There are so many parts of my experience as an asexual person that are offline these days. I do feel very attached to Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic now that I’ve been attending for 3 years, co-organizing events for 2.5, and if my life ever takes me a direction where I’d want to move, I’d hesitate to move anywhere without any kind of accessible, in-person ace community. I’ve been spoiled by how wonderful the community is here. I currently have 39 numbers programed into my phone as people I met through Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic, some of whom I only maybe met at one meetup, but still, it’s a fairly accurate reflection of how many aces are in my life—because there are still other folks, many others, whose phone numbers I don’t have and never needed but where meeting them has enriched my perception of what asexuality is and who makes up this orientation.
I’ve also once met some aces who aren’t members of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic, I’ve come across other aces at the Pride Parade and Pride Festival this year who were surprised to see us for instance, I came across ace spectrum folks randomly when I attended ClexaCon in Las Vegas this past march (a fandom convention for LGBTQ+ women) and I’ve met another ace who, after seeing me blog that I was in the area, invited me into her home twice (along with other guests). Those are the only two times I’ve met her, and whose in-person acquaintance I also feel immensely grateful for. I’ve met other aces who visit our in-person group when they are briefly in town, and the list goes on and on.
I’ve only known I was ace-spectrum for about 4 years, and just barely that. My life was still a life of a person who existed as asexual in the offline world, but I didn’t “ace it up” because I didn’t know how to. And quite frankly, most of the time, I still don’t display my ace pride visually. Even after I knew I was ace, I waited almost an entire year before attending a meetup, but I remember my first time attending an event well. I joined the group months before deciding to actually attend one event, before thinking an event seemed feasible for me to attend. And since then I have attended more than I can count. If you have questions for me about our in-person group, I am happy to try my best to answer.
A lot of people have talked about barriers to starting groups, and I’m not going to lie and say being a host of this kind of group is always easy, especially if you try a meetup in a new area. It can be tough, can require driving far away just for no one from close to that area, not even the person you hosted it for, showing up. It can still be fun for me to attend or host that kind of event, nevertheless.
I feel just as connected, more-so in some ways, to a number of aces I know only through online interactions. Aces in other countries I’ve never been to and probably never will go to can be really close friends to me. I consider online stuff to still be “real life”, very much so during this current stage of my life, and it’s not jarring for me anymore to find atheists, fandom folks, asexual people, or any other group I first interacted with exclusively online instead in an offline context. I am used to it at this point, it’s become somewhat second nature. People behind computers on the other side of the internet are sometimes better at socializing in written form than in-person, or vice versa… it’s not exactly the same by any means, but…
My only close friends at this point in my life, like people I confide in about the minute details, people I have “Texting” relationships with, are people I met through this ace meetup group. I have a few people I would meet up with outside of ace-specific meetups, just to be friends, just to see each other. And I am so grateful to have those people in my life. One of them became my queerplatonic partner, and we were immensely close for well over a year. Although we have since broken up, my experience having a queerplatonic partner was one of the most salient ways I felt myself “performing asexuality” here and there, at select offline moments. Outing myself as asexual by talking about my queerplatonic partner. Using that terminology felt powerful to me.
The upcoming Creating Change Conference is in Washington D.C. and I’m gonna try my best to help make asexuality in the programming and maybe even there be an official Asexual Suite. I’ve attended one of the volunteer organizing/planning meetings (the third one was the first and only one I’ve attended) and it seemed promising for both things – I attended with two other members of A-Mid-A. I know last year in Philadelphia multiple ace bloggers were attending and promoting aspects of the Conference ahead of time and David Jay contacted our group about asexuality’s successes and hopes for the next conference. This is a big part of my effort to become less passive and more of an activist in my offline asexual existence.
I also intend to help make sure our group marches in Pride 2018. I was the one person who made sure we attended both the Capital Pride Festival and the Capital Pride Parade as an ace meetup group, a place where we had an excuse to wear our T-shirts (those of us who purchased shirts themed around asexuality online) and wear bracelets/anklets in ace, aro, or other flag colors, paint our nails flags (see the pic from when I did it for ClexaCon here– and yes I did it again for Pride 2017, I still have the polish!) and I’m grateful that for next year I have a group of folks all committed to making sure we march. When we attend Pride, that is the one real time we meet aces in the wild, people see us, know we’re ace because of our flag, our shirts, etc, and then come out to us, having had no idea an in-person meetup existed or maybe not being interested in one anyway, but they are just as excited to see aces in the wild as we are.
I’m gonna start reading for the very first time books published in the “offline” real world that feature ace characters. I’m gonna keep coming out as ace to more people – I just did 2 weekends ago to a group of acquaintances, one of whom seemed to already know what asexuality was, the others who were shocked – and I want to write a blog post when I have more time about specifically what coming out as ace to one co-worker of mine was like.
And maybe I’ll wear my ace pride t-shirts, ill-fitting (always either too big or too small) though the 4 I own are, to the grocery store more often, if I feel like ace-ing it up offline. I did that after pride lol, stopped by the grocery store wearing that shirt. It feels kinda surreal, exhilarating, but also a little nerve wracking to do it, and then when I ultimately get no reaction to ASEXUAL PRIDE plastered across my chest I kinda feel frustrated and like I wanted something to happen lol. Like I don’t know if I was as invisible as I feel or not.
Attached to my real name, in the past 2 months I’ve spoken on two podcasts where the fact that I was asexual was brought up. That is another thing that feels huge in a weird psuedo-offline way – podcasts are found on the internet, recorded over internet phone calls, etc… but this felt like a thing that was more physical and personable than blogging.
But now that I’m not in a relationship with my QPP anymore (—a QPP who was a bit more closeted than me in some contexts), I can feel really free to be as out and loud and proud about my asexuality as I want in a lot of contexts. Not really at my job, but almost everywhere else.
For the forseeable future, both offline and online, my asexuality will continue to actively be a huge part of my life. And I am so happy to be living this life right now. I feel so connected to a part of something much bigger than me.