This Remains

This is the wedding band I would give to you, if you were mine.

Fourteen dollars at a consignment store,

at a glance sparse,

kind of like you.

Sockets that once held jewels span three quarters around the perimeter,

encircled by dots that give the illusion of sad,

colorless,

lifeless daisies.

Still, one jewel remains,

toward the end, not the center,

just as my hope for us remains in the dark depths of my heart and far in the future.

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It was an utter impulse purchase,

made because I didn’t like the felling of my empty left hand.

Kind of like meeting you,

a jump made because I didn’t like the feeling of my empty insides

and hoped that you would fill them.

You and I fit so nicely,

bold, thoughtful skepticism and thoughtful, fearful faith.

 

I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up before my heart breaks.

The antiquated splendor has been replaced by cold white walls,

but the river we walked by still flows.

The jewels have been displaced, but a sparkle among dead daisies remains.

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The Complete Guide to Queer Pride Flags

The Complete Guide to Queer Pride Flags
— Read on www.pride.com/pride/2018/6/13/complete-guide-queer-pride-flags-0

A bit late for Pride Month, but I recently found this excellent guide to some lesser known pride flags, such as gender fluid, genderqueer, non-binary, and various BDSM related flags.

Hope it’s helpful/ interesting. 😊🏳️‍🌈

Keep on Aceing It!

I Honestly Don’t Have a Non Cheesy Title for this Post

Pride (noun)- 1. the quality or state of being proud 2. a reasonable or justifiable self-respect 3. ostentatious display 4. a showy or impressive group

To close out Pride Month, I just wanted to write a bit about Stonewall and the power of pride. I’ve run across accounts online of LGBTQIA people saying they don’t feel the need to be proud of their sexual orientation because it’s not an accomplishment, not something they can control. I’ve heard that message mirrored in my daily life and online adventures by straight people stating it is obnoxious to be proud or even open about one’s sexuality. If you personally are a minority and  don’t feel the need for pride surrounding your sexuality/gender, that it perfectly okay. But for those who do, it is an incredibly powerful thing. You are taking an aspect of yourself that in the past people would have been diagnosed as mentally ill for (and still may be), standing against the most hateful of people, against deeply engrained societal norms, norms so enmeshed in cultural conscious that we may not even realize just how deeply they run and saying, “I value myself.”

I just finished reading “Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights” by Ann Bausum.  The following is a quote that I found absolutely beautiful, supposedly written by Leo Skir, a poet and gay activist advising a closeted friend in 1970: “You can cure yourself, in a day, in a minute, a second, with three words, with six. I’m-not-sick – three words. Three words more: I-love-myself.”

It’s insane to think that until 2003, just 16 years ago, there were still sodomy laws in the United States. Just sixteen years ago, it was illegal for a significant part of the population to express themselves in the privacy of their own homes. Country wide marriage equality has only existed for four years, which I find a bit mind blowing. I remember finding out the news coming home from a camping trip, and I was elated that civilization had shifted whilst I lacked internet access. I had come out to myself as asexual about two weeks previously, and I had no idea how such a ruling would come to mean so much to me personally. An outrageous amount of progress has been made in a relatively short amount of time, but there is still a long way to go for the LGBTQIA community. I did some brief research on how attitudes toward the LGBTQ community have shifted in recent years and found (of course) statistics mainly on gay men and lesbians, but it’s still rather encouraging. From 1984 to 2012, the general public has periodically been asked by the American National Election Studies their feelings toward gay men and lesbians, how “cold or hot ” they viewed them, based on a scale of 1 to 100. In 1984, the average response was 29, and in 2012 it was 55. (https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/POP-natl-trends-nov-2014.pdf)

Every identity in the LGBTQIA community faces unique challenges, but I am hopeful that hate, intolerance, and pure ignorance will disappear with time.

To end on a cheerful note, here are ten fun facts I learned from Bausum’s book:

  1. The Stonewall was one of few gay bars that not only had music, but allowed dancing between people of the same sex.
  2. Many 60s gay bars were run by the mafia. Police raids reinforced a system of payoffs by mafia owners to corrupt officers.
  3. The reason the Stonewall was raided on June 27, 1969 was, in short, because of blackmail. The establishment had been in business for just over two years when Inspector Seymour Pine received order to shut it down. International authorities had alerted New York’s Police Department about sales in Europe of negotiable bonds that could be traced back to the United States.
  4. In the 1960s, “homophile” was used by the gay community as an alternative to “homosexual”.
  5.  The Stonewall grossed $8,000 ($35,000 today’s money) each weekend and allotted $1,200 a month for payoffs ($8,000 today’s money).
  6.  Stonewall was on Christopher Street, and ironically not far from Christopher Street was Gay Street, named after a man who led an anti-slavery riot in 1834.
  7.  The bars female patrons were more likely to be arrested than the male patrons. The cross dressing laws of the time dictated that one must wear three items of “gender appropriate clothing”, including underwear. Some women had chosen to eliminate bras, and so they easily could have found themselves in trouble.
  8.  Supposedly, what turned the tides of the evening, turned the street onlookers into a mob, was a lesbian in man’s clothing who was struggling against the police. According to Bausum, she was said to have turned to the crowd and yelled, “Why don’t you guys do something?!” “The tension of that night and countless previous nights and hundreds of lifetimes of abuse burst the dams of person after person. The crowd became a mob, and the mob began to riot. People began screaming obscenities at the police. They started throwing copper pennies at them as a sign of disrespect: Copper coins for the cops” (Bausum, page 42).
  9. Parking meters were uprooted and turned into battering rams by “an unlikely team of effeminate and muscular gays”.
  10. Hilarious quote that I couldn’t leave out: “The TPF had never seen anything like it. Nothing in tis training or experience had prepared the officers for such a response. They knew how to stay in formation when confronting a wall of anti-war passive resistance, advancing toward the immobile crowd and penetrating the grid of resistance. They knew how to stay in formation when confronting walls of violence, advancing step by step even as bottles and rocks bounced off their shields and helmets. But a broadway kickline? Never!”

 

Happy Pride month! I hope it has been one of celebration and self care. Remember all year that you are valid and you are worthy of respect. 💙✊

Until next time,

Keep on Aceing It!

 

 

 

Comfort in Umbrellas

Happy Pride Month! If you happen to be familiar with the Try Guys, you are probably aware that their sole non-white, non-straight member, Eugene Lee Yang, recently came out as gay in a stunningly beautiful, dance centric video that he choreographed, directed, and helped to produce. The video is linked below if you’d like to check it out:

 

My intial response to the video was, “Yeah Eugene, we already know you’re gay. Beautiful video, but a bit unnecessary.” It wasn’t until watching the follow up video where Eugene talks about why he came out that I realized he had said he was queer and part of the LGBTQ+ community before, but never that he was specifically gay. I admire his candor in admitting why, saying that there is so much stigma around the word “gay”, whereas “queer” or “LBGT+” don’t mean anything to a lot of people.

I can certainly relate. Being asexual and homoromantic, I often say I’m gay in regards to romance and ace in regards to sexuality. A couple months ago, two classmates and I were talking about the YouTube channel Jubilee and their video featuring LGBT people and Christians talking about their views on relationships. I had come out to classmate number 1 as asexual and homoromantic minutes before classmate number two joined us to chat – side note,  I was positively terrified to come out to classmate number 1, but she actually thanked me for trusting her and as it would turn out, she has a friend who is biromantic and ace. When classmate number 1 mentioned Jubilee and their LGBT and Christians video, I commented that I would be interested to see it, as I belong to both communities. Simply saying I was LGBT+ was infinitely more comfortable than coming out with specific terms. Classmate number 2 was openly a lesbian and theoretically I shouldn’t have been uncomfortable saying I was gay in front of her – yet I was, never mind bringing up asexuality. With my mother, I’ve noticed that I’m more comfortable referring to myself as “not straight” – she’s far from a spring chicken and using the alphabet soup acronym LGBTQIA/LGBT+ would likely set her head reeling, and she’s of the era when “queer” was used as a slur – rather than saying homoromantic/gay or even asexual.  Not only are umbrella terms like “LGBT+” and “queer” often more comfortable for those using them as self descriptors, but for those outside the community who hear them. It strikes me as odd that essentially saying, “I’m not the norm when it comes to gender/ and/or sexuality/romanticism” is more comfortable to hear for some than having a term that specifically describes an unusual aspect of identity. In the follow up video, Eugene mentions some people he knows could be homophobic, and that claiming the label “gay” could result in him being disowned. He points out that “gay” is a toxic word to some people, and I definitely agree.

I recently purchased a cross inlaid with rainbow stones; I hoped it would go unnoticed by my mother and I would be able to avoid a potentially emotional and in depth discuss, but that was not the case. The talk was, however, briefer and less emotional than I anticipated. It went something along the lines of: pretty necklace, is it new?

Me: Yep.

Mother: (moves in for a closer look)

Me: (stating the obvious) It’s a rainbow cross.

Mom: (awkard silence, proceeds with light, cheerful tone) It’s a gay cross.

The talk then got a tad emotional with me saying that I was proud my God and how he made me, and I wanted the world to know that you can be Christian and gay. She looked at me affectionately and a bit sadly, muttered, “I’m so confused”, hugged me, forced a smile and said, “Okay.” Back when I first came out to her as homoromantic, the number one challenge was explaining to her the concept of sexuality and romanticism being separate things, explaining how some people experience romantic love without the sexual component. In her mind, I couldn’t claim the labels of “asexual” and “gay” at the same time, and, frustratingly, she still seems to think that “gay” eclipses my asexual identity.

A couple months back, an old friend of mine aggressively tried to set me up with a guy. I was incredibly uneasy about coming out to her in any way shape or form, not knowing how open she was to the LGBTQIA community. I simply said I was too busy for romance, but she kept at it for a week and I would always steer her away from the subject, by patience wearing thinner by the second. One evening, she messaged me, “Can I ask you something?” For some reason, in the back of my head I thought she was going to ask me if I was still a virgin, and if that was the case, I promised myself I would come out as asexual. Her question went a completely different direction, however, and it was the perfect opportunity to come out as gay. “Is the reason you don’t want to meet Stephan because you actually like girls? Ha ha ha.” I answered her joking query with a simple, “Honestly, yes.” She was confused, as in her view I was straight in high school and now I was suddenly gay, but she was kind and accepting. Just claiming the fact that I was romantically interested I females was infinitely more comfortable than labeling myself in anyway, and while I am a bit disappointed in myself for not having the guts to bring up the topic of asexuality, I keep reminding myself that baby steps are okay.

I told my mom with a wry smile that Victoria ( know as my adorably quirky friend who i met in elementary school) was trying to set me up with a guy, just as she attempted to do for senior ball – sidenote, she failed and I took a plushie of an anime character as my date. Photo below: IMG_0753

A couple weeks later while visiting my parents for the weekend, my mom asked if Victoria was still at it. I had come out to her and she had dropped the subject, but I did my best to dance around that little detail, as my mother is incredibly sensitive about me revealing my attraction to women. She could tell I was omitting information, and eventually I told her what Victoria had messaged me, and how I basically couldn’t not own up without, in my mind, being a complete and total self-hating coward. This led to a lengthy conversation about how my mother sees me as being, “More ace than gay”, and me doing my absolute best to explain to her how I am equally both, what the terms mean to me (“gay” being an abbreviation of homoromantic), and how one does not negate the other. Judging by her initial, “I’m so confused”, when discussing my gay Christian pride, the message didn’t sink in. It seems that, in some people’s minds, claiming the “gay” identity wipes out all other aspects of identity. It recently occurred to me that when people think of a gay identifying person, they think of a person who is sexually promiscuous with the same sex, and that claiming the term to describe attraction that isn’t sexual is so difficult for some to grasp because the term has become so sexualized. I recently watched a TED talk titled, “Homosexuality: It’s about Survival, not Sex” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Khn_z9FPmU) and the presenters mentions toward the end that a popular view is that, “Straight people fall in love while gay people have sex”.

Apart from simply the term “gay”, once a specific term is claimed such as asexual, bi, pan, etc. it is easy for it to become an all encompassing identity, for others (particularly those hostile toward anyone not hetero and/or cis gender) to think of you first as your sexuality/ gender, and secondly as anything else. My theory is that umbrella terms are more comfortable for some because they make it more difficult to be specifically targeted. To a certain extend, “asexuality” is an umbrella term, as it covers sexuality that is not strictly zed/allosexual. If you’re seeking more info on the ace spectrum, here is a great article: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/asexual-spectrum_n_3428710?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAACnqc7QIaDSRDkKfu8dwFdMlaAyWVfuc32t5oZf8zRcvheEvUxtRxQauPGV0Sx6WWox46JkPMlj0Owb0pf-44nK3hmNiap5e2rbUqrkDwsmhntLvr4-oXP_Ck2G-CVyR5HG6xT3BRS-1FYUh1OfI6hSy3VG4RN9SPRHB_yJ4Xh-8.

I have never verbally identified myself as aegeosexual, though that would be the most accurate term to describe my sexuality; this is solely because I feel asexual is an accurate enough description, and the term just “clicks” with me better. So, besides not wanting to specifically name and identity that could be controversial, I think umbrella terms are more comfortable for some because they simply resonate more with the self-identifier.

I would love  to hear your thoughts and the label(s) you feel most comfortable using to describe yourself. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Happy Pride, until next time,

Keep on Aceing It!

Then, Now, Tomorrow Part 1 – Gains and losses

This is part 1 of my contribution to the June Carnival of Aces, the topic being Then, Now, Tomorrow, focusing on personal growth, growth factors, set backs, and where you see yourself in the future.

I rode the bus nearly every day I was trapped in the hell colloquially referred to as high school in the U.S., and most days were the same. I blasted my music to preposterous levels to tune out the raunchy chaos of conversation around me and would take a twenty five minute nap before getting off at my stop – yes, I missed said stop more than once because of my napping habit. The last day of my freshman year I rode the bus home as usual, but that trip began quite atypically. My driver that year was a gentle, white haired woman nearing retirement, and before we set out that day, she asked us all to visualize ourselves five years in the future. Five years from then, I would be nineteen. I pictured myself attending Washington State University, confident, outgoing, and a published novelist – I turned twenty two just over three weeks ago, and none of those things have yet to occur. I am living in the same house, in the same tiny, rural town, and yet little to nothing is the same about me.

My most recent birthday was a difficult one. Three days prior, I wrapped up my fourth year of attending community college, having earned an associate’s degree in double the amount of time it is “supposed” to take. Since April, I have been bombarded with pictures of my friends graduating from their dream colleges, and I have been fighting a self destructive voice asking, “What the hell’s wrong with you?! You’re half way to where you should be!” I combat it by telling it how much money I’ve saved by going to community college and living with my parents – the average university in the U.S. is easily two to three times more expensive than the tiny college I’ve attended since graduating secondary school – and by reminding myself of all the personal growth I’ve undergone and all the personal demons I’ve battled. I may not have earned a bachelor’s degree, but in the past four years I have:

  • Discovered I’m asexual
  • Gone half way around the world
  •  Admitted my romantic attraction to women and fallen in love – twice
  • Experienced my first real romantic heartbreak
  • Started a blog
  • Finished the second draft of the book that I’ve been writing for roughly a third of my life at this point.
  • Gone from a highly confused Christian to a Christian passionate about the queer community and confident of her God’s love for everyone in it
  • Come out as not straight to my parents on multiple levels
  • Admitted to myself that I wasn’t just shy, I had social anxiety
  • Realized I was depressed, and that depression is far more than just feelings of sadness
  • Finally ignored the heavy stigma society and my family places around medication and started undergoing treatment for mental illness.

It often feelings as if these past four years have been an exodus of beloved people and things, sometimes as if I was even destined to lose everything, but when I look at all my new experiences, all I’ve gained, the amazing people I’ve met and how I’ve grown, the idea seems ridiculous. This last year in particular was one of extreme gain. In the past twelve month alone, I

  • took a chance and explored a dating app – where I met an amazing woman, completely unbothered by my lack of desire to have intercourse with her. I feel confident in saying that I love her.
  •  Spent six weeks on my own in a foreign country
  •  Finished the second draft of the book I’ve been working on for seven years
  •  Got all As for the first time in my life
  •  Had my longest lasting job
  •  Moved out of my parents’ house

I remember thinking at some point the summer before last when I was battling the fiercest bout of depression I had ever faced that if I was a phoenix, I had been in the burning phase for most of my life. Every time I started to rise from the ashes, the flames would start up again. The last four years have been fiery ones full of loss, but in the past year the ashes have been shifting, and feathers have been growing more quickly than flames could consume them. While I may not be where I want to be academically, the amount of personal growth I have undergone in these past four years is worth more than a bachelor’s degree. My inner critic is a vocal and nasty one, and lately I’ve been shutting it up by focusing on all the things I have done. Yes, my fifteen-year-old self would likely be cringing at the fact that I’m not at my “final destination” yet, but she would also be amazed at all I’ve learned about myself and the person I’m becoming – more on that in part two. She would be dumbfounded that hard times are still not over, not yet being able to fully comprehend that stars are only visible in darkness – hard times make bright spots all that more radiant, illuminating things and people often taken for granted. Everything is temporary, the good and bad.

 

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Keep on Aceing It

 

 

(A)Sexuality, Gender, Acceptance, and Stereotyping (Oh My!)

This is my submission to the May Carnival of Aces, the topic being “Asexuality and Gender at Play”. 

I’m not going to lie, I squealed when I saw what the topic was for May Carnival of Aces. I took and Anthropology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality class this semester (one of the best courses I’ve taken in my academic career, but more on that later) which culminated in a research project, my chosen topic being how archaic gender norms –  namely that men are naturally promiscuous and women naturally chaste – affect how people identifying as asexual view themselves. I made use of AVEN and sought out not only those even remotely in the gender binary, but also people identifying as agender. It was incredibly fun and interesting to hear stories from fellow aces, and I hope to do more of this kind of thing in the future. Below, my findings are copied and pasted:

The term “asexuality” was coined in the summer of 2002 by David Jay. He was eighteen years old at the time, and while he did not invent the orientation of asexuality, he did invent a word to unite people and an online space for them to congregate – AVEN (asexual visibility and education network). A huge landmark for the asexual community was the 2011 Netflix documentary “(a) sexual”, in which Jay spoke about AVEN, saying, “It was a big deal when anyone found the site. It still is. You have people come on here, post this gushy post about their whole life story and looking to be accepted, and everyone else will then come in and accept them.” A supportive space like this is essential for aces (abbreviation for asexuals) as is shown in the first scene of “(a)sexual”. The film begins with a female voice asking everyday people what the first thing they think of is when they hear the word “asexual”. The first person, a woman, replies, “moss.” The second person questioned replies “amoeba.” The third person replies, “a nerdy guy who sits in the back of the classroom and doesn’t flirt with any of the girls.” The fourth person replied, “Equal parts feminine and masculine. No real sexualness about it.” The rest of the responses include, “an insult,” “tad poles changing sexes,” and “I don’t really know. Like, asexual reproduction, a being without sex. But, I mean, there is no way humans could be asexual.” Evidently, there are a wide range of misconceptions surrounding asexuality and those who identify with the label, and my theory is that long-held gender misconceptions play a role not only in misconceptions outside of the asexual community, but in how aces view themselves, and I thought there was nowhere better to investigate than on AVEN.
I posted the following in an AVEN forum saying that I was writing a research paper and wanted to explore gender in relation to asexuality. Trying to be inclusive, as I know that some non-binary people identify as masculine but not necessarily as men, I asked for masculine identifying aces the following question: “Calling all masculine identifying aces! How do you feel about your asexuality in relation to your masculinity? I guess a better question would be, because of cultural norms surrounding masculinity, does identifying as asexual cause any insecurity?” I quickly realized that in my effort to be inclusive that I was actually being a bit alienating, as the second reply began with: I guess I might need to ask a clarifying question, when you ask, ‘Calling all masculine identifying aces’, are you specifically interested in people who think of themselves as “M for Manly”, or just anyone who identifies as “male”?I identify as male, and prefer male pronouns… but don’t exactly think of myself as “masculine”.

manly
The terms “masculine” and “man” often are mixed in the subconscious, but while being a “man” is a social category assigned to people with male biological characteristics, “masculinity” could be defined as a set of culturally determined characteristics that biological males and those who identify as men don’t necessarily possess or resonate with. The reply continued: “Anyway… assuming you are interested in just “Anyone who uses male pronouns”…. I think I sort of sidestepped a whole bunch of male stereotypes years BEFORE being Ace/not Ace was a thing I considered. I was actively awful at all s sports the moment I started primary school (probably called elementary school, depending where you live).
I like writing, and poetry and don’t really feel obliged to be stoic with my feelings. Baking is one of my favorite hobbies. As a general rule, peer pressure sort of… never seemed to apply very effectively. I was always different, and it was never a problem. Cultural norms surrounding masculinity were never really relevant, because I could tell from pretty early on that I was never even remotely in the area of those cultural norms.
Hell, if anything, it [being asexual] made all that stuff easier; If I had had a strong sex drive, if I had felt some need to impress girls, then it would have been far more painful to just completely miss the mark on Male stereotypes. As it was, I got away with just being me. It was great.”

I expected there to be more responses that expressed how culture surrounding masculinity had caused some level of insecurity, but surprisingly – refreshingly – most replies expressed little to no insecurity. Responses ranged from: “Not for me, though my general reaction to anyone/thing that tries to disqualify my masculinity because I’m not typical in all respects is ‘[expletive] you, asshole’ to, “I guess I rarely, if ever, came off as masculine by social standards. If anything, when I wasnt the weirdo in a setting, I fell under the gay best friend category which seemed to piss off alot of the guys. Im guessing it was because I got along with the girls easier as I wasnt deemed a threat” and “Honestly if someone around me starts talking about finding people attractive then I do get a little I guess dysphoric about it but then I also find it really bloody awkward that they’re willing to talk about it”. I was very pleased that a handful of trans masculine and masculine identifying non-binary people replied, and I found their responses the most enlightening as well as the best examples of sexual hegemony and gender self – policing. A trans man whose screen name is Mezzo Forte replied: “I had to acknowledge myself as asexual before I could even begin questioning my gender, as I assumed that my disinterest in sex meant that I couldn’t be a man. My questioning began not long after I learned of my asexuality, realizing that if I’m not straight by default, then I’m not necessarily a girl by default either. It took 4 years of intense questioning and navigating ‘not trans enough’ feelings before finally admitting that I needed to transition. I definitely don’t click with express- ions of machismo/hypermasculinity in general, but I fail to click with hypersexual expression in general even despite being rather sex positive. (Doing the kind of research I do, I have sometimes found myself obligated to attend drag and queer burlesque shows, but while I can see the good in them, they very rarely interest me.) I honestly feel weird about being expected to be attracted to women, espe- cially because I seem to prefer platonic/tactile bonds with man/masc-leaning folks. I get assumed/essentialized as gay quite a bit now, but that’s strangely more comfortable to me than being assumed straight in certain situations.”
A person going by Asexy Samurai replied, “I’m a masculine nonbinary ace who is AFAB [assigned female at birth]. Personally I don’t feel that my sexual orientation has any connection to my masculinity. Being ace doesn’t make me feel any less or more masculine. It wouldn’t even matter if I was in a relationship, or who I was dating, I would still take on the dominant role. I was this way as a small child, before I even knew I was ace or anything else for that matter. Masculinity is simply in my nature.” For some, traits associated with the “opposite” sex (taking intersex individuals into account, biological sex can be more accurately described as a continuum than a binary) come naturally, as opposed to “appropriate” behavior, illustrating “masculinity” and “femininity” as individual character traits rather than universal aspects of being a man or a woman.
After investigating the how the falsehood of the correlation between promiscuity affects male/masculine identifying aces, I moved on to femininity and asexuality. The most striking thing I noticed was the ratio of responses. The previous forum had nineteen replies, while my question for female aces got four replies – one replier identified as male and felt compelled to answer the question “Do you feel that your femininity/ being a woman makes people take your identifying as asexual less seriously because of the archaic notion that women aren’t supposed to like/desire intercourse?” on behalf of female aces; originally I was quite annoyed, but his response was rather enlightening:
Not a woman or enby [non-binary person] but I have to say that from my experience, most of our ace phobia is targeted towards the women. Men who think women aren’t ‘supposed to desire intercourse’ a lot of times will be the same ones getting agitated and confused when a woman tells them they’re asexual and doesn’t want sex. This society sexualizes women like crazy, like I went to look up on Youtube top women athletes but found ‘top 10 revealing moments’ with butt shots before finding what I was looking for. I’ve read about many asexual women who have to deal with straight guys thinking the woman’s sexuality is a challenge for them to pursue, the sexual harassment for being ace, and even corrective rape at the extremes. That’s why from my perspective it seems to be that yes, their sexuality is taken less seriously but for the opposite reason that you proposed.
It is true that women in American society – and Western society at large – are hyper-sexualized, but this sexualization is not an embrace or even recognition of the sexuality of most women – but not all, as the following responses will empirically indicate. The seeming female carnal liberation seen in media is largely fueled by the male gaze. It would make sense in a way that just as a man who doesn’t fill the male quota for promiscuity would be seen as failed, but as culture shifts and women go from being idealized as chaste to idealized as sex objects, it would make sense that they would be seen as “failed” as well, hence “corrective” rape – an alarmingly common event in the ace community, particularly for females. Corrective rape can be seen as violent method of gender policing. While women certainly face their share of challenges, femininity is not policed in the same way that masculinity is. There are more culturally acceptable ways to be a woman than there are to be a man, which is why I think my question geared toward male/ masculine identifying aces got so much more engagement; gender policing is likely a bigger part of the participants lives. The reply submitted by A. Sterling illustrates, I think, why so many less women than men replied to my gender specific question.
“As to this question, I would suppose that it is so, but I also suppose that I don’t think of it very much because I don’t consider my given gender very integral to how I live my life. Probably, people do question my sexuality because of that bias but it is not something that I generally concern myself with as I do my best to live and think however I want regardless of the gender that people view me as. (I kinda take the ‘what even is gender’ approach seeing as I’m not at all girly and reject most ‘girly’ things but am also not the popular concept of masculine or boy- like.) Of course, I think in some ways (possibly also influenced by this bias) some people might be less likely to believe a boy saying he’s ace than a girl because they might think that it is less believable for a boy to not experience sexual attraction than a girl as people more commonly (wrongly to my understanding) think of females as having less sexual attraction/desire than males.
Would definitely say it affected my coming to terms with my asexuality. I didn’t think it was unusual since no one around me talked about sex, only romance. I legitimately didn’t think sex was something other people thought about like at all until around 18 when I realized people were engaging in sexual activity even when they were Christian like I was at the time. Double delusion there. Take me less seriously? I’ve only had one instance of coming out to someone who didn’t take me seriously, and I don’t know if it was because I was young (18? I think? or 19. Before I was 20) or because I was a female. I imagine people definitely don’t think as much about a woman not wanting sex than a man because of stereotypes. I think if I were to come out to people, they wouldn’t really react to it since women aren’t expected to be the super sexual ones. I feel they’d react only if I was male. But this is an assumption not based on real life experiences.”
Age could certainly be a factor in the above experience, which is an excellent example of sexual hegemony; I doubt an 18-20 who identified as straight has ever had their identity doubted because of their age. The final response read:
“I was raised in a very Conservative environment. I’ve told my Conservative Christian mother and a friend of similar beliefs that I am asexual, and though both of them were very kind about it, I suspect both of them just think it’s a “natural womanly thing” to feel that way. When I was young I used to read my mom’s Dr. Laura books on marriage advice, and they were chalk full of instructions for women to just have sex for the sake of their husbands. To put up with putting out for their marriage to survive. ‘You might not enjoy it, but just do it.’
As such, I grew up under the impression that women just didn’t like sex. When an asexual friend of mine came out to me, I was outwardly supportive but inside I was just like ‘…That’s normal. That’s just part of being a woman. Everyone feels that way.’
While it seems secular society at large hoists a heterosexual-male- oriented sexuality on women – particularly asexual women – within religious circles, the old adage of women being naturally far less sexual than men is very much still considered true.”
While living as any binary gender and being asexual is not simple in a hyper sexualized culture, identifying within the gender binary does add some ease to at least one aspect of overall identity. As the comments at the beginning of “(a)sexual” clearly indicate, people largely don’t know what asexuality is or place incredibly negative stigma on it, and when that is combined with a gender identity completely outside the Western binary, simply existing authentically is complicated drastically.
The first reply read:
“for me the interaction of being ace and agender is just neutral, they just go right along with each other. i don’t really know how to explain it. and for which is easier, I’d have to say that coming out as ace was easier as opposed to coming out as agender and being misgendered all the time and feeling kinda awkward at first about correcting them. or your pronouns not being “grammatically correct”, or if you still live with your parent(s) as a minor, it can be hard. whether that being hanging out with other lgbtq+, or trying to dress a certain way, such as androgynous looks. but that can be applied to more than just ace and/or agender.
struggles would be the fact that nobody believes that either identity exists. “your either boy or girl” or “late bloomer” stuff like that. it can get really annoying. And i know that everybody on here can relate to that at some point or another. Or that people don’t understand when you say agender or asexual. They have usually thought it was 1 word and not two, and it can be hard to explain.”
The pressure to dress androgynously in order to visually “cue” an agender identity can be seen as a unique type of gender policing. The above response illustrates the intersection of difficulties encountered by those with “a” identities – that is, identities characterized by a lack of something seen as essential to being human – first having to explain that one can indeed exist without the “essential trait”, weather that be gender or sexuality, shooting down antagonism, and then “performing” said identity to prove its validity, being it by dressing androgynously or by being single; never mind the fact that many asexuals view sex and romance as separate things and date people they are not physically attracted to. Sexuality and gender are often viewed as overlapping, and in the case above, it may be correct to say that is the case for this individual. A response made by JanusDarkFox further illustrates how the terms can intersect:
“My Agender feels pretty interconnected with sexuality/romance. To me, maybe because I’m Agender, means I have no sense of what homo or hetero is internally. Because my own gender is neutral, there isn’t a sense of what’s male or female towards others to find that sexual or romantic attraction. Unless there exists an opposite of what my own gender is or finding others with the same gender to my own.
The gender binary is often tied in with a sexual binary – bisexual erasure demonstrates this as well as ace erasure. As much as Western society like to loop gender in with sexuality – think the age old stereotypes of the feminine gay man and the macho lesbian – identities like Two Spirit fully take into account a spiritual perception of the two aspects of being; perhaps mainstream asexuality acceptance would lead to embracing non-binary identities and vice versa.
The response of my final agender informant was an excellent example of the possibilities growing up unheeded by sexual/gender hegemony would hold.
“I imagine that if one went to a high school (as opposed to being homeschooled, which I was) they might have a harder time with most of this than I did. My main social interaction through my teenage years was in a theatre I was very active in, and the stereotype that theatre kids tend more towards being LGBT+ is not comp- letely unfounded. Nobody really noticed my lack of conforming to gender there, or if they did, they certainly never said anything. Additionally, one of my moms is trans and she was very active in local LGBT+ activism when I was growing up, so I never had any sort of idea that being anything other than straight and cis was weird, which I know a lot of kids end up with. I don’t feel that they [identifying as asexual and agender] do, or at least, not any more than other aspects of one’s personality interact. I think that realizing that I was asexual (and aromantic) made it easier for me to realize that I was also agender, because once I’d realized that there were already two things that I just didn’t get it was easier for me to accept that there was also a third – but that’s it as far as I can tell. Being asexual [was easier to come out as]. Much easier. I can see how it might’ve been more challenging if I weren’t also aromantic, but as it was, it was just “yeah, still not interested in any of that stuff, still won’t be”, and that was about it. I’m hoping to finally come out as being agender this year, but I still haven’t worked up the courage to do that to most people. I haven’t felt there are really any challenges to being ace, but that’s probably due to a combination of my circumstances, the people I know, and the fact that nobody ever seemed to genuinely expect me not to be. College was a little hard with that, as that’s the first place I encountered anyone with the “you don’t go out with people? You haven’t even kissed anyone? Weird” sort of opinion, but I’ve had no issues since then. I’ve found that people are actually more weirded out about my being aromantic than being asexual, which I don’t get, but hey. Being agender, though, there’s first getting it through people’s heads that that’s – as they say – ‘A Thing’ (although that can also be a problem with being ace, it just wasn’t for me), and then there’s getting them to accept it and use the right pronouns and all. Plus, I do have gender dysphoria about my chest, so that’s something I have to manage. As far as I can tell people have a harder time adjusting to gender differ- ences than sexuality differences. I’m also somewhat lucky in this in that I have an already gender neutral name, so while I would want to change my name if it weren’t, that’s a thing I don’t have to worry about.”
Having asexuality be an easier identity to make public than being agender makes perfect sense, as we live in a society segregated by and obsessed with gender, and I find it rather fascinating that the person above attended a college where asexuality was known as “ a thing” yet being agender was not – though I suppose it makes sense. As more progressive views in regards to sexuality are adopted, American gender views are still incredibly backwards.
I would conclude that in conservative religious circles, gender conceptions complicate asexual identity perception, but it is overall the attachment to a binary gender system, which in turn extends to a binary view of sexuality, which vastly complicates asexual identity. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that demolishing the attachment to a binary view of gender would free the minds of aces to fully embrace their identity, that non-binary acceptance and asexuality acceptance are irrevocably linked.

If you read to the end, thank you! In print form, my research typed double space filled thirteen pages.

An additional note: an ace friend of mine read my paper today, and she found the final response to be as intriguing as I did. While I grew up in a conservative Christian home, my friend grew up in a much more liberal, secular home with parents who quietly supported LGBT rights, yet we both when through phases where we felt we were bizarre or wrong in being ace – in her case, long before she discovered the term. Hate towards the LGBTQIA community doesn’t need to be present for a budding queer child to feel alienated, all there needs to be is silence.

Until next time,

Keep oooooon Aceing It!

An Ode to Single Aros

For the first time in years, I am finding myself incredibly into Valentine’s Day. But even in the midst of my newfound enthusiasm, or perhaps because of it, I am noticing how difficult a day this is for many people, particularly those on the aromantic spectrum. On a slightly different note, I’ve been noticing ace rep sneaking its way into YA (young adult) literature, and more and more LGBT+ YouTubers are taking it upon themselves not only to educate about what asexuality is, but that asexuals are not necessarily aromantic, may engage in intercourse for a variety of reason, etc. Amid the rising wave of asexual conversation, I am noticing that aromanticism, particularly the topic of it being its own spectrum, being brushed aside. I identified as aromantic for about a year of my life, and telling people I wasn’t interested in romance was met with pity nine out of ten times. My point: aromantics are not told they are complete and valid nearly enough, so, without further ado, an ode.

 

Ode to you, you majestic dateless ones.

Shunning the sweet psychosis of romance and daring to do what society continually

broadcasts is impossible –

being happy alone,

complete in oneself, refusing to hop on a shelf and tell yourself that real happiness will

come when you find “the one”.

And why must  the mystical one be tied to you with red and pink strings?

Can’t “the one” be a treasured friend? Someone with whom you have unparalleled fun?

You are not the one who is broken.

It is high time the inferno of romantic obsession cease to be stoked so that, in the

terrifying new darkness, the light of real friendship can shine.

Don’t you dare listen to the ignorant voices filling you with their own fears, you are just

fine,

not heartless, not cold, not a robot.

You are bold.

aro dragon

 

I apologize for the delay, this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I had a run in with a traffic cone that then decided to wedge itself under my car. The good news is that after three hours and many phone calls it was extracted, but I was simply too mentally drained after that event and the hour drive back to my home to even think about doing anything but taking a bath and going to bed. Not that anyone necessarily needed/ wanted to know that, but there is it. My exciting Valentine’s day.  

 

Until next time,

Keep oooooon Aceing It!