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.
There were cupcakes. That is important.
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:
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.
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.
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!