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