Blog Archives

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.

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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.

Demisexual Goes Meta!

The contribution to this November’s Carnival of Aces, with the blog festival itself for a theme, I’m splitting into two parts.

For this part, we’ll be diving into the part of the blog I always click away from after a glance at the shiny graph that says that yes, some people did in fact visit it. That’s all I want to know.

I find I write best when I write from the heart. Presenting that writing to an audience is pleasing, but it’s not where I get my ideas. When I’ve attended marketing seminars, about writing or otherwise, the part where they dive into ‘be in touch with your audience’ and ‘write about what people want to hear’ always turns me off.

I’ve found it more helpful to nestle into a nice-sized platform or community and then write whatever comes to me. Some of my most dearly held posts have completely bombed. Some of my casual musings have been some of the better-read posts.

With that introduction, I wanted to take a look at what this blog’s visitors read most in 2018.

To clarify: I’m just going by clicks. I’m also not going to name numbers… they’re not big, and I don’t really care. I want to look at what’s relatively popular.

1. Post: Sexual Orientation: Heterodemisexual.

My most read post is one from my first year, when I decided that yes, I was demisexual, but I mostly fell in love with boys. I’ve had a few years to feel attracted to people since and… I feel drawn to all sorts of people. Really the only rule I can discover is that their minds or appearances (or both) strike me as deeply fascinating and that hooks me. This can be a passing or enduring attraction and develop into a crush (a.k.a. romantic attraction).

It’s fascinating to me that THAT’s what people identify with… an identity I’ve discarded. It may be, in part, because it’s also the only keyword on google that actually gets people to my blog, either heterodemisexual or hetero and demisexual. Maybe cause the majority of people seeking out demisexuality are, statistically, more likely to be heteroromantic?

2. Post: ‘They’ as a Singular Pronoun, a Cisgender Perspective

I’m cisgender, so I often feel a bit like an imposter speaking on the topic of transgender folks.

Still… this post I really loved to write.

I had a complete geek-out over the fact that as a linguistic phenomenon singular ‘they’ was a come-back of a 400-year-old bit of the English language. Plus, it feels good that this change in language allows me to be polite in the case of someone’s gender being ambiguous, whether it is because they transcend the cis binary or because they’re a stranger. Plus, call me feminist, but I like using a neutral word over defaulting to male pronouns, or female.

I keep wanting to do the same in Dutch. I’m bummed I just can’t. Likely never will, because in Dutch ‘she’ (zij/haar) and plural ‘they’ (zij/hun) are already identical in subject position.

3. Series: I want to have sex like…

I’m cheating in the rest of this list and discussing similar posts together because I don’t feel they warrant individual attention. While I didn’t write much in the series, they came from a deep desire to clarify how attraction worked for me by using pop culture to discuss it. I was also binge-watching Netflix at the time. It still resonates, maybe because it’s accessible, if people like those TV series or movies too.

4. Tagged: Carnival of Aces

While the highest-ranked post tagged for Carnival of Aces ranks fourth, in my top-twenty at least half the posts are calls to submissions, round-ups and contributions to the Carnival. They’re also the highest ranked posts in terms of visitors who clicked on links in other blogs, and who clicked on links to other blogs.

So having a theme, and writing on that theme with others at the same time helps drive traffic to and from each others’ blogs. This mirrors the Carnival’s effect on my writing process, I get prompted to think on topics outside the ones I usually think about. It’s stimulating too, I think I may post less frequently otherwise.

5. Titles containing: sexual(ity), demisexual, asexual

And my biggest cheat on this list, mostly because I wanted to share another point I noted: titles that mirror the core subject of the blog and clearly label the content, and often the posts that have illustrations, are the ones that get the most visitors. I don’t know if this is because the machines or the humans like them better, or both, but I thought it was good to keep in mind for the future,

So… that’s my very unprofessional breakdown of my blog statistics. I hoped you enjoyed it. I mostly wanted to talk about what it told me, not the numbers, ‘cause they’re not very impressive. I don’t really mind that, since I write this blog in part simply to connect to small community, and in part to express ideas swimming around in my head.

I’m very bad at pursuing the golden grail of social media, a big following. I like my little niche.

I think… lastly… what I’ve noticed is that none of the reactions and insecurities I’ve written about get read much. People seem to like the ones that stand on their own, that seek to verbalise what this orientation means to me.

Get some questions, get a book

My real-life contribution to ace awareness week… talk to my therapist.

“So… there’s this book going to come out for people who work with aces.”

“Okay. And you want me to…?”

“Read it? Professional literature?”

“Yes, oh yes, anything you have, anytime.”

“Right.”

So… this has been mentioned in various blogs you may read. The Asexual Awareness Project is writing a book. They need people answering questions to make it good. Having worked through a couple questionaires, I’m thinking they’ve got plans to follow this up with other literature for things like sexual education or material you might bring to your local LGBT centre.

So.

I wish to encourage you to do this. You’re free to do it anonymously, under a pseudonym (like me), you can do it without giving the approval for direct citation and, what I like best, at every turn they invite you to only answer those questions you’re comfortable providing information on.

But they do need people, so, if you’d like to say anything at all on the subject.

Please.

There are ace-friendly therapists and councilors and psychologists and chaplains and what-have-you out there who would benefit from a decent book aimed at them.

I’d really like to hand this one to mine.

Ace History in Haiku

My contribution for the Carnival of Aces September edition, Asexuality before Aven. I may do another one if I can make heads or tails from my research…

I

Keyword not found, then
a black screen stares back at my face
dissatisfied, first

II

Scattershot outliers
stitched together with wishing
we weren’t pioneers

III

Among a handful
celibate, spinster, virgin
I find few like minds

IV

Questing for treasure
aerates the ground we stand on
Let’s plant our pride flags

V

The blank page awaits
Pen crowned with its cap, unsheathed
for ace history

 

Write, Have Cake and Eat It Too

My orientation has been seeping into my writing, but the stream splits itself.

On one end, exposure to the ace community, and wider queer community more indirectly, coupled with emotional investment means that it feeds into the speculative fiction I’m already writing. It gets added to the repetoire of characteristics my characters can have, and what is their gender and sexuality? has become a more prominent and complex question when I’m working on profiles.

 

On the other end, I’m writing about being demisexual, about coming to terms with being panromantic (still new enough I want to attach a “maybe, likely, I think” to that label), about being part of the asexual community. This expresses itself mostly in nonfiction, but also bits of poetry and short fiction.

 

As amateur, so far, but working towards publication. I don’t know why, but I’d been assuming that whatever I’d eventually manage to sell, I’d do it under my real name. That’s being challenged as I figure out what steps I need to take to get to that point.

Brands

Thing is, names are brands. That’s not unique to writers.

Every idealist that champions a cause comes to represent it to some extent. Being self-employed means you do a lot of networking and promotion consciously to build up your company name as well as your name until it stands for something people want to buy. Not just the service you offer, but how and why you do so. For writers that’s magnified. The good ones sell books based on their name alone. The names seen on a shelf, searched for in Amazon, recognised when you do an event somewhere.

Here I am, at the start of all that, writing in two ways and wishing to give up neither. Should I be lucky enough to sell in an insanely oversaturated market, I will get painted into a corner, branded. To be honest, I want to reserve my real name for the writing I’ve been doing for years, the long stories I labour over in worlds I enjoy filled with people I’ve come to love.

Nom de Plume

 

 

The only way I’ve really learned what works, though, is experimentation, because a lot of people say a lot of things about writing. So I’ve been poking at the pseudonym I filled out for my dedicated gmail account once upon a time, “Hedwig Seafal”. I never used it, because a screenname works well for a blog and feels more honest so long as that’s where I’m at. I like being just “demiandproud”. But having a first-name last-name alter ego seems to make sense If I want to see if I can publish stuff. In Dutch you say you buy things “op de groei” if you buy ’em too big, to grow into them.

 

Here I am, at the start of all that, writing in two ways and wishing to give up neither. Should I be lucky enough to sell in an insanely oversaturated market, I will get painted into a corner, branded. To be honest, I want to reserve my real name for the writing I’ve been doing for years, the long stories I labour over in worlds I enjoy filled with people I’ve come to love.

The only way I’ve really learned what works is experimentation, because a lot of people say a lot of things about writing. So I’ve been poking at the pseudonym I filled out for my dedicated gmail account once upon a time, “Hedwig Seafal”. I never used it, because a screenname works well for a blog and feels more honest so long as that’s where I’m at. I like being just “demiandproud”. But having a first-name last-name alter ego seems to make sense If I want to see if I can publish stuff. In Dutch you say you buy things “op de groei” if you buy ’em too big, to grow into them.

Doubts

The will-I-won’t-I frame of mind I write this post in comes down to authenticity and privacy.

I want to be honest and making up a name seems counterintuitive. I can’t really verbalise why, except my brain goes ‘ugh, really?’ every time I consider it. My newbie might be showing, there.

Yet, the idea of a pseudonym comforts me too. I’m not comfortable with the more conservative congregation members I connected with on LinkedIn and Facebook reading “X is published in the 2020 Anthology for LGBTQIA Poetry, congratulate her.” I want to keep these roles, me demisexual writer and me active christian somewhat separate.

 

I’m comfortable being a Christian in the ace community. I’m ambigious about being out among Christians, especially as public and blunt as I’d need to be to write and publish about it without losing my voice to vagueness.

And that’s hard when your name is a keyword by which the world finds your work. I can write an ace character without using labels in a science fiction story or fantasy novel, and then smile an author-intent-is-dead smile at anyone, no problem. I cannot write about my personal experiences and convictions in an essay or poem and not have it follow me home.

Where my asexuality flows into my writing splits and between the two streams lies the line I am not comfortable crossing in my own name. So, makes sense to have two, have cake and eat it too.

 

Carnival of Aces August 2018: Stages of Coming Out

Welcome one and all, a little belatedly, to the August edition of the Carnval of Aces. It’s a little soon after last time for me to host, but I had an idea and there was a spot, so away we go. I do encourage everyone to visit the masterpost and sign up as host, though. All you need is a writing prompt and a little time at the start and end of the month.

Last month’s Carnival was hosted by WUT/tricksatops. The theme they chose was Then and Now, comparing a moment in the past and present when it came to asexuality, which was quite a nice format.

The theme

The reflection continues, in honour of Pride this weekend (I’m a little nostalgic), and the Carnival’s first-ever theme, coming out. However, we’re not focusing on the tip of the iceberg, sitting down with people to tell them you’re [insert orientation here].

Coming out, taken as a whole, is a complex emotional journey comparable to culture shock or grief. It has stages, is a catalyst for personal development. It brings with it a wealth of feelings, thoughts choices and, in the end, visible changes in how you live and relate to others.

So this August, let’s talk about the stages of coming out. For this, I’m using Vivienne Cass’s identity model.

The prompt

Have a look at the stages of coming out and then see which of the following questions appeals to you:

stagesofcomingout

  1. Identity confusion – first (uncomfortable) inklings of being different somehow.
  2. Identity comparison – seeking out information and thinking about being different, perhaps.
  3. Identity tolerance – finding similar people and engaging with rising doubts as identity slowly shifts.
  4. Identity acceptance – making peace with a shift in (a)sexual orientation, tentatively opening up to others and processing the emotions that come with the change.
  5. Identity pride – a sense of freedom, a wish to advertise the change in identity..
  6. Identity synthesis – braiding together the new identity with the rest of oneself to make a whole.

Prompt questions

  • Where are you at now?
  • What was a time of healing or conflict?
  • When did you change, though it may not have been visible to the people around you?
  • Was there a stage you paused at or revisited?
  • How much does this model reflect your experience?
  • Is this a useful model for the asexual community to adopt to talk about coming out or are there better alternatives?

Submitting a post

  • Leave a link to your contribution, be it post or vlog or art piece, in the comments.
  • Send your contribution to my email: demiandproud@gmail.com.
  • Submit your story through this google form to have it hosted as guest post.

If you have specific preferences for pronouns and/or descriptions for your submission, let me know those as well, please.

Further reading

Since this month’s theme is based on a bit of theory, here are some links to read a little more about it.

Asexual identity, anthropologically speaking

Two idle trains of thought collided in my head. One was that I usually refer to myself as demisexual with “insiders” (the asexual community and close family) and asexual with “outsiders” (everybody else). The other, well, my language studies included a lot of crossdisciplinary training. We wallowed around in anthropology long enough to internalise several core concepts, such as etic and emic. Etic labels are imposed on a community by an outside observer. Emic categories are what a community develops internally.

Awsum Can Haz Werdzª

It’s no secret that the asexual community spent a lot of its early years generating words. These primarily helped people identify themselves and talk about themselves amongst each other. Here’s a glossary on the Asexuality Archive and the “Everything Asexual and Aromantic” series if you prefer to watch a video.

With the versatility of the English language, these words quickly became versatile, gaining colloquial versions, used as adjectives (ace person) as well as nouns (all the aces)… Several have become mainstream enough that they have been put into or expanded upon in dictionaries, such as the OED last month.

Ace or Queer Sociolect

All this leads me to consider… Is our language distinctive enough to consider ourselves, as a subculture, a speech community? Do we have enough a unique enough vocabulary and set of syntactic oddities to be a sociolect?

Another possibility came up when I did a little bit of digging. Apparently there was a queer sociolect in the sixties and seventies, called Polari. One paragraph this blog article caught my eye:

“Even though a secondary language was needed to support it, if well informed, a person could communicate heavily in Polari. However, its use in more modern times is questionable. Why? The language code would work in binaries (male/female, homosexual/heterosexual, masculine/feminine) and didn’t allow for description of non-binary classifications. For example, words to explain gender fluidity, bisexuality, asexuality etc., just didn’t exist.”

So another possibility is that now, four decades later, we filled a so-far-empty niche in a broader queer sociolect, and contributed a couple words to mainstream English in the process.

I am not at all qualified enough to offer any conclusions on this subject. As language geek and demi/ace person I did want to put the question out there, however. It creates a space to describe how I identify myself.

I, Ace or Demi person

Let’s say the asexual community is a speech community, or part of one. Let’s say the vocabulary we’ve generated has become an ace sociolect or part of a queer sociolect. In that context I am able to express two distinct levels on which I speak of my identity.

Namely, as an informed insider trying to decribe myself towards outside observers, I say I am asexual. This fits in a larger (etic) set of labels, known as sexual orientation, that is familiar to most English speakers. I only need to define the single new word in order for them to fit me into their world view, and then get accepted or rejected.

Among insiders, the asexual community and its allies, such as my close family, I choose a different label. I say that my asexual identity is primarily demisexual. I can add a gender identity and romantic orientation to further specify what I think I am. Thus making use of a far more nuanced set of labels we created to talk amongst ourselves.

Thus some old theory I learned in college and my thoughts on ace identity intersected. I thought in sharing it might be of some use. And, well, it just tickles my fancy how much we’ve been able to affect language, over the years.

ªprovided by the Lolcat Translator

 

April Carnival of Aces – All the birds but us… the posts

Note: I can discern the gender of some, but not others. So you’re all neutral “they”, because the poor guy personifying politeness in my head is pacing in indecision and waving a book at me with “21st century etiquette” on the cover. If you wish this changed, leave a comment and I’ll edit.

Note 2: Thanks to conscientious commenters. List should now be complete and link correct.

Before I started reading all of the submissions I received for this month, I was bouncing around in glee because of the idea of a multitude of perspectives on something I wanted to really read more about. Now I’m just humbled by the different thoughts, great stories and awesome people I have been allowed to host in this month’s Carnival of Aces.

The theme was to write about the relationship between (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations and the future, based on the oldest Dutch sentence in existence, “Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic enda tu, wat unbidan we nu?” That was taken in a lot of different directions.

Controlled Abandon was first out of the gate with a post considering both a future alone or together with a partner equally, and sketching how both would ideally work out. Read what they wrote in their April 2018 Carnival of Aces post.

Lib considers with dry wit on A3 that they might be a migratory bird that takes a while to settle down in “My Unexpected Future“.

Blue Ice Tea on Ace Film Reviews shares a beautiful and hopeful story about finding a satisfying friendship in “Growing Up Platoniromantic: Happy Endings“.

Queenie of Aces writes in the Asexual Agenda about queer futurity (which is my new word for the day) and building a road for others where there isn’t yet one to walk on in “To build an unimaginable future“.

Between Worlds Unknown is the gorgeous name of Varian’s blog, whose accepting of their asexual orientation lead to other questions and realisations, read it in “Stepping Stones“.

An Ace from Appalachia had me groaning and then grinning in sympathy at the pressure they faced over their wedding. If you want to join me in the crowd that wants to take down the entire wedding industry and its PR, go read “My Story Of Failing At Doing The Straight Thing“.

In From Fandom to Family, Luvtheheaven speaks about coming of age with a lot of doubts and a shaky future and finding strength in picking their way through that. It convinced me that this slow-built nest will turn out very interesting in “I Can’t Just Let The Future Pass Me By“.

Sennkestra slides a post through the closing doors of April on Next Step: Cake in which they shed some light on the differences between general and specific life goals and how that can really change the answers. Go read “Milestones and Priorities“.

Laura, on their blog [Purr]ple [L]ace, reflects on their big masterplan to build a single-parent household and how not being single throws a wrench in that, and the bittersweetness that is adaptation in “Nesting and… Re-nesting?“.

Elizabeth in Prismatic Entanglements also discusses her less than usual path to a less than usual domestic situation and mixed bag of blessings, friction and thoughts that brings along with it in “Building a mosaic from a Shattered Future“.

And… I wrote “A [hu]man of good character“.

Now on, on to the next month:

 

All the birds but us… – April Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions

Hail, brave content creators, welcome to the April edition of the Carnival of Aces. With the spring equinox behind us, Passover and Easter upon us and April Fool’s day tomorrow and everything around us blooming and reproducing… Well, no time like the present to feel melancholy. Or cheerful. One of the two.

This month’s theme’s inspired by a medieval Flemish-Dutch sentence:

Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic enda thu[,] wat unbidan we nu[?]

All the birds have begun nests except me and you, what are we still waiting for?

Penned in the 1100 by a monk, probably to test his quill, it’s the oldest sample of my native language. It’s always struck a chord.

Rarely does a shift in orientation work out in a person’s life according to expectations. We wander into such wildly unexpected and unknown futures.

I think we need those stories.

So the question for this month:

How did your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations impact your (expected or imagined) future?

Prompts to help the creative juices flow (feel free to deviate):

  • All the (other) birds:
        • Was there a clear or typical path in life that you decided to diverge from, when others didn’t?
  • My nest:
        • What life have you begun to build since your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations changed?
  • Except me and you:
        • If you had to sketch a potential life or partner or relationship or family, what are some of the ingredients that make it a good, safe, peaceful and/or joyful prospect?
        • You’ve decided you do not wish for a partner and may find fulfilment in your life through alternative means, please share!
  • Still waiting
        • What expectations for your life are you uncertain about or struggling with after having discovered your (a)sexual and/or (a)romantic orientations?

To submit:

  • Leave a link to your contribution, be it post or vlog or art piece, in the comments.
  • Send your contribution to my email: demiandproud@gmail.com so I can host it on my blog.
  • Leave your thoughts on one of the prompts in the comments.

Please do let me know if you’ve contributed somehow, I do wish to honour all the awesomeness. If you have specific preferences for pronouns and/or descriptions for your submission, let me know those as well, please. Late submissions added throughout May.

Associated posts, links to be added as they appear:

 

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.

The Realm of Asexual Possibility

Ace reviews of five seasons of The X-Files