Carnival of Aces: Briefly Comparing My Communities Online

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for February 2021 hosted this Month by Ace Film Reviews on the Topic of “Comparing Ace Spaces“]

My first introduction to the Ace Community was through the WordPress community in 2014. I was 25 and had just come back home to Texas after working out of state for two years and had finally ran out of excuses for why I had literally never dated. Well, obviously the answer is my interpersonal skills leave much to be desired BUT I had also come to the conclusion that if dating had been a priority in any way for me, I would have found a way to do it. So, the real question was, why wasn’t dating even on my list of of priorities? With that in mind I finally sat down and literally Googled “25 and never dated”. After skipping over a bunch of pop-psy articles that amounted to “don’t worry, your prince will come” I finally came to a wordpress blog by an asexual man.

I kick myself everyday for not bookmarking the page because I have never been able to find it again nor thank him. Part of the reason I keep this blog going is as a way to pay that moment forward. That man’s blog post means a lot to me because it set me on the right path to finding out that not only am I asexual, but I’m aromantic and agender too. Before that I was living and believing the lie that I was cis and straight “by default”. It’s scary to think it’s like I didn’t even know myself before that. Because of that the WordPress community will always have a special place in my heart as a place of learning and personal growth.

The next community that meant a lot to me was Tumblr. Specifically the chat created by The Asexuality Blog. I’m missing a huge chunk of history and discourse knowledge because I tended to avoid drama. I mostly used tumblr as a resource for writers. Every single job title you can think of was putting out lists of common bad tropes and mistakes writers make. Doctors, EMTs, MEs, nurses, lawyers, firefighters, *literally every professional* you might have as a background character had wishlists of tropes they wanted writers to stop using. Historians and scientists putting out debunk lists. Every minority group you could think of was putting out dos and donts and how to lists as well as answering plot specific asks. It was a magical time to be a would-be writer. I eventually left tumblr because the nsfw ban also nuked my *collection of writer’s resources*, but before that the ace chats gave me a chance to talk to real humans in real time and that was an important step in not only accepting that I was aromantic, but also an important step in figuring out I was agender.

One major difference that was kind of alienating between wordpress and the TAB chats was the age difference. Most of the aces in the chats were in their teens and I very much wasn’t. It just felt weird for most of the chat to be talking about figuring and setting into their ace identity on top of highschool problems (by which I mean absolutely zero judgment because high school problems are serious, serious business) and then I was off in the corner figuring and settling into my ace identity while complaining about paying rent, the ethicacy of tax returns, and debating the pros and cons of coming out to coworkers. Granted the chat mods were older and wiser, but they were there to moderate rather than counsel. I still owe a huge debt to the chats for helping me figure out I was nonbinary.

Another alienating thing about the chats is how amatonormative they were. Even the aro chats! I now know that I’m a romance-repulsed aro trying to figure out life and stuff, but people are constantly wanting to talk about how cute/amazing their partner/gf/bf is. I’m not anti-romance; absolutely gush about your five year anniversary, but sometimes I *just want a break* that doesn’t involve isolating myself from other humans.

Last, but not least, I’m now mostly involved with the Twitter community. It’s kind of a mix of both info dump and real time interaction. I’ve tried discord, but that gets too overwhelming. Twitter offers a lot of control over what content you want to interact with because you can save searches and mute words as well as accounts. Since the pandemic started I haven’t actually been doing the most “healthy” of searches since most of the time I’m snooping for content for @AphobeHottakes like a sleezy mag reporter. There ain’t no drama like Twitter drama. If you missed the tumblr discourse era, don’t worry, it plays out every week like it’s on syndicate in the Twitter stream.

I can’t attest much to the conversation about RL meet ups because the only other ace I’ve met in RL is my high school friend who stopped talking to me for other (and I’m prerry sure are perfectly valid) reasons. Even at 25 I still had a LOT of growing to do as a person and while I mourn the loss of a friendship even after five years, the only thing I can control is trying to maintain what I only hope an upward trend of personal growth. For now RL meetups are on hold because of Covid, but I maintain the hope that they’ll happen some day in the future.

…Whatever, I’m bored. Let’s talk about my gender

I haven’t been able to make regular updates and that goal is officially scratched off my new years resolutions list because I’m currently working two jobs as I ride out the global pandemic. My second job is substitute teaching which is why I’m stuck in a classroom basically babysitting two middle school kids because the rest of the class is virtual and I have an entire hour of literally nothing to do. I don’t talk about my gender nearly enough so I’m just casually talk about my gender for an hour. [Content Warning: gender dysphoria mentioned]

My first day I had another substitute ask if I was pregnant and that was super uncomfortable and awkward for me. I have to present as my assigned gender because Texas has some funky laws regarding LGBTQIA+ students and transphobia is literally written into the leading party’s platform.

I’m more comfortable and confident about my asexuality just because I’ve interacted with more aces and had access to compiled research and history. I haven’t had as much luck finding a “community” based around my experience with gender identity. The closest thing I’ve have was one of my coworkers at my old job was pansexual and agender, but I’m no longer at that job. I’ve tried discord chats in the past to try and meet other agender or even just nonbinary folks and it didn’t really work out because the chats were geared towards younger people discovering their gender and not people in their 20s-30s. So because I haven’t interacted much with a community I don’t know what the shared language lexicon or jargon is.

What I do know is I’m agender. Period. When I ping my brain for gender it shoots back a 404 error message. I got nothing. There’s no little voice in my head guiding me like Jiminy Cricket towards gender euphoria. But I definitely experience some social gender dysphoria. My dysphoria isn’t triggered by what my body looks like, but by how other people see and interpret my gender cues. Fem is okay, female is a hard “no”.

I’ve had some negative interactions with counselors completely unrelated to my gender and sexuality so I’m super hesitant to seek professional help and prefer self-help. So, far that’s what works best for me. Ideally I would prefer to consult a professional for my dysphoria symptoms if only so I could have someone break down the technical language of my symptoms for me because that’s not really something I trust the internet with. However, consulting an actual paid professional just not a feasible option right now. That also means that I don’t have the option to even explore the possibility of medically transitioning at this time either which is also a sensitive topic for me.

After a time check, I still have 30 minutes to ramble but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to ramble about. I prefer jobs with unisex uniforms because of my gender. I’ve been studying historical garment construction (it’s hard and there’s weird math involved) because I want to make my own clothes because of ethical reasons and because it would give me more control over my presentation. That’s still a long ways, though, because I’m working two jobs and my “free time” is never conveniently anywhere near my sewing supplies.

Side note: I’m of the “tackle box” school of sewing, not “cookie/biscuit tin” school if that matters to anyone

Carnival of Aces August 2020 Round Up: What are you Hoping to get out of the Ace Community?

[If I’m missing anyone’s submission please post a link or a note in the comments or send me an email at lettredemarque(at)outlook(dot)com. I’ve been checking my spam box but life happens. Speaking of life happens if anyone has a late submission they want me to retroactively add I’m okay doing that too]

Greetings! This takes us to the end of this month’s Carnival of Aces and I’m happy to present our five fabulous submissions based on this month’s topic of “What are you hoping to get out of the Ace community?”

First of up we have Coyote, the author behind The Ace Theist here on WordPress, with “Directions for Ace Community Advocacy”; It’s a quick read that brings up several advocacy points the community needs to be thinking more about and individuals should probably be incorporating into their advocacy plans:

…I see mental healthcare as a key issue for the ace community for a number of reasons — because it can be psychologically damaging to be trapped in a sexnormative culture, because it can be difficult to access treatment for other mental health issues when anti-ace narratives stand in the way, and because “low sexual desire” is officially pathologized as a disorder in the DSM. For all these reasons and more, I think ace advocacy should be prioritizing therapy as an important area of concern…

Up next we have redbeardace’s post “Get Out Of It” about wanting to step back as an activist but not willing to leave the community floundering to repeat past mistakes or without a clear direction forward:

…For years, the primary drive has been visibility.  Shouting “WE EXIST!” as loud as we can until someone hears us. Okay.  They’ve heard us. What now? How about fighting singlism, pushing for better mental and physical healthcare, tearing down compulsory sexuality, inclusion in anti-discrimination policies, more and better media representation, sociological research that’s not mind-numbingly out of touch…more and stronger advocacy groups and closer ties/direct involvement with general queer groups, reaching all the people who are long past high school and feel lost and broken and confused because they haven’t heard of asexuality yet, and that’s just the beginning

Moving right along Henry sent me a submission via email; “A Disconnected Past, and A Curious Present” brings the perspective of feeling unwelcome and disconnected to the ace community. This post actually reminded me of when Vivek Shraya (a Canadian trans activist) visited my college and mentioned that community spaces were some of the loneliest places she had ever been in and it was in the art community that she found love and acceptance. Henry had a similar experience and reminds that while there’s a lot of shared experience among aces, not everyone’s asexual journey is going to look the same:

…I had instead followed my fantastic side to a very different community. This other community is all about self-discovery and self-expression, and both is very open about sexuality and extremely non-heteronormative. Their art was the perfect thing to feed my imagination and my fiction writer’s pen. The friends I made were just who I needed. Not only could I talk to them about my imagination, but I could write very NSFW stories from it they would eagerly lap up…

lokiofjotunheim’s post simply titled “Carnival of Aces – August 2020” talks about being relatively new to the ace community, how they discovered asexuality, learning community history and what they’re hoping for in the future:

…I want other 15, 16-year-olds, 40, 70, 90-year-olds who’ve never quite had a word that fit to find that for themselves. I want people to not have to be resigned to (and I was resigned, heavily) living life as “straight by default.” I’m not active in the sense that I’ve done activism. I have my Tumblr, sure, where I reblog ace posts and sometimes add a comment or two on the occasional post. I’m in several ace discords, and I have my ring, and my flag but…that’s about it…

Lastly we have my own submission for this topic, “I am not an Activist” which is basically just me venting about acephobia for three paragraphs and listing things I appreciate about the ace community; namely it’s nice not to feel alone in my experiences as an asexual even if I don’t have the skills to necessary to carry the community forward.

Edit: Not your professor, I accept late submissions! Drop a link below and I’ll add it to the round up. Here are the posts that were added after Aug 31st:

Elisabeth talks about “Virtual Meetups” (click here to read part one of “Increasingly Accessibility” series). Your asexual movement isn’t inclusive unless it’s accessible. With the world in the middle of a global pandemic the logical thing seems to move meetups online, but that doesn’t automatically mean online meetups are fully accessible to everyone:

My biggest problem with the state of virtual meetups in asexual communities right now, though, is just the sheer amount of effort it takes to even find out about them. Most groups are set to private, so you have to already be a member to know what they’re up to

The Call for Submissions for September is already up with the exciting topic of “Manifestos”

Please help us keep the conversation going by volunteering to become a future host!

I am Not an Activist

[This is my own submission for the Carnival of Aces hosted this month by me, for the prompt “What are you hoping to get out of the ace community? I will be posting the Roundup on Monday night, Aug 31st, so if you’ve submitted something and have not received a like on the comment or a “thank you” acknowledgement let me know because that probably means that I missed it. If you sent me something via email and didn’t get a response please resend it and let me know in the comments here or the Call for Submissions post so I can be on the look out for it. Thank you!]

As the title says, I am not an activist. I don’t think of myself as an activist, I don’t call myself an activist, and I try not present myself as an activist because I am not an activist. I merely exist as an asexual (and aromantic and agender) person and I infrequently ramble on my personal blog (and admin a Twitter account that posts screenshots of aphobes being assholes on the internet, which is also definitely not activism).

The thing is just existing as an asexual person comes with caveats. For instance if an acephobic troll shit-post goes viral on Twitter (or tumblr or Facebook or any mainstream online media) you literally have hundreds of armchair pharmacists, evolutionary biologists, and psychologists swarming the comments trying to pick apart your existence based on what they probably remember from their high school biology textbook. LGBTQ exclusionists demand “proof” of your existence and “oppression” in the form of peer reviewed journal articles and hard science while hypocritically using PowerPoint slides that they’ve clobbered together based off of a preliminary study/article they either obviously didn’t actually read or obviously didn’t understand how the data was being interpreted because the orginal source overtly contradicts their claim. Then there are “well meaning” family members and friends who instead of listening to you as you share a deeply personal, core aspect of your very self and personal identity, they brush you off or offer irrelivant/harmful advice because what you are saying contradicts the status quo they’ve been conditioned to believe without question their entire lives. What I’m hoping to get out of the ace community is just a goddamn break.

It is completely and utterly exhausting to go through life feeling isolated, disconnected, and othered by every emotional support system you’ve build up, especially if you can’t fully trust the medical systems in place because of heteronormative bias on top of cost/availability. It’s almost like life decided to push out of a plane with just a spool of thread instead of a parachute and you just have to find a way to deal with it. Okay, the parachute thing might be just a bit over dramatic (again, personal blog, I can vent if I want), but just because I’m “complaining” it doesn’t automatically make my perception untrue or “out of turn” and it’s really nice to know that there’s a group of people who understand that. Day-to-day I’m really just hoping for bare bones, basic dictionary definition of “community”.

I am looking for a human connection that I literally cannot get in my regular life. It’s nice to have a conversation with a stranger who already knows what asexuality is. It’s nice to have someone who’s sympathetic to my crappy coming-out-to-my-parents story. It’s nice to know there’s other people who also didn’t realize until later in life that there’re more options than just “straight or gay”. It’s nice to know that even though I barely had the energy to put a new coat of gorilla tape on my car today, there are other people who are working really, really hard on the daily to make real, meaningful changes to laws, medical practices, and general awareness regarding asexuality. I’m not an activist, I can’t organize people, I don’t consider myself charismatic, I don’t know anybody important, but I do a pretty good impression of a warm body when the situation calls for it. It’s not much, but it’s also not nothing either.

[Carnival of Aces Guest Post] The Ace Community and Me: A Disconnected Past, and A Curious Present

This is a submission for the Carnival of Aces August for the topic of “What are you hoping to get out of the ace community” written by Henry:

I would like to thank Lib for posting this. Though you can find me in a couple places on the internet if you look for me, I didn’t feel any of them were a place to host this essay.

That fact is probably a pretty good introduction: you are about to read about my early struggles with asexuality, why I didn’t feel like the community spoke to me then, and why I am cautiously looking into it more now.

Continue reading “[Carnival of Aces Guest Post] The Ace Community and Me: A Disconnected Past, and A Curious Present”

Mini Rant: Exclusionist “Sources”

A personal pet-peeve of mine, but here I am banging my head against freaking paywalls trying to find actual evidence that the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee (the first LGBT organization according to Wikipedia) was asexual inclusive, meanwhile this (see image below) is what passes for “sources” among exclusionists:

screenshot “source list”
Twitter Screenshot

Exclusionsts will grab whatever quotes from whatever pops up in their Google search they think might support their argument without actually checking if they read the material correctly or if it even supports the argument they are trying to make. Nothing in that linktree mentions asexuals. But that’s what somebody sent me when I asked for their sources on their post on asexuals. It’s like they think my nerdy ass isn’t going to check.

Anywho, a gay activist named Carl Schlegel was asexual inclusive in 1907 and I’m trying to figure out figure out if that was a him thing or if he adopted it from the WhK. Unfortunately, I don’t read German and there was that rise of the Nazi thing that destroyed a crap ton of priceless LGBT history. But sure, a instagram linktree is a “source”.

John Oliver headdesk reaction image because words cannot fully express my frustration right now

ANYWHO, self-care today is putting a pin in the WhK thing (for now) and watching my all time favorite film, Denial (2016), to remind myself that it is not my job to debate people on Twitter and I don’t have a crack team of researchers who can pour over everything my “opponent” ever wrote. ALL that considered, I’m doing fine…..

(minus, you know, global pandemic and upcoming US election. “Fine” might be relative)

What’s it Like Running an Aphobe Hot-takes account?

Greetings! My internet is absolutely crap right now so I just wanted to do a quick post and the easiest topic I can throw together is about running @Aphobehottakes on Twitter. It’s actually not very exciting.

TW// aphobia because I will be showing some screenshots. yay. Fingers crossed that all of my screenshots still load after I hit “Publish”
(TW is short hand for trigger warning)

Continue reading “What’s it Like Running an Aphobe Hot-takes account?”

What are you hoping to get out of the ace community?

This Carnival is already closed and you can find the Roundup Post Here

Greetings! This is the call for submissions for the Carnival of aces for August 2020. A blogging carnival is where a bunch of blogs will get together and post about the same topic and a host will select the topic and gather all the links in a round up post at the end. Future host spots are open!!! To see past round ups or volunteer to be a host check out the Masterpost on the Asexual Agenda. The topic I’ve selected is “What are you hoping to get out of the ace community?” To see July’s roundup on the topic of “Renaissance-people’s experience with ace culture and how they have seen it change.” hosted by the Ace Initiative Center (AIC) the link will be HERE when it becomes available.

What are you hoping to get out of the ace community? This is intentionally a broad topic, but here some suggested ideas to get you started:

  • How did you find the ace community and why did you decide to join? If you’re not an active community member, why not?
  • How is your experiences in the ace community different from the larger LGBTQIA+ or other communities (ethnic, religious, ect..) you belong to?
  • What are new activists doing that you think is working or not working? Who are your favorite activists and why? What have activists done in the past that you’d like to see make a comeback or you’re glad people are no longer doing?
  • What would you like to see more of in the ace community or is there something lacking?

Submissions can be blog posts, videos, Twitter threads, poems, whatever, as long as it relates to the topic. Just drop a link in the comments below or send an email to lettredemarque(at)outlook.com. I will be posting the round up on September the 1st so please have the submissions in to my by then. Happy blogging!

30 Minutes into My New Project and I’m already Conflicted (Quick Read)

Ever since taking a deeper look at the Medium Article ace-exclusionists like to cite I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a rebuttal as just sort of a demonstration that literally anyone can write and post something to Medium, but instead of just doing a sloppy copy-paste like the original I would treat it like more of a final project worth 25% of the class grade. Research actually isn’t one of my favorite things, I much prefer direct teaching methods like you find in traditional math classes, so I let the idea simmer for about a week to see if it would go away. It didn’t.

Another reason I was hesitant to adopt the rebuttal project is all the community college campuses are closed because of Covid so I don’t have easy access to archives and databases which limits my pool of sources to secondary and tertiary sources. I wouldn’t be satisfied with that. If I’m going to put time and effort into a project like this, because it’s about my sexual orientation it needs as pristine as I can possibly accomplish even if that pushes the timeline back. There’s no real rush. The original Medium article, despite the blatant copy-paste format isn’t going anywhere.

Just to test the inquisitive waters I started looking at the section of the article I could address, the part about David. The original article referenced rumors (although it didn’t refer to them as such) about David Jay being homophobic and a misogynist, but didn’t actually cite any sources. Since I had already gone down that rabbit hole before it was just a matter of going over the tumblr posts again specifically looking for things I had missed.

Tumblr is both a curse and a blessing because even if the original blog is deactivated any posts that were reblogged are still preserved. One blog in particular kept popping up in my search as not necessarily the original source of the rumors, but was definitely an agent in passing them on. When I went to their bio I found a link to her book. She had a book. This was no longer a nameless, faceless person on the internet. This was a writer and activist living in Montreal. What am I supposed I do with that information?

Do I blast this woman on Twitter (obviously not)? Should I pass the information on to ace activists (maybe)? Do I include that information in my rebuttal? Is her identity even relevant or is citing the original tumblr posts enough and it doesn’t actually matter who actually wrote it? I guess the shock of actually putting a face to the baseless tumblr claims rattled me. This is why I don’t like research, the pursuit of truth isn’t about comfort and the truth is rarely comfortable.