The Black Ring on My Right Middle Finger

This post is a submission for March’s Carnival of Aces by Controlled Abandon.

The day after I went to the Canal Parade in Amsterdam in August of 2015 (a colourful procession of boats that pass a neighbourhood, with many parties and concerts during and afterwards, it’s great), I went to a jeweler’s. The elation from being in a crowd where anyone could be any gender, any orientation (and I was free to be myself, newly demisexual, newly not-heterosexual) hadn’t worn off yet. After browsing I splurged on a stainless steel ring with a black design and put it on my right middle finger. “There, I’m out,” I told myself out loud, in an empty cobblestone street between bent-over centuries-old brick facades. I went back to my room skipping (yes, a few steps literally, Pride, both the event and the coming-out phase, are heady).

I’ve worn a black ring ever since. I buy a new one every year to add to the collection. Some are partially black for when I’m feeling more demisexual than asexual. Some are delicate to go with more femme outfits. As a symbol, it’s been the main carrier for being demi, ace, panro, queer and living accordingly. Since I’ve worn it for nearly four years, that symbolism has become layered. Here’s a few of the layers…

… I go to a meet-up of asexuals. I walk around the cafe lost, nervous, ready to sit down at a table alone, when someone’s eyes fall on my ring. They ask if I am there to meet them. Gratefully I sink into a chair and stammer that yes, yes I am. My heart drums against my rib cage while I sit there, mostly listening, grateful my ring has spoken for me.

… I am on the point of coming out to a good friend. I can’t find the words until my eyes fall on my hands. On the visual prompt I wear. “So, I have this black ring on my right middle finger, because…” I feel deeply at ease around her until the next time we discuss dating. I realise she’s just… forgotten. In her memory I confessed to being a perpetual single, not asexual. It marks the point where I redefine erasure not just as invisibility in the media, but a real-world SEP-field or Sunnydale Effect.* People will forget I came out to them unless we regularly discuss the subject. That first time, I wonder if I’m in a waking nightmare and I clench my fists. The ring – the big, bold original – pinches my pointer and ring fingers. It becomes a symbol that yes, I’m awake. Evidence that yes, I did come out, even if I’m the only one who remembers.

… When I move, I start attending a more conservative church. I have to start dealing with the community’s lack of acceptance of queer people; the revelation I lived in a safe little bubble until then. It unleashes all my internalised homophobia – more than I could have predicted given the environment I grew up in. I have to read the Bible again, especially the clobber passages.** Go in search of queer Christian stories, buried underneath the dominant narrative of queers vs. Christians. I read up on celibacy and abstinence and realise exactly how much asexuality upstages traditional ideas of sexuality that are preached. Even when I’m conflicted I continue to wear the ring to church on Sunday. This is who I am. It’s on my hand when I raise it to worship God.

… It becomes a symbol of passing. Nobody recognises it for the declaration it is, even when their eyes fall on it. When they hold my hand in theirs and they stare at it, comment falling from their lips. It also becomes a symbol of defiance. I am queer in church. I am ace at work. I wear it because it’s an irrevocable part of me.

… I notice others wearing black on their right hands. I realise it’s the latest fashion in wedding rings. So, if you squint, it’s like I wear a masculine wedding ring and well… it’s related. It’s a sign of commitment, of being true, to the way I love rather than who I love. Should I ever wear a wedding ring, it will clink against my black ring like two champagne glasses meeting in a toast.

I don’t know how prominent black rings are as symbols of asexuality in the community these days. Less so than in 2015, perhaps. I see myself wearing it the rest of my life. It’s the symbol I picked for being out. It’s the symbol for staying true to myself in the face of all my anxieties of the past few years. It’s the symbol of my nature***, which’s had a massive impact on how I wish to love others, partner, friends, family and beyond.

 

*) SEP-field (somebody-else’s-problem field) is from Douglas Adams’ A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Sunnydale Effect refers to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where inhabitants supposedly disregarded the supernatural in their town because there was a sort of spontaneous, selective magical amnesia. It’s a common trope in magical realism, used to explain why the secret magical stuff is secret.

**) The six places the English and Dutch translations of the Bible supposedly mentions homosexuality, used to condemn every shade of queer. Interestingly, it sounds harsher in English than Dutch, which I think may be due to translation choices. Please note that studying the original text in its original context almost immediately undermines the condemnation, not least because our current understanding of the framework of sexual and other orientations developed in the 19th century. Yes, this is me being a calvinist and saying every Christian ought to study the bible for themselves and not letting clergy (or groupthink) do their thinking for them. I’ve had a very, very thorough lesson in how much nonsense we absorb over a lifetime.

***) Fun fact, orientation translates into ‘geaardheid’ in Dutch, which you can back-translate into nature.

About demiandproud

I am a demisexual Christian Dutchwoman who explores the vagaries of what the intersection of those identities means. On my main blog I post a few times a month, my favourite being participating in the Carnival of Aces. I'm exploring writing about my orientation elsewhere. The pride flag in my profile picture was created with 4 eye pencils (black, purple, silver and white).

Posted on March 25, 2019, in Asexuality and Christianity, carnival of aces, Personal reflection and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. So a demisexual would be zero percent sexual to the vast majority of the human population but one hundred percent sexual to the special few with whom they share an emotional connection?

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    • I’d say the first half of that comment is roughly correct if you’re talking attraction. The second half…Going off my own experiences, in real life “special few” is the 50-500 people you meet regularly enough to count them as friends/colleagues/acquaintances/neighbours that you’re familiar with and trust to some degree. The upshot of this being: 1. It’s a lottery whether you’ll become sexually attracted to someone you’re dating 2. You often become attracted to someone who is a friend and by that point not likely to be attracted to you 3. You will likely become attracted to people in relationships because they’re your friends’ SO. 4. The sexual attraction you feel can strike as randomly for you within that 50-500 as it does for hetero/homo/bisexuals with all people.

      The fetish version of demisexuality (you only want to have sex with your true love because that’s THE emotional connection) I have found to be a big lie. I’ve found it more productive to treat demisexuality as asexuality with occasional inconvenient lust towards friends and acquaintances. I do not count on being sexually attracted to any future partner.

      I hope somewhere in there is the answer you were looking for.

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      • Hm. My sex drive went from 0 to 100 when I met my SO, but I have Avoidant Personality Disorder and 0 friends.

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      • I’m happy to hear you have a positive experience in that sense (at least that’s what I get from that).

        For me I’d say the threshold can also be seen as “people I directly relate to in a small community I’ve been frequently involved in for over two years”. So, think work place, sport club, church, circle of friends etc. I know the two years because that’s roughly how long it took to start becoming attracted to anyone here (aesthetic, sensual, sexual at least). Intellectual has a lower threshold for me and emotional attraction (as opposed to trust, the prerequisite), follows after one or more of the above.

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      • I had only just met my SO, we had a few conversations before he called to ask me out. Love is, far as I can tell, unpredictable.

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      • That is very true.

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  2. I love that you used the term “Sunnydale Effect”. I love even more that you used the term “SEP Field”! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Carnival of Aces Round-Up: Symbols of Identity | Controlled Abandon

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