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

 

 

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

girl-1773907_1920-1

Narrated version here

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

I want to. The emotions are there.

ouch-147868_1280.png

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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Social Media

Narrated version of post here. (It’s outdated, I’ll update if I can find time, the written version is more accurate!)

Edit: Since the election, I’ve become political just by breathing. I’ve always voted with as much knowledge and consideration to the issues as I knew how. I’ve always tried to vote with conscience toward my fellow humans.

I’m #queer, in so many senses of the word. I’m #pansexual, #kinky and #asexual. I’m autistic and I have no patience for Nazis. Oh wait, is that not politically correct?

Fuck it.

I’m real, and I write beautiful stories detailing love, grief, life and graphic, open door sex. Usually with more than two people.

If you’re looking for someone to follow who isn’t political, who isn’t going to be real in everything I do. Unfollow button is on the right.

If you’d like to know me better, for whatever reason, read my blog and interact with me on twitter or in the comments.

Now… to the meat of how I do Twitter.

I gotta say something about Twitter. (Which I adore). A couple things maybe, I’ll try not to rant (too badly).

I don’t auto-follow. I can’t if I want to keep seeing the peeps I want to see in my feed.

Until recently, I’d extend the hand of internet friendship pretty easily. Some unpleasantness made me close my DMs to all but mutuals and I no longer auto-follow at all. If you want a follow back you’ll have to interact quite a bit (talk at me!) to get a follow-back.

I also unfollow for unfollow with mutuals. It hurts me, because if we’ve been interacting and suddenly you UF me, I don’t understand it.

I used to try to tell people if I had to UF them, and wanted the same from others. Since the harassment issues, I’d still LIKE to do that (for others as well as receive that for myself) but in all reality, I will curate my space for an optimal feeling of safety and you should do the same however that works for you.

I follow a few people who aren’t mutuals, in some cases it’s me reaching out a hand of internet friendship (and that ends pretty quickly if it doesn’t feel like they want me around/following them/aren’t ever likely to follow back). Others I follow it’s because I fan-by like crazy about their work (usually authors, but I fan-by actors and musicians too). (Just a snippet of info for the authors, if you interact with me, I’m MUCH more likely to go out of my way to get the library to order your book. I’m more likely to post a review of your work on my site, and best of all, I’m much more likely to buy your book.)

I will unfollow for a number of reasons, mainly because twitter is ‘social’ media. I’m here for the ‘social’ aspect of it, not for numbers or a platform. Having people interested in my work of words and wanting to hear when the shorts and books are published is amazeballs, don’t get me wrong! At the end of the day though, I both want and need interaction from my tweeps. (It’s often the only adult contact I have ’til hubby gets home, writing and being a SAHM is lonely business to the adult mind, you know?)

If you’re not interacting with me in some way (or if I don’t obsessively fangirl your work) I’m very likely to stop following you. I’m on twitter to make connections with people and enjoy short conversations, not to get lots of followers. Obviously, more people who like what I say or what I write is awesome (it really is, so much) but that’s not why I’m so active on Twitter. (Oh, and I’m really active, feel free to mute me or unfollow if I clutter your feed too much, I announce all bookish stuff on facebook and my web page too) I’m also on twitter to learn more about this writing thing I do and connect with others crazy enough to do it (also fan-bying… mustn’t forget that. Wait… did I mention that already?) 🙂

I’ll unfollow someone if I can’t handle their viewpoints, I’ll unfollow if I can’t remember why I followed them (meaning they probably haven’t interacted with me recently).

If I have to ask myself who the heck you are when I see a post of yours in my feed? Um. UF is coming, even if we’re mutuals. Sorry.

This too, if we’ve been mutually following one another AND interacting, then *you* unfollow me? It hurts, I don’t understand it, and I’m likely to mute or unfollow you. Look, I get it, it’s incredibly hard to keep up with anything more than 3 or 4 hundred followers (At most) but, if we’ve been ‘friends’ and interacting, then you unfollow, it leaves me wondering what *I’ve* done. I’m well aware that this is likely because of my autistic nature, I tend to overanalyze everything. (really, it’s exhausting sometimes) but… it’s the way I work, and I’m fully accepting of myself.

Another thing I don’t do (mostly cause I just don’t understand it) is call out others for a retweet or a like or a follow. It makes me uncomfy. *I* don’t want to be publicly thanked for a retweet and honestly, it clutters up my notifications page terribly. So if I don’t ‘like’ a thank you, that’s why, I already have a lot of stuff on that page to go through and I want the conversations and connections, not the list of names, ya know?

Probably weird of me…

Here’s the last thing, we as writers are often cautioned against following/unfollowing industry people or other authors. I need to say something about this.

When we enter contests, we’re encouraged to follow all the judges/organizers/agents involved. That makes my twitterfeed explode. I can’t keep up with the peeps I want to. So I selectively follow, those I’m *interested* in. By interested, in this context, it means just that, I’m interested and would like to know that person better. Half of the authors I follow I can’t/don’t even read their books for one reason or another. (Not my genre usually, or it’s only mono romance and gah… I’ve had enough mono romance to last me forever. I’ll still occasionally buy and read one, but the premise, details or writing has to be different enough to anything else I’ve read before to make it interesting.)

Building a tribe of writer-y peeps who get how crazy this thing we do is… wow, highly important to me. I might choose to follow a person because I think I can learn from them, rarely if I think they might be interested in what I write and only so I can figure out if they are a fit for me (twitter is fantastic for getting to know someone) or I support something they do/are doing (writing diverse stories for instance). As for agents, I follow a number of them that I can’t or won’t query, for one reason or another, simply because I like who they are. Some of them don’t rep what I write, some have strict length rules and anyone who knows me knows I write long… so.

When it comes to unfollowing, esp author/mentor/judges, I know it’s not ‘nice’ but if we haven’t connected in a social sense, if we haven’t interacted, I’ll eventually unfollow.

If I’ve followed a fellow author through a contest, and we’ve interacted, especially a lot, and I keep on keeping on getting the track notification saying they’re still not following me, then if the interaction drops off, yeah, you guessed it, unfollow.

My feed is a place I go to for fun, and honestly, the longer I’m on twitter, the more I’m learning what makes it fun for me, and what hurts me.  Me following people I’m interested in (unless they’re uber famous and probably aren’t checking their own feed in any case) the person interacting with me, then not following… yeah, it hurts, so I don’t do it much. Or I stop doing it when it starts hurting.

I’m weird, I know. I’m good with being me in all facets of me.

Just in case anyone is curious about how I do Twitter… thems are the whys.

Now. More editing, cause that just never ends.