This is my first submission for the Carnival of Aces October 2017, themed around Asexuality in Fandom. The call for submissions is here. A definition of fandom for the sake of this carnival topic is here in the comments of the call for submissions announcement.
So I know this blog post below is a stretch when it comes to fitting this requirement of the carnival, especially in light of this explicitly being said in the call for submissions:
Be mindful that this call for submissions is not looking for fanwork, but for meta (aka discussions about fanwork, fandom and the way it relates to its source text and social context) either about the fandom(s) you participate in or about fandom in general. You can add some examples or recs, but make sure to focus on the analysis part.
However, I figure this compilation would be something fans of my blog here might be curious to finally see—seeing exactly how I sometimes inject asexuality into my fan endeavors. I blog so much about asexuality, and all the while the word “Fandom” has been in the title of my blog. When I hosted the Carnival of Aces 4 different times I didn’t ever think to make it about fandom specifically!! But someone else (Chrysocolla Town) did, and I appreciate it so much.
I’ll make this not just a list of my ace fanworks by also, in “meta” form, I’ll explain some of my thoughts behind working on them. 😉
(I’m sorry if this post is simply too long, I got a little carried away…)
So the most recent “fandom mixed with asexuality” thing I’ve done is… well, actually, it’s that I’ve written a fanfic that I haven’t actually posted yet.
So… The most recent fanwork I’ve actually finished is THIS, posted in September 2017:
And I’m very proud of this fanvideo of mine. I made it for a contest where each round is themed around capturing personal sides to our own life/who we are. For this round, we had to vid “our breaking point”, and at first I wasn’t sure what to do. The obvious answer was something to do with my abusive mom, cutting off contact, other moments related to those periods of my life… that all was very much “breaking points” in my life. However years ago in a couple of different contests I’ve vidded I’ve already captured in fanvideo form my feelings about my mother. I have that already on my channel. I also within the past year vidded my emotions over my grief over my grandmother. That was another low point in my life. But this… I’d never captured my own personal experience of asexuality in fanvideo form. I’d made an informational fanvideo on asexuality before (see way down later in this post) but never a personal one. And this was an emotionally trying time for me.
I participate in this type of fanvideo contest where we vid personal things because I find it’s a way to vid things I really want to capture in fanvid form, to make a video I really want to make but probably wouldn’t without added incentive to do it, so I ultimately got myself excited about making this once I thought of the idea. It took a lot of time and effort to get the clips and figure out how I was going to do it though. I used a pretty popularly vidded song (“overvidded” in many of the fandom circles I hang out in, perhaps, or at least not “undervidded”), one that has made me think of asexuality every time I saw a fanvideo set to it and again heard the chorus about wanting to sleep next to someone and that being ALL they wanted to do “right now”…
I found a female cover version of the song. A cover was in part because many vidders have found the original to be copyrighted and blocked in some countries on YouTube and they had to pitch-shift the song in order to share their video, but also mainly I wanted a female singer anyway (the original is sung by a guy) because I wanted to capture the importance of the female POV in my journey. There isn’t enough female ace representation, especially on TV, and in headcanons in fanfiction, and maybe in novels too… and I find the fact that I’m female and ace an important nuance to capture. I tried to mainly show women’s POV throughout the vid… I included many characters to span varying parts of my journey and all were women or teenage girls (including canonical female ace Voodoo on Sirens) except for two canonically ace men (Todd in BoJack Horseman but just one scene for him, also a few scenes of Gerald from Southland Street), plus one particular headcanonned as ace male character who to me feels practically canon ace, an extra personal and extra important-to-me to include guy, even though much of fandom doesn’t agree he’s ace: Reid.
Yeah, about Reid…
The not yet quite finished and most recent ace fanwork I’ve been working on is:
I’ve finally written 3,300 words of a story which is tentatively titled Reflections on Love and Life where Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds is an asexual character. After I finish the final part of writing this fic, which is likely only maybe 100 more words, it really is so close… and also after it is beta’d (a fellow fan writer works as an editor with helpful suggestions to improve it) I will post it publicly on my fanfiction.net account as well as on my AO3 profile.
I say “finally” because I’ve been headcannoning Reid as asexual since I started watching the show, actually. I started watching Criminal Minds at the end of 2013, and binge watched all 8.5 seasons that existed at the time, and loved it so much. (I was unemployed and had extra time for watching TV, for what that’s worth.) But the end of 2013 was also when I knew I was ace. I figured out, after months of sitting on the idea, that I was definitely ace at the start of Asexual Awareness Week 2013, around October 21st or 22nd of that year. And I had been in fandom spaces, enjoying TV shows, for years and years, but Criminal Minds was the very first show I started watching, freshly experiencing it, after knowing I myself am asexual.
Not only that, but Reid being headcanoned as asexual is something I saw at least one other person, probably multiple other people, do. I knew quite early oh that I wasn’t alone in this interpretation! This was really validating and comforting.
Criminal Minds is now in the middle of season 13, and Reid is one of only like 3 characters left (Reid, JJ, Garcia) who have been there since the very start. I’m still a loyal fan who watches weekly. I noticed, when I watched season 12, how extremely attached I am to my asexual headcanon, and how validated I feel every time the show avoids doing something to disprove that Reid is asexual. To me, disproving my headcanon would be establishing, explicitly, that he finds any other characters hot/sexy/attractive in a way that suggests sexual attraction, or him happily having sex, or possibly even him diving in for a kiss with anyone. My kissing-aversion is an important part of how I experience asexuality, and while I’d still headcanon him as asexual if he started happily dating someone in a way that involved kissing, or even would try to justify how enjoying sex doesn’t completely stop him from being ace spectrum if it came to that, I would prefer he represent me, so I headcanon him as like me and kissing-averse too. And sex-averse. And possibly aro-spec.
He hasn’t consensually kissed anyone on the series in the entire 13 seasons, except for Lyla in a single season 1 episode. Lyla pulls him into the kiss, but he does seem into it so I would argue it’s fairly consensually. He does repeatedly pull away and say they shouldn’t be doing it for reasons of him being the FBI Agent tasked with protecting her, and “Transference“, but he “seems” into the kiss, making out with tongue, returning the kiss, and essentially is painted as attracted to her throughout this one episode. But as it’s only one episode out of 282 episodes that have aired so far at the time of me writing this blog post, it’s easy to basically “not count” that and easy for me to say Reid is asexual and even has never been shown to be interested in kissing for the vast majority of the show. 13 seasons of a live-action TV series spans 13 years of this mans life, btw, from age 23 (the age I figured out I was asexual!) through him being 36 now, turning 37 later this season.
In season 12, when Reid finds himself falsely accused of a crime and denied bail, stuck in prison for a while, other inmates tease him about how attractive one of his female coworkers and close friends is when she comes to visit but he doesn’t like her that way. I forget what else happened in prison itself but there were a few moments where Reid could’ve established himself as straight, I know there were, and he didn’t. I am still in season 10 of my re-watch of the entire series which I’ve been working on off-and-on for years now, taking notes as I rewatch for future use in my fandom endeavors, including on anything that points to Reid possibly being asexual. I haven’t gotten to taking notes on season 12 yet. However I do know that in the season 12 finale, without me going into too much detail, it’s a really traumatizing episode overall for Reid, and whether or not Reid is ace felt relevant to me. During that episode I found myself half hoping he’d be revealed in love with his male friend Morgan who had left the series a year prior, like it’d be an episode where he came out as bi or something, I’d applaud Criminal Minds if they went there (I say bi because he has been shown in season 8 to have fallen in love with a woman… a woman he never had the opportunity to kiss but still loved deeply). But really I mainly just kept hoping they wouldn’t disprove his asexuality, wouldn’t prove him straight, wouldn’t go too far with sex or kissing stuff in a way that I feared they might as I started to watch. There was something about the season 12 finale that made half the tension for me as a viewer this internal knowledge that no matter how sure I am that Spencer Reid is asexual, the show has never explicitly established that, and they could always change their mind and crush me and betray me. And that’s impressive in an episode that already was full of tension for all viewers.
It is very rare for a main character, a character popularly loved within fandom, vidded in many fanvideo tributes, tons of fanfiction written about this person, easy to relate to and respected within the narrative rather than purely the butt of jokes, to be this uninterested in romance and sex. The only other character I can think of who he reminds me of is the character Sherlock on BBC’s series. And that show only has 4 seasons instead of 13. And Sherlock is not supposed to be a character to relate to in quite the same way, he’s supposed to be the exception to most rules. Reid is… more real!
After I finish writing this fanfic, I think I might continue and write another fic that goes in a different direction about not only Reid on Criminal Minds being ace. I want to explore what if Blake was ace too. What if Maeve was ace too. Possibly explore Hotch as demisexual at some point in a fic because that is a headcanon I sometimes like to play with. Reid will stay ace in all these fics, probably every fic I ever write that includes him—it’s just such a big part of how I interpret the canon—unlike with some other ace headcanons of mine for other characters, this feels not like just “one possibility” for Reid but an important intrinsic part of him as I watch the series.
Hence why I made this a little over a year ago.
Please also read supplementary, detailed thoughts of my headcanon for Reid in just seasons 1-4 right here on AO3, where I’ve posted this meta: http://archiveofourown.org/works/7566307/chapters/17212351
I’m still planning to make my “part 2” of Reid as possibly (aro spec?) ace with seasons 5 and on at some point, probably pretty soon, btw. (Even just writing this blog post today has kinda re-inspired me, not gonna lie…)
Much shorter was when I wrote this meta on Glee‘s character Marley (only in seasons 4 and 5 of the series) as compatible with possibly being exactly the same kinds of ace as me: http://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/101437713147/i-have-no-clue-how-to-do-photosets-as-i-never-do
And it was fun to years later, with the first fanvideo linked in this blog post, finally vid some aspects of those clips I’d interpreted as her being ace. I’d link to the AO3 posting of the meta but the photos are all broken so until I have time to update it, 3 tumblr posts about Marley as ace will have to do. That meta of mine, btw, has received a really positive reaction overall. It’s one of the things I’ve felt most “worth it” to have contributed to the ace side of fandom. I even met a person at a local ace meetup who had read this meta of mine before I ever met her. That was surreal, but awesome because she loved it!!
After posting that, I started to dive into writing my first ever ace fanfiction story. It was way more ambitious than most ace fanfic I’ve come across. (Granted I wasn’t yet in the huge ace fandoms like BBC Sherlock, though.) I had signed up for a Glee “Big Bang” (a type of fandom challenge where writers are encouraged to write very long fics, have more organized help with getting fics beta’d, motivation in the form of an artist being paired with you to illustrate your story, and deadlines you will have to meet), in this case with a minimum word count requirement of 50k (yes 50,000 words!).
In the end they lowered the minimum to 47k and I cheated a little and used author’s notes to help me get there and I finished my Four Ace Faces story with pride and excitement. http://archiveofourown.org/works/4289940/chapters/9717753
My 3 betas learned about asexuality and appreciated my story. My two artists worked really hard, one of whom being a turns-out-to-be-ace vidder friend of mine for many years who’d only discovered asexuality after I’d posted this video on my channel the day after I decided I was definitely embracing the asexual label in late 2013:
And who credits me with her discovery of the orientation at what I think was age 29-ish!
Throughout the course of the big bang the premise of my fic had been shared and for months certain people in the Glee fandom were happily anticipating it!
That’s when everything veered suddenly into territory I did not know how to navigate…
I got anon messages on tumblr, to start, basically (if I recall correctly) presenting me with a version of the ace exclusionist asexuality isn’t queer argument in mid 2015 and I wasn’t prepared yet for how to fight it.
It probably put me off writing more ace fic for a while.
I got such nice comments from other people on this fic, a year or two after posting it though, and in the end it still felt worth it to have written it. Comments like:
This fic was exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for bringing these identities to life and truly humanizing asexuality. This was wonderfully written and I can’t thank you enough. Just fabulous.
Or even the very first comment on it, when paired with those:
I was so interested in your concept when I heard about it. I don’t see the characters that way, but this is a very thought-provoking AU. It was easy for me to accept your interpretation of Emma and Marley’s orientations. I also appreciated that I learned so much. 🙂
I don’t regret having written it, and the experience with the haters gave me thicker skin so that I’m better prepared for next time. I also got my first practice trying to write a variety of types of asexuality (gray, demisexuality, etc), playing with common ace tropes before I even knew what the names for these tropes were, or that I was really that deep in the tropes.
The first and only other fanfic I have so far ever written that went in-depth about asexuality was one in the tiny fandom Switched at Birth. The vast majority of fanfics written in this show (of 60 total fics posted on AO3 and 3 are mine, one of those 3 is actually just a meta and not a fic, 452 on fanfiction.net) are about Bay/Emmett as a ship. My ace fanfic is about them too, which means yes my first forray into writing ace fic, unlike a lot of folks in ace fandom, was a het story, not a slash one.
Struggling to Express Herself: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10286945/1/Struggling-to-Express-Herself
I got a variety of interesting reviews, the best ones from fandom friends of mine. I had not received any of the hate I later would get on the Glee story, but I did get comments that were mean and uncalled for.
This story had no emotion…no plot, climax. So boring. Asexuality doesn’t mean the story has to be boring. You breezed through it. So boring…uh, couldn’t stand it.
this fanfic was very confusing and I do not understand why you wrote it
However a comment from a stranger that said this:
I have a friend that is Asexual and i never really understood it but what this story says is exactly what she always said. Its a good story line.
Had been enough to make it feel worth it to me to have written it. Btw I wrote it in 2014, and it still has zero comments (aka reviews) on AO3. The culture around this fandom is all the reviews/comments (7 total!) are on Fanfiction.net. It, however, has 30 kudos on AO3 now. Just kudos, no comments, but the kudos keep trickling in. I got 9 of those 30 kudos recently, within the year 2017 alone!
(By the way, all my fics are posted on both AO3 and FFN. FFN doesn’t allow other fanworks other than fic, such as meta essays or podfics, so those are usually only on AO3.)
I was inspired to write the fic after having made this video, my first real “fannish” video, and actually first real fannish work at all (because the “I Support Aseuxuality Awareness Week” vid, while posted on my fandom-only YouTube channel in 2013, more made the channel “not fandom only anymore” than anything. It included a clip from a TV show but didn’t really do fannish stuff in terms of manips). I had gotten one comment in response to this video:
That excitedly squeed over Bay Kennish from Switched at Birth being featured. So I ran with it and did a lot more with Bay for my first ever ace fic. 😉 And it was great, because even if I don’t headcanon Bay as ace in general, she’s been “disproven” ace as far as I’m concerned, I love and in some ways relate to Bay a lot, and it was really fun to write a story from her point of view!!
That video of mine is a weird example of “Fandom”, but it’s what a lot of ace fics originally were trying to do too. Teach the non-aces and the aces-who-don’t-know-they’re-ace-yet, spread awareness, not actually be a compelling fanwork but just use the medium of fandom to… explain. It was an interesting experiment, and this video was “what I tried to be quite different from” in the very first video linked to within this whole blog post, way back up at the top the one about Embracing my Asexuality and Sex-Aversion. In fact, I tried not to repeat clips at all if I could help it, even if I used some of the same characters.
I also tried not to repeat any of the Voodoo stuff from Sirens I already had included in the short collab part I made which opens this collab, although I ended up yes repeating a little bit of Amy questioning since that was such a well done storyline on Faking It (demisexual!Amy for life?? Anyone?). 😛 I actually already shared this one on my blog once before, explicitly vidding a CANON ace character for the very first time:
(I don’t think I’m 100% done vidding Voodoo…)
So let’s switch gears a little. Back in 2014, that first year of me knowing I’m ace, is also when I first discovered a side of fandom called podfic. After listening to quite a few lovely audio renditions of fanfics, I felt really motivated to try my own hand at it. The very first podfic I ever made was a Teen Wolf one which included not only asexuality, but an allosexual aromantic character, and heteroromantic-heterosexual queerplatonic partners raising children together as two partnered parents. All important aspects of representation to me. Even if the ace part is brief, the queerplatonic part spans the whole story, and the ace part still manages to get in the trope of black ace rings… 😛
(Yes you can hear my voice – and breath – on the crappy old microphone I used, and my super-rushed sounding beginning of the story as I was just learning how to do this whole podfic craft thing…)
Make This Place Your Home: https://archiveofourown.org/works/2464703
Queerplatonic relationships were always really important to me, as soon as I learned about them, and was coming to understand myself in a new light as asexual. My birthday collabs I hosted for myself January of 2014 were all about some of my favorite platonic relationships -friendships and family pairings – on my favorite TV shows. Hosting a birthday collab means getting a bunch of my vidder friends to each vid a small part, and because it’s my birthday I get the privilege of knowing all the fandoms and liking all the relationships included, and picking the song. Then I render it together. I hosted two because I had enough friends willing to participate and SO many favorites that it was impossible to fit them all into just one collab… 😛
I hosted only one some years, like in January 2016 when I hosted a lovely collab of many of my favorite romantic ships… but again this past year, January 2017, I decided to host two about my favorite queerplatonic relationships. I made this post of basically meta on tumblr about who in my favorite shows I interpret as queerplatonic and why: http://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/155333908172/list-of-queerplatonic-level-relationships-people
This was mainly inspired because I was freshly back together with my queerplatonic partner at that point in time, he got back together with me about a month prior to me setting up this collab, and I wanted other people to be embracing the awesomeness of bonds in my favorite shows that reminded me why I love the concept of Queerplatonic so much the same way I was… especially my closest vidder friends. I was pleasantly surprised to get not even ONE critical/mean response to the notion of queerplatonic throughout this whole process. People loved the unique collab theme. These are the two final products:
So while this isn’t about asexuality per se, all of these relationships that made it into these collabs are non-sexual, even the ones that had limited kissing or one-sided romantic feelings, and it felt like the non-sexual love was… what I wanted everyone to capture in their parts. And they succeeded!! I love rewatching these collabs. I do think especially “Poison & Wine” is not perfect. The editing in some parts is more impressive in general than in others, the vidders are of varying skill levels and also are using footage of varying clip quality. But still. I’m so glad these vids exist now. (I did the final coloring and rendering so if you don’t like that part of them, I’m to blame. :P)
Oh I almost forgot! I wrote a Teen Wolf fic in 2015, back before that Glee disaster, for a fandom exchange, with demisexual Kira going to an ace meetup… and with lots of “almost everyone is queer” vibes and it was a fun one to write because it was including asexuality in a context where I trusted people would get it. Demisexual Kira is a pretty common fan headcanon, asexuality had seemed pretty well known in Teen Wolf fandom, unlike some other fandoms. And I didn’t have to make asexuality a big focus or explain it. I could just let her be a character Malia had a huge crush on who she thought would never have those feelings back, and let Kira/Lydia be a cute femslash couple, and write about other characters too, and still work in some of my own lived experiences from going to ace meetups regularly by letting Kira disappear to go off to one. 😉 http://archiveofourown.org/works/3451982
The last completed ace fanwork I have made that I can think of is this 11 minute podfic I made. The entire story (Hold Your Hand) is focused on Barry Allen from the CW’s The Flash tv series being asexual: http://archiveofourown.org/works/10825866
I have one or two criticisms about the story (mainly just the author forgetting that Barry would have personal triggers about one spouse murdering another seems kinda hard for me to suspend my disbelief on) but ultimately I loved the story’s feel so much that it was one of the fastest podfics I ever made, I just sat down and excitedly recorded the story and captured a lovely, relatable interpretation of a “What if season 1 Barry really was ace but didn’t know it”. I’m so glad this was written and I’m so glad the author gave me permission to share it in podfic form.
I have other things that might be tangentially related to the topic of this post… like this aromantic-spectrum (not asexual) headcanon for Oliver Queen on The CW’s Arrow: http://archiveofourown.org/works/10705410
OR the fact that for almost a year now I’ve been working on a podfic for an asexual Clark Kent from Smallville, and the story I’ve recorded and still needed to finish doing a lot of editing of my voice on is quite flawed in some ways and doesn’t really feel like my type of story, but it’s a long, happy fic with an asexual superhero, and to me it doesn’t really feel like a harmful trope if he’s an alien (from the planet Kryton of course) and is asexual because he’s an alien in the story… I need to finish this podfic when I get a chance, it’s been sitting unfinished, unshared with the world for far too long. This one is probably going to be an hour and a half long when I’m done editing. So it’s on the longer side compared to stories like the Barry one I just linked to/mentioned above.
I’m probably forgetting something… oh yeah I really wanted to write Supergirl/The Flash Kara/Iris femslash where one or both women were ace spectrum and one or both were pan or bisexual and I hadn’t really… gotten there yet and it’s been over a year but I can’t shake the idea of how fun that might be to write, and how unique. Ace!Kara is not unheard of in Supergirl fandom these days but this crossover ship has never even been written!! XD I’m not sure why I’m so tempted for things like this idea, rather than jumping into writing for popular ships and actually being guaranteed readers.
But a lot of times the popular ace ships… well… I think this is more a topic for my NEXT blog post, actually.
Does the fact that I included in this fanvideo (a fanvid about my grief over my grandmother and confusing feelings) the fact that I never came out to my grandmother as either an atheist or as asexual before she died count? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYjBt6gfN0 I didn’t explicitly make it clear what I didn’t come out to her as in the video, but I made it clear it was me having not come out, and explained in the fanvid description on YouTube lol.
I hope to create more ace fanworks in the future. I am not at all tired of it, it’s not “out of my system” or anything like that. I feel like maybe one day I might want to write an original fiction novel including asexuality and this all is practice if so, but I also feel like I just, for fandom’s sake itself, want more of fandom to be validating to aces, to help make the world a happier, more hopeful place for people like me, to be fun and exciting and relatable. I’ve been in fandom spaces for 11 years now, and For the first 7 years I had zero exposure to asexuality in my fandom life. I want to fix that problem. The more I engage with creating ace fanworks, spending hours effort and putting my heart and soul into each of these things, the more I feel my own heart and soul expand and gain strength and pride and shed any remaining shame or confusion I might’ve still been holding onto. It practically feels like activism and an outlet for my creative side all at once, and I just feel so good doing it.
My queerplatonic partner broke up with me back in May, and for the next round of that “Who You Are” fanvideo contest I’m in, we’re supposed to vid a relationship (or multiple relationships in one video), showing how the relationship(s) shaped us into who we are today. I realized while working on my Breaking Point video about embracing my asexuality and sex-aversion that while I was focusing on how hard breaking up with that boyfriend of mine in 2013 was, really I could’ve, as another pretty “true” option for my breaking point, vidded this 2017 breakup of mine. My QPR ending crushed me in a way like nothing else has, and I don’t feel entirely over it even 5 months later.
But I’m glad I didn’t vid it for the breaking point round, because sharing my story about sex-aversion and the struggle to figure out and then embrace asexuality is so much more unique for a fanvideo than just capturing the hurt of a break-up.
For this new “relationship” round of the contest, I feel like I’m really putting my asexuality into my vidding yet again. I’m capturing how wonderful the relationship was and how painful the breakup has been, all of it, but I’m trying to capture the wonderfulness without ever once including a kiss, and my kissing-aversion is most certainly a part of how I experience my asexuality. I’m portraying a combination of friendships and romantic relationships where the couples go through things I relate to, but in this multi-fandom, I’m not once going to feature anything sexual or kissing related. This is something I’ve never done before in a video, and it feels like it makes the video unique and like it has a very personal, touch. Even if no one else fully “Gets” it, it’s helping me come to terms with my breakup, maybe, and capture all the things we really did have that we now don’t, even if we weren’t ever sexual or romantic in nature.
I don’t only want to make asexuality-themed fanworks, there are some fandoms where I love being in them but asexuality doesn’t feel like it naturally fits in anywhere. I have many facets to my fannish personality and what I get out of participating in fandom as both a creator and a consumer. But I wanted to share from the creator end what it can be like, and maybe provide some encouragement to dive into creating yourself.
It ultimately has been so worth it for me to make asexuality important enough that it gets into my fanworks. 😀