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

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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

Cinderella by Default: Queering the Narrative

I’m taking an American Sign Language class right now. I’ve always thought it would be cool to learn ASL, but in the past several years it has become especially pertinent, because I now have a family member who uses some ASL, due to being autistic and mostly non-verbal. I’ve also found it helpful to use basic signs to communicate with my partner at night, since (without getting into medical details) both of us have some issues that can make it painful to speak that tend to flare up at night. There are a lot of benefits to learning a gestural language, and I’ve been enjoying it a lot.

We had a group assignment recently to perform a funny short skit. We could do whatever we wanted as long as it wasn’t inappropriate or anything, but the teacher strongly suggested fairy tales as something that would likely be the easiest.

“Let’s do Cinderella!” one of my group members said.

“Yeah! I’ll be one of the stepsisters!” She pointed to me. “Elizabeth can be Cinderella!”

“Huh? Wait, why me?”

“You’d be perfect for it! You’re blonde,” she reasoned. Continue reading

How I spent National Coming Out Day

Another year, another National Coming Out Day.

I’ve long since stopped making a big production out of coming out, and I don’t really even have anyone to come out to anymore. No one important, anyway. The people who should know, know. The people who don’t? Meh.

More than anything, I guess I tend to come out via actions rather than words, to acquaintances, or random strangers on the street or wherever. I don’t make much of an effort to hide affection for my partner, although I also don’t go out of my way to show it, either. I have no idea who I’m actually out to anymore. Who is clever enough to put two and two together? Certainly not that one chatty grocery store cashier, who asked us if we live together and took it to mean that we’re roommates. But our next door neighbors probably more or less get it, because they’re a lesbian couple with two kids.

I don’t really bother coming out about asexuality anymore, most of the time. If I happen to meet another ace, I’ll come out. I wear an ace ring sometimes. Occasionally I might make a casual reference, but mostly nobody gets it, and I don’t care to explain. I just don’t have the energy to get into it, for the most part.

This year, I was pretty much by myself doing work all day. I read some Amy Lowell poetry and got mad about heteronormative interpretations of her work and homophobic smear campaigns leveled at her. If you don’t know her work, check it out. It’s well worth the read. She was also one of those women who engaged in Boston marriages, and if you’re interested in learning more, here is a great article that focuses on that aspect of her life.

I feel it’s pretty appropriate to spend some time thinking today about historical Sisters who came before us, obliquely open, veiled but still brazenly living their lives. These days, I often feel like I’m in a liminal space between out and not-out in my everyday life, but really I’m able to be a lot more open about all of these things, if I feel like it, than they were, and that’s thanks to all of those who have come before. I want to honor their efforts today.

Components of Resilience: Tenacity

In June 2015, for the Carnival of Aces I hosted on mental health, I wrote about resilience.  This year’s June Carnival of Aces is about Resiliency. I find it pretty awesome that discussion of mental health and wellness has not only not faded into the background, but that we’re officially returning to spotlight this topic one year later.

Note: This post briefly mentions transphobic bigotry, hate crimes, the mass murders in Orlando, using survivors as rhetorical devices, and abuse. These are mostly contained in a single paragraph (you’ll spot it), and I don’t go into detail.

Introduction

In my post last year, I gave an overview of a working concept of resiliency passed on to my by my therapist. Because, while “ability to bounce back” is a good nutshell definition, it’s not very practical when it comes to actually attempting to build up your own resilience. For that, you need to break it down into smaller components—and then from there, into concrete steps you can take to work on strengthening yourself in those areas.

Personally, I like to think of it in terms of video games, but that can potentially be confusing because some games use “resilience” as a simple, single stat. It’s actually more like a meta-stat, like how in Diablo III, Toughness is a calculation of your combined Vitality & Life (HP), Armor, Resistances, and any passive damage reduction you have to estimate the average amount of damage the player would have to take in one hit to go from full health to zero. There are lots of variables that this doesn’t take into account, but it’s just there to give players a basic idea of where they’re at. Continue reading

Guest Post: Interview with C on Aromanticism and Relationships

Back in 2012, I had my partner C* do an interview with me, because I had been getting requests from non-asexual partners of asexual people for advice and I thought her perspective would be helpful. Since then, we’ve been through a lot, including becoming totally celibate and far less romantic. In the past year, she’s started to identify as aromantic. So I thought it was worth revisiting.

For context, she is bisexual and trans. We’ve been together for seven years, minus a short breakup, and have been polyamorous from the start. Right now we’re sort-of viewing our relationship as basically a queerplatonic type of thing. These questions were mostly submitted to me by readers, although I tacked on an extra question at the end today based on an interesting comment C made last night.

I’d like to thank everyone who submitted questions! There was one she really had no idea how to answer at all, so that one has been taken out. Sorry! But she really tried her best with all of the rest, and I hope you enjoy her perspective. If you have further questions for her, she’s open to answering them in the comments. :)

(* C stands for “Cupcake” which is her original chosen pseudonym on this blog. She may comment here using that name, or she may choose something else again. She doesn’t tend to stick with the same pseudonym, but generally they all start with C.) Continue reading

Major Victory, Minor Aggressions

Everyone is aware of this by now, of course, but the Supreme Court of the U.S. announced today that same-sex marriage is legal everywhere in the country.

It was sweet news to wake up to this morning. I’m not about to go get married—it was already legal where I live, and my partner and I aren’t ready for that right now, although we’ve seriously considered it a lot in the past—but it’s wonderful to know that if we do, we won’t have to worry about it not being recognized should we decide to travel to my home state or the state where most of my extended family lives. By now I’m out (about dating women only) to most of them, too, and especially on my dad’s side, they’re mostly pretty accepting or at least willing to let it be—because they were already used to the idea.

It’s great to know that my uncle, who paved the way for that side of my family to (at least halfway) accept me, can now get married to his partner if he so desires. I wonder if we’ll be getting an invitation at some point soon.

But of course, this war isn’t over. I was reminded of that when my partner and I went to the grocery store today. The check-out clerk rather rudely said that we “spend too much money at this store” and that we’re “always here.” We tend to go at least twice a week, but we only buy a little bit at a time (and there are health-related reasons for that I won’t get into, but let me just note that it’s shitty on multiple levels to make that kind of comment). I’m fairly sure that she just always notices us when we are there because we’re That Lesbian Couple. No matter where we go, we’re always noticed. I’d like one day for people to be so used to it they never give us a second thought. In any case, it seems very likely that the ruling this morning may have been the reason why that clerk decided to comment on our visibility today.

Employment discrimination is still a big issue that both C and I have faced within the last year, and I hope that we’ll see work on inclusive non-discrimination acts soon. As well as a whole bunch of other issues that are a lot more social than legal.

And of course, there are still many places around the world where this victory isn’t won yet.

But today? It’s a good day. This is not a trivial victory—it’s one that has taken decades. I hope that this trend will continue, and make all our other battles a little bit easier.

Guest Post: A South Korean Perspective on Asexuality and Mental Health

This is a submission to the June 2015 Carnival of Aces on Asexuality and Mental Health by a South Korean person who wishes to remain anonymous. It has been very lightly edited and formatted for easier reading. I would like to thank the writer very much for sharing! It is not often that the English-speaking ace community gets to hear a perspective like this.

Additionally, if anyone knows of any Korean-language resources or communities for ace-spectrum, aromantic, or genderqueer people, please let us know about them in the comments!


[note: depression, OCD, forced outing, erasure/invalidation]

Hello, nice to meet you all. This is the first time I ever joined any Ace-related events. It is truly blissful that I found this event. Please pardon me if I make any syntactic, semantic, or lexical error, and if I ramble too much. English is not my mother tongue. What I want to tell you is that there are people like me in South Korea. My opinion does not and will not represent the general consensus about every Ace, Aro, and genderqueer issue debated in South Korea, but it might shed some light on it. Continue reading

Announcement: Resources for Ace Survivors website

So I’ve been working with Queenie for the past few months to expand Resources for Ace Survivors to a stand-alone website. Please check it out!

Special thanks to Stormy, who has also been working on this with us! We really wouldn’t have made this happen so quickly if we hadn’t had so much help!

Here are some features of the site that I’m quite excited about:

  • We’ll be launching a multi-author WordPress blog sometime in the next month or so. We’re currently looking for contributors—both to blog with us regularly and to submit guest posts.
  • We have a private forum which we’re currently testing, and using to organize all of our projects. If you’re interested in working with us but not quite able to devote a lot of time to it yet, you can still help us out by joining the forum, helping us test it, and giving us your opinion on how you’d like to see it run. And we will really need some moderators!
  • We will be able to offer an alternative method of communication between survivors who need someone to talk to and people on The List. This will be really helpful for survivors (like me) who are too triggered or vulnerable to their abusers to use tumblr!
  • We will be launching a very big project to educate therapists, health professionals, advocates, grassroots organizations, and so on to competently treat ace survivors. This includes providing educational resources, and also collecting a list of recommended providers/organizations to refer survivors to, along with contacting existing organizations and working with them to create asexuality tags for the therapists/etc. in their systems—and better educate their volunteers.

Please check out our full list of projects. There’s a lot to do, so please consider joining us if you can!

Thanks to everyone who consulted with us to help get this going! I am really behind on emails right now because I’ve been focusing so much on getting all of this ready in time for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so I’m sorry I haven’t been back in touch with some of you. Please know that your help has been very much appreciated!

Thoughtfully Advocating for Inclusion

This post is for the Carnival of Aces. This month’s theme: Cross Community Connections.


Whenever an asexual person reaches out to engage with another community and advocate for an approach inclusive of asexuality, it’s always risky.

Reactions can range from eager acceptance, to confused tolerance, to a civil refusal to engage because it would constitute “mission creep,” to indignant outrage that anyone would dare suggest that even a small fraction of the community’s time could be spent on asexuality, to even—sometimes—outright abuse.

I’ve seen all of these and more over the past ten years. Lately, I’ve seen more success than failure.

Frequently, communities have no unified front. Different members have different reactions, and whether or not you make any headway largely depends on which people are in charge. If you get a bad response, it can sometimes be worth it to try again after the leadership changes. People do learn from their experiences, and although you can’t count on it, it’s possible that once a leader has seen membership drop due to intersectional frictions that were never addressed, they may become more willing to consider dealing with such issues.

Tenacity is important for making progress, but must be tempered with sensitivity. If leaders see you as someone who busts in like the Kool-Aid Man or pesters like a Sea Lion—someone with a pet issue trying to force the rest of the community to accept you as a member without regard for others’ boundaries—they may get defensive and become less likely to consider your points.

Sometimes their perceptions are unfair. Sometimes they want to exclude. Sometimes there are good reasons for them to do so. We should respect that decision even if we don’t understand or agree.

A thoughtful approach can make all the difference. To determine the best approach, I ask myself these five questions:

1. What are the community’s stated goals?

This can take the form of a mission statement, but some communities don’t have anything that clearly defined. Sometimes community leaders have inherited a mission statement, but want to take a different direction. Sometimes leaders have no clear goals, or don’t agree with each other. If you’re not sure about what a leader’s vision for their community is, ask them to tell you more about it. Try to find out whether their focus is broad or narrow—for example, is it just for lesbians, or is it meant to be for any “queer” person? Consider whether they are more interested in political change, providing support, or whether they just want to make friends. A support group may need to be very narrow in order for the members to feel safe enough to talk about their issues—try to find out what kind of support they provide, and what might be unwelcome. A political group may be focused on only one or two issues, and unwilling to address other issues for fear of narrowing their base.

2. Is the community inclusive?

What does the membership look like? Is it mostly white men, or is the group mixed along racial and gender lines? Does it reflect the demographic distribution of your area? This can tell you a lot about the group’s focus and outreach efforts.

Read the rest of this post at The Asexual Agenda.

And consider this my official announcement that I am now a contributor there! This should allow me to have a bit more room to separate my more personal posts from activism posts, so expect the scope of this blog to expand a bit.

Fun fact: This particular post was dreamed up like four years ago as a follow-up to my post linked above, but I never actually got around to posting it. I have a backlog of around 40 drafts of random things that I never finished and posted, so it’s often really hard for me to remember what I’ve said before and what I ultimately decided not to post.