Tag: aromantic

luvtheheaven’s Gray-Aro Narrative

shades-of-grayro on tumblr asked for submissions of experiences/narratives of what it’s like for individual people to be grayromantic.

I decided to write up a long post that will also serve as my belated submission to the Carnival of Aros this past month of August 2019, which had a theme of “Relationships” and is being hosted by assignedgothatbirth on The Aro Anarchist. The call for submissions was here. (This post of mine has been cross-posted to my tumblr as well.)

I think it fits this carnival because I cover what it’s been like dating-while-aro throughout this post, cover my relationship to a term like queerplatonic, etc. I cover a lot throughout this post, a fair amount of which has to do with various relationships? Hopefully you all think it fits enough. I didn’t have time to write my own separate blog post for the carnival this month even though I wanted to. My writing inspiration just took me down this path.


 

I identify as gray-aro and gray-panromantic, alongside my sex-averse asexual identity, and prefer the term “gray-aro” over “grayro”, probably because I appreciate how it emphasizes how close to aromantic I am.

 

Lately I’ve been wondering if I’m only pan-alterous and pan-demi-sensual, rather than gray-panromantic. That would mean, in my case, that I’m capable of alterous attraction to people of any gender, and capable of developing a desire to touch and hug people of any gender—but in this case of “sensual attraction” it only develops after a strong emotional connection with the person. I don’t think I really have any attraction that’s actually romantic at all, ever. Unless my alterous attraction is partially romantic, which is certainly a way you can define alterous. I find it extremely complicated/confusing to define and it’s why I liked the “WTFromantic” labels for years and relate strongly to other similar labels like quoiromantic and platoniromantic. It just took me a long time to figure that out, to learn alterous terminology, etc. Even if I decide romantic attraction isn’t something I feel, my (a)romantic orientation is still gray because of reasons other than romantic attraction. The gray in gray-aro still needs to be there because of who I date and who I feel other types of attraction toward (types of attraction that are often a part of romantic attraction in other people’s experiences of those attractions).

 

And for more context, I’m a white 29-year-old cis woman in the USA, who grew up in a relatively conservative town. I assumed I was straight until I was well into age 23, then for a few more months thought I was heteroromantic asexual. I was 24 when I started to realize I wasn’t heteroromantic and started to consider that I might be pan or might indeed be aro.

 

During times when I can’t use too many words to describe my identity (for fear people will judge me for listing too many terms, for fear people won’t take the time to try to understand all of them, or just because certain website bios have very limited space available), I emphasize being aro-spec over being pan anything. Sometimes I phrase it “gray-aro” and other times I like the even more vague “aro-spec” (where I’m trying to express that I’m somewhere on the aromantic spectrum but you’ll have to ask me to find out where exactly).

 

I can’t really tell sometimes which of my experiences are related to being sex-averse asexual vs which are my gray-aromanticism, and plenty of things could also be a result of something else entirely and neither of the two.

 

But some of my experiences are:

Continue reading “luvtheheaven’s Gray-Aro Narrative”

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Yearning For “Queerplatonic” To Be Recognized As Not Romantic (and other scattered thoughts)

This is my entry for the April 2019 Carnival of Aros, which is on the theme of “Coming Out and/ or Being Out as Aromantic Spectrum”. The Call for Submissions is here. It’s crossposted to Tumblr here. For more info on what the Carnival of Aros is or how to volunteer to choose the theme for a future month, check out this link: https://carnivalofaros.wordpress.com/


There is a separate post I could be writing on the origins of the coming out phrase not having to do with closets but rather debutante ball language (and drag balls), and how complex it is to discuss aromanticism in the context of this phrase. I am not writing that post today.

Allow me to clarify really quickly that in my own life, how “out as aro” I am or am not is very complicated and I’m not particularly in any closet, but. I’m also not sure where I am in regards to outness.

Since I haven’t really blogged directly about my place on the aromantic-spectrum in years, I feel the need to establish context before really diving too much into the theme for the Carnival this month, so please be patient as I ramble and try to explain where I come from in this conversation. Also some of these context-establishing sections will likely be sprinkled throughout the post.

In February, during Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, I wrote a draft that got past 1,000 words on “Why the Gray-Aro label?” but I never finished it, never published it, and didn’t really like how I had written so many words of context and not yet even answered that question. I felt like I needed to try again. (Maybe skip dwelling on backstory. Jump into the present.)

As an extremely “out” asexual person who isn’t gray at all in my aceness, yet who is hovering somewhere in the gray areas of the aro spectrum, I feel like I’m constantly being asked to place myself (my ace self) into one of only two ill-fitting boxes. #1 Being Alloromantic aka a “Romantic” Asexual, or #2 being Aromantic alongside my asexuality. Most people see things as black or white; one or the other. And maybe I still do too. Even internally, to myself, I jump back and forth—and back again—trying to settle on what I am. Am I fully aro? Can I fit in that box? I often feel like maybe it’d be easier for me.

I never really think I’m fully alloromantic anymore. It’s been 5 years since I’ve wondered if I’m “panromantic”, full stop, no extra modifiers. I feel comfortable saying I’m definitely not. I’m not an alloromantic panromantic.

But I can’t decide if I’m a plain-and-simple aromantic with absolutely no romantic attraction, or if I’m in some other part of the aro spectrum. My identity is blurry rather than solid and easy to categorize. (Thanks! I hate it. 😂)

Continue reading “Yearning For “Queerplatonic” To Be Recognized As Not Romantic (and other scattered thoughts)”

Trying To Be Less Invisible (a “Symbols of Identity” Carnival of Aces submission)

This is a late submission for the March 2019 Carinval of Aces on the theme “Symbols of Identity”. The call for submissions was here.


This past June 2018, less than a year ago, I bought off of Zazzle a medium sized silver-plated square ace flag necklace with this artistic “paint splatter” stylization of the ace flag. (Click the link to go to the page white you can buy it.) It looks like this (photo I took of it on my thigh):

And I wear it fairly often. I referenced it in my poem published in The Asexual last fall. I am wearing it in my bio photo too, from my family vacation to Maine last June, only a few weeks after buying it.

I had purchased it just barely in time to wear it for Pride. I took a few selfies and made these selfies with a visible Ace Flag necklace my Facebook profile pictures for many months on end. I love this necklace so much more than I expected to love it. It helps that I get a lot of compliments on it. I’m reassured that I’m not misguided or confused to feel good wearing it, to feel pretty and feminine and adult (not too juvenile) etc in the ways that I wish to. I can’t remember exactly how often I wear it but when I’m going to ace meetups and I remember that I should wear it, then I do. And I go to like 2 to 4 ace meetups every month lately. Half of which I’m hosting myselfl!

I like to wear it generally. When I’m going to queer conferences it feels vital (I went to the Centering the Margins nontheist event this past Saturday and made sure to leave the house wearing it). I wear it when I’m dressed up and feel like jewelry would enhance how dressed up I feel. If it even just kinda sorta possibly matches even a little I want to wear it. If it really clashes though I won’t. I’ve worn it to atheist meetups and to work and to visit my grandma. I’ve worn it plenty of places.

I like it so much more than the thought of wearing an ace ring. I can’t imagine starting to wear a ring regularly. But necklaces are natural for me.

In fact I’ve grown so accustomed to my ace necklace that it’s crazy to think how many years i went about my life without really explicitly ace (it’s an actual ace flag) jewelry.

Sure I’ve worn like silver colored & purple jewelry, like the bracelet in the following photo, since high school and much more often since figuring out I was ace:

(I couldn’t decide which of those two photos of my purse showed my bracelet better. The first it is on my wrist.)

Or a few other earrings/a bracelet etc that happen to be the ace colors five per take. Sometimes I even kinda do the aro greens purposefully with my jewelry.

I love symbols of identity these days. Like I said, that’s my purse! I have bought approximately a million buttons off Zazzle that reflect my gray-aromantic, gray-panromantic, asexual identity as well as a much smaller handful that reflect my identity as an atheist or as a person who cares about suicide prevention and gun violence prevention. I also got from redbeardace of Asexuality Archive two buttons from his donation to the Creating Change conference, so I didn’t spend money on those.

That just happens to be my purse at that one moment after I was getting ready this past weekend for the Centering the Margins summit. I also have the other side of my purse:

And my decked out backpack at the moment:

At any given moment in time my backpack and purse look very different. I carry my backpack to a lot of meetups and to and from my workplace every day. I get my buttons rusty in the rain, snagged on things and broken or lost on the street/in the grocery store/on the metro etc… I have to swap out what’s where pretty frequently. Replace buttons with others I purchased. Etc.

One time I even bought some stickers off Zazzle even though I wasn’t sure what i was going to do with them. Decided to put them on my portable phone battery which was just a solid black, blank surface and a really good spot for some stickers. Sadly the “asexual and proud” one has really seen better days but the “wear and tear” shows character, perhaps?:

I don’t know. It is what it is.

I actually own two ace flags, one six inches long and one a whole foot. I bring them occasionally to help people find me at ace meetups that I host. I bought them at the end of September 2018 at the 5th Annual Northern Virginia Pride Festival. I live in Maryland but drove there and wished there was aro (or pan? Did I look for that?) Flags for sale but was happy to see demisexual and asexual ones at multiple people’s stands, as well as pins and other ace pride items. So happy. It’s really nice to be represented. It’s nice people are aware we exist and choosing happily to include us. I gave out business cards for my at-the-time-still-ace organization (we changed a couple months later to be jointly ace and aro) and kept looking for ace symbols everywhere among this pride festival. Later, in January 2019 I went to an ace meetup where I painted a turtle with the ace, aro, and pan pride flag colors:

Which turned out after the kiln looking like:

All of the colors are there – pink, yellow, light/bright blue for being pan; purple, white, gray, and black for being ace; the latter 3 of those also applying to being aro but also both shades of green. It’s not exactly a work of art but I’m clearly somewhat obsessed with ace/aro/pan symbolism lately.

I have a zip up sweatshirt that has a small, maybe 2 or 3 inches of a striped rainbow on one side of the front. The rainbow is in the 4 colors of the ace flag with the small message under it that says “These are my colors”. I really like it a lot. I even wear it at work sometimes. (My workplace prefers business casual dress but doesn’t complain much about us leaning very casual and stretching those rules, sneakers with dress pants, sweatshirts, etc.)

I have a handful of ill-fitting ace t-shirts and a few that fit fine. I bought some from red bubble, I painted my own designs on other shirts, and for one I got it for free from any ace meetup attendee who didn’t want his shirt once he tried it on and realized how huge it was.

I like the playing card symbolism. I like seeing my ace friends wearing black rings even if I don’t wear one myself. I have mixed feelings about the cake symbolism for a variety of reasons, but that symbol and joke often makes me smile. I can’t help but love lemon cake and chocolate cake and carrot cake (as some examples) – and various types of icing can be delicious. It’s fun and silly and simple enough of the time.

I’m not a tattoo person and didn’t grow up in a family that understands them but more and more I see and understand wanting to make things visible directly on your skin, such as your love or your grief or your survival over really hard stuff when it feels so much a part of you. And yet it’s frustratingly invisible from a mere glance at you. People aren’t seeing all of the “you” that you wish they would see. I am surrounding myself with and carrying a lot of these symbols so much now and it feels like maybe it’s a bit much but it also feels good when a trans guy walking down the street shows me the trans flag on his tablet case he’s carrying in a show of solidarity or a gay guy at a general community building meetup I go to sometimes notices my flags and decides to ask me if I know of any local LGBT scene. It feels good to have something concrete to gesture toward with my hand when I’m causally coming out as ace again and again in my life, to all the new people I meet, when someone asks me my plans for the weekend, etc! It feels exciting when strangers on the sidewalk find the “I’m not straight” pin I used to have so amusing or a fellow passenger on the metro asks for asexuality 101 because of my pins. I love this part of my life.

I think it started with when I went to ClexaCon 3 years ago (wow time flies! That feels like yesterday). That is a fandom convention for LGBTQ women and I wanted people to maybe, possibly be able to see in that crowd of queer women a flag they might recognize. So I painted my nails with ace flags before going and even brought the nail polish with me and reapplied in my hotel room to keep my nails looking good all 3 days of the convention. You can see those photos in this old post of mine, just scroll down:

https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/asexuality-shame-and-the-importance-of-ace-pride/

And while there in March 2016 I saw an ace button aka pin for the first time and bought it and put it on my purse. I… Was starting slowly to see the appeal of all this symbolism being a tool I could use to help me feel as open and out as possible which for some reason is what I wanted, a reminder to myself that I’m proud to be who I am. (Which is super ace. An ace activist. An ace podcaster. An ace meetup organizer and frequent attendee. A person who is reminded of how ace I am constantly by the media. By being surrounded by adults married with children in a life i can’t just have that easily.) And a way to try to fight how frustrating it is to be so invisible, literally using prides flags and pins with words about asexuality and aromanticism and “I’m not straight” etc to make the invisible able to be seen if anyone is bothering to really look.

It feels pretty great. 🖤💜💚🖤

Jumping into the Bigger Picture—with Both My Feet, Radical Vulnerability, and Also a Team: Personally Avoiding Ace and Aro Activist Burnout (So Far)

This is a belated submission for the December 2018 Carnival of Aces on the topic of Burnout.


As the call for submissions for this month’s carnival topic explained, a “frenzied pace of activities”

can… be a major source of stress that can put ace activists at risk of experiencing burnout – the state that results when the continued stress of an activity becomes overwhelming, to the point where individuals may find themselves less and less able to continue with it.

In addition, as the Wikipedia article notes,

[o]ccupational burnout is thought to result from long-term, unresolvable, job stress.

But personally don’t feel that close to burning out. On the contrary, I think I successfully keep adding fresh fuel to my fire. I’m energized, fulfilled, and engaged. Most places consider “engagement” to be the opposite of “burnout”.

Continue reading “Jumping into the Bigger Picture—with Both My Feet, Radical Vulnerability, and Also a Team: Personally Avoiding Ace and Aro Activist Burnout (So Far)”

Learning to See Experiences Related to Asexuality as Potentially “Poetic”

This is my submission for the October 2018 Carnival of Aces, which had the theme “Poetry”.

I apologize for any autocorrect typos, I wrote this whole thing on my phone. Let me know kindly and I can fix them.


Two years ago, in September 2016, I wrote a prose poem about my asexual experience without really realizing I was writing poetry again. (“Again”, because I hadn’t written any poetry in 4.5 years, since my Creative Writing class my final semester of college ended.) September 2016 was during that blip in time when Imzy existed and I was in the 100 words community, challenged to write exactly 100 words, no more and no less, on a different prompt each week.

The prompt that time was “Clocks” and somehow I ended up writing:

The concept was always framed with a presupposition; there would of course come a point in time when I’d be ready. When that time came, I needed to be armed with knowledge. I must brace for the emotional consequences. Itwas an inevitability.

So I learned. For over a decade of my life, I prepared. I absorbed more information than was really necessary. I planned ahead.

But society was wrong. Maybe all along I’d been a broken clock. I’d felt stuck. I tried to push myself forward.

As it turns out, though, I am the flower doomed to never bloom.

I am still not entirely sure if it counts as a poem. But writing about an asexual experience with metaphors and without ever once using the word asexual seemed poetic somehow to me.

It was a start of something.

A key concept from those hundred words made it into a stanza of my new poem, No “Just” About It that I wrote two years later in September 2018 — just last month (as of the time of me writing this blog post) — and which was published in The Asexual, a literary journal. My second piece of writing to be published in one of the issues of this journal but my first poem.

http://theasexual.com/article/2018/9/28/no-just-about-it

This poem is kinda… Political. It’s also fun. We’re often our own harshest critics but to me it seems apparent that it’s not very impressive from an artistic standpoint. But I’m glad I decided to write it, and I didn’t let the genre of poetry intimidate me away from something relatively simple like this.

If The Asexual didn’t exist as a platform I never would’ve thought to write poetry with asexual themes so I’m very grateful to Michael Paramo and everyone there who keeps it running.

From 2004 through 2008 when I was ages 14 through 18 and in high school, all four years I participated as part of the literary magazine club after school. We accepted fiction but mainly received poetry and a little bit of art. Once a week after school our club would read aloud as a group, discuss the merits of, and also respectfully criticize each submission. They would be typed up to anonymize each submission ahead of the discussion, no author listed and no handwriting to recognize. We were always keeping in mind the possibility that the author could be one of us in the room so we had to be careful not to be unkind in our criticism. (I don’t think the visual art pieces needed to be discussed; I think maybe they automatically got in.)

Continue reading “Learning to See Experiences Related to Asexuality as Potentially “Poetic””

My Body & My Asexuality

In March 2018 I hosted the Carnival of Aces here on my blog, on the topic of “Physical Health and/or Our Bodies”. This was the Call for Submissions: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2018/03/01/physical-health-and-or-our-bodies-the-march-2018-carnival-of-aces-call-for-submissions/


I have a lot of thoughts on physical health and, often unrelated, on my body that don’t feel very directly connected to asexuality. I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a post for this carnival theme, even though I myself was hosting this month.

But let me try, a day late, to throw something out there nonetheless.

1) Well a big thing I’m starting to feel a little less alone with is that I have no libido/sex-drive/ability to feel arousal and orgasm, which is a topic people don’t talk about very often in asexual communities since we focus on the psychological experiences and because masturbation etc is a fairly taboo/too “persona/private” topic in many spaces. And because when does the lack of it even “come up” naturally in conversation?

I think the asexual community has more of us who have no sex drive than many of us realize, and I’m constantly desperate to not be alone in whatever I’m experiencing, including that, so I’m glad I’m in a community of people where my experience is some degree acknowledged. I especially appreciate the context of for some of us being a lifelong thing, not a lost sex drive, and that even if it was lost due to side effects of medications or due to other illness, it’s not a “problem to be solved” but rather a plus side for at least a handful of ace folks.

Continue reading “My Body & My Asexuality”

Me & Squishes (a Lack of Experiencing Crushes)

The question of the week this week, Question of the Week: March 20th, 2018, over on The Asexual Agenda, is:

How do you tell the difference between a friend and a crush?

I once saw a post on facebook saying ‘that tingly feeling you get when you like someone is common sense leaving your body’.   I really like this definition because the only way I can really tell that I have a crush on someone is that I notice myself being kinda stupid around them.  Even then though, I don’t really think I treat crushes much differently to how I treat new friends. Either way, what I want is to get to hang out and talk and do fun things with them, so it all ends the same.

Can you describe what it feels like to have a crush?  Or a squish or other types of attraction? Are these things easy for you to differentiate?  How do you decide what to do about your shiny new feelings?

I have a whole blog post worth of an answer. Please check out the other comments there for other people’s answers! There are plenty of good ones.


Continue reading “Me & Squishes (a Lack of Experiencing Crushes)”

My Mental Health Journey & My Asexuality Journey

This is my submission for the February 2018 Carnival of Aces themed around mental health, and per usual, all of us participating linking our blog post submissions in some way back to both asexuality & the theme. The call for submissions was here. The round-up of all submissions is now here: https://hurricanesophia.com/2018/03/01/carnival-of-aces-mental-health-wrap-up/


When I first posted this blog post it had been written entirely on my phone within the final 2 days of February, most of it within one sitting, and it was extra ramble-y and a few of the parts didn’t tie back to asexuality as much as I wanted. So I added a bit more on March 1st in the middle of the day/edited on a computer and hopefully the post is slightly improved, even if the rambling and random nature can’t be entirely fixed as this is kinda stuck as my blogging style.

I’ve been through a bunch of traumatic experiences related to my abusive mother. I’m 28-years-old nowmy birthday was last monthwhich means I’m well into adulthood. That’s hard for he to believe sometimes, as it took me a while to start doing a lot of adult type things, such as to be gainfully employed, and part of what delayed me might’ve been my process of recovering from my childhoodmy experiences with my mother largely were contained to my childhood or teenage adulthood years (18/19).

There were more of these experiences than I can easily count, more than I’ve ever really blogged about, including the two times most recently:

1) being in a deposition for a civil case between her and her former fiancé, as a character witness against her/in her fiancé’s defense at the end of 2014 (when I was 24) which shook me much more than I anticipated, and

2) at the end of 2016 (when I was 26) the experience of seeing her again at my grandmother’s funeral and witnessing how much this woman I’ve been successfully avoiding entirely (other than her voicemails) just hasn’t changed at all, seeing her siblings call the cops to have her removed from the funeral home.

Then, on the other side of my family and while she remained completely unaware of this part of my lifebecause my brother, father, and I successfully went No Contact with her years priorI witnessed my uncle die by suicide, in November 2013. (I was 23, and this occurred about 1 month after I settled for sure on the asexual label for myself.)

4 years later, almost exactly 4 years from the date in fact, a person I considered a friend and a peer perpetrated a murder-suicide in November 2017. Yesterday was the 3 month mark since this transpired.

These events all have almost no overlap with asexuality, but these traumatic things all certainly did affect my mental health. (Also I’ll note that while I experienced abuse, none of it was sexual abuse, nor abuse in the context of a sexual relationship of any kind.)

At the same time, despite the lack of overlap, my asexuality affects all my interpersonal relationships, and always has (even before I had the word asexual to categorize myself with!). It affects who I am and the context I’m in when I repeatedly find myself needing to process traumatic things.

(For instance, those 2 most recent experiences with my mom happened after the summer of 2014—which was the moment in time at which I slowly started making friends via the in-person asexual meetup group in my city. I had grown extremely isolated over my 4 years at college and 2 years post graduation, and my only friends were via online friendships… until meetup.com kinda saved me from that life. I spoke to at least one ace friend about the deposition at the time, and I talked to a number of ace friends about that horrible experience with my mom at my grandmother’s funeral.)

Continue reading “My Mental Health Journey & My Asexuality Journey”

Kissing Aversion, but Demi-Sensual About Other Touch

This is my entry for the May 2017 Carnival of Aces, which I hosted and chose to theme around “Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc!”. The round-up of all 12 submissions that month can be found here. I’m sorry this post is so long. I’m sort of overflowing with thoughts. Also this was written in one sitting late at night so please feel free to point out errors. This was cross-posted to my tumblr as well.


I don’t feel like I need touch in my life much at all, most of the time.

That being said, I have the ability to really like it. In a kinda demi-sensual kind of way, if that’s a thing. (I’m 100% asexual, no grayness there, no sexual attraction, but if I have a lot of trust-feelings for you, like a LOT of positive feelings about our relationship, then there is a pretty good chance I’ll like touch.)

I am comfortable but fairly neutral with touch when it comes to me and small children. (They can still cross boundaries that make me uncomfortable, such as making me take off my glasses and then I feel overly vulnerable, which kind of happened to me a week and a half ago with a 3 year old in my extended family lol.) I don’t crave touch from small children – I crave other types of attention from children, I want to make them happy, I love the emotional reaction they can have to me at times, but I’m not overly touchy feely unless they initiate it. I am much more comfortable holding babies than holding any animal though.

With people who are peers though, fellow young adults, or from older family members… I can have positive associations with touch!

Continue reading “Kissing Aversion, but Demi-Sensual About Other Touch”

Tumblr Aro Asks meme, my answers (part 4 of 4)

As I said here in part 1, and also part 2 and part 3, I’m gonna answer all of these, in a 4 part series of answers. Cross-posted to tumblr.

This is part 4 of 4.

Onto the final chunk of questions… some of these are much more fun than the previous parts.

13. do you headcanon any characters as arospec?

Continue reading “Tumblr Aro Asks meme, my answers (part 4 of 4)”