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

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

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

A Tumblr accessibility trick I wish someone had told me about sooner

An old screenshot of a tumblr argument showing a long list of usernames with vertical lines beneath them.

An old screenshot of a tumblr argument that visually represents why tumblr’s design is the worst. Who can follow this kind of conversation?

I hate Tumblr. I’m sure that many of you who have been reading my blog for a long time already know this. I think the site is designed in such a way that it creates confusion and friction rather than facilitating good discussions.

To the right, you can see an example of exactly why the site’s design is so awful. This is an old screenshot from 2015 that I found on my computer again recently. I made this image and shared it with a few people privately, but I didn’t post it anywhere because I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was picking on them or talking about whatever the actual content of the discussion underneath these usernames was, which I no longer remember at all. It isn’t important. But notice how it looks. It doesn’t look like a conversation, it looks like a labeled bar graph. In order to really follow this conversation, to know who exactly is saying what, you’d have to scroll up and down with your mouse on each of the lines to match up the username with the text. And trust me, it was a veeeery loooooong  conversation, with each post being pretty substantive, so that was a lot of scrolling.

That isn’t the only problem, of course. With conversations decentralized, it’s difficult to even see other parts of the same conversation topic going on, so you have to click through a lot of notes—sometimes many thousands, most of which are just likes and reblogs—in order to actually see the full range of responses that a post spawned. I don’t have an answer for that problem, other than to wish that a better site would come along that could actually compete with tumblr, and spark a mass migration to the new platform instead. It will happen eventually, I’m sure. It’s happened many times before. (Hardly anybody still uses MySpace or LiveJournal, and AIM is about to be shut down for lack of use too.) It will take someone coming up with something better, and then lots of time and dissatisfied users. Until then, I’m going to be stuck reading a lot of things posted on tumblr, because such a huge portion of the asexual community resides there.

So for now, I’m just going to share a little trick that I eventually learned to help manage reading these blogs as someone who has vision problems.

Continue reading

The Implausibility of Offline Meetups, and Idle Dreams for the Future

This post is for the July 2017 Carnival of Aces, the topic of which is “Ace-ing it up offline.” It has been cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.

I live in an area with very little (visible) ace presence. Although I have met other ace people around me, and I know there must be more I haven’t met yet, there is no real local community here, so my opportunities for meeting other aces have mostly been limited to a few short periods of searching online sites like Acebook and OKCupid, and pure coincidence. So far, the handful of meetings I have managed have only ever yielded shallow connections, as most of the aces I’ve met in person have ended up moving away less than a year after I met them (or after they came out to me as ace), as younger people in my area tend to do.

To date, past attempts to start ace meetup groups in this area have all ultimately fizzled out. Meetups in general just don’t tend to work out too well here, because the people who might attend are so spread out that any attempt to make a group is definitely going to inconvenience someone. Some of the people who want to attend live several hours away. There just isn’t a large enough, or connected enough, population to support a regular ace meetup group here. Continue reading

Niki Mattered to Me

This past weekend the world lost Niki Massey, who was an asexual “Social Justice Daemon” (as she put it); abortion clinic escort; reproductive rights, disability, and Black Lives Matter activist; and scathingly snarky atheist blogger at Seriously?!?

Olivia wrote a beautiful commemoration, as have many others.

Those of you who don’t follow the progressive side of the atheist blogosphere closely may never have heard of her, as she was not very closely involved with the asexual community, despite being unabashedly ace. She cited racial stereotypes and prejudice as a major barrier to her participation in August, on the Bi Any Means podcast. It makes me sad to know that. It makes me feel like on that level, we failed her. I can only hope that we do better in the future to make the ace community feel more welcoming to everyone, especially multiply marginalized people like her.

To that end, I don’t want to let her go unrecognized among the wider asexual community. Her life mattered. She made a difference. Her influence was much more widely felt than she ever knew. She will be remembered even among people whose lives she never knew she touched, myself among them.

I am only someone who followed her blog, and now any other possibility has been cut short, but still I feel her absence. My feed will never be graced by her vivacious, DGAF personality, her keen insight, and her biting wit again. She was much too young for this.

I want to highlight for posterity some of Niki’s writing that sticks with me the most:

I will always appreciate her candor and bravery in sharing these posts, and aspire to make even half of the difference she did.

My condolences to all of her colleagues, friends, and chosen family.

Let’s discuss how to deal with toxicity in our communities

I had planned to start this probably late this month or early next month, but in light of everything that’s been going on lately, I thought it might be best to start opening up an alternative place for discussing how to deal with the issues facing our community right now.

To that end, I’ve started the first Question-of-the-Week type feature at RFAS, and will start letting non-volunteer members into our private forum to host that discussion. Having more people around in the forum will also help us test everything and work out the bugs.

The question is: How do you deal with a toxic atmosphere in your communities? 

The deal with this is that there’s a public post open to everyone, and a private post for members only, for those who want a little more safety. I hope that this proves useful to everyone.

If you all have specific concerns or ideas about moderation policies, we also welcome those kinds of suggestions, but I’d like to mostly keep that separate from this discussion. The focus of this one should be more about mental health.

Edit: The invite request form had gotten messed up somehow, but it is fixed and working now. There may be a slight delay for emails to go through to us (like 15 minutes-ish), though.