truly one of the funniest moments in a fandom for me was in 2016. Ubisoft posted under a long tumblr post debating Jacob Frye’s (bi)sexuality this simple message:

bi and acephobia in fandoms

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

But there’s more to this story. To aces in the dragon age community, we knew her URL. SolasTheWolf was what ace fans called an “Allo!Solas Fan.” The term allo means other, and allosexual meaning someone sexuality attracted to others. Basically a word based on existing naming conventions to mean non-ace.

A New Open World For Acephobia in Fandoms

Dragon Age: Inquisition released late 2014 and a huge active fandom until around 2016. Before this allo was used only by aces. Key question here: Why did a bunch of aces call a group of predominantly straight women allo rather than straight?

It’s because for every ace fan in a fandom space there are camps of acephobes. They’d actively go around harass asexuals for seeing themselves in the characters. The Allo Solas fandom in particular did this like no other. By setting themselves up in direct opposition to aces, their behavior became defined by their allosexuality, not their heteronormativity. This is the pivot when acephobia in fandoms became actively willful. It wasn’t about them being straight, it was about them being anti-ace.

Some of the allo dragon age fandom was also really racist. They vowed to “give us” a black character in the game as a “trade”. Why? It’s because they didn’t feel sexually entitled to a black women being a largely straight white group of women. They wanted Solas. A “bad wolf”. All the ace coding in the world did not stop from their violently aggressive patriarchal projections onto his character. These fans also would tweet the Dragon Age writers asking to confirm that Solas had sex with the player character. The writers never did. A year later the DLC confirmed it in canon dialogue. (The second funniest fandom moments I’ve been a part of.) But they stopped short of giving Solas a label.

Calling people “allo” here was never about aces being separate fellow LGBTQ people. It was pointing out the sexual entitlement of characters who weren’t sexual. Aces showed up, publically in fandom spaces.

Using Solas to help explain the nuances of asexuality to groups who never heard it before helped spread asexual visibility.

And it’s also why I have such a strong negative reaction to those who try to sort of Allo!CharacterName pattern. Because the history of that is one of white sexual entitlement. The assumption that those who weren’t overtly sexual were secretly dirty, nasty, and kinky underneath. Words used by straight women about their own desires.

It became a near meme to stick “Allo” before character name, or brand your url with it. Some would say “I’m a proud Allo!!” instead of embracing their own queer identity. They picked up the sex negativity left by those straight fans and turned it on themselves. Falsely claiming aces were the ones called themselves dirty. Relating to the sex negative lie of sex being dirty. While the straight women were gleeful with it their kinkiness and acephobia. LGB people doing this in the community doing were choking on homophobia. They hadn’t unlearn and started in on their own acephobia as if that was the cure for it.

“Allosexual” is not an sexuality on its own, it’s sole purpose was to help explain asexuality and acephobia. It’s far more like “cis” than any other community term.

For good or bad, asexuality and allosexuality became far more common words after this. The biphobia around Jacob Fyre and the acephobia surrounding Solas are linked by the same thing. Women who wanted bad boys who only wanted women. Nothing else would do for them.

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

Assassin’s Creed Rewind and Review

There are so many games and spin offs in this series now, so buckle up for my Assassin’s Creed rewind!

If I said I was a fan since the beginning, that’s technically true. However, I stopped playing after Assassin’s Creed 3. Loving the modern Assassin’s and utterly convinced that Ubisoft was throwing that plot line away. Then add in the release of Blackflag. And my dislike of boats made it the first game I skipped completely. In real time I likely could have been convinced to play the next in the series. But then…

In retrospect, this was a far far bigger fuss than was warranted. But, at the time there was a joke of ‘when will my love of [fandom] come back from war’ which summed up my feelings about the series.

In 2015, I missed Syndicate for no reason besides I was just still unhappy. Ubisoft had let me known plenty. But got praise for its inclusion of women and had the first trans character in the series.  Then later confirmed having a bisexual lead.

The following year Pulse happened. I was watching E3 trying to process what was happening to my community. Hoping someone would say something because when bad things happen the world needs a moment. But rarely does.

Ubisoft’s conference comes on. Everyone was wearing rainbow ribbons, and they take a second to express their own heartbreak for the community. And since they had been working on adding LGBTQ characters before this, it was enough of a good faith gesture. It was something. 

Come November, Watch Dogs 2 has another trans character who has an even bigger role. Rainbow flags everywhere. You can visit gay clubs and flirt with whatever gender of your choosing. Even buy pride shirts and wear them for the whole game.  The last four things are really minor. WD2 is literally the only game that does that. Watching cut screens with PRIDE written on his damn shirt for half the game was amazing.

Assassin’s Creed Rewind Time Is A Go!

2013 wasn’t the greatest time for me. I kept thinking how about how an abusive person got into Assassin’s Creed because of me. Almost wrote the whole series off because of the collective misfired from Ubisoft or personally. But one thing the queer community always does is reclaim things.

I restarted the series with Syndicate. And ADORED it. I cannot fully express my love here. Honestly might be my favorite in the whole series. If you quit Assassin’s Creed, play this one. If it doesn’t win you over nothing will. (At least nothing that is currently out). Everyone’s character feels real. None of the customization mechanics feel clunky for the first time. The DLC has Darwin, and you can go ghost hunting with Dickens!

Working backward I played Unity next. And oh boy, Unity was utterly and completely mismarketing this one. They pushed the multiplayer too much. Which I never even got to play because no one else was playing Unity in 2017. Everyone expected a French company to tell us their history. But Ubisoft didn’t. Almost weirdly avoids it. There is one thing this game better than anything in the series. It shows the gray area of helping historical figures.

Help Napoleon today, and you help the people.
Help Napoleon tomorrow, and you help a tyrant.

It was buggy at launch, but have been completely patched. Unity is about being a person living in a revolution. The hope that you can help. The struggle of not being about to save everyone. A focus on personal choices for a game that isn’t choose your own adventure. I had expected angsty romance and Templar apologist plot lines from the debut trailers, what I got was something truly honest about activism and chillingly timely for 2017. It also includes among the best speeches I’ve heard in my life.

The Creed of the Assassin’s Brotherhood teaches us that nothing is forbidden to us. Once, I thought that meant we were free to do as we would. To pursue our ideals, no matter the cost. I understand now. Not a grant of permission. The Creed is a warning. Ideals too easily give way to dogma. Dogma becomes fanaticism. No higher power sits in judgement of us. No supreme being watches to punish us for our sins. In the end, only we ourselves can guard against our obsessions. Only we can decide whether the road we walk carries too high a toll.

We believe ourselves redeemers, avengers, saviors. We make war on those who oppose us, and they in turn make war on us. We dream of leaving our stamp upon the world…even as we give our lives in a conflict that will be recorded in no history book. All that we do, all that we are, begins and ends with ourselves.

At this point, I’m pretty much on an Assassin’s Creed high so for the first time pick up an my first Assassin’s Creed book. I’ve always been interested in them but skipped the because they were mostly game retellings. That is until, Assassin’s Creed Heresy.

It follows Templars which is a huge red flag for me. But, it’s Joan of Arc. She is my No Templars Allowed expectation. Like Unity, the historical parts are set in France. It also does a very good job of explaining very complex motivations in revolutionary times without excusing the harm that can be done.

I had worried it would be a straight dude pining over Joan but again like Unity does not cheapen its female characters by doing so. My one real complaint is the ending is weak and heteronormative. With those two points aside, it does a brilliant job picking up from Unity. It mentions both Arno, the sword of Eden as well as showing an important Templar shake up we might see in future games. If you do an Assassin’s Creed Rewind with me, orders doesn’t matter much. Just do Unity first, then Heresy.

Unless you only read books, then welcome this as best video game spin off book in your collection.

So far my Assassin’s Creed Rewind was going fantastic. Not a dud in the mix. Having unfairly judged all of the above, I decided to go all the way back pick up Blackflag. The point where I jumped ship before. Quite literally. I figure the boats probably control better, I love the series as much as I did before.. I’m eager to play something before AC: Origins in the upcoming year.

And…. nope. I absolutely still do not understand the appeal. At all. I know that’s a nearly unheard of opinion. But I’m unable to empathize with a character who is driven by profit for so much of the game. I could have gotten on the “He’s doing it because he can” boat if they had literally given me anyone besides a straight white dude who skips town on his wife. I’m only sorry that it apparently takes so long for Edward to be a decent person.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you want to see Shaun and Rebecca, play Syndicate.
If you want to know modern lore, read the comics.

This is where my Assassin’s Creed Rewind gets back on track again.

The comics star Charlotte de la Cruz a Latina modern assassin. There’s a whole range of other modern assassin’s, an arc with a gay man who wants to avenge his boyfriend, and you see Erudito. I’m not in love with the art style but otherwise, I don’t know what more I could want out of them, to be honest. There are 3 trades that are out and a spin off series called Uprising (left) that introduces more people of color.

I’ve also read the short run of Assassin’s Creed Locus which only has four issues. I don’t feel like it’s important to know lore wise, but it includes a disabled animus user and the arc covers why he wants to use the animus which I found both unique to the series and important when talking about ableism as a whole.

Assassin's Creed Rewind

In conclusion, if you dropped Assassin’s Creed because of too little focus on modern characters, clunky boat or other mechanics, and lack of diversity. Now’s a pretty good time to pick up what you missed without that brand new sticker price.

If you like the series, but want to support an indie publisher our books should do the trick. 😉