Joining the Asexual Community: October 2016 Carnival of Aces submission

[This post is a part of the October 2016 Carnival of Aces, on the topic of “Joining the Asexual Community“]

I very much feel like I fell into contact with asexual communities by accident. I can’t remember when I first learned about asexuality – probably it came up in connection to the LGBTQIA+ acronym at some point (though asexuals sometimes get erased in order to include allies in the alphabet soup (*eyerolls forever*), I’m sure I saw it done right in my teenage years some of the time.

I didn’t realize that asexuality was relevant to me until my mid-20s though, when I (again mysteriously; I have no idea what lead me to this, really) discovered demisexuality. I took some time between learning that demisexuality exists and actively identifying myself as demisexual (and I wrote about that process at various points along the way).

During this time, I also started noticing the significant overlap between trans communities and asexual communities, and particularly the fairly common co-existence asexual and non-binary identities. That is, I noticed a lot of non-binary people are also on the asexual spectrum, and vice versa.

This lead me to my first go-round of hosting the Carnival of Aces earlier this year, on the topic of gender norms and asexuality.

I still don’t know how strongly I feel like a part of asexual community, weirdly, although ace-oriented spaces have always felt very welcoming and comfortable to me – there are many things about ace communities that inspire me to be a better version of myself, and I am glad to participate in things like the carnival. There are many things about my life, and the way demisexuality works for me, that make me pass pretty easily as allosexual, and to some extent this means that I feel my role around asexuality and asexual issues to be more that of an ally than a part of the community.

I love reading about all of your lives, is basically what I’m saying, and though I have been making a conscious effort to contribute to conversation in various ways, I still see myself in a weird position that is both within and outside of ace community at large (if that even makes any sense). I have come to be familiar with ace communities mostly by accident, and the process by which I have built up my participation seems in retrospect like the metaphorical frog in the pot of boiling water – so slow that I didn’t realize it was happening until I already found myself there.

Just Keep Writing, 300 times over!

Y’all this is post #300 on Valprehension! How even?

Spongebob and Patrick (Spongebob's starfish friend) are floating in the upper portion of the image, against a background gradient from black (at the top) to white (at the bottom). Yellow text reads "300th *@%!# Post!"

I honestly wasn’t sure whether I wanted to acknowledge this one, or just wait for the big 500, but whatever, every hundred posts takes just as much work as the previous one, so I’m just gonna keep up with the centennial celebrations :)

The last hundred posts actually came out more quickly than the previous ones, with my recent tri-weekly posting blitz powering it through – I wasn’t going to commit to this yet, but with the end of my Genderqueer Challenge adventure looming large, I plan to find more blogging challenges to do in the future. It really keeps me in the habit of writing better than my other self-imposed schedules have managed to do.

Yay! *Spirit-fingers*


Discuss how your clothes do or don’t reflect your gender: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 26

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Discuss how your clothes do or don’t reflect your gender

Honestly, thinking about writing my way through this issue again just seems exhausting right now. Clothes are important, and they are a big aspect of gender presentation for lots of people. But they don’t define a person’s gender. There’s a weird tension with clothes, because they feel so important to so many people, because wearing clothes that “match” your gender can feel so freeing and validating, because it is a major tactic for dealing with dysphoria, etc. But at the same time, many of the same people who find clothes personally important really do just wish that society didn’t insist on gendering clothes so damn much. Anyone should feel comfortable wearing a skirt if they want, and anyone should feel ok wearing a three-piece suit or whatever, too.

The question of whether my clothes match my gender almost doesn’t make any sense to me any more. I know what it means, obviously, but I don’t know what it would mean for my clothes to match my gender, given the amorphous character of my gender.

I gotta get me some amorphous clothes, I guess?

But really, though, I touched on this issue a bit in an earlier genderqueer challenge post. What I’ve been focusing on when I shop for clothes or put together outfits these days is whether or not they seem to reflect me back to myself. I’ve been working on reclaiming the aspects of my aesthetic and style that don’t fit into the norms of white genderqueer androgyny (more on that here and here. Setting gender aside (if that’s even possible) is the only way I can deal with dressing myself without constantly second-guessing whether people will think my presentation ‘matches’ whatever they think my gender is or means.

Ugh. I dunno. I’d love to hear other enbies’ persepectives on this one though!

Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Feeling stuck

My life is in a weird sort of space right now. I just got bumped up to full-time hours at my job (this is a good and important move), and am working at a bigger, busier branch, and since I love my work, it’s all very energizing.

My career is, at long last, taking off. Just the fact that I feel comfortable using the word ‘career’ with respect to my professional life is a big deal, to be honest.

This is great, obviously. But I am feeling at such a loss around what to do with, um, everything else?

I’m actually in a pretty stable place – I have good routines that allow for spending pretty regular quality time with all of the most important people in my life, and it is fulfilling and good.

But, I’m also worried about getting too comfortable with where I’m at.

To be honest, I’m getting as tired of mentioning this are you all probably are of reading about it, but I am still totally adrift with respect to figuring out the whole ‘having kids’ part of my general life goals.

I feel like I need to be working on that, but I also don’t know how right now. I don’t have any actual desire to date, even though I know that’s the most likely route to finding someone to have kids with. I know it’s not a thing I can force, and that dating when I don’t want to be is pretty much guaranteed to be a disaster, but I also feel… guilty(?) for not having the energy to get out there.

I honestly don’t know how to find a balance between living a life that is sustainable for where I’m at right now and continuing to work toward where I want to be. I don’t know how much energy and focus I should put on figuring out the kids thing, really.

On the one hand, I know it’s not healthy or smart to make it the only thing I’m putting energy toward. There are other things in my life that are important, other goals that I have, and other things that can and do fulfill me in various ways. If things don’t work out for me in terms of having kids, these things will be even more important, and I want to make sure my life is well-rounded and has lots of goodness in it.

On the other hand, though, I’m afraid that I will hate myself later for some of the decisions I’m making right now. I’m not doing everything I could be doing, even just to make my life passively open to the possibility of finding a co-parent. I’m not even doing some of the obvious things that I really feel like I should be, because it’s not really what I want right now. But I don’t want to be stuck looking back at this time in my life in ten or fifteen years, thinking of what might have been if I had just gotten myself into gear, and made the hard choices now, maybe things would have worked out the way I wanted.

My head and my heart are not in agreement on this one, and I am historically pretty awful at listening to my head. But I also don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. So I don’t know what to do anymore.

Little rewards mean so much sometimes

For the most part, this blog exists for me. I find writing to be a really useful practice for helping me understand myself, and sort out my thoughts and feelings on all kinds of things.

I don’t put a whole lot of work into self-promotion, and my social media presence is minimal for the most part – I’m most active on my personal facebook, where I almost never link to this blog.

But sometimes I get a little glimmer that the work I’ve put into this little corner of the internet is helping other people. Someone will comment to let me know they relate to my feelings about gender, or that they’d never heard of demisexuality before, and that knowing it exists makes them feel less lost or broken.

Sometimes, though, the message is quieter than that. Less direct. Every now and then, I get a sudden flurry of views, (usually either from facebook or various email hosts), leading to my Genderqueer/Non-Binary 101 page. This happened again on (surprise surprise) National Coming Out Day last week.

And it warms my heart, always, to know that something I’ve written is helping other people be more open to the people in their lives, and (hopefully) move toward a more comfortable existence in their own gender.

It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that!

Your first queer crush or relationship: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge Part 25

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Your first queer crush or relationship

This is a weird prompt to be a part of a genderqueer challenge, because um, wouldn’t any romantic/sexual crushes or relationships we enbies have be queer? They sure can’t be straight. Add to that the apparent prevalence of ace and aro identities in non-binary people, and it seems even more out of place.

But I digress.

My first romantic relationship was queer, even relative to the gender I identified with at the time. When I was 18, I told my best friend from high school that I was in love with her, and it turned out that the feeling was mutual! We dated long-distance (she was in Toronto for university, and I was living in Nova Scotia at the time, a whole tiem zone away) for a little over a year before she broke up with me.

It was my first love, and it was beautiful and mind-bending and gave me so many feelings I had never had before and it was great. It was also scary and I was had no idea what I was doing, and I wasn’t as good a partner as I could or should have been.

Yeah. Not sure how interesting that is to anyone, but there ya go!

Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

If you’re into me, then you’re not straight: Orientations and attractions to non-binary people

Non-binary people are a weird position in the dating world (ok, I mean, we’re in a pretty weird position all the time to be honest. But anyway, today I’m talking about the dating world). This is true in a bunch of ways, and I’ve written about some of them before, but today I’m looking at the ways in which people talk about sexual and romantic orientation is often non-binary exclusionary.

So, for instance, as an enby person who is pretty regularly perceived as a woman, straight-identified dudes are sometimes attracted to me. They usually don’t magically stop being attracted to me when they find out I’m non-binary, either (much as I might love for it to work that way).

To me, it seems pretty clear that these people are not actually straight then, since they are attracted to people of more than one gender, and not just the other binary gender. Attraction to more than one gender falls pretty clearly under the umbrella of bisexuality (which includes plenty of identities that aren’t strictly bisexual).


Simultaneously, though, these folks are also technically still heterosexual, because they’re only attracted to genders different from their own. Such is the difference between straightness and heterosexuality, I guess. All we learn from this is that you can be bi without being same-gender attracted, which means bi and hetero aren’t (again, technically) mutually exclusive identities. Cool?

I’m actually not terribly fussed about the idea of straight, gay and/or lesbian people occasionally being attracted to enbies, without questioning their identities around that. Plenty of monosexuals people have one or two exceptions in their lives, I guess? And if you’re not really acting on them, then whatever.

I’ve dated people, though, who have continued to identify as straight even while dating me. And I have… complicated feelings about this. On the one hand, by and large I am actually talking about people who were/are in hetero ‘primary’ relationships who absolutely benefit from straight(-passing) privilege. And I both empathize with and actually appreciate it when folks in this sort of situation feel iffy about identifying as anything other than straight, because they don’t want to appropriate LGBTQ struggles. This is a pretty good instinct, to be honest.

But you don’t actually have to have faced struggles, or even be out, to be LGBTQ. And the thing is, people who date non-binary people and still identify as straight (or gay, or lesbian), even if they are doing so based on a well-meaning, privilege-acknowledging instinct? They’re contributing to non-binary erasure. If you are into me, and still identify as straight, you’re basically saying that my gender isn’t real, or at least isn’t important enough to acknowledge; you’re saying that it doesn’t ‘count’ in the context of your orientation. I am the unstated footnote, the silent asterisk to your identity.

And that’s a shitty fucking position to be in.

So, to all the straight- (or otherwise hetero-*)identifying men and women who are dating, or have dated, or are open to dating non-binary people, I am issuing you a challenge.

Let go of that straight identity for a while. Accept that you are not just attracted to the gender that your identity implies, and really sit with the implications of that. Think about what it would feel like to think see yourself as fitting under the broad LGBTQ umbrella. You can dip into the shallow end of the pool and just admit that you’re heteroflexible. Or you can go whole hog and embrace the idea that you are, after all, kinda bisexual, or even outright queer. I don’t know what works for you.

I want you, particularly, to consider the idea that maybe your discomfort with identifying as anything other than straight might be because you are a victim of bi+ erasure. And I want to let you know that the messaging you’ve received about what is means to be bisexual, or to be queer, are wrong. I want you to know that you do belong under that umbrella; we have room for you here.

And I also want you to ensure you understand that your straight identity invalidates and erases the many other beautiful people of beautiful genders to whom you may be attracted. So, in this weird ourobouros kind of a way, by identifying as non-LGBTQ, you are failing as an LGBTQ ally. Or, less paradoxically, (especially since some of the straight people I’m talking to right now are trans, and already LGBTQ) by not identifying as LGBQ, you are failing pretty terribly as a non-binary ally.

I actually feel weird about asking you to do any of this; I’m not the kind of person who questions how other people identify, and I don’t really think it’s my business. Wherever you land is up to you, obviously. But I also think these are things you need to consider all of these things before you make that call.

And, I guess what I’m really saying is:

Image is of a spherical light brown cat with a devil tail, with taxt "Join usssss we're adorable"

*I’m letting non-binary-attracted gay and lesbian-identifying folks off the hook for now, because of reasons?

Comment-related CW: comments contain references to naked bodies, and draw connections between bio-sex and sexual orientations. I think the ppints made are legit enough to stand, but for sex-repulsed and bodily dysphoric readers, please tread carefully here <3