Marching in Seattle Pride 2018!

The Seattle Aces will be marching in the 2018 Seattle Pride Parade!  This will be the first time there has been a dedicated ace/aro group marching in Seattle.  Come march with us!  (It’s free and there’s no time commitment outside of the parade itself.)

The parade is on Sunday, June 24th, 2018, and runs through downtown along the mostly flat 4th Ave, from just south of Westlake Center up to Seattle Center.

We are contingent #148, and our staging area is located about halfway between Cherry and James along 4th Ave, below City Hall.  We are located between the Cascadia Now and Kimpton Hotels groups and are next to the Fred Meyer Group.  Our staging time starts at 1:00 PM.

Here is the map of our staging location:

RSVP on Facebook or Meetup, or stay tuned here for more details.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/579306545763860/

Meetup Event: https://www.meetup.com/Seattle-and-Surrounding-Area-Asexuals-Seattle-Aces/events/247077790/

Discussion Group Notes 9/9/17

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of September 9th, 2017.  These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.

Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.

Couch!

There was a couch in the meeting space today.  This is perhaps the most exciting furniture related thing to happen to us since the introduction of the Cookie Chair.

Newcomers!

Over half the room seemed like they joined us for the first time today!  Welcome, we hope you enjoyed the discussion, and hope to see you again in the coming months!  (Although, if you’re visiting from California, we’d understand if you don’t come back in October…)

We’re Famous!  Sort Of.  Well Okay, Not Really…

Apparently the book “All the Wrong Places” in the Bluewater Bay series has the characters attend an asexual meetup group in Seattle!  Except…  It’s not us.  They meet in a hipster coffee shop in the U District, while we meet in a hipster coffee shop in Capitol Hill.  Totally different.  They also apparently mention an ace group in Port Angeles.  I think we need to plan a roadtrip to investigate.

There’s another book, Cracked: A Magic iPhone Story, that involves an ace in Seattle, but this one does not feature a meetup group.

Other ace-related books mentioned today:

The Interface Series (which I can’t find a clear link to), although apparently only one book in this series has been published, and that book doesn’t mention asexuality explicitly.

Mr. March Names The Stars, which involves some dating ace pagans.

And then, in the non-fiction category:

Asexual Perspectives: 47 Ace Stories, which is a collection of interviews with ace people.

Ace Inclusion Guide For High Schools, which is a guide for high school staff on how to be more inclusive of asexual people.  This one is also available as a free PDF download.

“A Sexual What…?”

There was a big hubbub about the latest season of BoJack Horseman.  In it, a main character comes out as asexual.  Reaction from ace-land has been largely positive as the portrayal is seen as positive and accurate.  This is probably in large part due to the assistance of members of Ace LA, who worked with show staff to make sure it was handled correctly.

Unconference and Parade

In June, I attended the Berkeley Unconference and the San Francisco Pride Parade, organized by members of Asexuality SF.  They were both valuable experiences and things we should look at doing here at some point.

The Unconference was an all-day event.  About 50 aces, graces, and demis attended.  For an unconference, attendees bring topics they want to talk about, and the day’s schedule is organized on the spot.  People then break off into groups to have 45 minutes to an hour of discussion on the topic, and people are free to switch between them, if they like.  Some of the topics included “Asexuality and Dating”, “Aces in the Media”, “Religion”, “Pathologization of Asexuality”, “Ace POC”, and “Planning for the Future While Aro”.  Many of the sessions are “open”, meaning that anyone is free to join in, but some of the sessions are “closed”, which means they’re limited to those covered by the topic, in order to create a safe space to the conversation.  It’s a great way to connect with other aces in a more in-depth way than we get to in our normal monthly meetups.

The Pride Parade was amazing.  We all got together and marched down Market Street, some of us waving flags, some of us in ace costumes, some of us holding signs.  We handed out stickers and flyers.  The power of marching is in the visibility.  We were there, we showed that we exist.  I saw people in the crowd, screaming with excitement as we passed.  We proved to them that they were real.  Afterwards, I found people mentioning us on Twitter and Tumblr.  And I’ve heard that seeing the aces march in past parades has led some people to discover that they were asexual, has led some therapists to realize that asexuality was a real thing that they needed to learn about.

We should do both of these things here.  The Pride Parade is in June.  There’s apparently a steep registration fee, which is what has turned us off from doing it in the past.  I don’t care about that.  Whatever it is, I’ll cover it.  We are marching in 2018.  I’ll pay the bills, but I’ll need as many of you as possible to show up and march.

An unconference would also be something we can organize here.  We’d just need to book some space (a few separate rooms, if possible), and encourage people to show up with things they want to talk about.

Both of these would also be a great opportunity to reach out to other aces in the greater Northwest.  We’re centrally located between Portland and Vancouver, both of which have established ace meetup groups.  There are bound to be other aces here and there who won’t want to make the effort to get to Seattle for just the ordinary meetups, but who will for the larger events.  Let’s invite them all to town and ace this place up!

My notes from the Unconference are here:  http://www.asexualityarchive.com/category/san-francisco-unconference/

And some thoughts on the parade are here:  http://www.asexualityarchive.com/thoughts-on-a-parade/

Asexual Dating

I’ve covered ace dating conversations in previous posts, and a lot of what was covered today was similar to what was mentioned in the past.  So I’ll skip the repeats and head straight to the new stuff.

There was a recommendation that you not only mark yourself as Asexual in OKCupid, but that you also cover the subject several times in your profile.  Talk about what it means to you, lay out where some of your boundaries lie.  It’s still no guarantee that people will read and understand, but it’s a start.

There is a new ace dating app called “AceApp“.  It’s new, so there might not be many people there, but there won’t be anyone there at all if there aren’t any intrepid pioneers who decide to take the first step.

Therapists and Doctors

Someone brought up whether or not it’s appropriate to come out to a doctor or a therapist, particularly if they start bringing up sex or relationships in connection to the care they are providing.  In some cases, it may be useful to explain your lack of sexual activity or lack of relationships, as it may allow them to rule out certain things (for instance, you’re not likely to be pregnant if you’ve never had sex, so maybe they can skip that pregnancy test if you’re concerned about a missed period).

However, not all health care providers understand or even accept asexuality.  It may be difficult to know ahead of time how they’ll react.  But know this:  You can demand that they believe you and respect you, and if they don’t, you may want to consider finding a doctor who will, if that’s possible.  Resources for Ace Survivors has an info sheet you can print out and bring into your visit.

The lack of awareness of asexuality in the medical profession was a topic that came up at the unconference.  We discussed possible ways to start to fix that, such as reaching out to local doctors and clinics and offering to provide information, offering to present an Asexuality 101 seminar to a local group of providers, or giving a talk at a convention.  However, I am unaware of anyone who is actively taking on a project to work on building bridges with the healthcare world.

After the conference, I found two counselors in the Seattle area who mention working with ace patients on their websites.  One sounded like they might have a decent understanding of asexuality, while the other sounded like they were more interested in prescribing you a pill that is likely to cause spontaneous loss of consciousness.  At some point, I plan to reach out to both of them, in order to find out how they work with ace patients, and whether or not they would like any assistance or resources from any of us.

Assorted Mentions

Ash Hardell video series on “Everything Asexual and Aromantic“.

The Huffington Post series on asexuality.  And the exploration of all the negative comments on those articles (and how to respond when you encounter them in the wild).

The Unassailable Asexual:  The Carnival of Aces and SwankIvy’s videos.

Discussion Group Notes 2/11/17

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of February 11th, 2017.  These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.

Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.

Missing Months

I’ve neglected to make summary posts for a couple of months now.  We did have meetings in both December and January, I just never got around to writing about it.  Sorry!

I Forgot The Swag Today

I didn’t bring my fabled Bag o’ Ace Swag today.  I had it all packed and ready to go and was halfway to the freeway when I realized it wasn’t in the car.  Sorry!

Anyway, enough with the apologies and on with the show!

Pressure and Doubt

Much of the discussion today was a conversation about pressure and doubt.  The external pressure to date, the internal pressure to be who people expect you to be, and the doubt that you’re really ace, that it’s actually something else.

As the conversations were personal in nature, I will not summarize them here.  Instead, I’ll share some other resources on the subject.

There is a three part series on “Possible Signs of Asexuality“.  It’s not a checklist or a diagnostic tool, but it can be an extremely helpful tool for thinking about how you feel, as well as understanding that others feel the same way.  There’s also “Am I Asexual?

There was a recent blog carnival on “The Many Ways To Be Ace“.  There was an older blog carnival on relationship expectations.

Julie Decker has written about being asexual, aromantic, and single, and how people react to that, several times:  Asexual, Aromantic, Partnerless, Childless …  And Happy, as well as Enjoy Your Houseful of Cats.

Here is a discussion about the symptoms of Low Hormone Levels, beyond just a lack of interest in sex.

Bottom line:  It’s okay to “try on” the asexual label.  If you’re not into sex, that’s all right.  You don’t have to be into it, and you don’t have to change yourself to meet the expectations other people have imposed on you.  And most importantly, you are not broken and you are not alone.

Resources

(Many of these are on this site’s Resources page!)

WhatIsAsexuality.com and AsexualityArchive.com are two sites about asexuality that I run.  WhatIsAsexuality.com has a bunch of resources like pamplets and postcards and slideshows, and AsexualityArchive.com has a free downloadable book.

Speaking of books, the book mentioned was Julie Sondra Decker’s The Invisible Orientation.  I believe someone said that this book was in the Gay City library.

Another book on the subject is Understanding Asexuality, by Anthony Bogaert.  It’s more academic, and I felt that it veered waaay off course, turning from a book about asexuality, to a series of essays on sexuality on culture where asexuality was barely a footnote.  At its lowest points, it wildly speculates about things that could easily have been explored in a more concrete manner by simply talking to some ace people, which he stopped doing about halfway through the book.  (Did he forget we exist?  Did he get kicked off of AVEN?  Was he crunched for time?  Was that the week we all left the planet?)

Dr. Bogaert is known for the paper that introduced the “1% Statistic”, which says that around 1% of people are ace.  The paper is “Asexuality: Prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample“, from 2004.  Bogaert has acknowledged some issues regarding that 1% number and its source.  He spends a chapter on the topic in his book, ultimately coming to the conclusion:  “The original estimate of 1 percent may not be a bad one, all things considered, and it is possible that it may underestimate the true number of asexual people.”

There is a recently started asexuality research bibliography, if you’re interested in the academic side of things.  (The goal of this project is to replace the Asexual Explorations website, which recently disappeared.)

For the fiction side of things, Agent Aletha is keeping a list.

If you’re going to tell your parents that you’re ace, try sending them this:  A Parent’s Guide To Asexuality.

And finally, here’s this week’s Savage Love post, the summary of which I totally mangled during the meeting.  It’s about a man who has identified as gay, but now believes he’s ace and is worried about how to explain that and where he fits.  (…and I’m mangling the summary again, so just read the original.)

Discussion Group Notes 10/22/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of October 22rd, 2016. These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.

Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.

Asexual Awareness Week!

Asexual Awareness Week runs from October 23rd through 29th, 2016!

Spread the awareness!

There will be a lot of good resources posted in the #asexual or #asexualawarenessweek tags on Twitter and Tumblr, so stop by them for interesting finds.  If you come across something good, please share it with the Meetup or Facebook groups!

Additionally, What is Asexuality has pamphlets and things that I bring to the meeting, and you can get a PDF of the books that I have at Asexuality Archive.

Sensual Attraction And How It Fits In

We talked briefly about sensual attraction and where it fits in with asexuality and other types of attraction.

Sensual attraction is something you can feel regardless of your sexual or romantic attraction.  You don’t have to feel romantic attraction to want to kiss someone, and you don’t have to feel sexual attraction to want to cuddle.

(BTW:  The glossary can be found here.)

Alphabet Soup

The LGBT acron-, I mean, LGBTQ, um LGBTQIA, er LGBTQQIAA2PPD…  LGBTQ+ acronym was mentioned, in relation to workplace or campus groups.  It was brought up adding a letter is inherently not inclusive, because no matter how many letters you add, you’ve still left someone out.  (Not to mention that the ordering implies importance.)  Alternatives like MOGAI or GSRM were brought up, but they don’t have the same recognition.  Vague terms like “Rainbow” or “Pride” might work well for group names.  “Queer” is a term that is divisive.  Some people love it for its inherent inclusiveness and instant recognition, while other people loathe it for its history.

Ace Relationship Tips

There were suggestions for putting it clearly in your dating profile (if you have one) and for being forthcoming early on so people have a clear idea of where things stand.  Another suggestion was to be casually open among your friend group (using ace puns wherever appropriate, for example), so that if you meet someone that way, there’s a good chance they’ll know you’re asexual.

Does anyone else have any tips for starting a relationship when you’re ace?

Asexuals At A Sex Club?

No, really, this is not a joke.

We’ve talked about the Center for Sex Positive Culture before, with several group members who’ve attended ace-friendly events there.  This month, we had someone who runs those events come to the meeting, looking for ideas for future events (When the CSPC finds a new space).

Currently, they run three asexual/no sex/underwear-stays-on events:

  • Blanket Fort:  A blanket fort with optional cuddles.
  • Aces Wild:  Kink without sex.
  • Mind Fuck: Fuck with your mind, not your body.  Hypnosis, mental bondage, etc.

While these events are not strictly aces-only, there is an enforced expectation that there will be no sex in the room.  People who want to get it on are asked to head to a different room.

(And if you want to involve your genitals, just not involve them with other people, the CSPC also holds masturbation parties, where it’s watch or be watched, but keep your hands to yourself.)

At any rate, they’re looking for new ideas for ways to cater to asexual people.  (For the record, a basket of kittens or puppies was suggested, but apparently they’re not able to do that.  Unless it’s people dressed up as kittens or puppies, in which case they can make that happen.)

Asexual Outreach

Shameless plug time!

I’m a member of the Board of Directors for Asexual Outreach, a 501(c)(3) non-profit for ace and aro advocacy.  We are looking to help form connections between local ace and aro community groups, and to help those groups grow.  We are also reaching out to schools and LGBTQ groups to help them become more ace inclusive.

Asexual Outreach organized the 2015 North American Asexuality Conference in Toronto, Ontario.  Over a hundred asexual activists and organizers attended to share what they do and how they do it.  AO has also reached out to over two hundred schools with its Ace Inclusion Guide.  Within the next year, we will continue this mission by launching a platform and resources for ace and aro community groups, hosting a conference where ace group leaders and other activists can get together and collaborate, and we’ll reach out to more LGBTQ groups and schools (Including at the 2017 Creating Change conference.)

I was 31 when I found out that I was asexual, and before that I felt broken and confused.  The work Asexual Outreach is doing will help to ensure that no one else will have to feel lost and alone for as long as I did.

If you want to help out, you can volunteer to get involved, you can work with a local school to incorporate the ace inclusion guide, you can attend the conference next year, and, if you can spare a bit, you can donate to help support the work being done.  AO is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, meaning that donations can be tax-deductible and that it is probably eligible for a corporate matching program, if you have one at work.

Other Notes:

Ignition Zero: Webcomic with an ace character.

Asexual Activities: Exploring your sexuality as an asexual.

Seattle Aces Facebook Group

Consent and Tea

How I Discovered I Am Asexual

Discussion Group Notes 9/10/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of September 10th, 2016. These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.

Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.

 

Creating Change Conference

Creating Change is an annual LGBTQIAetc conference, put on by the National LGBTQ Task Force.  Creating Change 2017 will be held in January, in Philadelphia.  For the past several years, there has been a group of aces who have attended.  The CC2017 ace group is currently putting together presentation proposals!  If you’re interested, head here for more information:  https://nextstepcake.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/wanted-aces-and-aros-at-creating-change-2017-in-philadelphia/

Even if you don’t have anything to present, you can still attend and represent the Emerald City!

Seattle Aces Facebook Group

The Seattle Aces Facebook group was mentioned several times.  Are you a member?  You should be a member!  (There’s also a Northwest Aces group!)

Vloggers Coming Out

Two somewhat prominent vloggers talked about their orientations this week.

Kenna, a fashion vlogger, talked about being an aromantic asexual.

Meanwhile, Ricky Dillon, a exploding watermelon/extreme bubble-wrapping vlogger, talked about being “none of the above”.

The Rest of Us Coming Out

We spoke about the reactions we’ve gotten when coming out.  I will not discuss these personal stories here, as they were spoken in a safe space, however, if you would like to read other people’s accounts of coming out as asexual, head over here.

If you’d like to come out, October has both National Coming Out Day (October 11th) and Asexual Awareness Week (October 23rd-29th).  There is also a series of tips from other aces, which might help you.

Media Mentions

Magic and Mayhem: Fiction and Essays Celebrating LGBTQ Romance

Natsume’s Book of Friends

Grave of the Fireflies

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Asoka

Bones

The X-Files

Other Notes

Women in Reasonable Armor

5 Myths About Asexuality

Ace Rainbow Shirt

The Washington State Fair in Puyallup

Discussion Group Notes 8/13/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of August 13th, 2016. These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.

Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.

Asexual Awareness Week

Asexual Awareness Week 2016 is coming!  October 23rd – 29th.

Are you doing anything for it?  Should we as a group do anything for it?

I know there had been a discussion about hosting a “Movie Night” of sorts, with a screen of ace documentaries and a panel, but I haven’t heard anything more.  We also talked about moving October’s meeting to be the 22nd, just before AAW.

Different Ways to be Ace

The way people think about asexuality is not the same for everyone.  For some people, asexuality is strongly associated with never having sex, never masturbating, never dating.  Others might date, some might masturbate, and some might have sex and even enjoy it.  This can lead to a lot of confusion when someone is first discovering asexuality.  People may doubt that they’re ace, because they’ve only heard one person’s description of how that person experiences and thinks about being asexual, and it doesn’t exactly match their own feelings.  Common points of confusion include “What is attraction?” and how current or past actions play into things.

Some people hear about asexuality and know right away.  Others can have a group of ace friends for years, but still not know, because their asexuality isn’t quite the same as their friends’.

All this speaks to the importance of telling all sides of asexuality, from the sex-repulsed permanent virgin, to promiscuous domme, from the flirtatious serial dater, to the permanently single, to the 50-something that got married right out of high school, has two kids, hasn’t has sex in years, but has a shoebox of sex toys under the bed.  It also speaks to the importance of a general awareness of asexuality, so that people can find out about it earlier and understand the varied forms it can take.  This can be done by people being out, by asexuality getting included in sex ed programs, by sharing articles and videos on the topic, among other things.

Broaching the Subject

So, if you’re asexual and you’re an expert on asexuality, that means you should tell other people you think might be ace that they’re probably asexual, right?

No…  Not exactly.

If you go up to someone and say “Hey, you’re asexual!”, that’s more than likely going to make them defensive and not be interested in what you have to say.  More importantly, you have no idea what that other person is feeling.  It is not your place to try to push an identity on someone else.  It is entirely up to them to discover themselves.

If you bring it up the wrong way, it can be uncomfortable and invasive.  It can feel like you’re trying to “diagnose” or “fix” them, rather than introducing them to a description that might apply.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t say anything.

  • You can come out to them.  “Hey, I want you to know that I’m asexual, and this is what that means.”  It can even be a no-drama, off-hand, statement of truth as part of the conversation.  “Well, you know I’m ace, so I don’t really see what’s so interesting about Random Sexy Celebrity.”
  • You can share articles or videos or websites, with a note like “I found this interesting”.  With the way social media works, you don’t even have to single them out.  You can just start posting stuff on broadcast and they’ll see it.
  • You can just start talking about asexuality as a thing that exists.  You can ask “Do you know what asexuality is?”, then start describing it.
  • You can tell them all about the wonderful and exciting Seattle Aces meetups you attend!  You can even invite them along as personal support.

“I Just Want You to be Happy!”

We talked about how people sometimes make well meaning remarks that end up being hurtful.  People tend to use what makes themselves happy as a benchmark for what makes other people happy, and when that benchmark isn’t met, people tend to want to meddle and “correct” the situation.

This is often seen when people think that being single or sexless is a miserable state.  Many asexual or aromantic people are just fine being single or sexless, but other people can’t understand that.

If it comes up, tell the person that what they want for you isn’t going to make you happy, and that your current situation isn’t making you unhappy.

Partner Exclusivity and the Third Wheel

It was brought up that being single can sometimes be isolating.  You might be close friends, but you’re not the Priority Person™.  Some suggestions were to find a group of people who are single or soloists, to look into the polyamorous community where there’s less of a sense of the One Exclusive Priority Person™, or to get involved with things like volunteering or going to social meetups, where there’s no expectation of coupling up.

Create Your Own Meetups

You can create your own meetups!  Want to get together on the Eastside?  Form a Thursday Lunch Group at the Bellevue CPK!  Want to go for a hike, but don’t want to go alone?  Aces Conquer Mt. Pilchuck!  Anyone who’s in the group can create events.

Other Things

Asexual: A Love Story

Pieces of Ace Podcast

The Guardian Legend

Discussion Group Notes 7/9/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of July 9th, 2016. These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.

Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.

Potential Screening of (A)sexual

We started the meeting by discussing a possible screening of the documentary (A)sexual.  (A)sexual is a 2011 documentary about asexuality, featuring David Jay, founder of AVEN and Julie Sondra Decker, author of The Invisible Orientation, and including Seattle’s own Dan Savage as the film’s main villain.  It is available on Netflix and other streaming services, and locally, Three Dollar Bill Cinemas has a copy.

It was suggested that we try to tie the screening into the TWIST Festival or Asexual Awareness Week, both of which are in October.  Also floated was the possibility of using the screening as a fundraiser for the group (Likely to help raise the entrance fee for marching in the 2017 Pride Parade) and trying to get someone from the film to come to the screening.  If we screen the documentary, we’ll probably pair it with a panel discussion afterward, to address some of the problems with the film, as well as to answer any questions that might come up.

We also talked about alternative/additional things to feature.  I mentioned a new documentary that’s being made by asexual people (The (A)sexual documentary was made about aces, but not by aces), but unfortunately that is not going to be released in time for TWIST/AAW this year.  There is also the recent Telus short out of Canada, called Asexual: A Love Story, which features several people who come to our group!

Broaching The Subject

One thing I’ve seen over and over again is where someone thinks that a friend or partner might be asexual, but not know about asexuality.  We came up with several tips for approaching this situation:

  • Casually bring up asexuality.  “Hey, there’s this thing I just learned about…  Isn’t that interesting?”  Mention that it’s a thing and a brief explanation of what it is.
  • Start posting articles/websites/etc. about asexuality to your social media accounts.
  • “So, there’s this documentary on Netflix that sounded interesting…”
  • If you’re ace and out, talk about it.  “I went to an asexuality meetup this weekend, and…”
  • But don’t force it on them, don’t say “this is what you are”.  It’s not your place to define others.  Let them come to their own conclusions.

This again shows the importance of visibility.  People can discover that they’re gay on their own because the possibility of being gay is common knowledge.  It’s more difficult for people to discover that they’re asexual on their own, because people simply don’t know that it exists.

Glossary

Definitions of various ace-related terms came up.  I have a glossary here, but it’s old, it’s missing some terms, and some of the definitions it does have are a problem.  I’m working on revising that page, and I’ll get some pamphlets printed up when I’m done with that.

Headcanon Aces and Non-Romantic/Sexual Pairings

There are many, many lists of potential and confirmed aces in fiction.  We talked about some characters who didn’t get it on.

  • CSI NY: Mac and Stella
  • Elementary: Joan and Sherlock
  • Firefly: Mal and Zoe
  • Winter Soldier: Cap and Black Widow
  • Voyager: Capt. Janeway
  • CSI: Grissom (Gimme my headcanon, dammit!  He just stayed up all night with Lady Heather talking about dead philosophers, and just wore silly hats to bed with Sara.)
  • Person of Interest: Shaw

Also mentioned were Bones and The X-Files, both of which had strong platonic relationships between the leads, and both of which were ruined when they were unnaturally forced into a romantic/sexual relationship.

Tidbits

The Huffington Post Infographic

UNC Chapel Hill Orientation Defintions

The Genderbread Person

“How I Learned I Was Asexual” Webcomic

Pacific Northwest Pride Events 2016

It’s Pride Season!

I often hear that Pride can be a lonely place for aces, so let’s get out there and be seen!

Rainbow Depot sells Asexuality Flags of several different sizes.  I’ve been extremely happy with the quality of the flags I’ve bought from there.  So, pick up a flag or two and wave around our black-gray-white-purple at whatever events you go to and make yourselves seen!

WhatIsAsexuality.com has a number of printable cards and pamphlets that would make good event handouts.  They even have a little open space that’s just the right size for a sticker or stamp with your group’s contact information!

And if you go to a Pride event, take pictures!  Post those pictures!  Send them here and I’ll put them up on the site.  Post them to the Seattle Aces or Northwest Aces Facebook groups.  The best way to be visible is to be visible!  Show everyone that we exist!

The Events

Obviously, in Seattle, the big event is the Seattle Pride Parade and PrideFest at Seattle Center.  This year, it will be held on Sunday, June 26th.  More events throughout the month of June and other information can be found at Seattle Pride.

Portland is also throwing a party.  The Portland Pride Parade is on Sunday, June 19th, and the Pride Festival on the Waterfront is both Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th.  More information and events can be found at Pride Northwest.

Vancouver waits until the end of July to keep the fun going through the summer.  Their parade and festival are on July 31st.  You still have time to get your passport or enhanced driver’s licence to get across the border!

But Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver aren’t the only place that’s having Pride events this year.  Here’s some others that I found around the Pacific Northwest.  (And be sure to visit the sites for more events, as there are often other parties or shows or events on various other dates.  I’m only listing the main events from each city here.)

Around Washington

Spokane: Pride Parade and Festival are Saturday, June 11th.  Details

Olympia:  Pride Parade and Festival are Sunday, June 19th.  Details

Seattle: Pride Parade and Festival are Sunday, June 26th.  Details

Tacoma:  Pride Festival is Saturday, July 9th.  Details

Bellingham:  Pride Parade and Festival are Sunday, July 10th.  Details

Bremerton/Kitsap:  Pride Festival is Saturday, June 16th.  Details

Tri-Cities:  Cancelled?

Around Oregon

Astoria: Pride Parade is Saturday, June 11th.  Details

Portland: Pride Parade and Festival are Sunday, June 19th.  Details  PDX Aces will be attending this event, but not marching.  Check out their Meetup group for information.

Bend/Central Oregon: Pride Festival is Saturday, June 25th.  Details

Salem: Pride Festival is Saturday, August 6th.  Details

Eugene/Springfield: Pride Festival is Saturday, August 13th.  Details

Around BC

Nanaimo: Pride Parade and Festival are Sunday, June 12th.  Details

Victoria: Pride Parade and Festival are Sunday, July 10th.  Details

Vancouver: Pride Parade and Festival are Sunday, July 31st.  Details

Further Afield

Boise, ID:  Pride Festival will be Saturday, June 18th.  Details

Anchorage, AK:  Pride Parade and Festival are Saturday, June 25th.  Details

Eureka, CA:  The Humboldt Pride Festival will be held on Saturday, September 10th.  Details

Asexual Representation At Pride!

I know of a handful of events where aces will get involved and march in the parade (or have in the past).

I’ve put together a list of ace groups who will be involved in their local Pride events in some way:  http://redbeardace.tumblr.com/post/144840083925/aces-on-parade-2016

Please let me know if I missed any events!

Discussion Group Notes 5/14/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of May 14th, 2016. These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.

Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.

Temporary Venue Change

We were back in the basement for this meeting, because there was a film festival happening upstairs.  But there were cupcakes this time, so it turned out fine.

Cupcakes!

There were cupcakes.  That is important.

Sensual Attraction

We talked about various types of attraction, focusing primarily on sensual attraction.  Sensual attraction is a sort of desire for physical, but non-sexual contact with a person.  It was described like this:  “You want to cuddle with your cat, but you don’t want to have sex with your cat.”  Sensual attraction is that “want to cuddle” kind of feeling.

Because sensual activities are often seen as a prelude to sexual activities, it can be difficult to describe to non-aces.  It can be difficult to set up boundaries between what is sensual and what is sexual.

Some people said that trust is an integral part in whether or not they feel comfortable enough to be physically close to someone.  Some said that it’s easier to get physically close when there’s no chance of attraction or progressing to sex.

If you’re looking for casual cuddling, there are regular Blanket Fort sessions at the Center for Sex Positive Culture, and Cuddle Seattle hosts regular Cuddle Party Meetups.  (The CSPC came highly recommended from several group members (and more on them later), but no one mentioned Cuddle Seattle, so if you want to go, do your research and be safe.)

Physical Progression in a Relationship

There is a common story in our culture, that a relationship of a sufficient duration must necessarily lead to sex.  This progression is expected, even required in many cases.  Mathematically speaking, it looks a little something like this:

RelationshipProgression

Many aces don’t particularly want this progression to occur or don’t really know what to do when it does occur.  In some cases, asexual people may just go along with it, because that’s “how it’s supposed to be”.  In others, they resist

This isn’t just an asexual issue.  Sometimes non-ace people feel obligated to progress to a sexual phase.  There have even been cases where two people in a relationship end up having sex for their partner, only to discover that neither partner really wants it.

It was brought up that sometimes teenage relationships felt more comfortable than adult relationships, because this progression was “blocked”.  In those relationships, sex was off the table, because parents and/or society “prohibit” such things.  That gave an asexual person an easy out:  “I can’t do that, because my parents won’t let me.”  As an adult, however, that excuse is no longer acceptable.

Straight By Default

Many people discover that they’re gay or bi or pan or whatever because they realize that they feel different from those around them.  There’s that moment where they clearly understand that, for instance, men are more interesting than women, yet that’s not the case for most other guys.  And from there, it’s relatively simple to put a name to that feeling, because the answer to the question “How do I know if I’m gay?” is general knowledge.  Guys know “I’m gay if I find men more interesting than women”.

But no one ever talks about “How do I know if I’m straight?”  It’s just there.  It’s the default.  There’s criteria out there for the other possibilities, but “straight” is just assumed if you don’t fit into another bucket.  Even worse, these sorts of “How do I know” questions tend to be answered with “You just know”.  So how are you supposed to know that you know?  What does just knowing feel like?

Because of this, many aces end up feeling “straight by default”.  They miss the differences, because the differences are never discussed.  They never realize that their feelings on sex are different from the feelings straight people have, because these feelings are never fully explored.  They end up just assuming that they’re low libido, or that they just haven’t found the right person, or that their partners aren’t any good, or that they’re broken.

Kink

Believe it or not, it’s possible for an asexual to be into kink.  Kink doesn’t have to be about sex and doesn’t have to lead to sex.  Kink is big on consent and setting clear boundaries.  If a line is crossed, it’s over.

The Center for Sex Positive Culture hosts a number of kink events, some of which are explicitly non-sexual.  The CSPC hosts safe events, where no means no, stop means stop, and failing to respect the nos and stops of others will get the offenders tossed out and their membership revoked.  Several people in our group are or have been members and have attended events at the CSPC.

Kinky Asexuals also has some information specifically about the combination of kink and asexuality.  There was also an Asexuality and Kink themed Carnival of Aces a few years back.  And check out a few more links down in the comments below.

Ace Friendly Doctors

Currently, there’s no list of ace friendly doctors or therapists.  However, Gay City does keep a list of trans and gay friendly healthcare providers, which might be a good starting point.

Bathroom Bills

We held a discussion regarding North Carolina’s HB2 and similar “Bathroom Bills”, which place pointless and dangerous restrictions on which room people are or are not allowed to pee in.

That reminded me of a conversation I had during NAAC 2015 regarding all gender bathrooms.  You can read it here and here.  (tl;dr:  What about urinals and potty parity laws.)  At some point, I think I even mocked up a couple of designs for neutral restrooms.

Analyzing “Romantic” Feelings

Similar to “straight by default”, it can be difficult to determine if you’re feeling romantic attraction or not, or whether or not you’re aromantic.  Several tools for helping tell the difference were mentioned:

  • Do other people feel more strongly about you than you do about them?
  • Do you feel that you love the person, but not that you’re in love with them?

Also, remember that labels are only useful when they’re useful to you.  You don’t have to try to stick labels all over yourself in an attempt to fit someone else’s idea of how you’re supposed to feel.

It’s Pride Season!

All throughout the month of June, there will be Pride events all over Seattle.  In particular:

  • Saturday, June 11th: Pride Picnic in Volunteer Park.  This is the day of the June meeting, so there will likely be an Ace Invasion following the meeting.
  • Sunday, June 26th: Seattle Pride Parade.  We’re not marching as a group, although some people are marching with other groups and have offered to let us tag along.

If you go to any pride events, take pictures of your ace representation and send them here!  I’d love to post them!

Discussion Group Notes 4/9/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of April 9th, 2016. These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.

Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.

That One Thing

We started off with a handful of stories of discovering asexuality, and I was struck by a common theme in most of them:  That there was One Thing, one life-changing thing that really made people understand that they were asexual.  Maybe it was an interview they saw on YouTube, maybe it was a documentary on Netflix, maybe it was a book.  Some people went looking for it, others just came across it when they weren’t expecting it.

This underscores the power of visibility work of all kinds.  Any time someone talks about asexuality, wherever they mention it, it could be that One Thing for someone else.

Speaking of…  It sounds like there will be several articles and a documentary featuring some of today’s participants!  Details when they arrive.

Rebuild The Value Of Life

Some people talked about how discovering asexuality forced them to have to reexamine things that they view as valuable.  Primarily, it was that our culture values sex, and so that can seep into things that we personally value, as well.  Then, when asexuality comes along, and you realize that no, sex isn’t all that valuable to me, it can leave a hole.  Particularly when you’re around or in a relationship with someone who does value sex.

How do you navigate a relationship where sex is just one aspect of a relationship, but for the other person, it’s a really big aspect?

How do you explain this to someone who literally can’t imagine not being interested in or driven by sex?

Meeting People

Three places were mentioned as being helpful to finding other ace people:

  • AVEN
  • OKCupid (You can select “Just Friends” and “Asexual”, and you can also hide yourself from straight people.)
  • Ace Book

There’s also the Seattle Aces and Northwest Aces Facebook groups!

As far as meeting other people who aren’t specifically ace, but where there’s no expectation of sex or relationships, several people recommended going to interest-based meetups.  Like Harry Potter?  Find a Harry Potter book club.  Like 3d photography?  Join your local affiliate of the NSA.  Like the outdoors?  Countless hiking groups await.

Asexuality Glossary

Words!  Lots of them!

There is a somewhat outdated glossary here.  I’ll look into updating it, and maybe turning it into a printable handout.

Sex Sells

Some people brought up the sexualization of their hobbies or aspects of their profession.  For instance, bikini-clad models used to sell motorcycles (“It’s just dangerous to wear that on a bike.“) or booth babes at a tech show or hunky firemen.  Some people expressed feeling confusion about how those things connect, like how a nearly naked person is supposed to sell a hamburger.  Others mentioned that sometimes, even non-ace people don’t like these portrayals, particularly how it can impact women in these areas.  For instance, a woman who likes to ride motorcycles might be turned away by the oversexualized advertisements, while a woman in tech might be seen as merely set dressing at a convention, instead of an expert in her field.

Views From Others

We went through a list of things we’ve heard from other people when we’ve come out.

  • “You’re broken.”
  • “It’s your hormones.”
  • “You haven’t found the right one yet.”
  • “Were you assaulted or abused?”
  • “You haven’t tried it with me.”

Basically, we’re all winners at Asexual Bingo.

The common themes were that people assume there must be a reason that we’re asexual, specifically that there must be a fixable reason.  This largely stems from an inability or unwillingness to understand that we’re just into sex the way they are, that there’s nothing wrong, just different.

This has been described as a “misfire of empathy“, where people think they are trying to help, based on the way they see the world and think they would want to be helped, if they were in your shoes.

Religion and Asexuality

Part of today’s discussion explored the intersection of religion and asexuality.  In particular, how it can be difficult to tell whether it’s actually asexuality, or if it’s just repression from internalizing the purity and celibacy and sex negative messages coming from the church (or people who claim to be talking about the Bible).

Quite a bit has been written on the topic of religion and asexuality.  A few good starting places are these sites:

Religion and Asexuality Overview

Carnival of Aces: Religion (or atheism) and Asexuality

The group “Thank God For Sex” was also mentioned.  It’s a local group that deals with issues surrounding religious sexual shame, with a focus on abandoning the shame, without abandoning the religion.

Extra Bits

A Norman Reedus sighting at ECCC led to a brief mention that Daryl in The Walking Dead had been described as “somewhat asexual” by the show runner.

Name tags!  A member of the group found these name tags.  We might be able to use something like them in the group to help with the introductions.

Ace flags!  I brought flags today.  I got them from here.

Last weekend, I got to wondering if former Governor Dixy Lee Ray might have possibly been asexual.  Anyone know someone with a thing for Washington State history who might want to dig into some archives, looking for answers?

There was a brief discussion about how sexually charged Brazilian culture can be.  That reminded me of an amazing show called Gaycation that I saw recently.  It stars Ellen Page and her friend, and in one episode, they travel to Brazil to explore the LGBTQ world there.  They go from the highs of Carnivale, meet with a high-profile trans actress, then confront an intolerant politician, and finally have a downright terrifying conversation with a viciously homophobic, serial killing ex-cop, who started killing gay people after his son came out.  Incredible stuff.