Happy Ace Week! Ammo Articles (and Vids) for Coming Out as Asexual

When I first began identifying as asexual, I had few reservations about coming out – that was, until I learned how ignorant and blatantly rude certain individuals can be when encountering something totally new to them. Categorized by ignorant comment for your queer convenience, below are several articles I wish I would have had in my arsenal when coming out to various family members.

“That’s just not natural” – neurologically, humans are remarkably similar to rams in the areas of the brain determining sexual behavior, and a study, conducted by Charles E. Roselli of Oregon University centered around “gay” rams found that a number of rams showed no interest in mating. These rams were labeled asexual, among some other slightly derogatory terms such as “non-workers”, but hey, this study was conducted in 2007, it was sheep being label, and homosexual sheep were the primary focus of the study. I doubt Roselli ever thought some crazy ace girl would be encouraging her tiny online following to wave this article at idiots who invalidate them. The asexual rams are mentioned starting in paragraph two of the “Sheep as a Model System” section. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684522/

“Aces don’t belong in the community LGBTQ community because they don’t have problems” – nothing makes my blood boil quite like this one. Prejudice researcher Gordon Hodson determined in a study published by Psychology Today that asexuals may actually be more discriminated against than the rest of the community. “Relative to heterosexuals, and even relative to homosexuals and bisexuals, heterosexuals: (a) expressed more negative attitudes toward asexuals (i.e., prejudice); (b) desired less contact with asexuals; and (c) were less willing to rent an apartment to (or hire) an asexual applicant (i.e., discrimination). Moreover, of all the sexual minority groups studied, asexuals were the most dehumanized (i.e., represented as “less human”).  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/without-prejudice/201209/prejudice-against-group-x-asexuals

“Asexual means you don’t have a gender” – nope! That’s agender, sex is biology, gender is personal identification. Everyone has a biological sex, though it may not clearly fit into traditional definitions of male and female ( link to Intersex Society of North America here if you’d like more info: https://isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex/) but not everyone feels aligned with a gender category. Ash Hardell has put out two excellent, extensive videos on gender, and “Super Cool Gender Education Part 2” details agender among among maaaaaany other gender related terms such as neutrois and bigender. Helpful hint, the agender talk begins at 4:07 :). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ9ly4cK9tg Below is the link to “Super Cool Gender Education Part 1” incase you’re curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81-FEauK9II&t=414s

“You’re just a late bloomer” – I sadly couldn’t provide a link to this one, but I did stumble across an article, “Rethinking Puberty: The Development of Sexual Attraction” by Martha K. McClintock, originally published in a peer reviewed psychology journal, Current Directions in Psychological Science (1996 issue) listing the average age of first instance of sexual attraction as 10 years old, with a three year variance. So, if you are as young as fourteen and have yet to experience sexual attraction, chances are you’re ace. If you’re in your late teens to early twenties and haven’t felt the urge to physically merge, you are not “late” to anything – you’re hecka ace.

“You just haven’t met the right person yet” – I couldn’t even type that without rolling my eyes. As Yasmin Benoit puts it, “The idea that asexual people just need to meet the ‘right person’ who will unlock their sexual desire and ‘fix’ their asexuality is one I’ve always found quite perplexing. It’s an argument that seems to be applied to asexuality more than other orientations. You wouldn’t tell a straight guy that they just “hadn’t met the right man yet,” I’d like to think that most wouldn’t tell a gay guy that they “hadn’t met the right woman yet” either. It suggests that our sexuality is reflective of our company, that no one we have ever seen or encountered has met our standards, and thus we haven’t experienced sexual attraction to the extent that the term ‘asexual’ could be applied.” The link to Yasmin’s Subvert article is below: https://www.subvrtmag.com/what-is-asexuality-yasmin-benoit-challenges-7-myths/ Yasmin also has some great responses to so many oft heard remarks, such as, “Asexuality is the same as celibacy,” and “Asexuality is a disorder”. Another clap-back to people who want to say asexuals are mentally ill is that homosexuality was classified as a mental illness until 1973 – people just want to pathologize what they don’t care enough to examine.

Properly explaining asexuality in all its nuances can be a tall feat. If you’re about to come out of the deck and find yourself overwhelmed, here is an excellent video, “Asexuality: The Invisible Orientation” to aid the process –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9tSal4YyII

Happy Ace Awareness Week!

Until next time,

You are beautiful and valid,

stay true to you,

and keep ooooooooooon Aceing It!

Pride as Therapy for Shame

This is my contribution for the June 2020 Carnival of Aces, hosted by aspecofdest, the topic being pride. 

Sometimes I really hate being asexual. Yes, I’m aware that’s a depressing way to start a post on pride in one’s orientation.

Just when I start to think I’m totally comfortable with how I identify, something unearths my heaps of internalized shame and feelings of inadequacy related to my romantic and sexual orientations.                                                                                                     I recently met another awesome ace through a queer dating app, and, as a part of my ongoing attempt to be more authentically myself, I gushed about her to my mother almost immediately. She ended up walking in on one of our Instagram video chats, got to talk to her briefly, really liked her, and is now shipping us hard as a couple.                     This unexpected turn of events has yielded a new crop of uncomfortable questions, such as, “I know some asexuals masturbate, can they get off?” and, on an even more cringey note, “What exactly would you want in a relationship, physically? Hugging? Hand holding? Kissing? I understand asexuality’s a spectrum, would you want any genital contact or groping?”

My 18 self would have been thrilled that she took my identity seriously enough to ask such questions. Yet here I am, just uncomfortable as hell.                                        The day after this uncomfortable turn of interrogation took place, I realized that a good portion of my discomfort was shame. This was solidified when, a couple nights later, my mother reported a revision of my identity to our neighbor, Angela. If you’ve been with me for a while and have the patience of a god (seriously, whhyyyyyyy didn’t you break this post into 2 parts, past self????) you may remember Angela from Being Openly Asexual, Openly Gay, and Equally Proud.

After some pestering from Angela about attractive German men, I essentially outed myself as gay, leaving out my asexuality because 1. I didn’t think it was relevant and 2. Coming out as gay is aaaaaaalways easier than coming out as asexual.

So, my mother had gone over to Angela’s for a drink, they began talking, and I came up. I’m going to be moving out of my parents’ home (hallelujuah) in under a month, and Angela inquired if I knew anyone in the region I’m going to be moving to. My mom told her about a potential love interest who I met online, going on to explain that I’m asexual and so is she. She gave her a brief – and pretty terrible – explanation of asexuality, and then left because it was getting late.                                                                                      Maybe it was the explanation of asexuality as a lack of a sex drive that my mother provided that had me cringing, but I think that it has more to do with internalized aphobia. A recent doctor’s visit drives this theory home.

I mentioned the presumed need for STI vaccinations in my last post Virginity is Not Immaturity and my awkward, shrill declaration that they wouldn’t be necessary killed the topic during that particular appointment, but I didn’t see any guarantees for the follow up.  I saw essentially two options for explanation: out myself as ace, either with or without explicitly using the label, but definitely say that I did not desire intercourse with anyone of any gender, or out myself as a lesbian by saying I wasn’t sexually attracted to men (true) and if she pushed the question about women, say that if I were to have sex with anyone, it would be a woman – which is true, if I were to engage in intercourse, it would be with a woman, likely in an attempt to make a relationship with an allosexual work.  None of my explanations would have been a lie, but the degree to which I was leaning toward lesbianism as an explanation for my not needing STI vaccines was a bright red shame flag in hindsight. (Fun fact, I did some research on vaccines, and the most common one is for HPV it appears, which can be transmitted through non-penetrative sex acts. My small fib wouldn’t have gotten me out of vaccine talk.)                     Every time I imagined outing myself as ace to my doctor, I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach distinct from the usual nerves. I felt that same sinking when my mother told me she outed me as ace to Angela. I had been happy with imagining me as just your typical lesbian, and once she saw the whole picture, some sexless freak who can’t experience love the way everyone else does, I felt ashamed.                                             I keep reminding myself that asexuals are so constantly bombarded with the message that we don’t fit, be it lack of representation (or terrible representation) in media, the highly sexual nature of advertising, or, for romantic aces, how sex is taken for granted as a part of healthy, mature relationships, that it makes perfect sense to have so much shame about this aspect of myself.                                                                                                 Even the definition of asexuality as a lack, a gaping hole, opens people up to shame. I think a better way of defining asexuality would be to characterize it as a difference in desired connection – emotional rather than genital.

When I first realized my romanticism, there was quite a bit of fear and shame, but also a feeling of relief. I had the hope that someday I would have a relationship to talk about, something to fill the hole of an identity characterized by lack, something that, on the surface, to the outside eye, would make me look just a little more normal.

Even though my romanticism has been a muuuuuuuch easier thing than my asexuality, there definitely still is some shame there. My local Barnes and Noble recently opened, and whilst browsing for the first time in a long while, I noticed they had set up a display for pride month. I quickly became aware that I was self conscious about looking at it and trying my best to appear like I was just looking in the general direction of the display and not directly at it – I say I’m proud of being homoromantic, and yet I don’t want to be “caught” looking at a pride display. How far does the internalized homophobia go? That’s a good question.

I bought a rainbow Barnes and Noble book bag and forced myself to walk with it clearly in view, not at all hidden by my purse. On my way out to my car, I realized this display of pride merch was a kind of “fake it till you make it”, somehow I’ve been doing with my ace ring for a loooong time. It’s been so long, I’ve gotten used to the weight of a ring on my right hand. It’s been so long, become such a routine accessory, I’ve forgotten why I initially started wearing it. I realized recently that bought the vast majority of my pride jewelry – ace and gay – just after my two coming outs to myself, long before I felt any kind of bold, active pride. It seems I have long used pride jewelry as a “fake it till you make it”.

In honor of pride month, I bought myself myself a new ace pride ring – not a traditional plain black band, but a heart with the ace flag. The plain black band became just another piece of jewelry to me as the years passed and my shame ebbed and flowed, but this one is loud – a reminder to myself that my wearing this ring is an act of self love, a shove against my self directed aphobia, and a clear beacon to other aces that they are not alone. It is becoming more and more clear to me that I am not the proud ace role model I wish to be, and I’m hoping that having an image of pride clear on my right hand will serve as the gentle shove I need to be the activist I once dreamed of being.

 

Until next time,

keep on Aceing It.

 

 

Virginity is Not Immaturity

I am a 23 year old asexual virgin. I am not celibate, I am not “saving myself” for marriage, I masturbate on a fairly regular basis, and know myself well enough to know that I do not desire intercourse with another human being and that I likely would not enjoy it. Whenever I am in awkward situations where revealing my lack of sexual experience and sometimes lack of desire is necessary, the information is always met with a furrowed brow and subsequent jumpy behavior and sometimes even a demanding, disbelieving, “Never?” A similar situation occurred roughly two weeks ago. I started seeing a new doctor recently for issues completely unrelated to anything gynecological or sex related yet, to my displeasure, at the end of my last visit she insisted I needed to have a pelvic exam – I was supposed to have one at 21 but, not being active and not desiring one, past doctors never pushed it – when the dreaded question came, “Have you ever been active?” I answered no, and to my surprise, her face didn’t register any signs of surprise or disbelief. I attribute this to her being from a generation for was much bigger on “saving yourself for marriage” – the cross around her neck backed up my suspicion that she assumed I was “saving” myself. She immediately launched her next heteronormative attack, saying that even if I didn’t get a pap smear, I should be vaccinated (I assume for STIs). Not having prepared myself for coming out and potentially giving asexuality 101 to my doctor, I simply replied, my voice a dozen nervous octaves above my natural tone, “That really isn’t necessary.” It was only after my soprano denial that her attitude shifted. Not just slightly – there were no furrowed brows, now, “Are you sure?” Her discomfort at dealing with an adult who hadn’t – and presumably didn’t want – to have intercourse was palpable. Being nearly three times my age, she dropped an occasional “sweetie” and it was after my reveal of my desire for perpetual virginity that her sweeties and honeys became softer and almost pitying. Perhaps she assumed that I didn’t want to get the vaccines because I didn’t think that anyone would find me attractive, hence her pity. Perhaps I was being too sensitive, but I doubt it.
The fact of the matter is, once a person reaches 21 or so, being a virgin is considered shameful and an indicator of immaturity. I wasn’t aware of just how much I had internalized this message until I (finally) hosted a successful ace meetup right before the pandemic hit.                                                                                                                                          It was me, a 45 year old woman, and a woman in her mid to late thirties. It didn’t take long for the conversation to get deep, and it was revealed we were all virgins. Despite myself, I just couldn’t belief that the two grown women in front of me had never done any experimenting – and I was quickly disgusted with myself. I have always been one to say that you don’t need to experiment to know who you are and are not attracted to, and yet I had the same kind of attitude I hated toward two of my fellow aces.                          This post is for myself as well as anyone else who needs the reassurance/ reminder: virginity is not an indicator of immaturity. For those who have needed to experiment to come to terms with how they identify, you are completely valid and I in no way, shape or form mean to shame you. For anyone who just wants to be sure their first time is with someone special, don’t let anyone get in your head and make you do something you don’t truly want to do. For all of those who have been made to feel childish or less than for being a virgin or for simply not banging every single person they’re attracted to, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Not everyone feels the need to go to grad school, or run a marathon, or get married and/or have children for that matter, just like not everyone feels the need to experiment and/or have copious amount of intercourse. Everyone has different life paths, and it’s about time we stop shaming people for not doing things they don’t want to simply because that activity brings other people satisfaction.                                                                                                                                         Sex is not one-size- fits- all.                                                                                                                 To all the virgins out there: THERE. IS. ABSOLUTLEY. NOTHING. WRONG. WITH. YOU. Society needs to shut the hell up with it’s compulsory intercourse.

You do you, don’t do anything you don’t want to.

Until next time,

happy pride, keep on Aceing It.

A Moment With a Black Asexual Woman

zora.medium.com/amp/p/30fbfb018ad4

With it being Pride month, I couldn’t think of a better time to break my blog hiatus, but before I get back to exercising my voice, I first must amplify a black one.

The link above is to a very quick, informative read about the hyper-sexualization of black women and the challenges that presents for asexual black women.

Recent events are leaving my heart heavy and aching for people of color. As an American, I am often ashamed at the state of my country, but I don’t think that has never been more true than this moment. We can do better. We must do better.

Black and brown lives matter, black and voice voices need to be heard.

Danielle

Fears and Failures

This is my submission for the October Carnival of Aces, the subject being “reaching out, reaching in”. 

If you told me even twelve months ago what I was embarking to do last Sunday at 1p.m., I would have raised my eyebrows and stared in awed, polite unbelief.

I hosted an ace meetup.

Well, I tried to. I moved the location to a Starbucks across the street at the last minute due to the previous venue being unbelievably, claustrophobically crowded and unexpectedly pricy, and no one showed.

I doubt it was due to the venue change. I had been trying to enthuse members of the Facebook ace group I started late last year to meet in person for at least a month, querying for the best times for people, and three comments on my posts was outstanding engagement.

The only ace meetup listed for all of Northern California on meetup.com went AWOL last year and, utterly disappointed, I did what I could. I first tried to subtly guilt the members into sharing the annual fees with me so we could keep the meetup going (uncharacteristic, but I was broke and the thought of the only ace meetup in my region dying was unbearable) and when that failed, I created a Facebook group and captured as many members from the meetup group as I could. Several friended me on Facebook, and it’s amazing how encouraging it is to see posts from people (even ones unrelated to ace issues) who share this small part of me. Just the hope of future in person connection was uplifting.

I was predictably nervous as I drove to a mostly unfamiliar city to meet mostly unfamiliar people and do something that is completely unfamiliar to me – lead a social event. Well, that’s not completely true. I was the president of high school’s poetry club – and it was under my leadership that it fizzled out and died. Yeah. Not real confidant in my leadership abilities.

Getting out of bed Sunday morning, I prayed profusely and repeated what is becoming my motto – don’t regret not doing it later, do it scared now. I donned cat ears that I found in a costume store that, miraculously, were ace pride colors, posted and identifying picture to the Facebook group and said that if anyone were to come to the venue of the meetup and see a weirdo in cat ears to please come keep her company.

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The thirty minute drive, I repeated my positive attributes over and over, and reminded myself that I am capable and a likeable person – something I learned from a self-help book for social anxiety that is proving to be more effective than years of talking to a counselor.

Even after struggling to find the first venue and quickly discerning that it wasn’t as nearly the spacious, casual place that Google had led me to belief and moving the meetup to across the street ten minutes before it was scheduled to begin, I was hopeful. But as three stretched to three thirty and finally four, I had to face the music. No one was coming.

I had had a gut feeling all morning that the meetup was going to be an epic failure, something I dismissed as my standard state of perpetual anxiety, but it had turned out that my constant inner critic had judged correctly. As I departed the Starbucks, unable to sit alone any longer and made to find another café to settle down in and study, the dejection really started to set in. I had put myself waaaaaaay out there, and no one had put in the effort to show. Logically, I knew that wasn’t the case for everyone. Two people had said they were going to be out of town, several others had to work or had previous engagements with family, etc. I had known this first meet up was going to be small, perhaps one or two people, and I was totally prepared for that.

And of course I had considered the possibility that no one would show – but I wasn’t prepared for the reality of sitting alone at a table, watching as Starbucks filled with midafternoon students and socializers, making cheerful, awkward eye contact with every stranger who walked in the door and hoping that they would see the purple dragon badge on my backpack, smile as they remembered the posts saying to look for a dragon badge and cat ears on the Facebook page they had joined for a sense of belonging when the world made them feel constantly alienated, and come sit by me. I was not prepared for the disappointment of loneliness not being filled, but that loneliness, that sitting in a crowded space where I was 99 percent sure that I was the only asexual present (possibly the only queer person period) reminded me why I had set out that day in the first place.

As I drove around the city, determined to find an interesting café or restaurant so as not to have wasted a trip, the thought why the hell did you think you could do it? crept in. People aren’t your thing, of course you were going to miserably f up at this. I immediately recognized the voice as anxiety and not my rational mind, and I told it that I did not fail. I did exactly as I had set out to do that day – I had done my best to find a time that worked for as many people, told them a location, and I went there. Yes, I should have checked out the location before hand, but it wasn’t exactly in my backyard, and the new location was very accessible – nothing that would be burdensome if anyone was already at the previous venue. I had alerted the group as to my reasoning for changing, apologized profusely, and waited patiently. I had tried. I had done everything in my power to make the day a success. I had done what I had set out to do, even though I had been scared to do it, and several people had posted saying that they regretted not being able to come that day and to have fun. They had put in the effort that they could to make a connection, and that effort could very likely translate to the physical world in the future. I had done all I could, and hopefully I had made some online strangers excited about the future – maybe even someone at Starbucks recognized the colors on my badge for what they are.

Something I’ve come to realize in the past couple years is that I crave connection, truly, truly crave it, but connection takes effort – effort that I wasn’t mentally healthy enough to put in until very recently. My recent efforts to make connections with people I encounter in my day-to-day life have proved surprisingly successful, and I refuse to let this minor setback detour me – I’m sure there are people who need this support system for asexuality way more than I do, and I refuse to let them down. I will continue to do it scared.  

 

Happy Ace Week!

Until next time,

Keep oooooon Aceing It!

Asexuality and Pregnancy

Happy Ace Awareness Week! I just wanted to take second to explore something I don’t often hear discussed in the community: pregnancy and asexuality.

I recently stumbled across a charming (and by charming, I mean soothing to my gothic soul) Tumblr blog, and one post in particular made my day. Eliza, the owner of aforementioned blog, is asexual, married to a man, and at the time of this post, was expecting her first child. She received a (surprisingly respectful) letter essentially claiming that her pregnancy and public asexuality  condoned rape.

Her response was extremely eloquent, and I’m not going to attempt to paraphrase its contents. It is very breif, here it is stright from the horse’s (or, in this case talented bloger’s) mouth: https://elisaintime.tumblr.com/post/93616866312/asexual-and-pregnant-and-thats-okay.

I do want to share just one thought provoking quote: “It’s true I’ve never given ‘enthusiastic consent’ to sex, but I have given loving, content, peaceful consent.” The bathrooms of the college I attend are plastered with posters reminding that consent to sex is “enthusiastic and ongoing”, and while I think defining consent more deeply than a lack of an arbitrary “no” is totally necessary, this post definitely has me wondering if the “enthusiastic” definition of consent is potentially problematic when applied to asexuals who willing (if not enthusiastically) engage in intercourse. Honestly, my brain is too fried from midterms to go into more depth, but I have a feeling this question will be in my head for a while, and if any of you have opinions, I would love to hear them.

 

Happy Asexual Awareness Week!

Until next time,

Keep ooooooon Aceing It!

 

Bi Visibility Day

Happy bi visibility day!

In the past year I have discovered that two people I care deeply about are bisexual, and it’s opened my eyes to just how much still needs to be done for bisexual/biromantic visibility. It blows my mind that in this day and age, so many people still cling the idea that there are only two options for sexual orientation: heterosexual or homosexual.

I can recall distinctly recall one such incidence from highschool. I was in a youth group bible study and, as usual, the conversation topic had drifted from the Bible to school drama. The topic of the night was Connor Dean, an overfriendly boy who I knew from drama and who my church friend, Rachel, knew from biology. I don’t remember how the conversation about him began, but Rachel brought up at some point that she was sure he was gay because he was constantly exchanging flirty pictures with guys via snapchat in class. I shared, a tad confused, that he had smacked my butt at the beginning of the year, so I was pretty sure he was attracted to girls (true story, and in the moment I was too shocked to do anything). Rachel commented that it sounded like he was confused, and several girls muttered in agreement.                                                            

I shared a class with him the next semester and witnessed him attempted to work his charms on some boys in class and at one point heard him describe himself as being gay, but “really hot girls made him straight.” Looking back at the whole situation, I am facepalming. There’s a word for that, Connor. It’s called being bisexual; no, one does not need to experience perfect fifty fifty attraction between the traditional binary genders in order to be bi. I am all for choosing the label that best resonates with you. For me personally, I go with homoromantic despite the fact that I have experienced weak romantic attraction for a handful of men. Only you can label yourself, but when your label puts people down or makes a community look bad, perhaps it is time to reconsider. To shed some clarity on the previous comment, I’ve come across YouTube rants from lesbians complaining about self labeled lesbians who seek out relationships with men as well as women, claiming that it makes the community look bad and sends the message to certain men that a women saying she’s gay still means he has a shot with her; perhaps in this situations “bisexual” really would be the best label.      

I had told my mother about the butt smacking situation shortly after it happened, and her first response had been to tell me to go to my teacher and tell him what happend. Her second response was to say, “Well, if I was a teenage boy, I probably would do the same thing”,  and her third response was “aww, your first time being touched that way” (can you smell the rape culture poisoning wafting off of her?) Anyway, back to the topic of biphobia. I told her about Connor’s flirting with boys in class, and how I supposed he was gay after all and had been using me as some kind of disgusting way to explore -this was far before I knew I was queer and I knew next to nothing about the LGBTQIA community. I threw in that I was a bit confused because of the straight for a select number of girls comment, and my mother’s input was, “Some people just want attention.”

I am in no way trying to demonize bisexual/romantic people with story above. Yes, I realize Connor is a rather unsympathetic character, but I couldn’t think of any better story to illustrate the widespread and at times internal nature of biphobia. Bisexual people make up roughly fifty percent of the LGBTQIA community (yes, 50 percent) and yet there is still such silence around bisexuality. In the media, there are a plethora of characters displaying attraction for men and for women, but I’ve noticed the word bisexual is seldom used.

                                                                               I recently found myself getting roped into the show “Roswell, New Mexico”, and was pleased to discover that one of the alien characters was gay, and that there was absolutely no tip toeing around his relationship with a man – their love scene was represented with as much intensity as any of the straight characters’. Near the end of the season, aforementioned “gay” alien has a fling with a woman. His brother of sorts finds out and is rather confused and initially responses with something along the lines of, “Wait, I thought you were gay.” Michael smirks and answers, “We’re aliens, and you’re trying to impose an outdated sexual binary on me? I’m bisexual.” Not gonna lie, this scene made me sequel with joy. Damn right, the binary views of sexuality and gender are outdated. Words are powerful, as is representation, and I hope small steps like this will lead to big acceptance of all parts of the LGBTQIA community, and that someday everyone will be able to see their identity reflected back to them. To all the bi people out there (including biromantics, of course!) you are valid, you are beautiful as you are, and those who are too ignorant and small minded to understand you will one day catch up – or we’ll one day be able to successfully time travel and send them back to the Stone Age – I’m joking. Sort of.

 

Until next time,

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!