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!

Capture the Flag (Part 2)

I need everyone to take a deep breath because this is going to be a trip. In a previous post I mentioned that flag discourse on Twitter was making me nervous because of the misinformation that came with it. Since then I’ve been keeping an ear to the ground because drama in other communities tends to leak over.

So, there’s been some pan flag discourse again.

Twitter screenshot: pansexual flag was stolen from a South Indian flag

The person who wrote that tweet deleted it a while ago time ago and apologized, but the screenshot has resurfaced on Instagram and things blew up. I searched high and low for anything related to this topic. Exact phrasing, nothing. Not even a tumblr hit and there’s always a tumblr hit on discourse. It was unbelievable. When I did a keyword search I got ONE hit.

Screenshot: fandom.com wiki pansexuality

So I did a less strict search and I just have a couple of questions…

Nothing major, just…where…

Screenshot blog post

…are all…

…the primary sources?!

My next question is how easy is it to make magenta dye before 1949, but we’re going to put a pin in that because I forgot to mention that there’s a exclusionist/separatist group running around on Twitter and I forgot the rest of the internet doesn’t know that.

Twitter screenshot

If you would kindly note the twitter ribbon in asshole #1’s profile pic, that is one of the “eclipse” flags. And I’m just going to let them explain it:

That sums up today’s Twitter drama.

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?”

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.

That One Medium Article Acephobes Love to Cite

There’s a Medium “article” that acephobes like to cite as “proof” that Aces aren’t inherently part of the LGBTQ community. Throwing the link into the Twitter search bar is an easy way to get a block list going.

Twitter Screenshot: “This article does a great job at explaining why asexuals are not inherently LGBT”
Twitter Screenshot: “worldpride madrid is wrong”
Twitter Screenshot “cishet aces in our spaces put us at risk.”

Today I’m going to put this article under the microscope. Who wrote it? What sources did they use? Is it accurate or is it just a hodgepodge of tumblr posts spliced together to look official?

Continue reading “That One Medium Article Acephobes Love to Cite”

Capture the Flag (Why I’m Concerned about Flag Discourse on Twitter)

Before we get started we’re going to need some context. It began (to my knowledge) when the creator of the pan flag came out and said that they supported bi-lesbians and pan-lesbians. Bi/pan-lesbian discourse is THE divisive discourse right now. Basically two kinds of people might call themselves a bi lesbian or pan lesbian; a) someone describing their romantic and sexual orientation (like aces and aros do) or more commonly it’s b) a nonbinary person who doesn’t feel like either label by itself is an accurate enough label so they’ll use the double label in community spaces.

Nobody is ready for the conversation on how terms like “SGA” and “het” get really complicated really fast when you actually account for nonbinary gender diversity. Regardless a lot of people believe that double labeling is invalidating for lesbians and discussions tend to get heated.

In response to the pan flag creator supporting bi/pan lesbians, a lesbian (as the Twitter rumor mill claims) created a “new pan flag”

In what I would consider an impressive counter tactic, pan-lesbians reclaimed the new flag and dubbed it the pan-lesbian flag:

It was at this point that I had a good laugh at the situation and assumed the issue would be self-contained.

It was not self-contained.

Soon newflagitis started spreading to other communities:

screen shot: “new bi flag”
“New bi flag” with stripe meaning

The idea of creating a new flag for bisexuality after BiNet’s “copyright” stunt and the resulting backlash is purely nonsensical and I would have been willing to dismiss the trend as merely teen boredom from Covid restrictions-

But then it spread to the ace community:

Screenshot: “new ace flag”

What was alarming about “new ace flag” posts was the misinformation that proceeded it. Once the word got out established ace accounts mobilized quickly to target the misinformation, namely that David Jay didn’t create the ace flag (see my previous post about how acephobes can’t get over a forum post from 2003). The AVEN threads showing the flag’s creation and unveiling were shared and boosted and the countering short hand narrative became “the ace flag was a community project”. It was noted that changing the purple to a gradient made the flag unfriendly for commercial production and artists. The flag itself was deemed mostly harmless and a fad that would likely die out quickly.

Shortly there after infighting broke out between aroace activist Yasmin Benoit and Rose from FYA. The flag situation was set aside in favor of what was seen as a bigger crisis that needed to be dealt with.

But then it happened again:

Once again someone posted a “new ace flag” proceeded by misinformation. I’m not sure if this is becoming a thing yet since the “antisemitic roots” mentioned in regards to the original flag is that AVEN’s symbol IS A TRIANGLE. That’s one hell of a reach, but he went for it and doubled down. Once again ace twitter mobilized to tackle the misinformation and point out that the “new flag” was too similar to other flags like the demi boy flag and the freysexual/romantic flag. As BiNet showed us, if you’re going to start flag discourse you better be squeaky clean. Similarly, when this flag maker was confronted by community members he started spouting exclusionary rhetoric like “allo is a slur” and “cis het aces aren’t LGBT” and eventually deactivated.

Our concern in the ace twitter community isn’t that people are making new flags. New flags appear all the time. The aroace flag, for example, has grown on me despite my initial rejection when I first saw it and it’s now one of my favorites for merchandise and swag. What made the “new ace flag” posts different from the pan and bi flag posts is that the ace flag posts contained misinformation directly lifted from anti-ace tumblr blogs like “David Jay is a misogynist homophobe” and “the AVEN triangle is a nazi symbol” and when confronted they used tumblr screenshots as “evidence”.

We’re not worried, per say, but we are getting a little nervous because we don’t know if this is just the latest teen fad as a result of being lonely and stuck inside during the Covid pandemic or if this is a symptom of larger issue that could negatively impact the community. We don’t know yet, but we’re keeping an eye on it.