Visibility (#AceDay)

Friday was, according to a group of organizers on Tumblr, #AceDay, a sort of asexual awareness/pride/visibility day on the internet. On the whole, it seems like the event went well and was a positive experience for everyone involved. (The organized content of the day was to post pictures of a playing card corresponding to your subset of asexuality, be it alloromantic, aromantic, demisexual, etc., but you can read more about that here.)

I didn’t post a card, because I’m very lazy about such things, but I did do some tweeting:

It’s an unusual thing for me to talk about my asexuality, not because I feel at all closeted or uncomfortable with it, but rather because I am very comfortable with it, to the point where I rarely think much about it (it’s not a state of being that requires a lot of maintenance or, y’know, updates). Moreover, I still feel accepted by the people around me. It’s not something we have to discuss or work through. It’s a given. They don’t really care; I don’t really care; we all are who we are.

I think the other part of it is I’ve never been a flag-waving type of person for any of my diverse identities. I mean, I would no more march in an Italian American pride parade than an Ace one. For a while I was a literal card-carrying socialist, but even that’s fallen aside. I recognize the ways in which such labels much our lives easier, but honestly the spectrum of experience even within a particular group is often so heterogeneous that I think they serve a very limited purpose.

Which is to say, I’m asexual and I’m glad other asexuals exist and are vocal about their existence, but I don’t feel a particular need for an asexual community or asexual advocacy. I’ve got other things about which I feel the need to make noise.

But I can understand the need for visibility. And the potential for harmful interactions, even if they’re not perpetuated on a societal level.

E.g., There is a trend among some  LGBT activists who don’t recognize asexuality as real. Who might make comments along the lines of “you’re just privileged white kids who want to be special snowflakes.” We don’t need to discuss the myriad ways in which that’s awful (hello erasure of ace POCs), but it seems like a sadly natural course for me–that groups resent what they perceive as the dilution or subtraction of their political power. When we introduce other narratives, that means we have to take into consideration what other people need and want, which might conflict with or take precedence over our own desires. (We see this in feminism all the time, of course.)

As far as I can tell, there’s no particular cause than asexuals need to espouse as a group for their own sakes, except visibility and greater cultural understanding.  Recently, I was thrilled to see an openly asexual character appear on Sirens. It’s true, there are a lot of implicitly ace characters on television, but there’s a danger in identifying too closely with them, as they are always subject to the same pairing off and heteronormativity of any implicitly queer* character. Representation, at least right now, needs to be explicit, i.e., it needs to be clearly stated to have a meaningful impact. Orphan Black is a great example–we know definitively that Cosima, Delphine, and Felix are queer and that Tony is transgender. And the more we see different kinds of people, the more we empathize with them. Media has an incredible capacity to better humanize all of us–rather than reinforcing cultural stereotypes, which unfortunately seems to be its default mode.

So yeah, I can understand the desire to be seen and accepted and understood. I think there’s a common narrative among people who are ace: the moment when each us finally discovered there was a word for our particular feelings (or lack thereof). Although language is limited and limiting, I know having the comfort and relief of a word and definition that doesn’t include any sort of dysfunction or illness or value judgment can be tremendous. And the internet plays an incredible role in that now–it connects a population that otherwise might not encounter each other much, because it’s so remarkably small. Not only do we have a word, there are other people who connect to that word, which is an immensely powerful thing.

tl;dr: I was glad for #AceDay and will be glad for Ace Week (in October) even though there’s a high likelihood I will not participate much.

Do you wave any flags/march in any parades? Which ones and why?

*I have started to prefer queer to the acronyms, which get incredibly unwieldy and still manage to fail to be inclusive. The opposite of heteronormative isn’t gay–it’s queer and a lot can fit under that particular umbrella. We’re too conditioned to think in dichotomies, I’m afraid, but that does a slightly better job, to my mind.

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