Increasing Accessibility Part 1: Virtual Meetups

This is a post for the August 2020 Carnival of Aces. It is cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.

What am I hoping to get out of the ace community?

In a word, accessibility. I mean that in a broad sense: accessibility in terms of consideration for physical disabilities, accessibility of information, and accessibility in terms of creating an environment that doesn’t feel hostile, where I feel safe and welcome to share the truth of my experience. Continue reading

A mini-rant about idealism

This post is for the August Carnival of Aros on the topic of “Relationships.” Content warning for mentions of abusive relationships.

One of the prompts for this month asks, “What does an ideal relationship look like to you?” and I feel annoyed by the question. Maybe a reasonable response to that would be to ignore it and leave it unanswered. Perhaps I should do that. But… I am of the opinion that probing this sort of emotional response can be productive and lead to interesting directions of conversation, so I am not going to do that.

I dislike the assumption that there is such a thing as an “ideal relationship” in the first place.

I mean, I think I understand what this question is getting at, and I understand that this was probably just unintended clumsiness in the wording that perhaps could have been ironed out with some editing, but it really feels overly narrow to me. I feel like, in the context of an aromantic setting especially, asking us to think about only one kind of ideal relationship is… odd?

My ideal relationship with my mother is going to be different from my ideal relationship with my partner, which is going to be different from my ideal relationship with a friend, which is going to be different from my ideal relationship with my sister, and so on. Even within a single category—let’s say partners, since this is the closest to a conventional interpretation for this kind of question—my ideal relationship with one partner is not going to be the same as my ideal relationship with another one. People are not interchangeable. Each relationship is different. What I get out of it and where I want it to go will vary, and what’s more, it will also change over time. What I wanted ten years ago is not necessarily the same as what I want today.

All that aside, I also have another problem with this kind of question. The entire idea of dreaming up an “ideal relationship” doesn’t make sense to me. I find it entirely unproductive to dwell on ideals, because they are inherently unattainable. Real people and real relationships will never match up with an idealized fantasy scenario, because people and situations are complex, and never perfect.

That doesn’t mean that I think it’s never helpful to fantasize about what could be different. In a relatively positive relationship, when there is a problem that comes up, it can be very helpful to imagine what you would have ideally preferred to happen differently, so that you can communicate that to the other person and hopefully work on changing it (although it may not be easy). And in an abusive relationship, the ability to imagine a completely different set of behaviors—positive, nurturing, caring behaviors—can be even more crucial, because losing the ability to imagine something better can keep people trapped in these situations for a long time.

But too much idealism can be dangerous, because ideals are what manipulative people prey upon. They are good at figuring out what people idolize and making themselves appear to embody those traits. Otherwise, the manipulation usually fails.

I also feel that having one very specific, detailed, ideal fantasy relationship in mind can keep people from appreciating the relationships that they already have, and lead to feelings of resentment and frustration as people fail to live up to that ideal.

So for all those reasons, I feel that it’s inadvisable to imagine what an “ideal relationship” is in sufficient detail to be able to answer the question, “What does an ideal relationship look like to you?” I am uninterested in people’s answers to that kind of question, unless they too are questioning the entire framing of it. I would rather hear about how people’s relationships work out in practice, rather than their hypothetical unfulfilled ideals.

Home is Not a Place

This post is for the July 2019 Carnival of Aces, on the topic of “Home.”

CW: contains references to domestic abuse, alcoholism, and sexual assault.

I have never lived in a place where I felt truly safe, comfortable, welcome, and like I really belong, all at the same time.

Layers upon layers of casual tragedy weigh down the air in the house I live in now, the legacy of traumas not my own lingering, and the floorboards creak as I step delicately through them. Cracked and patched again countless times, the walls of this house still stand, sinking slowly into the ground, shielding me from the worst of the sun’s rage.

I’ve always understood this as a temporary arrangement, a less-than-ideal choice among several other unhappy options. Something is always broken, and usually several somethings, but even so, I’m lucky to have this. Continue reading

The Ace Flag Colors Are the Same as My High School’s Colors

This post is for the March 2019 Carnival of Aces on the topic of Symbols of Identity.

I wasn’t planning on participating in the carnival this month, to be honest, because I don’t feel like I have a lot to say on the topic that I haven’t already said before. But then I realized that I don’t think I’ve actually ever dedicated a post on my own blog to this topic, just comments here and there in various places. So why not? Continue reading

Aro-ish: Permanent Questioning & the Aromantic Community

This post was written for the Carnival of Aces & Aros. The Carnival of Aros is a new sister project that will be separate from the long-running Carnival of Aces, but just to kick off its first round, The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project and The Asexual Agenda are hosting it jointly on the topic of “The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities.” For further details, check out this introductory post. This post is cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.

Content note: This post has some discussion of trauma in relation to romantic orientation. Continue reading

Nuance & Complexity: May 2018 Carnival of Aces Round-Up

Well, it’s now June 1st, which means that it’s time to wrap up this round of the Carnival of Aces and start another one!

The topic I chose for this month was Nuance & Complexity, a very broad topic which had a lot of good responses on a wide range of subjects. Thank you to everyone who submitted, you’ve all made this a very interesting month!

Without further ado, here are the submissions:

Continue reading

Ten Year Blogging Anniversary

This blog is now ten years old!

When I originally started this blog as Shades of Gray in 2008, I really didn’t think it’d go anywhere. Asexuality was such a niche topic and people had been telling me, over and over again, that they didn’t care. I didn’t have anyone around me who was interested in listening. So I decided to just make a new space where I could write down my thoughts about it, anonymously. I started this at a time when I was going through a lot of processing, and I would have normally written all this stuff out in a private journal, but I decided to make it public instead, so that maybe one day my words would reach people.

I was surprised to see a handful of people engage with me from the very beginning. A bunch of other ace blogs started up around the same time, and then there was a second wave of new blogs, and then a third, and now there are so many I have no idea how you’d even figure out what constitutes a wave anymore.

This is what we’ve built together.

And we’ll keep building. Continue reading

Guest Post: From a non-English ace

This is a guest post from Patience for the May 2018 Carnival of Aces on Nuance & Complexity. She has written about the experience of having to rely on English to talk about asexuality, because her native language lacks words for it. I am glad to have her perspective represented for this Carnival, because the dominance of English on the internet is a real problem for non-anglophone ace communities. Continue reading

Being Bi/Ace, Part Two: Aesthetic Attraction and the Visual-Aural Gender Split

This post is for the May 2018 Carnival of Aces on “Nuance & Complexity,” which I am hosting. Please check it out and consider submitting! Cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.

Last time I talked about how there’s a lot of extra scrutiny about attraction for both bi and ace people, which makes inhabiting that intersection difficult, and the misconceptions that become barriers to talking about it. Now I’m going to talk about some specific aspects of my own attraction and how it’s different enough from the norm that it usually goes unrecognized. Continue reading

Being Bi/Ace, Part One: Scrutiny About Attraction and the Kinsey Scale

This post is for the May 2018 Carnival of Aces on “Nuance & Complexity,” which I am hosting. Please check it out and consider submitting! Cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.

I have some frustrations with the way that attraction is discussed in the ace community, which are related to and further amplified by biphobia/bi erasure. This will be part one of at least two parts, because this is something that’s really complicated for me, and so difficult to talk about that it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for more than two years! So strap in, because it’s finally time to do this. Continue reading