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.

Discussion Group Notes 3/12/16

This was a large meeting, so we split into three subgroups for much of the discussion.  Unfortunately, that means I didn’t take good notes…

Sorry about that.

But this meeting did happen, and it was full of people and discussion.

It should also be noted that this meeting was the introduction of the cookie chair!

Discussion Group Notes 2/13/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of February 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.

Meetup Changes

We were in the auditorium today!  No stairs!  More space, more air, more seats!  Also, a light with a terribly placed motion sensor…

Stories of Self

Much of the meeting today was people telling personal stories about how they came to identify as asexual or how it manifested itself in relationships.  For reasons of privacy, I will not repeat those stories here.  (This also means the notes this time around are a bit light.)

Some common themes were feeling alone and not having the words to describe how we feel.   A lack of information can also lead to asexuality being seen as something that’s “wrong” and not something that’s just “different”.

Other people talked about how medication can cloud the issue.  Decreased libido can be a side effect of certain medications, so it’s hard to tell whether someone is asexual or if it’s just the pill.  Some medications can increase libido, which can be tough to navigate.

“What’s Your Type?”

Aesthetic attraction came up.  Aesthetic attraction is where a person finds someone pleasing to look at or notable in some way, but not with any kind of sexual component.  It’s often described as liking the way someone looks the same way you like the way a painting looks:  It’s pretty, but you wouldn’t want to sleep with it.

From aesthetic attraction, the conversation turned to “What’s your type”.  Many of the people in the room who have experienced aesthetic attraction said they found the concept of a “type” somewhat strange.  Several said that past attractions were not necessarily a predictor of who they might find aesthetically attractive in the future.  Others said that the concept felt like a limitation, like if you say that redheads are your type, what happens if an interesting blonde comes along?

Other Bits

The Asexual Sky Nation

Rachel Maddow

Mimosas With Mama

Dickens Fair

Tipping the Velvet

Discussion Group Notes 1/9/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of January 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.

Meetup Changes

Since we’re growing and the room in the basement can get cramped and hot, and since there are accessibility issues with the basement room, we might be moving to the auditorium upstairs!  Changing rooms may require changing meeting days, though.  If any changes are made, they’ll be announced.

Seattle Aces Website

SeattleAces.org : You’re looking at it!

This website is meant to be a public face to our group.  A way to say “We are here!” to the world.  Meetups will still be organized in the group on meetup.com, and this site will point people there.  The site is under construction, so if you have any suggestions, let me know!

There is also a new Facebook group for Seattle Aces. Stop by and say hello!

Going forward, I’d also like to try and build a Northwest Aces group, so we can reach out and start collaborating with other ace groups in the region.  There’s a Facebook group for that, too.  (I’ve also registered “NorthwestAces.org“, but right now it just redirects to the Seattle site.)

Pride Parade

Let’s make it happen this year!

If you’re interested in marching, check out the Meetup discussion for the parade.

If you’re interested in helping to plan, check out the Meetup discussion for the parade.

If you have fundraising ideas, check out the Meetup discussion for the parade.

Basically, check out the Meetup discussion for the parade.

Things that were mentioned today that we’d need:

  • $500+ entrance fee.
  • T-Shirts!
  • Lots of people to march.
  • People to plan and make it happen.

We also talked about the possibility of trying to collaborate with other groups in the area, and set up a sort of marcher exchange program.  For example, we could send a few people to Portland, and Portland could send people here, and we all march in each other’s parades.  Anyone know anyone in the PDX group?

KUOW Trans Bathroom Thing

Here’s the segment, if you’re interested.

And the Gender Justice League.

Advocacy Groups or Support Services?

After the meeting, I got to thinking.  We spent a fair bit of time talking about advocacy groups related to trans issues, but does anyone know of any advocacy groups or support services in the area that are or should be are aware of ace issues?  Maybe we should start reaching out to some local groups and start to provide resources to them.

CDC Study

The CDC recently released the analysis of a survey about sexual attraction and orientation.  This survey is notable for completely failing to mention asexuality in any way.

The orientation question was multiple choice and only allowed Straight, Gay, Bi, or Decline To Respond as answers.  The attraction question assumed attraction to males, females, or both, and had an “unsure” option, but no “no attraction” option.

Previous versions of the survey did include an “other” option for these questions, but it was removed in 2008.

You can read the report here:  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr088.pdf

And here’s some commentary, including an open letter from the leader of the New York City Ace Group:  http://wildasexuals.tumblr.com/post/136821002195/nhsr-88-and-asexuality

Relationships

There’s going to be a Relationships meetup!  Check it out if you’re interested!

Several people talked about the difficulty of being ace in a relationship, but not having discovered asexuality yet.  They mentioned trying desperately to “fix” things that weren’t actually broken.  “Have more sex!”  “Have different sex!”  “Have wild sex!”

The media always talks about how sex stops after getting married or after having a kid, so many asexual people who haven’t discovered asexuality yet might feel that their lack of interest is just a normal relationship progression and not have a problem with it.  However, their non-ace partner might have a problem with it, and feel that a lack of sexual attention means a lack of love.

Awareness that one member in a relationship is asexual might help, but it’s not a guarantee.  All relationships take dedication and effort and require compromise, and there are countless issues that may arise that have absolutely nothing to do with sex or sexuality.

AVEN has a “For Sexual Partners, Friends, and Allies” board that may be helpful to people in a mixed relationship.

Discovering the Term

We talked about how we discovered asexuality.

For some people, a friend mentioned it to them.  For others, they struggled for years, feeling lost and broken.  Some came to the term on their own.  Others found it through Tumblr or other social media.

Creating Meetups

If there’s a specific topic you want to talk about, create a meetup!

If you want to try to get a group together closer to where you live, create a meetup!

All you have to do is go to the group on Meetup.com, click “Schedule a new meetup”, and fill in the details.

Other Bits

Wolf eels!

Dan Savage and his “why would you even contemplate inflicting yourself on a normally sexual person” line.  (Note that’s from 2011.  He’s been less of an ace-hating asshole lately.)

Discussion Group Notes 12/12/15

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of December 12th, 2015.  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.

“The Ace Vibe”

There was a short discussion about whether or not there’s an “ace vibe” that we give off.  Several people mentioned that they rarely, if ever, were approached by someone seeking a romantic/sexual relationship, and were wondering if it could be because people sense a lack of interest.

On the other hand, it’s possible that it’s just obliviousness.   Perhaps others are flirting and we’re just missing the signals of interest. (As in my case where I was on vacation and had driven over two hundred miles before I realized that a woman had been flirting with me.)

“Tumblr Sexuality”

We spoke about the perception that asexuality is strictly a “youth” orientation. On the positive side, asexuality is accessible many young people because of how widespread it is on social media.  On the negative side, young people are demonized for exploring their sexual identity.  “You’re a special snowflake, using five words to describe your sexuality.“

There was also an unfortunate side effect of this brought up.  Because it’s so heavily explored and discussed by younger people, older aces might feel alienated from the space.  “I don’t want to be a special snowflake, I don’t want to uage to use all these words to describe me.”  How do we reach out to people who are starting to discover who they are at a later stage of life?  How can people discover asexuality when they’re not involved in the young-skewing social media world where it tends to live?  (I’d personally like to explore this topic in more depth in a future meeting.)

TV Shows

Asexuality’s appearance on House was mentioned.  In the episode “Better Half”, an asexual couple was featured.  For the first two thirds of the episode, the portrayal of asexuality was positive and handled as legitimate.  But because House Must Be Right™, in the last commercial break, House “proves” that one of them had a brain tumor and the other was lying.

This awful portrayal has caused numerous people to think that they can’t be ace because “House proved asexuality can’t be real”.  Here’s a collection of reactions and posts to that episode:  https://writingfromfactorx.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/house-linkspam/

Sirens also had an asexual character.  Sirens was a show that ran on the USA Network for two seasons.  The ace character, Voodoo, was in the supporting cast, and several episodes revolved around her relationship with one of the primary characters.  The portrayal of asexuality was largely accurate and positive.  However, other characters said many ignorant and rude things about asexuality.  Asexuality features prominently in the episodes “The Finger”, “Transcendual”, and “Screw The One Percent”.  (Note:  Sirens features crude humor and frequent sexual themes.  Stay away if that’s not your thing.)

Negative Reactions

We spoke about how people have negative reactions to asexuality.

I’ve written extensively about the nonsense you’ll see in Comment Sections.

SwankIVY’s Letters To An Asexual also covers these themes.

Gordon Hodson’s “Prejudice Against Group X” article, and its accompanying paper (”Intergroup bias toward Group X”, MacInnis/Hodson) talks about “Differences as Deficit”, where any difference from “normal” is viewed as wrong.

We wondered if it will get worse before it gets better.  As more people know about us, will their reactions become more negative?

At the same time, the more well known asexuality is, the more people will know someone who is openly asexual.  That’s where the contact hypothesis comes in.  People are less likely to be prejudiced against groups that they know on a more personal level.

Doctors

Some people mentioned getting negative or dismissive reactions from doctors.  Sometimes they’ll say things like “Well, that’s what you think”, other times they’ll ask if you were abused, etc.  There are often invasive or irrelevant questions, like a form for an eye exam that includes relationship status or sexual orientation.  Doctors sometimes expect patients to be sexually active and do not believe it when they say they’re not.

Resources for Ace Survivors has a reading list and printable fact sheet for healthcare professionals.

Coming Out, Being Out, Staying In

Some people “Live Out Loud”, where they are openly and freely asexual with anyone who comes along.  Some people “Sneak Out”.  Others come out to friends, but not family.  Some people tell their family to stop the “When are you bringing home a [boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/grandchild]?” conversations.  Other people don’t tell their families because they don’t really want to talk about their sex life (or lack thereof).

Tips for talking to others about asexuality included:

  • Slip it into conversation and don’t make a big deal.
  • “You know how there are people you aren’t attracted to?  I feel like that about everybody.”
  • “Does hypersexual exist?  Then why not asexual, too?”

Sometimes people bring up the past when you come out to them.  “Well, what about when you…?”  They don’t always understand that’s not who you truly are, that maybe you were trying to be something you’re not, trying to meet someone else’s definition of “normal”.

Relationship vs. Friendship

Some things brought up as possible ways that a “relationship” is different from a “friendship”:

  • Being able to negotiate intimacy and what you’re looking for.
  • Being a primary consideration.
  • Whether or not concepts like the “Five Love Languages” are applied or make sense, and whether you’re able to assert how you feel about them.

Extroverted Aces

Are things more difficult for extroverted aces?  Introverted aces can go to their personal hermit caves and be fine.  But to extroverted aces feel conflict, where their desire for more personal contact ends up in an undesirable sexual realm?

Clubbing

Apparently goth clubs might be worth checking out for aces who want to go clubbing, especially for more introverted aces.  Compared to regular clubs, they’re more individual, there’s more of a personal bubble, and less “Lady Gaga and d-bags”.  Some goth clubs/nights include the Mercury, the Baltic Room, and Contour.

Also mentioned was Night Crush, which was described as less hypersexualized, more full spectrum than other clubs.

Books and Documentary

We had a brief overview of three books about asexuality.

First was Asexuality: A Brief Introduction. (Also on Amazon) This is my book.  It’s virtually all content from my website, so you’re probably better off reading it there.  In book form, it can get redundant, because it’s a collection of webpages that were written to stand alone.

Julie Sondra Decker’s Invisible Orientation was mentioned.  It’s in paperback now, so it’s cheaper than it was.

Anthony Bogaert’s Understanding Asexuality was the final book to make an appearance.  It’s also now in paperback.  I gave my opinion on it:  It felt like he forgot asexual people existed about halfway through, and it seemed like he had a bunch of papers he hadn’t published elsewhere, so he jammed in a paragraph about asexuality then slipped them into this book.

The documentary “(A)sexual” is available on numerous streaming services.  Though imperfect, it’s worth a watch.  The ending is especially a downer, however I have heard that David Jay has had a happier ending since the filming.  (I’m not privy to the specifics, though, and I can’t find where I heard that.)

Speaking of Books…

Let’s write one!  The idea was floated that there should be a book of ace experiences:  Stories, vingnettes, comments, etc.  Not just focusing on one aspect of asexuality, but exploring living as an asexual.

I know of a few similar projects:

So yeah, let’s write a book.

Let’s March In Pride

This is our year.  Let’s do this.  Who’s with me?  …  And who’d like to organize it all?  We’ll need to get started now to build momentum, reach enough people to have a good showing, and to meet all of the deadlines for being a contingent.

Discussion Group Notes 11/14/15

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of November 14th, 2015.  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.

Words

Several ace terms came up in today’s meeting.  Here were a few:

  • allosexual:  Not asexual/ace spectrum.
  • ace: Short for asexual.
  • grace: Short for gray-asexual.
  • lithromantic/lithsexual:  Feels attraction, but does not desire reciprocation

For these and other terms, there are several ace glossaries out there:

OK Cupid

It was mentioned that OK Cupid now has the option to select “Asexual” as your orientation.  Several people talked about their experiences on OK Cupid.

Some people expressed concern that listing themselves as asexual would limit their potential matches.  Others talked about how some people don’t actually read profiles before contacting someone, but that other people take it as a challenge or an opportunity to ask invasive questions.  It seemed like men encountered more people who were curious about asexuality, while women encountered more people who were hostile or rude about it.

There was also a discussion about using OK Cupid to potentially find friends, instead of romantic partners.

For more about OK Cupid and Asexuality, I’ll point you at SwankiVY, who has written extensively on the subject.

Relationships

Today’s meeting talked mostly about relationships.

Communication and a commitment to make it work are very important in a relationship, particularly in a cross-orientation situation.

The Five Love Languages

Other terms that may be of use:  Queerplatonic and WTFRomantic.

Consent and boundaries are important to talk about.  Things like “Want/Will/Won’t Lists” might help frame that conversation.

You never know what you’re getting into.  Even with the best of intentions and with good faith, people may change their mind.

It’s possible to raise a kid with someone that you’re not in a romantic/sexual relationship with.  Some people have had sex specifically with the intent to become parents of a biological child.

Relationship Scripts

Being asexual breaks a lot of relationship scripts.

  • Touching leads to sex.
  • “Rounding the Bases” vs. being in the “Friendzone”.
  • “We’re not there yet.”
  • “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone.”

Some aces might enjoy physical touch, but don’t want it to lead to sex.

Some aces might not view the “bases” as goals in a relationship, or don’t feel that a relationship without sex means the “friendzone”.

“Not there yet” leaves no room for “Not there ever”.

(And just what is the difference between a strong friendship and a sexless romantic relationship, anyway?  Exclusivity?  Jealousy?  Endearing faults?)

Sometimes aces feel like impostors in relationships.  Some are more insecure about their own ability to love someone adequately than whether or not someone else loves them.

Tension

There was a brief discussion about the “tension” between romantic and aromantic aces or aces who are repulsed/have no sex drive/etc. and those who do.  Some of it was chalked up to personality, some of it was chalked up to erasure, and some of it was chalked up to asexuality forces closer examination of things like romantic attraction/libido than other orientations, where those things are bundled together and taken for granted.

However, there is no “right way” to be ace.

Other Bits

Marching in Pride was mentioned again.  Here are a set of tips from someone who’s worked with the SF marching group in the past.  Here’s the Seattle Pride Parade Registration and information.

Social Anxiety and Asexuality

And Then What…?  (About relationship scripts not making sense.)

Center for Sex Positive Culture

FetLife

Discussion Group Notes 10/10/15

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of October 10th, 2015.  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.

Books:

Several books were brought up at the meeting.

How to be a Normal Person” by TJ Klune will be released soon.  It is said to be a gay/ace romance novel, where the gay man wants to become “normal” for the ace character.

The Invisible Orientation” by Julie Sondra Decker (SwankIVY of YouTube) is now available in paperback.  This book is an in-depth exploration of asexuality,

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain is a book about introverts, and how they are viewed and treated by society.

North American Asexuality Conference and Other Conferences:

NAAC2015 was discussed at the meeting.  This was a two day asexuality conference held in Toronto in June of this year, organized by Asexual Outreach.  Notes from a handful of sessions can be found here.

There was some discussion about the logistics of organizing a local conference (or unconference).  The annual SF Ace Unconference was mentioned.

The possibility was also raised about organizing sessions or panels for other conferences in the area, instead of (or in addition to) running a specifically ace event.  GeekGirlCon was mentioned as the type of event to look at.  The NWSA Conference and the Creating Change Conference are two large scale (but non-PNW) events which typically have ace representation, both in attendance and in conference sessions.

Addyi/Flibanserin:

The newly FDA approved “Female Viagra” was brought up, and its side effects and other problems were discussed.

Notable issues:

  • Rejected by the FDA twice before being approved.  Approved on the third attempt largely on “gender fairness” and not on safety and effectiveness.
  • Pill is barely more effective than placebo.
  • Is not actually like Viagra, in that it does not act physically to allow people to have sex.  Instead, it alters brain chemistry to make people more willing to have sex.
  • Side effect include spontaneous blackouts, risk of “accidental injury”, and increased risk of appendicitis.
  • Cannot be used with alcohol or birth control pills.
  • Makers claim that it won’t be prescribed to asexual women, but a lack of awareness limits this.  A woman who has never heard of asexuality can’t say “I’m ace, I don’t need that”.  Instead, she may think “I’ve never wanted sex, I’m broken, I need this pill”.
  • “The marketing for this drug spreads the disorder it is intended to treat.”

For more information:

Asexuality Pamphlets/Resources:

Pamphlets from WhatIsAsexuality.com were handed out at the meeting.

It was mentioned that Resources For Ace Survivors has an information sheet directed at doctors and other health care providers.

Also brought up was the High School Resource Guide from Asexual Outreach.

Pride Parade:

It was suggested that we look at marching in the Seattle Pride Parade next year.  While ace contingents have marched in past years, they’ve always piggybacked with some other group.  Maybe it’s time to march in our own right.

Here is parade registration and marching information.

I asked for marching tips, and here were a few that I received:

  • Start planning early.
  • Get things to hand out.  Pamphlets are good for information, and stickers and cheap and popular.
  • Get a banner with the group name and website.  (Note:  We need a group name and website.)
  • A parade is a long walk and it can be in the sun and heat, so be prepared.  Bring water, sunscreen, and snacks.
  • Walk, don’t drive.  (At least at first.)  Walking groups are easier and cheaper than vehicles.
  • A parade can also involve a lot of waiting.
  • Have a way to get out at the end.  It’s a long, one-way walk to PrideFest, and if you don’t want to deal with that, have an escape plan.
  • You WILL be on camera.  If you are not comfortable with being outed, do not march (or march in costume).
  • Consider a smaller Pride event in the area, which might be cheaper, calmer, and less intimidating.
  • Have your speech practiced:  “What is asexuality?”  “Why are you here?”, etc.

(Thanks, @sennkestra!  These and more posted here:  https://nextstepcake.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/tips-for-prospective-ace-pride-marchers/)

Some groups who have marched (and might be worth reaching out to for tips):

Asexual Awareness Week:

AAW 2015 is October 19th-25th.  Some suggestions were to wear ace-related clothing (including ace scarves, for the knitters), or put up ace-related information at work (either at your workspace or on a shared bulletin board).

GSRM and the Alphabet Soup:

The acronym GSRM was brought up as an alternative to LGBTQIA(etc.), QUILTBAG, and so on.  GSRM is “Gender, Sexuality, and Romantic Minorities”.  It has the upside of being inclusive by default (There can’t be squabbling about who gets a letter or what the letters stand for) and not becoming unwieldly long.  It has the downside of using the word “minorities” in an inappropriate context.

Another alternative is “MOGAI”:  Marginalized Orientations, Genders, and Intersex.

Some people tend to lean toward using “Queer” as the blanket term, but that word’s history can be a problem.

The One Percent:

Bogaert’s 1% statistic was brought up, and there was discussion about why that number might be low.  A question was raised about the prevalence of other orientations, and it was noted that the percentages vary wildly from study to study, survey to survey.

I am planning on writing a piece about the 1% statistic at some point in the future.

Misc./Other:

Merchandace is a site that links to ace themed shirts, jewelry, flags, keychains, etc.

The ridiculous “Padlock” image chain.

There is a recent series on therapists and asexuality on The Asexual AgendaPart 1 | Part 2

(Spoiler alert!) A screengrab of the final scene from Pacific Rim can be seen here.