Author Archives: demiandproud

Queer In My Dress

This is my contribution to August’s Carnival of Aces, about “deviant identities”, hosted by The Demi Deviant.

Queer In My Dress

I am queer in my purple dress
Pressed between postmodern sexuality
And the outdated marriage myth

I am, willfully not wanting sex,
Faultline in the fiction of virginity
I am queer in my blue dress

Am I lacking? people ask, perplexed
A woman divorced from intimacy,
Dating and the marriage myth?

Truth is, my desire is more complex
For company, beauty, sensuality
I am queer in my red dress

As the third wave wanes, I need to address
How asexuality clashes with
The outdated marriage myth

I want love with no regard for sex
A partner who sees I am not less
To be queer in my bridal dress
Let’s update the marriage myth

This started out exploring a deviant (queer) aspect of my asexuality and ended up trying to express how queer (weird, outlandish, new, upsetting, estranging) asexuality itself can be. Particularly an aspect I don’t often see explored: that asexuality upsets both traditional and modern ideas about sexuality, often at the same time.

In its simplest form, I think choosing to identify as (some shade of) asexual and daring to say “no, I do not feel sexual attraction like that” combines and subverts

a) the traditional ideal of lust or sex as a morally ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing

b) the modern ideal of everyone having a natural sexuality that is inherently human

c) the queer ideal of affirming your orientation through sexual acts

by claiming

a) absence of lust is a neutral state of being rather than a purity or innocence that can be preserved or lost; sexual activity is optional at all times, rather than forbidden or required at any time.

b) our motivations and experiences are more complicated than (mutual) sexual attraction leading to consensual sexual activity, orgasms, falling in love and sexual-romantic relationships.

c) queerness can be complex and comprise a multifaceted orientation and gender identity that has very little, if anything, to do with sexual acts.

Even as I write this I am aware I am already simplifying by focusing on the above as flowing from an asexual identity above any other.

Yet still, here is my demisexual-panromantic-monoamorous* deviant little fantasy, to wish to find and legalise a longlasting partnership and celebrate that with my community, without having to submit to the strictures society still imposes on that institution.

Oh, and go full femme on the day.

Today, at least.

I might dream of wearing a three-piece steampunk period costume tomorrow. Who knows.

*Since both polyamory and the newly-coined nonamory** are common in the ace community and I came across the word ambiamory*** (someone who can go for either monogamous or polyamorous relationships), I figure we’d clean up the vocab and go for monoamory as the correct word for the majority option on that list/spectrum. Also, also, I think we need a word for the grey area (greyamory? demiamory? semiamory?) between disinterest in relationships (nonamory) and interest in relationships, whether one or multiple (alloamory?).

**Relative, it’s been around a few years, I didn’t know it until this year. I like the new terms cropping up in the a-spec community, especially the ones that are useful. Can you tell I like words? I really like good words.

***Can’t find the original article but here’s a Rolling Stone article referencing the same research, which, actually, also uses monoamorous in its abstract.

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Clarity On How Welcoming a Church Is

In an addendum on my earlier post about how churches can be really unclear whether they are actually welcoming to queer folks – there’s a website that actually rates them on it, both on whether they honestly strive to welcome people from diverse sexual orientations and genders and how egalitarian they are (and how clear they make all of that online): www.churchclarity.org

They also did a better job of explaining why a church being clear about how it will treat queer visitors or members is crucial, comparing it to consenting to therapy fully informed of what it will entail.

They primarily have churches from the United States in their database, but also a decent start on churches in Canada, New Zealand and Australia, from what I can see.

It’s a work in progress to which you can contribute. Just sayin’.

Unfortunately less helpful if you’re from outside the English-speaking world, or even the UK, Ireland, India or South Africa. I’ll have to keep on looking to find a helpful website for my own neighbourhood. But hey, they exist, these resources.

Queer Christian Baiting (And How to Avoid It)

This is a contribution to the July Carnival of Aces by The Ace Theist, on the topic of home. The short documentary that inspired this post: “The Dark Reality of Celebrity Endorsed Mega-Churches” by State Of Grace on the Refinery29 youtube channel.

TW: (internalised) homophobia

Alienation

My asexual orientation, demisexual panromantic, is rather important to me, on par with my nationality, my college major, my gender. My religious identity goes even deeper, because to me, God is someone I love dearly, as close as a parent or a good friend.

I wished these deep-level affiliations to be in harmony. I wished to practice my faith and orientation without hiding one from the other. Instead, my church brought up all the homophobia I had internalised over the years. I was at war with myself as soon as I started identifying as queer, because it had already started to dawn on me that queer people weren’t welcome in my church.

It changed from a spiritual refuge to the source of spiritual conflict.

I blamed myself for being a coward. I blamed myself for all the fear and anxiety. I blamed myself for not seeing it sooner.

I have made peace with myself, but I am still negotiating how much I pass and how much I am out at any given time.

I still haven’t found another church where I’d be welcome, rather than tolerated. This in a community that is supposed to be a second home.

Entrapment

The truth was, I was told I was welcome, same as in my old church. The pastor made a statement to that effect several times.

Then I walked into a charity’s presentation after service one Sunday, all unsuspecting. They raved about how they, too, welcomed all queer people, so they could gently convince them how wrong they were. Could “lead them back to a more godly lifestyle.” I felt sick.

Later, it was confirmed to be the church’s stance as well, when they showed clips of a woman who had “graduated” from conversion therapy, and from a son who’d reunited with his mother after he “got over his rebellious phase as a homosexual.”

By this point, half my friends were from this church. Most of my social activities were tied to this church. I had just stopped feeling lonely in my new town. I couldn’t just leave, especially when I there was so much I liked.

I made like an ostrich, head in the sand.

I kept a tally of how many times I heard a homophobic remark in this community, either a quip in passing or a ten-minute sermon. The average came to once every two weeks, over the next half year.

Hidden Agenda

Now that I have started exploring other (protestant) churches and trying to find other queer Christians’ experiences, mostly online, I find the answer to “are you open to queer people?” is always “yes,” in churches, but they mean any of the following:

  • Hate: Yes, we are open to queer seekers (non-believers) or new Christians so we can show them the error of their ways. We consider queerness to be a) a curse, b) an addiction, or c) sinful behaviour that we will actively try to change.
  • Discomfort: Yes, we are open to queer people… so long as they pass as cisgender and heterosexual, aren’t in a relationship and don’t try to serve as elder or deacon. We’ll allow it to be an open secret nobody talks about.
  • Tolerance: Yes, we are open to queer people… they can even be members and help out with lay ministries. God loves all people equally and we’re all sinners, after all. However, they cannot marry or serve as clergy in our church.
  • Love: Yes, we are open to queer people… God loves all people and they’re not sinners… we seek to be allies and stop the Christian persecution of queer people. Please tell us how we can pray for you, respect your gender and your relationship and if you need counseling for the hurt you have experienced in the past.

To be honest, even the church I was homesick for was only tolerant, for all that they do allow same-sex marriage now.

I find I have grown more critical in my search. I want to feel at home in my church, I want to be loved by my spiritual family, queerness and all. I want a church that exhibits the same love I believe God has: unconditional and inclusive.

Search Criteria

Since churches cannot be trusted at their word on whether they are welcoming, I have developed the following search criteria:

  • Follow the Money: If a church supports a mission organisation that is known for promoting abstinence, run. If a church supports a charity promoting sex education and handing out condoms to fight AIDS in Africa, continue. Charities and ministries a church supports are often listed on their website.
  • Mission, Creed or Doctrine: I scan their “this is who we are” and “this is what we believe in” for evangelical phrases I’ve picked up like “family values” and how literally they take the translation of the bible.*
  • Look at the Clergy: If the elders and/or clergy listed are a mix of ethnicities, genders, ages, etc. then they are more likely to be an inclusive church. Old white men in suits only? Stay away.
  • Flag or declaration: If the church building has a rainbow flag or a statement explicitly welcoming people of all genders, sexualities, races, etc., they are likely to be tolerant at least.
  • Did they go to Pride? Some churches will literally go to or participate in the parade, if their city has one, or have a Pride-themed service. This information might be found on the events page.
  • (Affiliated with) LGBTQ ministry? I haven’t seen this with churches in my own area, but some offer counselling or a small group specifically for queer people, or work together with an organisation that offers it. Do read the description to make sure it’s not conversion-therapy-lite.

I also learned that review apps or third-party websites can be outdated or outright unreliable.

*Fun fact: the “Clobber Passages” in translation seem to condemn (clobber) homosexuality. In their original language and context they condemn a) normalisation of sexual violence (Sodom and Gomorra), b) sex with temple prostitutes and c) Greek pederasty (sex with underage boys).

In conclusion

I hope this information will be helpful to other queer Christians out there. I hope it also illustrates how hard it sometimes is to know if a church is welcoming and how disillusioning learning otherwise can be. I cannot stress enough that church isn’t just a club… it’s supposed to be a safe place to meet a God you love.

I continue my search for a church that is truly welcoming so I can make it my home. Many churches openly tolerate queer people, especially in 21st century Holland. And I can certainly understand staying in a tolerant church if you’ve been a member for a while.

I want to find a church where I am truly accepted. After the false welcome in my current church, I have no desire to settle.

 

Queer Parenthood and the Rainbow Accords

I, Queer Parent

“A small percentage of homosexuality is beneficial to the survival of a species, especially those that live in groups,” a tour guide at the Artis Zoo tells our group during Pride Week of 2015. “A same-sex pair will adopt abandoned young, or collaborate with the rest of the herd to raise young together.”

It takes me three years after that moment to accept I can be demisexual, queer, probably single and still want and have children.

The dream of finding a (male) partner and having children, is the heterosexual lie that I hold most dear. I mourn its loss when I realise I don’t want sex. I mourn it when my relationship strands. I mourn when I grow to accept I want a platonic partner, gender irrelevant. I mourn when I realise I don’t want my womb open for business.

I meet a single woman who will be a foster parent. I have a pair of friends who choose to adopt due to genetic conditions. I have family who decide to be resource parents for struggling single-parent families. Still the denial wanes only gradually.

Yes I’m queer, but I can want children, I finally accept.

Here’s the evolved plan I hold in my heart: I would like to adopt or have children within the next decade. I may coparent with a romantic or queer-platonic partner. I may coparent with friends. Now I have to look into how to do that.

The Rainbow Accords

Holland has held nuclear families up as the ideal since the 17th century. The last decade has seen some queering of the idea. A lot of parents choose to remain unmarried, living together has become the standard. Some women simply choose to have children on their own without a partner. Any civil partner or spouse of a birth mother may now register the child and their legal parenthood. Genetic parenthood and legal parenthood have thus started to diverge more and custody started to be more complicated.

While first steps have been made, the need for a comprehensive reform of parenthood has become more clear. This came to be known as multi-parenthood (meerouderschap) since one of the core demands is more than two people could be legal parents. Several years’ research into multi- parenthood (meerouderschap) was handed in to the government in 2016 and has yet to be made into a law (meerouderschapswet).

The Dutch LGBT centres have started organising Pink Debates before elections in the last few years, both national and local. After those, political parties sign what’s known as Pink Accords or Rainbow Accords, in which they promise to look out for queer rights. Among that is the promise to make the new parenthood law happen.

I find myself coming back to the initiative. I rather need parenthood to be redefined. Like everything my asexuality touches, being a parent seems to need thorough deconstruction in order to work for me.

Parenthood Redefined

Current scenarios for legal parenthood and custody, when having a biological child. I have chosen to reflect the cisnormative language used, but do not agree with it. Note a father may only recognise an unborn child and be acknowledged as father with permission of the mother.

  • Only a birth mother who’s the legal parent. There is a donor who has no custody and may be a legal parent or anonymous.

  • Two mothers, married or civil partners. The birth mother is a legal parent and has custody. The other mother may have custody, then the father is a known donor who is the legal parent. The other mother may be a legal parent and have custody, then the father is an anonymous donor.

  • Only a birth mother and a father, not necessarily spouses. The mother is legal parent and has custody. The father is a legal parent and may request joint custody when the child is born.

  • Two mothers, married or civil partners, and a father. The birth mother is a legal parent and has custody. The father may recognise a child before birth and become the legal parent and may or may not request joint custody after birth. The father may also recognise the child after birth and the two mothers will then have joint custody.

  • Two mothers, married or civil partners, and two fathers, married or civil partners. The birth mother is a legal parent and has custody. One father recognises the child before birth and may or may not request joint custody. One father recognises the child after birth and becomes the legal parent, but custody is awarded to both mothers.

  • Two fathers, married or civil partners, and a birth mother. The birth mother is a legal parent and has custody. One father recognises the child before birth and may or may not request joint custody.

Important to note here is that awarding custody to other parents is HARD if two legal parents exist.

I found the above very interesting because a) it heavily protects birth mothers and so with the current law it’d be far easier for me to actually have children naturally and b) it is heavily biased towards either heterosexual or married homosexual couples. This seems especially useless when it comes to asexual persons who wish to have children. The ability for two or more people of any gender and any relationship status to coparent would be crucial. These are heavily restrictive scenarios, especially for persons without wombs.

The state committee for redefining parenthood (Staatscommissie Herijking Ouderschap) advised the national government that having more (than two) legal parents (meerouderschap) and more (than two) people who have custody (meeroudergezag) benefits the child and ought to be made law on December 2016. They make recommendations based on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and seven principles they set out for good parenthood:

  1. an unconditional personal commitment (een onvoorwaardelijk persoonlijk commitment)

  2. continuity in the parental relationship (continuiteit in the opvoedingsrelatie)

  3. arrangement of and investment in physical wellbeing (verzorging en zorg voor lichamelijk welzijn)

  4. raising of a self-sufficient participant in community and society (opvoeding tot zelfstandigheid in sociale en maatschappelijke participatie)

  5. organising and monitoring the upbringing in the family, the school and the public domain (the three spheres of influence) (het organisering en monitoren van de opvoeding in het gezin, de school en het publiek domein (de drie opvoedingsmilieus)

  6. the formation of a heritage/ethnic identity (de vorming van de afstammingsidentiteit)

  7. facilitating contact and socialisation with persons important to the child, including another parent (de zorg voor contact- en omgangsmogelijkheiden van voor het kind belangrijke personen, onder wie de andere ouder)

The recommendations the committee made for queer parenting, paraphrased:

  • Let the biological relationship between a parent and child weigh as heavily as the intention to raise the child in awarding responsibility.

  • Remove the demand for a father-is-unknown declaration when two mothers wish to be a child’s legal parents.

  • Replace “recognising” a child with “accepting (legal) parenthood” of a child.

  • In the case of more (than two) legal parents:

    • the candidate parents need to agree about legal parenthood, so the arrangement is not accessible to people who can’t agree on who plays what role in a child’s life.

    • The candidate parents need to make an agreement about having more than two legal parents before conception.

    • This arrangement will be accessible to at most four parents from at most two households.

    • This arrangement will be accessible to the birth mother, genetic parents and life partners of these persons.

    • The candidate parents make an agreement which will be seen by a judge, each child will require a separate agreement that must go before the judge.

    • The judge will appoint a curator who will speak for the future child and monitor its rights.

    • The legal framework for the multi-parenthood agreement (meaning all legal documents) need to be arranged before the child’s birth. Otherwise adoption is the only way.

  • Enable a wish to become a legal parent between unmarried parents to be made known before birth so that joint custody will be awarded to all legal parents at birth.

  • When a legal framework is in place, it also specifies custody among the legal parents, in the case of more than two parents. If not, custody may later be requested and a judge can see if the requirements for multiple parents have been satisfied.

  • Make partial custody possible for foster parents and step parents.

  • Make multiple parent agreements possible after the birth of a child, when more adults wish to be responsible for the care of a child, keeping the requirements for having multiple legal parents in mind.

Out of all the recommendations the committee makes that are relevant to queer parenting, I find the very last to be the most relevant. It alludes to an arrangement already possible in California, where one may adopt a child without giving the child up for adoption. This, I think, would be the avenue that would allow one or more asexual persons who wish to coparent to step into that role.

Having gone through the information and translating parts of it, I find it important to 1) know what parenthood entails and 2) be able to coparent. Knowing the current law I am very tempted to have biological children rather than adopt simply because it seems easier. However, I feel uneasy at the idea of pregnancy so I think I’d like to look into adoption further before moving that option from the top of my list.

I also recognise how very gendered the law is, the current one but even the recommendations for the revised one. Last year, a person was awarded a passport with X for sex/gender rather than M or V (for female), after a lawsuit. The law for this is still under revision, but… I’m thinking that’s something that should play a role in a parenthood law, if it’s truly meant to give queer parents equal rights… that non-binary persons be recognised, and not shoved into the role of either mother or father but be able to be just a parent. We did just sign a law that makes discrimination against transgender and intersex persons illegal. I do like that the revisions at least would make it possible for two gay fathers to have custody without adoption, which the current law does not allow.

Sources (All in Dutch)

Meerouderschap factsheet: https://pilpnjcm.nl/meerouderschap-een-juridische-factsheet/#_ftn2

Regenboog stembusakkoord: https://www.rainbowvote.nu/

X in het paspoort: https://nos.nl/artikel/2255409-geen-m-of-v-maar-x-voor-het-eerst-paspoort-veranderd-in-genderneutraal.html

The future past of mandatory polyamory

When I entered the asexual community back in 2015, a specific polyamorous scenario was touted as THE way some of us asexuals could be in relationships. Namely, that we ought to let our partner have sex with someone else while they remained otherwise true to us. At the time, this just squicked me, even though some beautiful webcomics existed exploring this scenario. Now, I can see the harmful assumptions packed into it that turned me off:

1) If you aren’t asexual, you need to have sex. Never mind that many heterosexual and queer partners don’t have sex with each other for extended periods of time.

2) Sexual attraction is mandatory for having sex. I think we’ve since come to realise there are many more motivations and rewards in this act.

3) Asexuals are always interested in relationships. Some are, some aren’t.

4) As asexual, you aren’t allowed to negotiate boundaries for sexual exclusivity or be monogamous. I believe partners must be equals in a relationship.

5) Polyamory is asexuals indulging their partners’ needs for sex, rather than people loving and having relationships with mutiple partners. Something asexuals must undergo, rather than something we potentially are.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I see jangling around in this scenario.

I don’t see that scenario floating around anymore now and I’m glad of it. I wanted to take one look back at it, before considering what actual, healthy relationships for asexuals might look like in the future. It stuck with me through the years as an example of how we might hobble ourselves right out of the gate.

Carnival of Aces -May Round-up

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the May edition of the blogging festival Carnival of Aces. The Pride month, er, June edition is being hosted by A³ with the theme Then, Now and Tomorrow. The call for submissions is here.

On the theme “Asexual (and Queer) Identities and (Gender) Performance and Play” the following:

But what does it mean to pass as a sexual person?

[…]

Also, it’s the default to assume that someone has sexual desires and to assume that young women want to get married and have kids. Since I actually do want to get married and have children, it seems like I am perceived to have sexual desires to the outside world.

It took a long time (all the way until I was almost 26) and some serious research for me to understand that there’s a psychological component to gender and that your self assigned “gender identity” actually pretty much fully developed by the time you’re four years old. The reason I was so confused by this for the longest time was because every time I ping my brain for a gender identity I keep getting an error message back (usually in the form of dysphoria). So, just like I’m asexual I’m also agender.

[…]

Anyway, I owed a huge debt to the genderfuck folks for helping me find the confidence to express my gender in a way that challenges the norm and makes me feel the most comfortable; By doing absolutely nothing.

(Go listen!)

The first is “gender identity”. I don’t have one. My relationship to gender is the same as my relationship to “romance”: I understand that it’s very important to some people, but I personally can’t imagine what it is, and I don’t think it makes sense for me to use this language for myself.

[…]

So, yeah, I’m not sure if my asexuality or (lack of) gender have influenced the way I dress. Perhaps not worrying about presenting in a normatively “feminine” fashion has just freed me to wear different kinds of clothes. I don’t exactly dress how I want – i.e. like the hero of a fantasy adventure game (you know: tunic, leggings, nice boots, leather pouch of infinite capacity)! But I try to make the best of the options available to me and have fun with them

[…]

What this sample will give you, though, is an idea of how I like to dress, and the kind of clothing I choose to wear when not constrained by weather or professional considerations.

(Followed by a really cool few examples)

It gave me words that were explicitly coded queer for the way I wished to look on any given day. “Female geek” also became “mildly butch” and “feminine” was replaced by “femme”. Old-fashioned surfing brought up two more words that tickled the imagination. “Lipstick” for “femme” and “chapstick” for “butch” which… yeah. I don’t always put them on but I’ve got chapstick stowed in all accessible places and lipstick only in my small make-up pouch I bring out for weddings and Christmas dinner.

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.

(The rest of the post is about the findings)

If I forgot any contributions, please drop me a note!

Carnival of Aces round-up post coming soon

Thanks everyone for your wonderful contributions. I’ll hope to be able sit down and do the round-up post this Sunday. If you’re still looking to contribute, please drop me a comment!

Femme Days For the Chapstick Ace

This is my own entry for the Carnival of Aces.

After I discovered I was demisexual, I gradually stopped worrying that I somehow presented myself as sexual. Being “feminine” and being “sexy” diverged in my mind for the first time. Femininity became accessible for experimentation.

As cisgender woman I hadn’t expected to ever pay much attention to my gender, aside from chafing at gender roles and benefiting from equal rights. “Female” (een vrouw) was simply what I was, “girly” (meisjesachtig) I avoided like plague and “feminine” (vrouwelijk or feminine) was for Other Women who were, y’know, accomplished and sexy and in relationships.

Becoming demisexual opened up a whole new world. While my homebase was still “female geek” in jeans and T-shirts, earrings but no make-up… I could make day-trips to more feminine ways of presenting myself and explore the full length and breadth of my gender. My comfort zone widened. My wardrobe became more varied and more colourful.

That private pleasure was complicated by my internalised homophobia exploding in my face when I adopted the labels “queer” and “panromantic”. I only dressed feminine on days I was confident, until the two became intertwined. The very act of putting on a dress now boosted my confidence.

I also got a lot of compliments for dressing ‘like a woman’. I got into conversations about beauty routines for the first time as a participant, rather than the fashion heathen I was always presumed to be. The outside world took my feminine clothes as my adhering to tradition when for me it was deeply related to my asexuality. It became a symbol for another aspect of my queer experience, passing.

The final integration of queerness and femininity came when I looked up vintage hairstyles. I favoured a more old-fashioned look because it meant I didn’t have to desexualise an outfit with a short skirt or deep decolletage. I found Jessica Kellgren-Frozard, happily married lesbian youtuber who talked about being high-femme with fellow queer youtuber Rowan Ellis.

It gave me words that were explicitly coded queer for the way I wished to look on any given day. “Female geek” also became “mildly butch” and “feminine” was replaced by “femme”. Old-fashioned surfing brought up two more words that tickled the imagination. “Lipstick” for “femme” and “chapstick” for “butch” which… yeah. I don’t always put them on but I’ve got chapstick stowed in all accessible places and lipstick only in my small make-up pouch I bring out for weddings and Christmas dinner.

Comfort with attraction to multiple genders complicated the experience again. Whenever I imagined myself opposite someone masculine, I was more femme. Whenever I imagined myself opposite someone feminine, I was more butch. Moving in queer spaces more regularly has helped untangle that. Deliberately painting myself as femme in a fantasy with someone also feminine felt as the queerest, best fantasy I could have. Having thought such thoughts helped normalise the last crush I had, when I fell into it.

However, moving into queer spaces also made me aware of a level of privilege I hadn’t really registered. Being femme was an optional expression of a gender in which I felt secure. The closest analogy I had to even start assimilating this privilege was ableism. Whereas for me a cleanly developed website improves readability, for another person it might mean the difference in assistive software being able to access the website at all. Necessity and comfort are not at all the same thing. I realised there was a whole dimension to this I wouldn’t ever access.

…I don’t really know where to end this account of a journey still in progress. Perhaps in that I’ve ended the stage where it was more about myself, and that I’ve made a tentative beginning in actually gaining an awareness of a wider community to whom it is relevant.

Go Wach

Jessica Kellgren-Fozard

Carnival of Aces – Call for Submissions – Performance and Play

This is a belated call for submissions after I volunteered several days into the month for the Carnival of Aces. April’s round-up post was posted a few days ago by luvtheheaven. On that note, I urge you to volunteer to host future months, because right now there isn’t a line-up for the next few months, as there has been in the past. Go to the masterpost and sign up!

Asexuality and Gender At Play

I have been brooding over a topic that for me is intimately connected to my asexual and queer identities. That of gender performance and – having a greater awareness of my asexuality – how it has become a source of play, of joy, even as cisgender person. I am also starting to become aware how personal and unique experiences on this topic can be, a source of stress, doubt, but also self-discovery, defiance. I am also new to this so I while I love to hear stories on this topic, I don’t properly know how to ask you to share your experiences, if you want to, except to take the following words and ask how they connect for you:

Asexual (and Queer) Identities and (Gender) Perfomance and Play.

And offer up some possible directions to take it:

Asexy and I Know It – attention to appearance, dress, make-up can be for one’s own pleasure, not to attract others.

Beyond the Binary – stepping outside of the two set gender roles as an enriching or necessary step, in having given orientation(s) and/or gender identity.

Expression and Experience – are (a)sexuality and gender when in play more about internal experience or outward expression?

Gender and Sexualisation – does conveying a degree of masculinity or femininity necessarily sexualise one’s gender performance?

Go Educate Yourself – here’s what should be common knowledge, or recommend some good resources.

Identity Craft – which identity labels are active in performance, or need experimentation in how they play out and why?

Passing and Privilege – how much of appearing or performing (a)sexuality or gender is a given, how much a choice? What good or bad consequences hang on it?

Pride Coming Up! – preparing an outfit for Pride next month (or in August)?

Time and Space – where and when do the performance of or playing around with (a)sexuality and gender happen? How and why those times and places? How safe is it?

Contributions can be:

  • Linked in a comment on this post.
  • Emailed to demiandproud@gmail.com, including (anonymous) guest contributions.

Please let me know if you have questions or I phrased something rudely or vaguely.

Christian Love, Queerly Expressed

This post is part two of my belated contribution to Carnival of Aces hosted by luvtheheaven. After diving into how I view love, I wanted to share how the 5 love languages may be relevant to queer people specifically. These come out of personal experience, from being demisexual, panromantic and queer as well as a protestant Christian. I wanted to balance communal love, ‘agapè’ (charity) and ‘storge’ (familial/belonging), with more individual love, ‘philia’ (friendship/love-of-choice) and ‘eros’ (sexual/romantic love).

The 5 Love Languages

I’ve known of the 5 love languages for over a decade. In short, I believe the 5 love languages literature cover expressions suitable for all forms of affection, but focus on storge (familial love) and eros (sexual/romantic love). I believe it’s a useful tool for a queer person looking for pointers on ways to express themselves towards your partner. Something that can be especially hard to an a-spec person. However, Chapman’s conception of love only overlaps in part with love as found in the queer and a-spec communities, it’s sometimes very amato-, cis- and heteronormative. Still, I believe that within each language there are some expressions of love unique or important to queer people and I wanted to explore ones I’ve seen.

Words of Affirmation

Communal: respecting pronouns and general expressions of acceptance of LGBTQ+ people can make a family or a church a safe haven. I’ve come to understand that most environments are unsafe or hostile if you’re queer… until they show they’re not. While that does not eliminate the work a person puts in to come out or to pass, a community can make the lead-up, the choice, the effort less of a risk. This also helps clear the way to open up within a community.

I’ve experienced the reverse… regular, general dismissal of queer people in my current church has made me feel unsafe and hesitant about any connection with other Christians. I believe similar experiences of casual queerphobia to be an common reason people leave church when they discover and accept they’re queer.

Individual: I read an interesting article, which I’ve failed to recover, that discussed the importance of choosing the right terms of affection and labels for one’s partner when one is queer. I think such affirmation is even more important in asexual and aromantic relationships than others because outsiders tend to discredited or erase them. The language used also serves as a defense, whether you choose camouflage or flaming colour as your relationship’s survival strategy.

Recognition and validation between people can be both balm and empowerment. Words of affection used with deliberation can have a lot of power, when you’re queer.

Physical Affection

Communal: I am learning how very important respecting others’ bodies is, in the social queer space I’ve started attending. Some conversations made me aware how much effort non-binary people put in curating a ‘white list’ of people, in a social environment.

I can be helpful by making sure I ask for consent any time I approach or touch someone, even just on the shoulder . But also by taking initiative in approaching or touching, to not be another cisgender person who implicitly rejects people by avoiding them.

Individual: Adjusting my behaviour has made me aware of how much both affectionate touch and respecting people’s boundaries can be appreciated. Some friends complimented me for becoming a bit more sensitive. I’ve also personally benefited. Since touch is my “native” love language, it’s made it easier to express it, easier to know when I should and should not. Easier, also, to say no to others when they cross my boundaries and I am uncomfortable. It’s been a boon in my desire to show friends and family affection.

Quality Time 

Communal: I have found quality time to be a powerful weapon when it comes to showing acceptance and rejection. Being asexual around my family has meant an increased acceptance over time, even when it was scary in the beginning. Also, I’ve come to see people suddenly not wishing to spend time as the surest sign something’s up.

In media and society, I’ve also found that seeing how much time and space there is for queer people is the best measure to gage acceptance. For example, some churches say queer people may attend but that they cannot be themselves while in church and won’t have a space in heaven. Disney claims to be an ally but only shows half a second of men dancing with each other in Beauty and the Beast. Marvel didn’t think Valkyrie’s bisexuality deserved screentime. On the flipside, Doctor Who makes Bill, a queer character, a companion for a whole season, has bit parts as well as recurring supporting roles for gay and lesbian people, single as well as married.

Individual: I’ve learned to make time to love my demisexual self. At the start of 2019, I resolved to have at least one ‘queer’ day every month, in which I read an LGBTQ+ book or go to a queer space or engage in an activity that speaks to my demisexual or panromantic identity. Each one feels like a spa day and leaves me refreshed for another month’s worth of heteronormativity. When I come up against queerphobia, my self-care is planning an extra date with myself.

Acts of Service and Tokens of Affection

Communal: if it’s hard to speak, acts of service and tokens can be very powerful as an ally. One of my favourite aspects of pride, when I went in 2015, was that parents brought their children to show them look, look it’s okay. Fantasising a little, I can imagine what that’d mean to a child that’s queer, that parents drove across the country to show them a day where many other people like them are gathered.

My favourite scene in Bohemian Rhapsody was Mary dressing Freddie Mercury, showing him by assisting in his makeover that she accepted him for who he was.

Individual: these love language to me are closely linked to my panromantic identity. I am finding that I wish to perform acts of service and give tokens to my partner whatever their gender. And so, in my head I perform acts linked to whatever role complements my current crush. This, in turn, has made me aware how gendered acts of service and tokens are, especially when they’re considered romantic, and that I don’t want to be limited to my gender role. So, as practice, as defiance, I’ve started to perform romantically-coded acts of service and give tokens whether they fit my gender or not, towards the people I love.

Further reading (i.e. google “5 love languages for queer people”)

The Demi Deviant

Demisexual, Demiromantic, Agenderflux Kinkster

The Asexual Agenda

Furthering upper-level discussions of asexuality

A Carnival of Aros

An Aromantic / Aro-Spec Blogging Carnival

Queering Closeness

Thoughts on the intersection of aromantic and polyamorous experiences

The Dancing Trans

A nonbinary dancer navigating the complexities of dance and society

A Space For Me

Sometimes, I have a lot to say

God Be With Us, Asexuals

Through the bible in 3 years as queer.