Tag: identity

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. 🖤💜💚🖤

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Immutibility, aka the Parts of Myself That I Can Count On

This is my submission for the January 2018 Carnival of Aces, on the subject of “Identity”. The roundup of entries is here. The call for submissions can be found here. The masterpost explaining what the carnival is is here. I was rushing to finish this post, below, by the deadline so please tell me if you notice errors.


If you were to ask who I am, you might get an answer that copies other people’s bio blurbs on blogging websites or something. You’d get a different answer if I were to write a cover letter addressed to you as I tried to get hired by you. There are different parts of me that are relevant to reveal at different times.

There’s this lyric I love in the Marianas Trench song Who Do You Love?. The second line especially, but it’s both of the initial lines in the first verse, and they are:

God, it’s been so long wide awake that I feel like someone else. / I miss the way that you saw me, or maybe the way I saw myself.

Feeling like “someone else” than they were when with their (presumably romantic) partner – these are lines about a person’s sense of identity! This is a breakup (and hoping to get back together?) song, by the way.

After my queerplatonic partner broke up with me – really, after both times he did (because yes we were on-again, off-again) – I could feel this.

I didn’t only miss tangible things about our relationship, but at times I also felt my entire perception of myself shifting. There were all sorts of levels to this. It was like external validation that I’m logical if he thought what I said made sense and little things like that, which I also get from friends and family in my day-to-day life but which I got a higher degree of from him.

But it was also… Knowing someone else thinks you’re worth talking to more often than anyone else, knowing they want to build a future with you – it can be a powerful thing, and for me it boosted my self esteem, my sense of how “likable” a person I am, and all sorts of hard-to-quantify things.

Feeling secure in that relationship also shifted what I saw as possible in my future, and there’s some sense that “me” – who I see myself to actually, in full, be – is some combination of my past, my present, and my future.

The second time Robert* broke up with me, he all but ghosted me – while he did tell me he “couldn’t do this relationship anymore” and made it clear he was breaking up with me, he didn’t offer any real explanation and suddenly was completely gone from my life despite a promise to explain more the next day. He went silent, no proper goodbye, nothing.

*Robert was/is his chosen pseudonym for my blog

I really like this article on Psychology Today about ghosting:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-forward/201511/is-why-ghosting-hurts-so-much

Especially this part:

One of the most insidious aspects of ghosting is that it doesn’t just cause you to question the validity of the relationship you had, it causes you to question yourself. Why didn’t I see this coming? How could I have been such a poor judge of character? What did I do to cause this? How do I protect myself from this ever happening again? This self-questioning is the result of basic psychological systems that are in place to monitor one’s social standing and relay that information back to the person via feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.

How does this relate back to identity? I think things like “clearly, I’m an unreliable judge of character” is kind of about your sense of identity, core parts of your skills/abilities/instincts in ways that at least feel unchanging and just the way you are, for better or worse (and you’re thinking, at this point, it’s the “for worse”). Maybe it’s not true that you even are bad at that, and even if you are, maybe it’s not true that it’s unchangeable. But planning to raise kids with a person who ultimately leaves you without a goodbye makes you doubt yourself, “who you are”, how you could’ve ended up in this situation. How much of it was your own fault?

My feelings back when I was still happily in a queerplatonic partnership with him also shifted what I felt my own self capable of feeling – like being “in love” and realizing my capacity to have sensual desire for touch/hugs occasionally but in a demisensual way. I still feel those as lasting effects on my sense of identity, even with Robert gone from life.

What I’m “capable” of feeling, generally speaking, is a big part of why I identify as a non-libidoist sex-averse asexual. It is defining what I like to see as immutable parts of me. It’s not just with one particular person that I feel the need to run away/push the person away if sexual-anything seems potentially on the table. No, instead I possess, knowing these identities of mine, the ultimate “it’s not you, it’s me” card, a description of a core part of who I am and expect to always be, in all relevant circumstances as an adult. It’s just a stable set of facts about me.

immutable: adj. Not susceptible to change.

Anything immutable is a pretty good starting point for identity, I think.

susceptible: adj. Easily influenced or affected.

There are tons of parts of me that technically could change, given certain extreme circumstances, but are quite unlikely to change.

In general, the way I conceptualize it, an identity is only an identity once you already realize you’re basically “past the point of no return” – this is who you are by now, whether it was choice that started you on this path or not? Things that are so embedded in your sense of self. Things that even if they change, you’ll say it’s who you used to be in a “I was __ back in those years” sense rather than just what you did.

Continue reading “Immutibility, aka the Parts of Myself That I Can Count On”

Identity vs. Description, and How Labels Are Used For Both

This was a post written for the May 2015 Carnival of Aces, which was hosted by elainexe and has a topic of “Identity, Labels, and Models”. For more information on this ongoing blogging carnival, check out the main page by clicking here. Consider participating sometime soon, or even hosting a future month’s theme yourself!


The Wikipedia page on “Identity” in a social science context — specifically in psychology, sociology, and anthropology — is fascinating. The idea of what makes something a part of someone’s identity is such a complex one.

In the ace blogosphere and community we tend to discuss identity fairly often. Mainly, most of us in this community prioritize asexuality as an identity, and if it’s not “identity” worthy levels of importance to a person, if it’s more just a description of how they “don’t find [many/any] people sexy” or “don’t care about/want sex”, then they probably aren’t going to bother staying in this community for long, or may not even search for/find the community at all.

Continue reading “Identity vs. Description, and How Labels Are Used For Both”