Asexual Identity and the Power of Fiction

Growing up, after I learned to read (I’m dyslexic, in a time when it wasn’t recognized or treated) I was always the kid with their nose stuck in a book.

Books were a way for me to live lives that weren’t as abused as mine was. They were places I could escape to when life, as it often proved, hurt too much.

That hasn’t really changed.

But when I think back to the youth I was, and what words I needed to be reading then… how much they would’ve helped me…

How having words to describe my ME, back then… would’ve saved me so much pain, it makes me wish, fleetingly, that I actually had the skill to write YA. (I don’t, we’re not really in much danger of that, writing for kids has to be the hardest type of writing there is.)

But that’s truly beside the point. Having words like asexual, demisexual, autochorisexual, aromantic, bisexual, pansexual… all of the queer words I needed then in the fiction I was able to access at the time. It would’ve been so world changing for me.

Never forget that kids (many young adults read up, I know I certainly did) learn from our fictional words and worlds. We need the words on the page and we need them by own voice authors so that we can get the full spectrum of aromanticism and asexual identity on the page for people to read.

People who. like me, needed it when they were younger, and maybe even people like me at 39, who’d never heard of the term ace or asexual or demisexual… we need these words on the page and we need publishing to give us books WITH these words.

A while ago, I wrote this letter to my younger self. If I could send it back through the years, so many choices I made back then would’ve been made differently.


Dearest Kae,

You won’t believe this, but I’m sending you this letter from the future. I need to tell you some very important things. Things I wish I’d known when I was you.

Right now, you are surrounded by people who are doing terrible things, trying to convince you to do things you will regret even when you reach as old as forty.

I know, you’re sixteen, you probably think forty is ancient. It’s a long time to carry a regret, I can tell you that much.

There is a word for why you’ve never understood wanting to have sex and relationships like everyone around you is so very convinced you should.

Three, actually.

Demisexuality means that you must have an emotional attachment to someone before you can enjoy sex or a relationship with them. You may not even feel physical desire without emotional connection. You don’t feel that with him, you know you don’t. You will regret letting him pressure you into things you don’t want to do.

Gray aromanticism and autochorisexuality are the words describing how romance doesn’t make sense to you outside of books. That too, is something you’ll regret pressing on with until it happens naturally.

All three are forms of asexuality, and being asexual is not a curse. Above all, you need to know you aren’t broken.

And it’s truly okay for you to say no until you meet someone who you do feel romantically inclined for. It happens when you’re twenty. Sex will be all the more worth waiting for, if you do.

I promise.

It’s not the same for people like you are, like me, as it is for many people, and I wouldn’t suggest this to someone who actually wanted to have sex. For someone who wanted to, I’d suggest they get education and protection and enjoy themselves. But you and I both know that you don’t really want to go there.

I know, from the advantage of age, how much you’ll regret it, and that it isn’t worth it.

Unfortunately, the books you read don’t have the experience or the words for you to learn. I wish, with all my heart, that you did. It’s 2017 now, and I’m writing from a time period when we’re finally seeing these words and these experiences on the page.

Giving in to the kind of pressure you’re under, it will not make you happy. I know that, because I am you.

What will make you happier is concentrating on your studies so that you can have your pick of Universities to go to. Whole new worlds open up to you in University. You’ll be shocked at how many friends you end up making. At the wonderful doors that open to you.

I needed to share my hard-won words with you. I wish I’d known them when I was your age. I would’ve made many different decisions.

Chosen other paths.

Words are important.

There is so much more. Remember, never stop writing, no matter what. Oh! Before I forget, you’re pansexual and pagan, too. From my vantage point, you’ve written several beautiful books, have a beloved husband of 19 years and two wonderful kids.

Told you I had some things to tell you.

Kaelan

 

 

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Lace it up and wear it.

Gather round my friends. I have something I need to say about performative activism.

Stop.

There aren’t any ally cookies, you know?

Can we just… please, pretty please, with sugar on top STOP boosting angry, hurtful, confrontational voices?

I’m tired y’all. VERY tired of it.

No, it’s not cause I’m old.

I am not in any way trying to say not to share your experiences. DO THAT. Please. I’m not the ‘be nice’ fairy. (I’m the don’t fucking bully people or I’ll thwap you fairy, I’m meaner.)

Please be careful whose message and voice you choose to not only listen to but boost on social media.

Wanna know why?

Because there are people who don’t know their IDs yet who are trying to figure it out.

Because by spreading misinformation, or being a militant activist, or a gaslighter, or even by providing a platform for people who engage in those activities You’re Being Part Of The Problem.

I’m seeing a lot of people boost some rather loud, & unfortunately harmful voices of late. I guess that’s really not a new thing. I’ve had to speak out against bullying a time or ten already.

Now, *today* I’m seeing it VERY clearly in the aroace community.

Aro=Aromantic

Ace=Asexual

(My blog post with definitions and links about it all)

Day before yesterday it was white feminists coming after a person for writing their mixed-race ID. Seeing that go down hurt me for two reasons.

One, because I’m mixed race & I almost always write my characters that way.

Two, because I know the pain of ‘never being enough’. Of being called into question for trying to figure out how to be this person descending from multiple races and cultures and the feels it leaves us with.

Seeing what’s going down today with regard to the aroace community is hurting me a bit. Only a bit because I’m solid in my IDs. I know who I am and I’m good with it all.

For what it’s worth, I’m Gray-ace (demisexual and autochorisexual) and gray aromantic.

You know who IS hurting because of the kind of confrontational bullshit I’m seeing today? (and have seen for months now across all the intersectional IDs I’m either blessed or cursed with).

Questioning aces, questioning aros, those are the ones being hurt. Many of whom are young, or who might be older, and hesitant because these words didn’t exist when we were kids. Or if they did, we certainly weren’t taught them.

That kind of confrontational behavior, that nitpicking, it makes people like me gray-aro, gray-ace, afraid to say boo to anyone. To share our own damned experiences.

I have a book coming out in April. It’s one with a demi-sexual, gray aro, touch averse first person point of view main character. I basically ripped my soul out and bled it onto the page for that book.

I’m repping my experience of being gray aroace in that book. It’s own voices.

And *I’m* afraid that I’ll be attacked for sharing my own damned ID.

But I’m a grown up (don’t tell my kids I just ate ice cream for lunch, no lie, I did, butter pecan.)

I knew that by writing that book, by choosing to publish it, especially with a queer publisher it would garner attention.

I’m as ready as I can be for that. If I get flack, I’ll take my lumps and try to learn whatever lessons I can from it.

You know who *ISN’T* ready for that kind of heat?

People who still aren’t comfy with the words they want to claim. The experiences of their IDs. The ones I wrote that book for?

Yeah. Them.

The ones the *militant activists* pretend to be educating for and defending?

Yep, also them.

The very ones they’re trying to ‘protect’.

That’s who this kind of shite hurts.

That’s. Peeps, that’s so fucking harmful I can’t eloquently express how very, very bad it is.

 

Today, some voices who have historically made gray aroaces like me feel unwanted, unsafe and like we don’t have a voice in our own community are being loud.

Again.

The only point I’m gathering from the nasty noise I’ve seen today is that as my grandmother used to say… someone has a bug up their butt.

Jeebus. Sit the fuck down, will ya?

YOUR experience is not the same as another aro ace’s experience and no one elected you the fucking spokespeople for all of us!

I’ve already had two aroace teens in my inbox today asking for help understanding what’s going on.

I don’t *get* what the repeated dust ups are always about with regard to this one person’s words & this one platform. They’re trying, okay? Give it a rest?

Are they perfect? Nope. They’re human.

Did they do their due diligence? Damned straight they did.

Now, Sit. The. Fuck. Down. And. Shut. Up.

I’m saying that as a not so outspoken member of the aroace community.

I’m not the only one tired of your BS. STFU now. Please and thank you.

If you want to share *YOUR* experience of your ID. Please do. Don’t be telling other people they’re wrong, when honestly?

That’s you.

Being aro or being ace or both is a spectrum. They are NOT the same thing, though they are often conflated.

Each is a sliding scale of its own and where one person falls on one is not going to be the same as where you do.

My experience of being aro is definitely not the same as someone else’s. Which, you know, is okay? It really is?

But some of these speakers, the ones who CONSTANTLY embattle the same people for writing either their experience or someone else’s experience… W/PERMISSION AND DUE DILIGENCE.

They’re militant. They’re scary. They have platforms and others boost their words like they are the word of god. They’re not. They’re so not.

This angriness, this confrontational stuff, this ‘my way or the highway’ attitude I keep seeing from the same people, over and over again…

That’s not how activism and education is supposed to work!!

The way it’s supposed to work is this.

I read/saw something I’m not happy with.

Sorta like I read those comments today.

Then I take to *my* social media (lol, this blog post was supposed to be a thread, guess I had more words to say about it) and say…

Um… that’s not really how it works in my experience/educated opinion.

Then I can share *my* experience of the topic in question.

I can leave it there for people to see and take part of as they wish.

I haven’t attacked anyone, made unpleasant accusations, nor have I tried to pick a fight. 

I’ve said… I’m seeing X, I don’t like it, here’s Y.

See?

Education and activism.

 

I’ve very purposefully withheld the names of the loud, angry, thinking-they’re-always-right people from my attempt to get people to think. Peeps, this is a very disturbing trend I’ve seen consistently growing and developing more and more heads.

It’s not okay.

If you’re one of those people, and you think I’m talking about you?

morgan-freeman-hes-right-u-know-if-that-shoe-fits-feel-free-to-lace-that-bitch-up-and-wear-it.jpg

Cause I’m tired of your shit.

I’m tired of questioning queer folk and other gray aroace’s being terrified to say anything because of you and your words.

 

Enough.

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Aro/Ace

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Narrated version here

I’m an Ace/Aro writer, so I should write words about this, yeah?

I want to. The emotions are there.

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Yet it’s an incredibly un-fucking-comfy thing to talk about.

Some threads.

Mine

and others

 

Wait, wait, I know what you may be thinking, Kae, you write different stripes of romance, don’t’cha?

 

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Yup.

In short, it’s because I’m

Autochorissexual

 

 

 

Some definitions for Asexuality, which has far less scientific research than it needs.

Wiki Asexuality

Asexuality.org

The excerpts from this TIME book blurb (so much YES, for me, personally on this one)

I dislike the format, but the INFO is good here, PSYCH TODAY, OUR BODIES OURSELVES

Aromantic Wiki

Finding fiction words are so much easier for me than discussing anything resembling my real life. But. Here goes.

My first kiss… I was 12,

dolphin-1974975_1920.jpga reasonable enough age for the time and place, it excited me as a milestone… cause I’d been reading ’70s era romance (If you haven’t, don’t, it’s a feminist, racist nightmare). But it didn’t excite me, if you get my drift.

Between my monthly visits to the book mobile (lol, yeah, I’m old enough that the internet didn’t exist and to get books we went to the traveling library on wheels instead of the actual library because we lived too far away) the only things I had to read were either mom’s romance, dad’s dry as fuck civil war histories or the Encyclopedia Brittanica… wait, Oxford Dictionary, book-1850739_1920which I’d read by the time I’d turned 9.

 

While I really enjoyed reading (page by page, I’m totally serious) the Encyclopedia Brittanica, library-488678_1920and the Dictionary, and the thesaurus too, come to think of it (what? I was a special kind of kid) and I enjoyed reading the romance… it left some rather strange ideas in my head.

Things like, well… of course, you’ll like and want to have sex.

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I just can’t get over the expression on the deer’s face. It’s hilarious! But that said, yeah, it’s kind of how I feel about this overwhelming assumption that 99.9% of society has that well… OF COURSE… you’ll like and want to have sex, love and romantic relationships, I mean, who DOESN’T???? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

owl-158411_1280Um. Me?

Lot’s of people LIKE me?

Backing up a little, I tend to use the terms gray-ace, gray-aro or gray-aroace, though words are tricksy things. Most of the time, I’m pretty sure I’m demisexual, which is a sub-set of asexuality. I use the other terms more often than demisexual because it’s slightly more recognizable, and it’s not incorrect. Just not as specific.

So for me, personally, given the right emotional connection to someone, I can and do enjoy sex.

TMI? Just wait.

Did you know that Merriam-Webster as of the time I’m writing this post doesn’t have an accurate definition of aromantic or asexual as per human sexual identification? They have the biological term, they have ‘lacking sexual relationship’ (which really isn’t accurate for many of us), and nothing that I can find under aromantic. There’s been rather a lot of public outcry on this of late, and I’m hoping they change it… but, shrugs.

You can check their current responses here…

To put it bluntly. It’s erasure. Even though I’ve only understood that there IS an actual definition for my life experiences in regards to sex… for, maybe a bit over a year or so?

I’m getting sick of being erased.

impossible-701686_1280

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it’s everywhere.

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Popular TV

Music

Watercooler talk

Social media

Novels, especially romance novels (which, I really love to read and write, because while I don’t feel romantically inclined in real life, within the pages of fiction, it’s really nice.)

Our families, our world, it’s everywhere. An asexual or aromantic can’t go or do or see anything without being reminded that we’re different. That the rest of the world… if it doesn’t actively think we’re wrong, or that there’s something wrong WITH us…

they forget about us. YOU, forget about us.

elephant-1090834_1920.jpg

It’s in all the little patterns of speech that we hear, from the time we’re little… the micro-aggressions.

Just a few that come to my mind…

You’ll want a husband someday.

Well of COURSE you’ll want sex/romance, it’s, it’s… normal!

It’s just a phase you’re going through because you broke up with someone, plenty of fish in the sea.

I think I was maybe 11 when my mom and one of her cousins were visiting while we kids played, they were listening to a song with one of the lyrics as ‘love makes the world go round’… I honestly didn’t understand it, and when I expressed that I’d be quite happy without a relationship, my family laughed at me. Uproariously.

Except, I could be. Now don’t get your panties in a wad, that’d be uncomfortable. Yes, I’m married to a man I’ve loved for over 19 years. Yes, I’m quite happy that fate thwapped me upside the head with a board and I actually did fall in love with someone.

But I wasn’t looking for it, and it came as a HUGE shock when it lightning-880154_1280happened. I was single, wasn’t really interested in romance, like, not at all. I just didn’t get it.heart-1976653_1280(never really have been interested in romance in any way other than fiction), or in sex. Sex with people just didn’t seem to do it for me, and it never had until I met my husband. I tried so many things, thinking that maybe this time, it’d work and I’d feel ‘normal’. (I’ve really learned to loathe the word normal… just saying.)

Lol, that makes me sound like I had relationships with non-humans. Nope, not that either.

Asexuals/aromantics can still feel sexual impulses, we can still desire orgasm and masturbation… depending on where exactly you fall under the umbrella of asexuality. umbrella-1986924_1920.jpgSo… yeah, books and toys. I’ll stop there cause this is really going too far with the TMI.

But it’s important that if you don’t know about asexuality that you know we’re all people, and we all express in different ways.

dancing-156041_1280.pngThere are asexuals/aromantics who don’t want sex ever, and who don’t feel sexual desire AT ALL. And that’s okay.

There are asexuals/aromantics who are interested in romantic fiction and have toy collections to rival the stag shop. And that’s okay.

deer-1982416_1280  Oops, wrong stag. (Not really, I just think I’m hilarious.)

There are asexuals/aromantics who want to live in an intimate relationship which doesn’t include sex. And that’s okay, too.

There are aromantics who ONLY want sex, no relationship, nothing… I mean… look at the existence of the Tinder app for proof of that. And that’s okay, too.

There are all kinds of asexuality and aromanticism, and we’ve existed from the dawn of time.

evolution-296584_1280.pngWe aren’t new. What is newer are words to express who and what we are, how we feel. Ways that we can identify, to ourselves and to others.

Words that everyone needs to know and understand.

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‘Cause, even as an adult with more than a little understanding of life, it still hurts to be utterly erased by everything around you.

 

 

rodeo-720779_1280The assumption that just because I find a girl or a guy gorgeous that I’d want to ride-that-ride.

 

 

 

 

That I’ll be ‘complete’ only if I’m in a loving/sexual relationship.

eyeball-155174_1280Seriously??

That I’m wrong or abnormal because I’m not passionately searching for relationships and sex and all the other things that seem to make up a lot of society. (We’re polyamorous, so being married doesn’t preclude that for us.) wedding-443600_1280

You know, when I was a kid, reading those terrible romances (okay, they weren’t ALL terrible, but a lot of them really were.)love-164338_1280.jpg

It would’ve been amazing to see asexuality mentioned… anywhere.

It would’ve been eye opening to see the massive amount of diversity that exists just under the ‘asexual’ umbrella, so that I’d know I wasn’t made wrong.

It would’ve been thrilling, downright awesome to read about a demi-sexual girl or boy during my formative years when I was being pressured by my then boyfriend, who I didn’t love, to have sex. I detailed more about that here…

That’s why we as adults need to be always growing and learning about… well, everything really, but especially this, we’re raising the next generation of asexuals and aromantics now.child-817369_1920.jpg

I, for one, want them to see themselves everywhere, so they know they aren’t alone. That they aren’t broken. If we’re not doing that in our fiction, our music, our social media, the way we speak, our television…

Then we’re helping them feel broken…

In fact. We’re breaking them.

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Chickens with Pitchforks

chickens-with-pitchforks

So many thinky thoughts, so many emotions and me, a writer, not being able to come up with a coherent way of saying them all. Some of this emotion is likely from how shitty my day to day life is right now. I have untreated fibromyalgia (long story, not getting into it) and I’m moving house, downsizing in an unwanted move to a much smaller place and my two kids are coming down with another round of ‘public school plague’, so some of this emotion is from that. Most of it has been boiling for a while and I’ve been too afraid to say anything because I feared judgment. If another author can say publicly, that they won’t let down their bad ass female ancestors by being afraid. I can woman up and not be afraid to speak my truth either. I WANT THE PAIN TO STOP.

I’m not talking about my fibro pain. I’m a farm girl, raised around animals and there’s this trait I saw a lot of growing up. Ugly duckling, odd chick behavior. It’s basically where birds will, for some reason, decide to pick on a member of the flock until it dies.

The publishing community on twitter the past couple of months are acting like a bunch of chickens. Pick, pick picking at one another until the weaker bird dies. Now, I’ve written theses, I can hazard a guess about the psychology behind it, tension, stress about the election, brexit, et cetera.

You know… it’s something humans do too. It’s called bullying, maybe a bit of gaslighting.

I call it witch hunting. (I’m pagan, have been most of my life, I use the term with knowledge and respect for the fallen, ’cause y’all know what? Many of you are acting like the inquisition here.)

One thing I cannot, and will not, ever lie down for is bullying. If this post burns me bridges, or brings me grief because I’m brave enough to point at an unpleasant truth in a group of people who ought to freaking know better? Bring it. (Seriously, I’m not spoiling for a fight like a lot of people seem to be doing these days, but I will defend myself and other people.)

To be clear, this is not brought on by any one situation, there have been nine incidences (that I’m personally aware of, pretty sure there’re more) with different people involved, with different topics addressed over the past several months. I’m plugged into a lot of communities, just because of who I am. There’ve been issues about pansexuality, religious faith, PoC, cultural (mis)representation, and tone policing to just mention a few. So I am not pointing at any ONE person or topic or incident. Though yes, why I’m saying something now is because of the reaction to the book THE CONTINENT.

Firstly: *I* have not read the book. Neither have most of you. Which kinda calls into question the omfg issues revolving around it. One well respected and well thought out person has read it and commented upon it. In a critique which, given who it was, I have to assume is accurate. I respect the person who critiqued it. I may not always agree with the methodology or opinions of this person, but the knowledge, viewpoint and critique? That I respect, a lot. I rather hope #TheContinent isn’t that bad, but as soon as I can finish this move and regain some sense of equilibrium-I have an ARC-I’ll read it and review it. Honestly and from my perspective as an educated, marginalized, author of mixed ethnicity.

I also know the person who wrote the book is a debut author. Aren’t we supposed to be doing our utmost as writers/authors/publishing professionals to support debut authors? Even the ones who make mistakes?

I have so many thoughts and emotions about this. (I’ve been writing this most of the day when I needed to be working on my book or packing.) I’ll try for cohesion, so that when/if I’m attacked, I’ll have my receipts. You’ll note that despite me working damned hard on wording this correctly, without censure of any one person or incident that I’m Expecting To Be Attacked. That is the feeling of the writer community on twitter right now, (it wasn’t when I joined up) and that goes out in ripples to the whole of the authorial community.

Diversity: I am passionate about all forms of diversity. Always have been. I’m a staunch supporter of being who you are, all of who you are. I will always be an advocate. We are each of us human, each of us learning, growing, beautiful individuals. Do we make mistakes? We’re human, of course we do. I’m damned worried posting this is a mistake, so much so I’ve had people vet it before I click publish. (I’ve never, ever done that before w/a blog post.) Thing is, I can’t respect myself if I DON’T say something. So. To the meat of it.

  1. Passing. I pass damned well, it gives me privilege others descended from the same bloodlines and cultures as me don’t have. But. I’m. Still. Passing. I’m aware that I’m passing, and it absolutely kills something in me when we run into racist/neurodiverse issues in publishing, in all forms of entertainment. It’s like I’m torn in half. The part of me that is *me* from the part of me everyone else *sees*. Go ahead, look at the profile pic. Look white, don’t I? I’m not. Unless skin tone is all that matters. (Whoa now, if that isn’t a shock, I dunno what could be. Skin tone as a social control? Nah. Couldn’t happen among thinking humanoid type critters.) But, if the way I look is all that matters,  well… that’s prejudicial. It kills something in me to hear another gifted writer saying they KNOW they have very little chance of traditional publication. It’s something I know very well because I feel it myself, even if the reasons are different. They’re Native, but they keep writing anyway… Then the same writer has their heart broken because of the (possibly, *I* haven’t read it. I *don’t* prejudge) racist YA book that will soon be published. To hear her pain. Lord and Lady, it’s like an emotional wound inside of me. Because she speaks about her pain, about those dark and nasty thoughts I’ve had myself… (the ones that are grateful that my kids pass too ’cause they have First Nations ancestry from both their dad and me?? Because they have African ancestors through me? Yeah, those thoughts. I don’t obey those thoughts, I won’t be a coward. I teach my kids as much as I know about all of their ancestors, but I still have the thoughts. A symptom of the world we live in.)
  2. I have not read the book, I intend to, because I cannot make an informed opinion about anything without, ya know… informing myself. It’s a thing, yeah?
  3. I pass as being neurotypical too. I’m not what most people think of when they think ‘autistic’. SPOILER, most of us aren’t. If you know 50 people, you know someone who is passing autistic. You know someone who struggles, every second of every day to understand how other ‘normal’ people work.
  4. On the other side of this fence, a good friend of mine is incredibly saddened because they know the author in question… my friend tells me they are a good person…
  5. If someone is saying, ‘This hurts.’ You don’t say, ‘that’s not the way it is, you’re viewing it wrong.’ There’s a definition for that and it’s called gaslighting.
  6. Being a good person, with good intentions does not relieve you of responsibility. If, for instance, you write YA books, you have to be concerned, always, with the kids who will be reading your work. You. Need. To. Be. Aware. Words can hurt, they can kill. We need to use ours wisely. This ALSO goes for those with influence, those who speak out and are respected for doing so. Who may feed people to their following, knowing damned well what will happen. I see you. It does not give you (no matter the color of your skin, or your ancestors or, or, or…) the right to harm or gaslight anyone. If someone says… ‘this hurts, please stop’ the ONLY answer is ‘I’m so sorry. I will listen, I will do better.’ Even if you don’t understand what you did wrong. Even if your cultural understanding isn’t aware or awake enough yet to know how badly you effed up. Someone says ‘OUCH’, you say ‘I’m sorry’. I mean, didn’t we all learn this in kindergarten?
  7. In case it needs to be said. I. AM. SAYING. OUCH. PLEASE. STOP.
  8. I’m talking to the writers, the publishing professionals, and you. Yeah. I’m looking at you, my reader. Maybe you personally haven’t done anything that I need to say ouch about. Maybe you’ve never done a blessed thing to hurt another human, but… maybe you have. Only you know.
  9. This one… I honestly can’t believe I even have to say it. I’ve worked for fortune 500s, I’ve brokered million dollar deals when I sold stuff (software if it matters) to the US gov’t. I’ve been in NOAA’s headquarters and I’ve visited Fort Knox, I’ve dined w/ the US Secretary of Energy. I’m not sharing that info to brag. I was miserable in that job; I’m sharing it for perspective. So when you read the next bit, you’ll understand exactly where I’m coming from. ANY. Other. Industry. Would be bloody, fucking, appalled by this behavior. I am NOT calling out one particular person, many people do it…  I am talking about something that borders on breach of privacy. It’s not ‘quite’ there, but it’s like when you smell a campfire and then feel the flame. The issue? Sharing of private DMs/videos/emails. Don’t do it. Private correspondence is private, it’s not meant for public consumption and no, sharing it isn’t right no matter how justified you feel you are in doing so. I don’t care who you are or what your motivation is to do such a thing. Same goes with taking tweets and emails and things said out of context and using them as fuel in your own personal crusade. I’ve seen quite a bit of that lately too and I’m tired of it. There aren’t many ‘issue’ crusades that don’t apply to me too. Do you see *me* doing that? I find it extremely distasteful and unprofessional. (Most everyone else does too. Just to let you know.)
  10. Mental Health: (#ownvoices on that topic, among others) Did you know it falls into the category of being a bully to call someone out for using mental health issues as a tool? When. You. Don’t. Know. The. Person. Or. What. They. Deal. With? The person I’m thinking of didn’t say a damned word about that book. They were accused of sub-tweeting, and racism and omg… WHAT THEY SAID was, ahem (I should stop shouting, but I feel it may be warranted)  don’t discount mental health issues. That person talks about their own struggles FREQUENTLY.  Jaysus. I’m sick to my stomach that so much that should be bringing us together, forming bridges, is being used as tools in dividing us.
  11. You know what? You don’t get to tell someone else they aren’t struggling, no matter what the color of their skin is, the state of their brain or their lifestyle. No matter what color YOUR skin is, or the state of YOUR brain, or what lifestyle you (hopefully) enjoy. You just don’t have that right. Even if you’re marginalized, you still don’t get to say it. See Gaslighting. I’d love to call out the names and say… hey there bully! Whas’up! We meet again… it’d be sooo nice if you’d stop. I choose to not do that. I’ve been a victim of bullying my whole damned life. I know what it looks, feels and smells like. THAT was bullying. (Not the first time I’ve seen it with the particular person, and to be utterly clear, it isn’t the person who critiqued the book.) Think it might be you? Do you bully people on the internet/twitter/fb? Then lace it up and wear it, b.  Bullying, even in the name of a good cause, is still bullying.
  12. Witch hunts. I made such a face just now, I really did. But damn people, what is WITH the witch hunt mentality in publishing? I’m pagan, and extremely well educated (many useless degrees on the walls, promise). I’m aspie, which means *my* brain acts a lot like a computer in the amount of information I have at hand at any one p0int. So when I use the term ‘witch hunt’ that is exactly the right term to use. One person points the finger at another person, shouting “WITCH” then without proof, without reason, without any sort of trial the ‘witch’ is run out of town, or twitter dragged, or suffers a pile on in the worst way. (There’ve been a lot of these hunts around issues relating to PoC, pansexuality, asexuality, representation, tone policing and fetishism lately, just to name a few) There are those of us on ‘both’ sides of any single one of these witch hunts who would like to speak up and say something along the lines of ‘wait a minute, that isn’t Actually What They Said or Did’ or ‘Whoa, Wait a minute, that was taken completely out of context and used in a way it wasn’t ever intended as’. You know what? WE can’t. The moment one of us (again, on either side here of any particular dispute, I’m thinking of at least 9 different instances on different topics in recent months) says a thing that disagrees with the ‘witch hunt’ mentality, we’re tarred with the same damned brush. There is no logic, there is no reason, there is no kindness. (FWIW, I’m not a kindness before ‘A Person’ believer. You see something wrong, you hurt? Call, it, out. I will support you, always.) There certainly isn’t an atmosphere of listening and learning in the writing community on twitter. Which–I can tell you as a marginalized person myself–I’d be so much happier seeing. I’d be ecstatic  if people learned about me and tried to understand the things I face and have to deal with rather than them ‘getting their comeuppance’ and being feather-plucked/driven out of the community at large.
  13. You know what these recent witch hunts have done? It’s made me (passing PoC, neurodiverse, polyamorous, pagan, kinky, pansexual, chronically ill, queer, mentally ill,  fat… ) the person trying to get it right in my work, (because I know what it feels like to be marginalized in so many ways) not want to share my writing. It makes me doubt every word I’ve ever written regarding a person with a darker skin than mine. Everything I’ve ever alluded to from one of the ancestral cultures I have the honor to claim. (Edit… this is a massively common feeling, since I first posted this, I can’t believe the number of people ID’ing as any form of diversity who’ve reached out to me in a positive manner about this post. It’s not just me who’s feeling this.)
  14.  I have PoC characters in a lot of my writing, because I feel so strongly that everyone deserves to see themselves in fiction. I rarely, if ever, see accurate rep of me in fiction, I think everyone should have that. To see themselves reflected.  I remember hearing my mom, when I was a kid, say something along the lines of ‘she wished there were a few brown girls’ in the romances she liked to read. I remember her using lemon juice to lighten her skin and hair, and praising my (then) blond hair and blue eyes. Genetic fact, you don’t tend to tan well unless you’re pretty mixed up, ethnically. Many of us know a person who is really pale, all year round who turns into a lobster if they get a hint of sunlight? Not so mixed. Someone like me, who turns red-brown in the sun… very mixed, I have Spanish, Portuguese, African, Middle Eastern, First Nations, and European ancestors. You know… I remember my mom yanking on my hair with a brush to keep it from forming locks, (which it does even more now than it did then) because it wasn’t the ‘right way’ for hair to look. I remember her yanking out *Yes, she pulled them out of my scalp, and taught me to do the same thing* the dark, spiral curled hairs that grew in among the blond. I remember how I felt when I found the proof that, um, whups the reason we don’t talk all that much about some of your grandparents is cause they were so dark. Um… WTF? I know what it feels like *to me* to read about another mixed person in fiction. (I’ve blogged about it before, I literally cried the first time I saw it. Because I finally saw me. That feeling, of seeing ME/YOU is what I want for every person on the planet who enjoys fiction. This atmosphere… it’s driving away those of us who’re trying to get it right. These recent witch hunts, man. It’s made me say… well fuck, because I pass so well, I guess I don’t have the right to write people with angular eyes and dishy teeth (I have dishy teeth… you know? For the uninformed it’s a Native/First Nations/Asian biocline trait). I’m so light skinned (when I’ve been being writer chick and staying out of the sun) how dare I even think about writing a guy with dark skin and blue eyes, or, to refer (not rep, I won’t do that) but simply refer to one of my characters as rez raised Native. (My granddad was, left the rez to marry my grandmother… but my skin is awfully damned light to be writing someone with darker skin, isn’t it?) These witch hunts… damn people. What are you trying to do with them? To bastardize The Princess Bride, I don’t think you’re doing what you think you’re doing.
    1. Are you trying to drive authors who work very freaking hard at getting it right away from writing PoC? (I excoriate myself to get it right, to not use ‘food’ terminology when describing a skin tone or eye shape, just for instance. If I mention a culture or trait, I try my damnedest to not use stereotypes and, and, and, and.)
    2. Are we as a community trying to drive other authors away from just talking about their own ancestries? From learning and asking questions? It feels like that to me today. It really does. (I’m not speaking of that book now, I have not read it, I don’t know, if you haven’t read it, neither do you.) I AM speaking of how *I* feel trying to describe my characters. Is the fact that I see and write one of my characters as a girl with angular green eyes, gold skin and black hair going to get me tarred and feathered as being an Asian/First Nations Fetishist? I’m describing someone in my family when I use those terms, I had them vet the description before I used it. They thanked me for not comparing the shape of their eyes to a nut. (dude… white people’s eyes look more like almonds than Asian/First Nations… have you actually looked?) Is the fact that I see one of my characters as a dark brown man with blue eyes going to get me accused of another form of fetishism? (It’s a gene I studied in University, how the African diaspora encountered blue eyed people around the Baltic Sea around 10k years ago. There are blue eyed black people, shocker, I know, right? Did you know there’re red haired black people too? Red haired Native/First Nations? Is it wrong to depict them?) I have freaky silver-blue, color-changing eyes (Danish biocline trait) but my skin isn’t dark… how about if I only write light skinned Danish immigrants? I’ll ignore the other half of my ancestry, as I’ve been taught to do my whole damned life… is that what’s needed and wanted here? If I refer to my rez raised Native character as red-brown (my mom’s skin color btw, and mine in the summer after even a hint of sun) is it going to get me skinned alive by someone respected in publishing? Because my profile pic is taken in winter and I’m kinda pale in it? Oh! I know! I’m cream colored in my profile pic… doughy even, maybe even porcelain… means I’m white, right? What the hell are y’all trying to do?
    3. Is the end goal here a more diverse publishing atmosphere? It’s what *I* thought we were all doing and trying for. How does picking the feathers off of a debut author contribute to that? If the book is as reviewed, wow, yeah, some learning and fixing up needs to happen, and it shouldn’t have been published that way. Twitter dragging the author/the editor/the publishing house… that’s not going to help them learn. No, it’s not *OUR* responsibility to teach or educate anyone else about our marginalization’s. It is our responsibility to act like human beings. Like higher reasoning primates and not a bunch of featherheads toting pitchforks.
    4. I highly doubt many people are reading this… my experience of my mixed up ethnicity, of all of my experienced marginalizations and the pain I feel at seeing these… witch hunts… because I’m never on just one side of them. Each one of them splits me in half, or thirds… it’s crazy. It hurts, it hurts badly. If you are reading, if you’re on either side of these conflicts… could ya’ maybe step back a bit and say… I’m listening. I will read/research/think about the issue at hand and maybe talk privately to people I trust about it… rather than grabbing a torch and pitchfork?
    5. By grabbing a torch and pitchfork, I mean piling on in support of one side or the other in ANY conflict. Public call outs… this is probably the aspie me in (I really loathe being accused of something in public. Which might clue you in to how strongly I feel about this topic, to step up and say something I’ve been feeling for a while, KNOWING I’m likely to get taken to task for it.) but, does it actually HELP anything? It sure as hell isn’t changing publishing. Only thing going to change publishing is using your money to talk with. Buy the authentically diverse books with good rep. SUPPORT authors who are diverse, in whatever fashion their diversity shows itself in. I’d give a body part for some accurate kink rep in mainstream fiction other than the few that are out there… how about an adult aspie? Asexual? Grace? Mixed ethnicity? Adult polyamory other than love triangles? How about a fat girl in a romance? A disabled romantic MC who doesn’t get a miracle cure by the end of the book? I’d love one of those. There’s some kink and poly but not a lot, can’t think of many Grace or Aspie characters in adult fiction. I swear on all I hold holy I will give whoever brings up the movie The Accountant the lecture of their life on bad representation.
    6. This entirely human/chicken habit of tearing down, witch hunting, et cetera. It’s not helping. To be clear, I’m not talking about sharing an educated opinion of a book, nor am I talking against speaking your own pain. I’m talking about personal attacks against an author/entertainer, you know… name calling, career shaming, calling into question their integrity or their intelligence, rudely rolling ones eyes (virtually) about how damned dumb this particular person HAS to be to be making that mistake… that kind of thing. Damn. Here’s a question for those of you who may feel I just insulted you. Did you see the movie THE ACCOUNTANT? RAINMAN?? Were you entertained? Chilled? Excited? Thrilled? Or were you appalled at the rep? If you didn’t answer the latter, you got some work to do.
    7. Oh… and just cause I’ve seen it and I’m annoyed by it… piling on in support of PoC, LGBTQA+ (insert marginalized individual) doesn’t absolve you of your own guilt. If you’re light skinned (I am too, it’s part of the culture we live in) you’re racist. If you’re not Asperger’s/Autistic, you’re prejudiced against us. If you’re not mixed race, you have no idea what it feels like. If you’re not polyamorous, you have no idea how much it hurts to only be able to find monogamous romance to read, even when you LOVE romance. If you’re straight, you have no idea how badly we queer people want to see ourselves in fiction. If you’re not kinky… boy… I could write a whole damned thesis, probably a couple of them, on bad representation and the damage a certain series of books has done there because of piss poor research. If you aren’t part of a/the marginalized community, the only thing you can do is LISTEN. LEARN. Attempt to make bridges instead of tearing things apart. And for fucks sake. Do. Better. Maybe a good start would be to try leaving the plucking of feathers to the ducks and chickens.

Sexuality and me

There were a few great threads on twitter tonight about representation of asexuality in fiction. (I retweeted, so they should be relatively easy to find.) Since it struck a chord and I kinda almost write sexy smexy books, I figured since I’m in a wordy mood, I’d attempt to express this part of me.

I identify as grace. AKA Gray Asexual (Wikipedia definition), so how the hades can I write kinky sex?

well…

A bit of history. For most of my life I’ve felt broken. Like the thing that made the world go ’round (love/relationships) was a puzzle piece that just didn’t fit in my life. It’s not that I didn’t have sexual/loving relationships. If anything I started early, but it wasn’t out of actual ‘desire’ to do so. I started having sex around the age of 16, (in the early 90’s) and it was with my boyfriend. I wasn’t with the person because I liked him, I was with him because he treated me decently and because it was an escape from a really terrible home environment. (that sounds so very cold and horrible, but… kids, damn, they make hard, life wrenching choices like that every damned day in so many demographics, and those types of stories need to be told. Childhood isn’t pretty for everyone, ya know?)

I had sex with him because A) I loved to read, and most of what my mom had to read was romance, and hey, all my fictional heroines were doing it (whether they wanted to or not… in case you ever wonder if fiction matters, it kinda, really does) and I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing. B) Peer pressure from the boyfriend, horny young guy about  year older than me and definitely NOT grace/ace.

Did the fact that I was raised uber-Christian matter? Yeah, it did, just not enough. I had plenty of guilt. Did the fact that my parents refused to see me as anything other than a pre-teenage girl with a frilly canopy bed and a doll house matter? Yeah, in the wrong way…

Did I enjoy it? No.

We were both virgins, so, no, I don’t know that we ‘could’ have really had fun, except that I’ve talked to a lot of people who were virgins together who had a great time.

If I asked him, I’d hazard to guess he enjoyed the process. It always left me cold, distant and just, disinterested.

Frigid.

Cold.

A bitch.

You hate me.

You can’t love me.

____

I heard all of these things.

‘What’s wrong with me!’ Rang through my soul so many times. Here I have this great guy (and for the time and environment, he really was. I bear guilt to this day that I wasn’t ‘enough’ for him).

_____

I should treat him better.

You should marry him (thank gods I didn’t when he asked, I’d have made him miserable)

Fake the orgasm, he won’t be able to tell. (Heard that one from a friend, made my relationship better for a while, I guess, on the surface.)

____

I broke it off when he asked me to marry him. I’d been away to university for a year at that point, and I… realized I didn’t miss him. I realized that it was a burden to be around him, to ‘perform’ sexually for him.

I had a rebound relationship (including sex, cause I did. not. know. that. asexuality of any type existed) with one of my best friends. It ruined the friendship, of course.

I tried sex with girls, because hey, if I couldn’t enjoy it like everyone around me was enjoying it with a guy, that made me a lesbian right? (For years I thought I was a lesbian, really. Cause I had better relationships with girls.)

Nope.

Bisexual? Maybe? (I’m pansexual, by the way… now that I have a label that actually fits me)

In my early 20’s I was ‘dating’ exclusively girls, by dating, I mean fucking, because I had friendly fuck buddies but no defined relationship.

I went to a really big event and met my husband. Man, I fought so hard against falling for him! I didn’t want a relationship with a guy, hadn’t worked the three times or so I’d tried it before, and he lived well over 8 hours by train away from me… in a different freaking country!!

I thought about it, and figured one more try with a guy… cause I really, REALLY liked this one. We got each other. (I’ll be honest, head over fucking heels in love within three days, it still strikes me as ridiculous that I fell so hard and fast for a stranger, but here we are, still married 18 years later, so maybe we did something right.)

Sex with him was afuckingamazing. For the first time in my life I GOT it.

I understood what the big deal was! (We’re talking lightning strike momentous proportions here people.)

That’s what gray asexuality (specifically demi-sexuality) is like for me.

It would have helped so much if I had known what it even was when I was a kid. (So, all of you wonderful people who can write/rep YA with Ace/Grace characters? Please, please write these stories, publishing, please buy and put them on the damned shelves!!)

For a demi-sexual (talking about me and those I’ve read about, and the friends I’ve talked with who ID as such) it’s the emotion and close relationship that makes all the difference in the world to the enjoyment of sex.

Now, I didn’t actually learn that the term ‘demi-sexual’ or ‘grace’ or ‘ace’ even existed until last year. (Here’s another iota of info, I’ve been a sexuality educator, it was not covered in ANY of my classes preparing me for teaching kids about sex… how’s that for horrifying?) That’s right, I was 39 when I learned the definition. (Another lightning strike) and realized that… holy shit… I’m NOT broken, or frigid, or bitchy or cold.

I’m grace. I’m demi-sexual.

Being polyamorous, I’ve had relationships with others in the 18 years my husband and I have been together (so has he, and we together). Only one other time have I enjoyed sex, and it was with my girlfriend, who… yes, I loved.

You’d think I’d have clued in, right? I was in my late 20’s when I fell for her (we were part of a quad together) love=good sex?

I didn’t. Which is why knowledge and stories and fiction are so very important.

So back to the first question. If I’m grace, how can I write kinky sex?

Simple answer. ‘Cause when it’s good and I’m with someone I love? It’s off the charts amazing and I’ve a way with words. 😉 I also have a great deal of experience with kink and with great sex (now). Add to that a rather vivid imagination and I get sex scenes that sizzle (not my words, those are beta-readers words)

So. This long ramble is my way of saying, please, write the stories (if I could write YA I so would, there are girls and boys and gender-fluid and non-binary and non-gendered people out there right now, just like I was, doing things they won’t be proud of later, because they don’t get why they are different). Publish the stories. Above all, educate yourselves and your kids if you have them about all the wonderful variations of sexual expression humanity can enjoy.

-Kaelan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Diversity

So, here’s the thing.

I write romance, of a particular stripe, and though I’ve always been a writer, it’s pretty much always been the same type of work from me. Diverse, Kinky, Polyamorous.

Diversity isn’t just about one topic. There’re a lot of words being bandied about these days, in publishing, people saying they want diversity from writers. There’s a push for #ownvoices manuscripts. I’m grateful that there is some change, small though it is.

Thing I’m seeing, though? It’s not enough. It’s not diversity if you only start accepting monogamous same-sex romances. That leaves the rest of us out in the cold, crying for books to read. Those of us who are polyamorous, kinky, pansexual, our brothers and sisters and friends who use different words and pronouns to self-identify. How about a genderqueer or genderfluid MC in mainstream adult fiction? (I think I’m just getting old, but I’m so sick of reading about romantic monogamy… it’s not my thing, I’d like to read about my thing… ) What about an aroace MC? Grace? I can keep going…

Neurodiverse, haven’t seen it yet from traditional publishing, (it’s more prevalent in YA. Unfortunately, I don’t read YA, so… I’m left wanting books that rep me in that regard as well).

How about mixed ethnicity? This one is a little easier to find, I say that because I HAVE seen it. Once. Nalini Singh has mixed ethnicities in her books, and there was a person very like me in her books. It was the first time I’d ever seen that part of myself in fiction. I cried, literally, I had to wipe tears away to see that part of me in a traditionally published book.

It’s not only about accepting books with POC characters. The writers have to be POC too.

I’m such a mutt of ethnicities, which, yes, technically makes me passing POC, but I won’t write about the experience of living life in a darker skin, because I haven’t done it. (Yes, before you ask, I do write many characters who are POC in my futuristic or fantasy worlds. My characters show up fully formed for me, it’s the way it works in my head. But the experience of living life as POC in this world, that I won’t write because I respect those who have to live it in our messed up society and I want their stories, their words).

I’m not saying that writers shouldn’t listen to their muses, (world would be an awfully boring place if we didn’t have interesting stories to tell), but could we get a few stories by POC writers as well as those that aren’t? Could we get a few authors who are neurodiverse telling their own stories so that we can be repped in fiction too? I can name two mainstream polyamorous characters/series in traditionally published fiction. (I have a few more potentials on my TBR list, but I’ve personally read two series with poly characters). Pansexual? Haven’t seen it. (A note, my TBR list is taller than I am, and I’ve been able to add a few more books that purportedly rep diversity, I’ll review them when I get there.)

There is still so much pain and frustration, diverse people crying out for books that rep them (me included in many areas). Yet… where are our books? Is it just talk?

I hear the cries of others, I feel the pain myself. What is it going to take before we’re heard?