This blog post was originally written with the intent of being posted to the official Ace Week website as a guest post: https://www.aceweek.org/stories but due to some complicated circumstances, never was. I was asked to write a post, did my best to cover personal history and stuff, and wrote a very long blog post (over 7,000 words in length), which you can now read below. The post was written end of October 2020, with slight edits I made on December 5, 2020 to the “2019”, “2020”, and “Looking To The Future” sections. I’m finally sharing it below.
Ace Week (or as it used to be called, Asexual Awareness Week) is a special anniversary time for me because it was during Asexual Awareness Week near the end of October 2013 that I first embraced the truth that I am asexual. I had been questioning my sexual orientation for years in a passive way, and much more actively for a few months. At that pivotal moment seven years ago, after feeling consumed with confusion for a long stretch of time, I finally felt certainty around my newfound identity, and felt like I finally understood such a key part of myself. I was 23 years old. (My birthday is in January, so my age typically lines up quite well to the year—I was 23 years old for the vast majority of 2013.)
In the seven years since then, I’ve been on a much richer journey than I ever would have imagined. One piece of that is a continued exploration of the nuances of what identity labels work for me in what seems to be a potentially always evolving process. Often, as I experience new situations within my interpersonal relationships, I learn more about myself. I currently identify as a pan-alterous, demi-sensual, gray-aromantic, sex-averse asexual. I think some other terms describe me well too, but I don’t claim them as orientations or as important things to label.
The history of Asexual Awareness Week is described here. I didn’t even know until this year (2020) that the celebratory week was launched in 2010.
2010 and earlier:
Reflecting on it now, I realize I was 20 years old when the initiative was beginning. That was a time in my life when I was still assuming I was straight-by-default, all while never having dated, kissed anyone, or had any romantic or sexual experience whatsoever.
For the decade prior, age 10-or-so till age 20, there were little signs of my orientation, had I known what to look for. There were many moments along my journey where I felt a disconnection from my peers and from the cultural narrative of what feelings “everyone” supposedly starts to feel during puberty. But I didn’t know what to look for. And even if asexual online communities were all starting to exist during those years, it was a small corner of the internet and that information certainly did not reach me.
As a cis person who mistook herself for straight, I was not spending time in any LGBTQ+ community spaces yet, including online ones. A possible exception was enjoying fanvideos with canonically queer ships. In 2006 when I had been 16 years old, I’d entered the vidding fandom community. By the time I was 20, I had already become entranced with a handful of stories of people questioning their sexuality, all while stuck feeling convinced I must be straight if I was not actively attracted to women. I didn’t know there were any other options.
I was also 20 years old when I first started reading fanfiction in some of my favorite fandoms, and encountering sexually explicit scenes at times, although never purposefully seeking them out. I was starting to grow more and more aware that I didn’t fit allosexual narratives, and yet I didn’t understand why or how.
With only one Asexual Awareness Week having taken place, and the target audience that first year being LGTBQ communities, it’s no surprise I was not yet aware of asexuality. As far as I’m aware, I didn’t hear the word asexual in relation to sexual orientation for the first time in my life until May 2011. If I had heard it at any earlier point in time, it left absolutely no impression on me.
May 2011 is when I first encountered the word “asexual” as a description of a person’s sexuality. I would have guessed it was either 2010 or 2011 but today, writing this post, I made more of an effort to research my personal history more deeply. I looked up the tweets using Twitter’s advanced search feature, luckily recalling just enough of the information to be able to search successfully. It seems the actual original tweet may have been deleted. However, I am 99% certain that I remember the context of the following pair of tweets. (Content Warning for misconception in tweets about asexuality being equivalent to not having sex).
Angie, an outspoken atheist whom I had been following for her tweets relating to her experiences escaping a cult, had also tweeted about having asexual friends, and I then replied asking her about that term. She had linked me to the AVEN home page. (Note: I typically remembered this as the FAQ page, which I must have quickly navigated to from the home page. I do not recall what this FAQ looked like over 9 years ago and how it differs from how it looks today.)
Then, this is how I replied:
(Clearly, at the time she did not have a full enough understanding or appreciation of all the nuances of asexuality to know that asexual people have sex and sometimes get pregnant too. But nevertheless, I am extremely grateful for this exchange with her. This was such an important kindness, introducing me to something so vital to my future.)
Before that point she’d written other tweets about asexuality as well:
Also, one interesting thing that hints at my sex-aversion and asexuality months before she introduced me to the AVEN FAQ and months before the term asexuality entered my radar, is this exchange from me to her:
So there I was, at 21 years old, and I began to gain awareness of asexuality.
When I was 22, after I graduated from college, I started to really internalize shame at not having experienced dating yet. Before starting dating, though, I needed to have foot surgery, which I took months to recover from. During that time, I watched the entire series of House M.D. on DVD (yes, in 2012 we still sometimes used DVDs and Netflix had them mailed to my home rather than offer this show via streaming). During my binge-watching, I saw every episode plus the DVD commentaries, so of course I saw the episode that horrifically misconstrued asexuality in season 8, an episode that had first aired in January 2012. I saw it the summer of 2012 after my foot surgery. My awareness of asexuality at that time was quite minimal, and although I was very interested in asexuality when Angie had introduced me to it on twitter, and I had read the FAQ carefully, I kind of… pushed the thought aside. I went deep into denial. My worldview didn’t have room for asexuality. I probably didn’t think I could handle what it would really mean if asexuality was real. When I saw this episode of House, my reaction was to shrug it off, and not even notice it was flawed. It confirmed everything I already believed about asexuality. It reminded me of the term, and the idea, and then it went through the process of “proving” that asexuality isn’t real, by making one ace character sick and the other ace character a liar. I, a supposedly “just really inexperienced straight person”, didn’t feel invalidated, and while I don’t recall all my emotions watching it because it really didn’t leave that much of an impression, I believe that the way the episode framed asexuality felt intuitively right to me at the time. (In retrospect, I feel strongly this episode is actively harmful to asexual people and am outraged it was ever made.)
Later into the year 2012, after I recovered from surgery, I went onto OkCupid to start dating. I was two years too early, because asexuality would be officially added to the online dating site and app in 2014. I have no idea how seeing asexuality on there would have affected me.
I went on 3 dates with the first guy I ever dated, and in November 2012 after my first kisses of my life (which were all tongue kissing, by the way), I looked back into asexuality. I started to more deeply consider if the kissing-aversion I was experiencing was because:
- he wasn’t “my type” (as in, the type of person I’d be sexually attracted to and have chemistry with, which then led me to question what “my type” was, and I could not come up with an answer that felt satisfying), or
- I didn’t know how to kiss and needed to learn the skill and then I’d enjoy it
- I was kissing the wrong gender and really I was a lesbian? (which I dismissed as an idea pretty quickly because I could not imagine it would be better kissing a woman), or
- I might be asexual and this was a “flashing-neon-lights” sign towards it that I shouldn’t ignore.
I searched on the AVEN forums, seeking the answer to if “not liking kissing” was a sign of asexuality, and all the posts I found contained information along the lines of: “it’s okay if you like kissing, you can still be asexual”. That led me to feel as if all people, including asexuals, enjoy the act of kissing, and asexuality must not be the reason for my kissing-aversion. I had not found my answer.
(It would take years and years before I found enough narratives of aces not liking kisses to feel like yes, I’m not alone in kissing-aversion being intrinsically linked to my asexuality.)
I turned 23, and started online dating again. I was only dating straight guys at the time. The third guy I ever tried online dating was 22 years old, about a year younger than me. I told him on our second date that I had been questioning if I might be on the asexual spectrum. Deep down, I probably knew that the real question was mostly about where on the ace spectrum. By the time I had met him, I had been wondering if I might turn out to be demisexual but had grown increasingly convinced no surprise experience was going to suddenly reveal I was allosexual, despite how desperately I wanted to be allo. I had already acquired a significant amount of internalized acephobia and shame prior to learning about asexuality as a sexual orientation.
On some level, I had already known from the moment of my first kiss with this boyfriend of mine that I was not heterosexual, but it took me about 3 months of time dating him to really feel sure that he and I weren’t going to be sexually compatible at all. During those months, I spent a little time on AVEN, and a ton of time on “ace tumblr”, and started to explore the WordPress/Blogspot/etc asexual blogging community as well. I was learning new things every single day about what it felt like to be asexual. I was also exploring allosexual narratives, questioning my allo friends, and even reading Scarleteen obsessively. Once I could no longer deny I was specifically kissing-averse and sex-averse, I finally admitted—both to myself and to him—that I felt like neither he nor I would be happy if we tried to stay together. He agreed. The crux of it was that he wanted sexual experiences that I would never want. Our breakup was fairly mutual and quite amicable.
That moment, during the breakup, was the first time I came out as asexual to anyone. The timing worked out well for me. I proceeded to make wonderful use of Asexual Awareness Week 2013 as a designated “excuse” to come out to as many people as possible as soon as possible. I created a video and posted it to my YouTube channel to announce my support for asexuality needing more awareness to all my subscribers—my YouTube channel is and was entirely dedicated to fanvideos, and my subscribers are mostly members of the vidding community. The video was nothing special and mostly comprised of ace pride photos from Google relating to ace flag colors and black rings. I probably threw it together in only 1 hour. But at this point in my questioning journey, after all the time I’d spent learning about asexuality, I felt passionate about helping prevent some of the pain I had endured. Without having these words for it yet, I had a desperation for people to understand how emotionally difficult the hermeneutical injustice of it all was, how not having awareness actively hurt me. I wanted other aces out there who didn’t yet know they were ace to not have as difficult of a time accepting the truth about themselves as I did. I also came out on Facebook in October 2013. By December 2013, I had come out to even more people in my family, and with my dad and brother watched the 2011 (A)sexual documentary which had been on Netflix at the time.
2013 also was when novels with canonically asexual characters came onto the scene, starting with Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson. I’m not entirely sure that’s the first one, and there are also books in the 80s and 90s that can be argued to explicitly describe asexual experiences in the characters. There were probably always ace characters in fiction in all of history, if you knew where to look, because there were always people who could fit into the idea of asexuality, and observant and thoughtful writers might have always captured it. I’m finally, in 2020, going to read Quicksilver. I’m looking forward to it.
In 2013, I had a job that lasted for roughly 1 month, but mostly, from the time I graduated college in May 2012, for over 4 years until October 2016, I was unemployed. I did volunteer many hours of my time for years starting in February 2015, but it was an unpaid position that was not as many hours a week as a full time job. I also had undiagnosed ADHD which impacted my job search negatively. This period of unemployment provided me ample time (perhaps too much time) to hyperfixate on asexuality in many ways. I had the immense privilege of living with a parent who paid the rent and paid for the groceries, and I used a lot of my time towards what I was passionate about—improving the landscape for the next generation of aces after me, and trying to understand my own desires and experiences as fully as possible.
I started blogging about my asexuality in 2014, and also in 2014 started attending my local in-person ace meetup. Through the ace blogosphere and also through those offline events I have stumbled into some amazing, deep, long-lasting friendships with fellow aces. 2014 was a huge year for me in terms of solidifying my identity and what it meant to me.
I deleted my OkCupid account in 2014, mere months before asexuality and demisexuality were added as options that same year. I realized I both:
- didn’t really feel comfortable dating heterosexual men, even if they claimed they only wanted coffee, and
- didn’t see the point/appeal of dating these men, if I didn’t see a long-term committed future as a possibility.
I started to also realize I… wasn’t actually heteroromantic. When I came out as asexual at the end of 2013, I had been telling people I was heteroromantic. But in March 2014 I wrote a blog post about being maybe aromantic, maybe panromantic, maybe WTFromantic – in the end, 6.5 years later, I think all 3 labels are actually pretty accurate all at once and it never had to be a “pick one” situation even if I’ve shifted the words I use slightly, and heteroromantic definitely never was true for me.
The same year, I hosted two months of the Carnival of Aces, and I would continue to host periodically in the years to come.
In 2014, when the TV series Sirens started airing, I had no idea that in episode 6 a character would be revealed to be canonically asexual. I started watching the show not aware of the asexuality, but stopped because the show was triggering my sex-repulsion too badly. Later, I watched the entire show for the ace representation and ultimately enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I thought the representation was pretty good, personally, albeit also definitely flawed and failing in certain respects. I recommend aceadmiral’s writing on the asexual representation, if you get a chance to check it out.
I began to help host meetups for Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic, the DMV (Washington D.C./Maryland/Virginia) based meetup.com group, in January 2015. I still host meetups to this day, and being an event host has become a huge part of my life. I sometimes feel obligated to host, especially if no one else is hosting things. I don’t want the calendar to be empty and devoid of future events. During COVID-19 we had to switch to virtual video call meetups. A large percentage of meetups I’ve hosted have included watching TV or films together, and the very first meetup I ever hosted in 2015 was of that type as well.
In July 2015, I met the guy who would later become my queerplatonic partner for a time.
I also began the volunteer job I referenced earlier in February 2015, and began practicing coming out as ace to coworkers, although most of the coming out to those individuals probably happened in 2016.
Near the end of 2015, I established my specific life goal to find a queerplatonic partner in order to co-parent foster and/or adopted children in a blog post. My entire desire for a partner was wrapped up in my desire to parent. I also called myself aro in that blog post, perhaps for the first time starting to embrace that word specifically as describing me.
In 2016 I entered into a queerplatonic partnership for a fairly large chunk of the year, and mostly continued a lot of what I’d been doing in 2014 and 2015.
I think 2016 was the year I started really feeling my tentative pan identity, and embracing that I was not just ace and WTFromantic, but also gray-panromantic in some way, where being mistaken for straight while in my queerplatonic dating relationship with a guy felt both like erasure and invisibility of my asexuality, but also like erasure and invisibility of my feeling that “I’d date people of any gender, I just happen to right now be dating a guy”.
The pressure from attendees of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic to have representation in the Washington D.C. Pride Parade (Capital Pride) was building, and in 2016, we hosted a meetup.com event to attend the parade as spectators on the sidelines. This was the first time a majority of us regular meetup attendees had ever been to a pride parade. We were mistaken for being fans of the Baltimore sports team The Ravens with all the purple we were wearing by one individual, which was humorous. Overall it was a very positive experience.
Also during Pride Month (June) of 2016, AVEN reached out to the organizers of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic to see if anyone might be willing to be interviewed on asexuality for a news article in The Washington Post. I agreed, although I was told that I would be able to look at what was written before it went to publication, which did not happen. I was frustrated to find in the final article that despite me mentioning in my phone interview that I had a queerplatonic partner, they decided to imply in the final article that my aromanticism means I personally don’t date people. I consider myself to be aromantic yet date. Nonetheless, many of the pitfalls commonly found in articles published over prior years had been avoided in this article, and the way asexuality and aromanticism were presented here was acceptable considering it could not be more than a brief introduction to the concepts.I fell in love, in what I’d later define as an alterous experience, with two people in 2016 – one friend whom I’ve never told, and my queerplatonic partner. I also experienced what felt like a “demi” switch flip to sudden attraction for both of those individuals, but for me the attraction was clearly specifically of the “sensual attraction” type, not romantic, not sexual. I had never heard of it being possible to be demi about other types of attraction besides romantic and sexual, for the tertiary forms of attraction. Still, all my time in the ace blogosphere had equipped me well to understand the demi experience when I first felt it, and to understand sensual attraction as separate and an attraction that can be felt all on its own without necessarily being tied to other types of attraction. As for the way it manifests in my own experiences, it might be somewhat tied to my experiences of alterous attraction, but it took 2 years of knowing one friend and 1 year of knowing the other individual before I felt the desire to hug and touch these individuals.
I believe part of why it took until I was 26 years old to first experience my demi form of attraction “activating” is that I needed to feel fully safe and like I could fully trust that these specific people I knew had no chance of being sexually attracted to me because of the type of ace they were, and feel like I was also fully understood in my own asexuality, before I had a deep enough emotional connection. I don’t think I’d ever before in my life felt quite so emotionally close to people.
I experienced deep heartbreak when my queerplatonic partner broke up with me in June. I was able to rekindle a friendship with him by the end of the year. In December 2016, my queerplatonic partner suggested we get back together, and we did.
Around Christmas, while vacationing with my family, I was invited as an ace organizer of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic to look at what other ace organizers and activists were saying in their public comments posted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during an open comment period regarding the drug flibanserin, and was offered a last minute chance before the comment period closed to add my own comments. I was too busy to write anything, but felt impressed by what had been written by other aces, and felt emotional reading the way asexuality was being framed and validated in ways I didn’t realize would feel so meaningful to me until I was reading these passionate appeals to the FDA. Other ace bloggers have written on Flibanserin/Addyi when it was first approved in 2015, and in 2017 I appreciated this summary as well. I ended 2016 feeling a renewed sense of how important ace activism was.
In 2017, I began to more deeply engage in ace activism than I had been. I also, meanwhile, was working full time for the first time in my life (started my job at the end of 2016) but my involvement in ace spaces was not diminishing. I believe my amount of time to participate actively in fandom spaces is what mostly was sacrificed.
Around what must have been the start of February, Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic was approached by ace activist David Jay about the Creating Change conference and the ace activist struggle for asexual inclusion in years past. (Please click the link to read a detailed interview from Bauer of Aces NYC describing the history of the efforts to get asexuality included in the Creating Change annual conferences.) The upcoming conference (scheduled for January of 2018) would take place in Washington D.C., which posed a unique opportunity for aces to get onto the Creating Change conference host committee. David Jay and the ace activists working towards asexual inclusion had been told by the National LGBTQ Task Force would be required before a dedicated Hospitality Suite for asexuals might be possible.
I joined the Creating Change host committee with two other members of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic.
I attended the first ClexaCon, a fandom convention geared towards LGBTQ+ women that explicitly was going to have one session focused on asexuality, which helped me feel included and encouraged me to attend. I enjoyed the session, presented by Sara Beth Brooks, who founded Asexual Awareness Week.
I spoke as an individual outspoken asexual on a podcast that no longer is online, discussing my point of view on pride parades as an asexual who had only attended one pride parade so far in my life at the time of the recording, among a group of individuals who all happened to be trans and nonbinary except for me, all of them also discussing a spectrum of experiences. I did my best to speak to the experiences of aces who are uncomfortable by the celebration of overt sexuality and don’t find attending pride accessible, while also capturing the joy many aces can find in attending a pride parade.
Meanwhile, 2017 was when a number of us seriously started to consider the logistics of aces marching in pride—the amount of money we’d need (hundreds of dollars was required to register) and the amount of marchers we’d need. We considered how Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic was a social group, and some of us felt a separate activist group was starting to be needed.
In September, I put effort into writing a compelling personal essay to submit to The Asexual (which was later renamed to AZE), which was published on October 1st publicly, “An Asexual Awakening”. This was writing I wanted to be more polished than my blogging, and also more accessible to a wider audience. I’m proud of how I ultimately captured my sex-aversion and how I have never had a libido of any kind, as well as how not having a libido made me feel broken.
Also in October 2017, while a group of aces sat in my house and at least one or two joined by web call, we discussed potential names for the non-profit organization we had decided to start. I helped co-found The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project (TAAAP), although the name we came up with in my living room was The Asexual Awareness Project (that would be changed later, as our activism evolved).
I went onto Zazzle’s website and ordered a number of ace, aro, and pan pride buttons, feeling like I wanted to be carrying around pride on my purse or my backpack I carried to-and-from my job each day. I prioritized my asexuality in my choices of purchases, but enjoyed showing off all three of my pride flags. This was actually the beginning of me growing to feel the pan flag was my own. (I remembered in 2016 seeing the pan flag and not recognizing it, needing to ask which flag it was. Oh, how much had changed!)
I was 27 years old by this point, and my queerplatonic partner had traumatized me with his ghosting method of breaking up with me (our second and final breakup) in May of 2017.
Then 6 months later, in November 2017, unexpected circumstances dictated that the podcast I had been helping co-host for a year and a half had to abruptly end. I was asked by friends if I might start up another atheism-related podcast, and I formed the idea immediately that no, I wasn’t passionate enough about atheism, and if I were to start another podcast, it would be a podcast themed around one or both of my two biggest interests at the time, asexuality and fandom.
In 2018, I started that podcast, Aceterpretations. I recruited two co-hosts and the three of us made it happen. (I personally hope we can increase our extremely slow release schedule at some point.)
I presented on an Asexuality 101 workshop and also on the Asexual, Gray-Asexual, and Aromantic Spectrum Caucus for the January 2018 Creating Change conference, my first time ever presenting at a conference.
2018 was indeed a year of a number of firsts for me. I bought my first and favorite ace necklace from Zazzle. I started reading novels with ace characters and hosting ace meetups to discuss them. I painted T-shirts with fabric paint to make my own pride statements, and spent time writing on posters, then marched in Pride for the first time. This was also the first time Washington D.C. had asexuality represented by any contingent in their city’s Pride Parade!
There was so much exciting stuff as TAAAP was getting off the ground. We were beginning to establish our presence and our first projects, and realized we wanted to change our activism focus to include aromanticism in its own right, and I was involved in nearly every single conversation about the direction of TAAAP. I felt like TAAAP was giving me purpose and I felt so passionate about what I was doing
I joined dating websites for the first time since identifying as asexual, and at first tried only websites & apps for queer women, as I was trying to avoid dating heterosexual men and trying to explore the pan side of my identity more fully than I ever had before. I met up with one woman who I felt a lot of connection with quickly, and who learned she was demisexual thanks to my dating profile and openness. We spoke on the phone both before and after our one and only date, but our date was a very long day spent together, and over the course of that day I learned we would not be compatible. I think I had gotten my hopes so high, and it hurt a lot to lose what I felt so close to having.
Most of what I accomplished when I think about my ace endeavors in 2019 was just continuing what I’d started in prior years. I invested hours of time into TAAAP, into Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic, into blogging about my asexuality, and into my Aceterpretations podcast.
However, there were things that were new in 2019!
I attended three pride parades and two pride festivals that June, including marching in World Pride in NYC. I must say, for me personally, World Pride was an intense and somewhat overwhelming experience, because of how difficult and stressful it was to find the marching contingent in time and to squeeze through an extremely tight crowd in the staging areas, and then it was just too much walking considering how out of shape I was, so I was barely able to stand and keep walking afterwards to get to my car to drive home. Baltimore Pride was the best experience, a reasonable sized parade and crowd and length of walk, and plenty of people including fellow aces cheering and excited for us, with spectators often quite close to marchers on those streets. As for Capital Pride 2019 in DC, we had only just started marching, and not gotten very far through the parade, when a stampede ended the entire parade early, which was an upsetting experience for many of us. I was likely less rattled than many of my friends, but it still rattled me a bit. Our ace & aro contingent didn’t even get to pass by the group of spectators from Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic specifically there to watch ace and aro people be represented!
I also had the privilege of attending the 2019 Ace & Aro Conference in New York City, as well as the premiere of the documentary ASEXUALS the night before. This conference was a wonderful experience that reminded me of an ace meetup but 10-15 times bigger than a lot of the ace meetups I typically get to attend in terms of the number of aces in attendance, and much more focused on a lot of the aspects of discussion I would be interested in. Some ace bloggers whom I’d never met offline before, I now finally had the opportunity to meet in-person for the first time, and we were mutually aware of each other’s blogging, already fellow ace-blogosphere community members, so I found it very cool to get that chance to meet. (I had a similar experience with one ace blogger at the first Creating Change conference I attended, in January 2018!)
The most significant thing in my personal life in 2019 was that in April, I resumed my attempts at online dating, and this time went onto OkCupid, checking the “I don’t want straight people to see me” option, and utilizing the feature that allowed me to mark myself “asexual” as well as seeking relationships with people of any gender. Within only a week or so, I found the demisexual person who would become my alterous partner for roughly 1 year of my life, before we’d break up for good in May of 2020.
I spent a lot of 2019 in the most serious and longest-lasting dating relationship of my life, and I learned new things about my orientations and desires in the process. It was my first time within a polyamorous dating dynamic. I started feeling more connection to the word alterous, and using it to apply to both present and past emotions, attractions, and desires. My partner and I also decided to apply the term alterous to our relationship, as an alternative when “queerplatonic” and “romantic” both felt not quite correct.
Through this relationship, I fell in love with someone for the third time in my life, and felt my demi-sensual switch flip, desiring and feeling comfortable with an alterous kind of touch. This was the third time in my life that I’d felt the switch flip, but the first time I’d then actually gotten to tell the person about it, and really experience this kind of loving touch within that kind of connection. I adjusted my point of view somewhat on how I feel about bed sharing, and explored how I’d feel about pet names, settling on one specific one I felt comfortable being called, whereas I was distinctly uncomfortable with most others. Calling my partner a pet name didn’t quite come naturally to me, so I mostly just didn’t.
There are so many things I hopefully will one day explore in blog posts that I haven’t even touched on specifically, but for now I’ll just say that 2019 was a year I entered into a different kind of relationship than I’d ever been in before, and my 29-year-old self learned new things about my orientations. It surprised me just how many things I could learn about myself when I already knew about my asexuality for about 6 years. It surprised me how much a new relationship made me almost feel like I was starting my discovery journey over from nearly the beginning, needing to grapple with a number of questions which I didn’t need to ask myself when I was single regarding my aversions, my desires, and everything in between.
There were struggles and painful aspects of this relationship as well, and to keep this directly related to my asexuality, I felt renewed shame and guilt at times over how kissing-averse and sex-averse I am, even after all these years of comfort with my identity, and pushed myself to the absolute limits of my boundaries sometimes, some of which I regret. But these were very useful learning experiences, just as much as the positive parts of it all were.
2020 has been a very long year for many of us. I presented at the Creating Change conference for the third year in a row. My ex-queerplatonic partner who had ghosted me and disappeared entirely from my life returned to in-person ace meetups. I was dealing with emotions from that, and navigating that dynamic, when social distancing started to become necessary in the USA because of the COVID-10 pandemic.
All of my local group’s meetups turned virtual. There was no marching in a pride parade this year, and instead TAAAP launched our Pride Chats community. The Creating Change conference, originally planned to take place in Washington DC again this upcoming January 2021, was moved to be a virtual and much smaller conference as well.
I have been enjoying participating in everything TAAAP does virtually. I also have been hosting a number of meetups for Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic including launching a “Fast-Friending” virtual event utilizing the free https://icebreaker.video/ options—it pairs people up into only one-on-one conversations, and then you switch with the algorithm to never get the same person twice. It’s been a successful event that I’ve hosted 4 times now starting at the end of May. Each time I host, I tweak the length of the games (the way it works is everyone is playing a game with icebreaker questions) and the nature of the games/which specific questions are asked. There is a lot of freedom to customize, so you can write your own sets of questions. I plan to host another one in December or January! I highly recommend anyone considering hosting an ace meetup look into this option as a meetup idea. Another of the upcoming meetups I’m hosting is a discussion of the book Quicksilver I mentioned above. I enjoy talking about canon ace and also sometimes canon aro characters (including aromantic allosexual characters) at meetups so much. How we’re represented in fiction is such an interesting topic to me, and also matters so much to me. The lack of representation I had when I was younger affected me so very deeply, because of how big of a role fictional stories played in my life.
I baked myself a cake for Ace Week for the first time in my life, despite having no one to share the cake with because of social distancing and my lack of seeing any of my ace friends in-person since March. I tried to embrace the fun of being able to show off the photos of how I decorated it.
I have been trying to find ways to practice self care and celebrate this very special and exciting week that also holds personal significance in my journey, that was the beginning of so much of what my life has since become. Being ace defines my life in such a key way. Such a big part of my friend group and socializing is through asexual meetups or connections first formed at them. I volunteer so many hours each week lately for TAAAP, and continue to choose to prioritize TAAAP in my life as much as feels doable for me without completely overwhelming me, because I am so passionate about the work we do. I imagine the remainder of 2020 will look roughly the same, with ace meetups and TAAAP taking up plenty of my evenings.
Looking Into the Future:
My future has the possibility to veer off into a number of different directions. I expect to have less time for ace meetups, and to have to step down from organizing events, once I achieve my updated goal of becoming a foster parent. I intend to pursue the path while single if I can’t find a partner by the time I’m 35, but in the meantime, I am still looking for a co-parenting partner. This gives me potentially 4 more years of my single, childfree, ace and aro activist life. Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to our Supreme Court in October. I am scared about my future rights to marry someone of any gender or my right to foster and also one day adopt with a partner of any gender being stripped from me. I am concerned about my future as a queer individual in this country. However, I am trying to remain as optimistic as possible. I am determined to find a way to live my best life going forward regardless of what obstacles may be thrown my way, including on a societal level.
It is very hard to find a potential life partner when you are a sex-averse asexual, especially if you want to be a parent, and it often feels like I’m limiting my already tiny dating pool by not even wanting to create a biological child with someone. Then again, I suspect that if you were to look at the types of parenthood desired by the subset of aces who indeed want to parent, the percentage of us interested in fostering and/or adopting is much higher than the percentage of people desiring fostering or adopting in the population at large. I am trying to hold onto hope that I’ll find someone compatible, regardless of if our relationship will be polyamorous/polyaffectionate, platonic, or something else.
I want to find a way to stay involved in ace and aro activism to some degree, and also to stay connected to an ace or aro community, no matter where my future takes me. I have gained so much from these experiences, and I can’t see myself ever leaving it all behind. I know, though, that I won’t be marching in parades or being this degree of active forever. I’m attending and hosting so many meetups, all the while feeling well aware that “now is my chance” and I likely won’t be spending my time the same way in the future, if everything goes how I hope it might.
I am looking into new career options, and trying to make a big shift there and settle into something different in the next few years as well. I actually quit my job in November, the job I’d been at for 4 years, and my next career steps might affect how much time I do or don’t have for participation in ace communities and with ace activism.
I’m hoping that by 10 years from now, when I’m 40 years old, I will have written at least one of my own novels with canonical ace and aro representation as well. That is one of my other life goals! I intend to get more serious about writing within the coming year, and try to prepare for the daunting task of writing a novel that has a hope of being published.
I’m excited to see what might change 10 years from now in terms of the broader culture at large, in terms of what ace community and ace activism evolves into, and in terms of all the things I can’t yet imagine! I’m hoping that more variety of non-anglophone asexual communities get their chance to thrive, that no matter where an ace lives they might be able to meet other aces in-person, and that perhaps video call meetups remain a more regular occurrence for those who can’t access communities any other way. I hope asexuals stop needing to give 101 in certain spaces, such as LGBTQ+ focused conferences, and instead large groups containing aces and allies alike can engage in deeper level discussions about what it’s like to live an ace life.
I truly do look forward to all the aces I have yet to meet as we approach this future together.