Carnival of Aces July 2017: Barriers to Off-Line Ace Meet-ups

Hi folks! This is my post for the July Carnival of Aces hosted this month by the Asexuality Archive under the topic of “Ace-ing it up Offline”. I decided to write about barriers that I’ve personally run into when it comes to meeting aces Offline.

Barrier #1: Location, Location, Location:

I live in a small city in Texas. I pass SIX churches on my 8 mile drive to work everyday. People in my area still can’t even say the word “gay” like it’s a swear word or something. My closest major city is San Antonio which for me is a 40 minute drive (we count distance in time in Texas because it’s makes the drive seem shorter and that’s going 5-10 miles over the speed limit like we do). I haven’t been able to find any info about meet ups in San Antonio because when you look up “aces in San Antionio” on Google it takes you to the local community colleges website which is called the “ACES portal” so not helpful.

According to Google there’s a pretty good Ace presence in Austin which is an hour and a half drive away and in Houston which is three and a half hours away, but then we run into the next barrier-

Barrier #2: Time and Money:

I don’t work a 9-5 job. I work part-time at a grocery and because it’s summer time we lost all our labor hours, but despite all that I’m still working 40+ hours a week! Somebody called in on Tuesday and my supervisor asked everyone and their mother if ANYONE was willing to stay. Even though everybody says they want more hours they’re not willing to work for it when we need it. I was already scheduled 40 hours this week, but I was the only one willing to stay so I worked 12 hours on Tuesday. Friday rolls around and I finished all the work in my section and as much fun as it is to get paid to stand around and do nothing, I asked my super if I could leave early since I was over hours from Tuesday. Literally one minute before I’m about to clock out my supervisor calls me and asks if I can stay because apparently one of our new employees (chick hadn’t even been there two weeks) had just quit on the spot. So, I end up working 11 hours on Friday.

You’d think with all this overtime I’m working, and remember I’m just a “part-time” employee so I should only be getting 30 hours a week, I should be rolling in money. I go to check my account so I can pull some cash to go on a pub-run with my coworkers (because this Friday I needed it) and I have $12.80. So, no Pub-run. I can’t pull from savings because my car needs new tires this month, plus I already owe over 700 dollars on my credit card. I get paid well above minimum wage, but clearly it’s not a living wage.

What all the hell am I buying? Bills. Food. I like a hot lunch and why reheat rice&beans when I could just steam a bag of frozen veggies in the microwave (2.65 plus employee discount) or have a nice hot bowl of soup (2.99 plus employee discount). My personal favorite is the single oatmeal cups (99 cents) because I like to toss in some trail mix (45-80 cents). I’m having flashbacks to Les Miserables “All the bits and pieces/Jesus, it’s amazing how it grows!”

Barrier #3: Making a Connection

One of my friends from high school is aro-ace like me! How amazing is that? Think of the odds. We share the same awkward “what’s wrong with me?” “Am I broken?” “What’s an ace?” experience. I was the one who blurted “I think I’m asexual” and she said “me too” so we should totally be besties hands down, right? Yeah, not what happened. I actually don’t really know what happened other than we had our own crap to deal with and lost touch. I’ve talked to her maybe twice since I came back to Texas. It sucks, but the reality might be I’m just not enough or the right kind of support she needs right now. If I had to make a guess I would say that it’s because she’s black and I have the genetic diversity of Wonderbread. It doesn’t mean I’m not a great person, it doesn’t mean we don’t have anything in common, but I will never be stopped by a cop and fear for my life or freedom. I trust that she knows what she needs in her support network and I’m not going to be offended if I don’t fit those needs. Sometimes people just can’t connect or the connection doesn’t hold up when people change.

I personally have a hard time connecting to people under the age of 25. I run into this problem when I’m online too. Sometimes I just want to vent or I need emotional support over a topic that a younger person hasn’t had to deal with yet. For example my parents are having marriage problems. That means something completely different when you’re closer to 30 than it does when you’re still a teenager. It would be nice to talk about it over a (as in singular) beer and some nachos because I have work at 6AM the next day. I really like talking to my older coworkers because we’re all going though similar experiences and it’s nice to have that “is this normal?”/”oh, yeah. Me too,” conversations.

Honestly, being ace is old news to me now and it gets kind of tiring hearing the same conversation of “Last year/month/week I realized I was ace because…and my family reacted like…” Now I need the conversation, “I’ve identified as ace for X amount of years…” and then what? I want to connect with other aces offline, but emotionally I need to connect with other adults more.

Preferably somewhere less than an hour away with a budget under 20 dollars and I can’t stay too late because I (more than likely) have work the next day.

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15 Day Asexuality Challenge: Day 8

Your favorite “asexual” book (as in, sex and/or romance are not the main focus) and/or Your favorite “asexual” movie.

My favorite “asexual” book is the same book that gave me my infatuation with reading and sparked my life long obsession with dragons; Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons.
dealing-with-dragons-first-edition 
 Dealing with Dragons a cracked fairytale story where the main character is a princess who runs away from home to avoid an arranged marriage and she asks a dragon to “kidnap” her. If I had to pick a book that has impacted me the most in my life and as an author, this 100% the book I’d pick. It was fun, it was different, and remains one of my all time favorites.

My favorite “asexual” movie is The Martian. 
ddaxc4xmnzspgzaxhth3izu23qx I love science fiction and I feel like I’ve been waiting years for a good hard science fiction story to come out. Soft science fiction is very similar to fantasy, which is nice and I enjoy it, but nothing tops the feeling of seeing the pure sense of possibility play out on screen.

The great thing about both these works is romance isn’t a focus and doesn’t even affect the main characters. The adventure is it’s own reward and love is no the “prize” they win at the end. I hope to stumble upon more stories like these in the future.

15 Day Asexuality Challenge: Day 7

Your favorite asexual character/celebrity/person.

I don’t know of any characters/celebrities/persons who are openly or in plain text asexual, or at least I can’t think of any at the moment. I would pick a person in the online community, but I only know them by their usernames and online personas. I have several headcanons that have asexual and/or aromantic characters. I would say those headcanon examples would be my favorite, but I’d be too embarrassed to list them. I hope someday I can do the challenge again and have a better and bigger answer or character/person pool to draw from.

 

15 Day Asexuality Challenge: Day 4

Have you faced oppression because of your asexuality, whether institutional or societal? What have other people said about your asexuality?

I am never sure how to answer this question. I’m not technically “out” and don’t feel safe coming out to more than a handful of people. The fact that I don’t feel safe is a sign of oppression, but I’ve never been overtly oppressed because of my orientation because I don’t advertise it. I’m very picky about who I come out to so as of yet it’s only been positive or neutral responses to my asexuality (or confusion and denial). No one has as of yet openly expressed hate or been derogatory about my orientation to my face. Unfortunately it’s that same fear of negative responses that makes me hesitate to be a more active advocate for asexuality and my other A identities. I would rather just be myself and let people figure it out later when asexuality awareness becomes more prevalent.

Carnival of Aces Signal Boost!

Robin Enby has selected a wonderful topic for the Carnival of Aces September Prompt: The topic they selected is Asperger’s and Asexuality but the prompt is open to the whole autism spectrum. I won’t be making a submission myself, but I wanted to spread the word. I look forward to reading all the amazing entries in the round up. I believe this is an important topic so please continue to spread the word.

30 Day Gender Queer Challenge: Day 5

Dysphoria and how you manage it.

My dysphoria usually comes in the form of anger at how other people see me. People take one look at me and assign a binary gender and all the stereotypes that go with it. The stereotypes are the worst. The idea of a non-binary gender doesn’t even cross their minds. I live in a conservative area. One of my best friend’s parents is transphobic and it terrifies me on a daily basis that I’m different from everyone else not because it’s weird, but because people seem to just naturally hate things that are different. It terrifies me that people don’t understand or can’t understand the concept of a non-binary gender or a genderless individual. It took me years to fully understand what gender was, but eventually the concept was able to click. I took the time to look into other cultures and how they see gender and that really helped.

Looking into other cultures and mythology also helped me deal with dysphoria. As mentioned in a previous post there weren’t a whole lot of gender neutral or queer role models for me to look up to so I ended up having to look deeper and farther a field to find comfort. I ended up looking into Eastern Religions. Hinduism and Buddhism mythologies ended up acting like a balm and helped me deal with my dysphoria. In Hinduism nearly every god and goddess has both a male and female (and sometimes neutral) form. Buddhas also will change gender depending on what country they are in. While practitioners of the religions are very conscious of gender (Hinduism has specific gender roles and Buddhism is a male dominated religion) the philosophies behind them make me feel better about myself more than western religions do. I’m able to feel more spiritual because I see the gender binary as an Earth-bound concept and that biological sex doesn’t matter beyond the mortal plain of existence.

30 Day Gender Queer Challenge: Day 4

Name some queer heroes, influences, or crushes you’ve had.

This one is sooooo hard because there are so few queer heroes in media. The GameTheorists on Youtube do a nice piece on just how far the U.S. goes to bury their queers. Gay and trans characters are often the villains in video games and lesbians are mostly eye candy. This is because the video game market targets a male audience even-though women make up 60% of the game market. Movies are also mostly targeted towards young men, but women buy more tickets and see more movies (and no it’s not just mom’s buying tickets for their kids). There is a huge imbalance between the marketing department and which sex the majority of the market makes up. Because of this there really haven’t been any heroes or influences for me to latch on to. Even less are heroes and influences that are non-binary, agender, or asexual. A lot of gay and lesbian media that does exist has a heavy romantic element to it and because I don’t have a gender I can’t relate well to trans focused media. I’m a minority within a minority group.

But when I was young (about middle school age) there was probably one hero/crush that I could count. My favorite anime in middle school was YuYu Hakusho and one of the main characters was Kurama: a very feminine-looking male character.

kurama_manga

Kurama starts out as a villain, but manages to redeem himself as the series progresses. He looks like a weakling, but is the most able strategist in the series. He’s definitely a character I looked up to because it didn’t matter how he looked because he had the brains to out smart any opponent. I wish I were that classy.

30 Day Gender Queer Challenge: Day 3

What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles (i.e. genderbending/genderfucking/etc…

It just so happens that in my family my mom was the bread winner and my dad got to be Mr. Mom and raise the kids. This probably contributed to me not understanding what gender actually was (in addition to being agender) because in my family gender roles were already blurred. I think history is going to repeat itself when it comes to my siblings. My brother’s girlfriend makes more money than he does and my sister is working on a business degree. I can see both of them leaving it up to the men to take care of the dirty diapers while they bring home the bacon.

My favorite ways of upsetting gender roles are being a healthy mix of both masculine and feminine. I wear make-up in public but don’t shave, read comic books, read trashy fanfics, wear both men’s and women’s clothes, wear both men’s and women’s deodorant, laugh at dick jokes, laugh at highbrow jokes, and just be myself mostly. I wear gender neutral clothes or try to find a way to make clothes look more neutral when I wear them. I live in a small town in Texas so it’s hard for me to go all out like I want to with my gender and image, but the spirit is still there. Mostly I just say, “fuck the binary”.

April Carnival of Aces Round Up

Here are the submissions for The Carnival of Aces for April 2016. What is a blogging carnival? See the master post here!

This month’s prompt was “Be yourself (but stretch)” where I asked about the daily lives of aces and their ace identity and how being yourself doesn’t always work out. A want to give a huge “Thank You!” to everyone who participated.

Sara (thenoteswhichdonotfit.wordpress.com)  talked about maintaining invisibility around family and friends.

Jay (quizzicalsloth.wordpress.com)  talked about how the daily life as an ace, how being invisible and being their self is the same.

Anonymous (tumblr submission)  talked about discovering asexuality and being romantically fluid in a homophobic enviorment.

Kasey (valprehension.wordpress.com)  talked about affirming and celebrating demisexuality while dating.

rotten-zucchinis (tumblr submission) decided to include part of their on-going series “Of relationship anarchy, accessibility and sitting shiva” for their submission. The post can be read as a standalone and is a very good, almost academic read on this month’s topic.

halfthoughts.wordpress.com  talked about just saying “No” to the “when are you getting married” question and how they use that to affirm their asexual identity without coming out.

arosandaces (tumblr) makes a comparison between hiding asexuality and Queen Elsa’s character arc from Frozen and talks about wanting to come out.

cakeatthefortress.wordpress.com talked about compromise in relationship and the struggle many asexuals go through to avoid regrets.

Thank you again to everyone who submitted! They were an absolute pleasure to read. The next Carnival of Aces for May will be held by https://halfthoughts.wordpress.com/

If anyone would like to become a future host for the Carnival of Aces check out the master post for guidelines and who to contact. Let’s do our best to keep the conversation on asexuality always on going. Best of luck everyone!

 

Call for Submissions Carnival of Aces April 2016

Calling for Submissions for The Carnival of Aces for April 2016! What is a blogging carnival? See the master post here! Last month’s topic of “Gender Norms and Asexuality” was hosted by valprehension and you can see the round up of submissions here!

For this month’s prompt I’ve decided on the topic “Be yourself (but stretch)”. What I want to know is how on a day-to-day basis you affirm and express your asexual identity while navigating though established social norms that are, unfortunately, unavoidable. The term “be yourself, but stretch” comes from authentic leadership techniques, where to be an effective supervisor you need to be authentic (be yourself), but also stretch to match the expected norms that come with leading others.

Growing up in the 90s I feel like a major moral of every kid’s show was “Be yourself”. The many episodes would start off with one of the main characters trying to blend in with the cool kids or try to reinvent themselves after an embarrassing mishap, but in the end they realized that all they needed to be happy was to be themselves. I wish a screenwriter or two had had the foresight to write and episode where “Be Yourself” didn’t work. You know, something for the rest of us who came out to our parents and it backfired, for those who came out to friends who still think we’re “basically straight” or just “gay and won’t admit it”, or maybe something for those of us who haven’t come out and have to fake chuckle at bad sex jokes at work or artfully dodge awkward questions about the significant others we don’t have.

I’m looking for posts, stories, comics, poems, art, videos, or a comfortable digital medium of your choice about how “Be yourself” doesn’t always work; About how you would love to be out and proud, but can’t because people just don’t get it or you can’t risk your livelihood or it’s just not worth the drama. How do you be your wonderful, asexual self and how do you “stretch” to fit in the roles you need to be to make a living or just make it through the day?

If you’re still not sure what to write about, here are some suggestions. These are not meant to be all-encompassing, only to provide possible ideas.

-Have you mastered the art of balancing your ace identity and your family, friend, and work relationships? Make the How-To guide you wish you had a year ago.

-Any advice for making it though that awkward family dinner that’s just around the corner? Parents/Grandparents are probably going to be asking some uncomfortable questions.

-Do any of your friends not accept your asexuality? How does that affect your friendship? What compromises are you willing to make between your identity and loyalty to friends?

-What do you do or who do you go to when you need a confidence boost or to reaffirm your ace identity?

-Show some support for your fellow aces who haven’t come out and don’t plan to because of some very good reasons.

-How do you be yourself when most of society says that isn’t good enough, that we’re “missing out” on what is considered part of human nature? If you wrote an article to your local news paper about being asexual in your community, what would you say?

To submit you can leave a link in the comments below, submit HERE tumblr, or shoot me an email at lettredemarque(at)outlook(dot)com with the link or submission.

I will be accepting submissions until midnight Eastern Standard Time Saturday April 30th, so you’ll have plenty of time to whip something together.

Happy Blogging!