Carnival of Aces July 2015 Wrap-up: Asexual History

It’s a bit late, but here it is!

Last month’s Carnival of Aces was on the topic of Asexual History, and we received some great submissions. A big thanks to everyone who submitted! If I missed an entry or got any names wrong, feel free to leave a note in the comments.

The next Carnival of Aces for August is being hosted by writer-ace, and the theme is “Ideals

Also, as a reminder, we are always looking for more volunteers to host the carnival – there’s no one lined up yet after August, so now is a great time to volunteer. See the masterpost for details.

Without further ado, here’s all out wonderful submissions:

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[Guest Post] THE LIFE OF AN ASEXUAL PERSON

The following is a guest post for the July Carnival of Aces, on Asexual History

THE LIFE OF AN ASEXUAL PERSON

By “Angela,” a.k.a. Thylacine of Aven

It’s one in the morning, and the world is cloaked in darkness. The phone rings, shattering the night’s silence. “Oh sheesh… Who could this be? Hello?” It’s a friend from work. “Hey! I know this guy who would be perfect for you! And he’s definitely free! I know he’s free, ‘cause he just got out of the house of correction!”   “Don’t bother! I’m going back to bed! Good night!” Yes, things like this can actually happen to nice decent people when they’re trying to get a good night’s sleep…

Some of us from AVEN (a.k.a. the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network) helped Sylvia Pagan Westphal when she wrote her article for New Scientist magazine entitled, “Glad To Be Asexual.” And, for privacy reasons, a few of us asked that she not use our real names. And so she decided to call me “Angela.” And I am in fact a real person, not someone she invented.

Most people are what asexual people call “sexual” – I guess this just means “everybody else.” That is, 99% of the population. Approximately 1% of the people are asexual. There are not many asexual people in the world, but there are far more than most people would realize.

Part of the reason I’m writing this article is not only to inform, but also to show that yes, we are here, and we do exist. We could be your co-worker, your neighbor, a friend whose eternal singletude frustrates you.

Most people describe feelings of “needing” sex or “wanting” sex. How do I know people have these feelings? Because they are constantly talking about their sexual feelings, and sometimes they talk about their sexual feelings in the most annoying way. They describe themselves as being in this state of “gotta get some.”   And if the person I’m having a conversation with knows I’m single, they often continue with the quite very rude, “and you gotta get some too!” What they do not comprehend is that I don’t gotta get some. Unlike most people, I just don’t need any.

I actually never developed these feelings. And many people like me just don’t. Many of the other asexual people I’ve communicated with grew up, matured emotionally and physically and intellectually, but never found the need to pursue other people for sex.

You cannot tell if a person is asexual by seeing him or her in person. We are a diverse group of people. And we don’t walk around with neon signs that advertise “asexual.” We do not fit a stereotype of people who are not “into sex.” We are not all boring, or tragically shy, or ugly. We are who we are, and we’re all different. And one thing I notice asexuals have in common — the ones I have met are very intelligent and articulate people. Could it be that having no interest in chasing after sex clears up space in one’s head for other things? Well, possibly, yes. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking with it.

It might actually be beneficial to learn more about asexual people. Why? Because you may have one in your life, and just not realize it! It may be your daughter who doesn’t seem to date much, your friend who refuses to let you fix him / her up, or your new boyfriend who just doesn’t seem to be in a real big hurry to “get it on.”

So, what is it like to live the life of an asexual person? I cannot speak for everyone who is asexual. As I have said, we are all different. But, if you would like, I’ll share some of my life with you on these pages, and maybe you will be able to understand.

Well… this is how it goes… When you’re a kid, all of a sudden all the other kids go insane. And you don’t! For instance, once while in a schoolyard I was talking with some friends and they see the scruffy kid that the nuns hired to be the janitor’s assistant and they freak out, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! He’s so cute!” And I’m watching them lose their minds over this… ordinary person. “Yeah? So?”

Time goes on and you notice everyone else (especially those among the popular) are getting married in a “big hurry”… that is… they “got caught” — while you’re thinking about college…

While going to college I end up dating this jerk. At this point in time I did not know anything about asexuality. After all, what 19 year old knows anything about herself? Most young girls date because they want to.   Some however date because they think they’re supposed to. It’s called “society’s expectations.” And many of us believe we are obligated to fulfill society’s expectations. Part of growing up is realizing that society’s expectations don’t really work for most people anyway.

To continue our story… For some strange reason, The Jerk was in a big hurry to get married. No kidding. I don’t know why. After all, he wasn’t pregnant… At least I didn’t think he was!   If he was, it wasn’t me! Honest! I swear!

I still have wonderful memories of his, “No wife a mine gonna go to no college! You gonna marry me and do what you told!” He was insisting I quit college, quit my job, and marry him, immediately! Years have gone by and I still don’t get it. Maybe the thought entered his mind to get married since all his friends already were married and he didn’t want to be left out, and I was a female, and so therefore I was somehow qualified?

But no, I wanted to “do something with my life,” besides become a factory to manufacture his kids. Anyway… He simply could not comprehend that any woman would rather have a college degree than have his babies and live in a trailer park, with him and his gun collection. (I am not making this stuff up.) Truly, this paragon of manly virtue was amazed that any woman would prefer college to a life of housewifery.

Life goes on… College is awesome, Dean’s List. Yes! (Associate Degree.)

I will say that as a young person, I dated various people. Never have I felt that “whatever it is” that girls are supposed to feel. I never did see myself as a character in a romance novel. It just wasn’t the real me. I didn’t need to be someone’s girlfriend. I wanted to just be myself. So… I got a college ring instead of a wedding ring. And looking back, I know it really was the right decision. After all, even then I knew, there had to be more to life than changing diapers… and those were the days when marriage did in fact mean changing diapers.

Eventually I felt as if I simply had to give up dating. One of the reasons was because so many people want something I’m not really prepared to give them. And doing the laundry was more interesting. Even cleaning the cat’s litter box was more fun to me than going on a date.

I know now that I just dated because a girl is expected to date someone. A few years back I heard the term asexual and began doing research. I was like, “Wow! I have found my lost tribe!”

Life goes on… Got associate degree. Then got lousy job. Office pervert kept annoying me. Never could comprehend his sick jokes. My friends in the office kept trying to fix me up, telling me they “felt sorry for me.” What a nuisance. I really wished they believed me when I said I wasn’t interested!

I could never understand my friends’ constant excitement about men, or their terrible neediness, and lack of personal independence. They needed men for everything. If a package weighed only five pounds, they would still ask a man to lift it. If a complicated math problem came up, they would ask their boyfriends to solve it. They would not endeavor to find out how to use jumper cables, or fix simple things.

Was the appearance of neediness a device to make them more attractive? Or did they really see themselves as genuinely helpless? Does society still dictate that women must play this foolish game? Or by acting helpless, do they help create the society that dictates that women should be helpless? I still do not know. And perhaps I never will.

Life continues. Got sick of not getting promoted so I went nights for my Bachelor of Science. Dean’s List on that, too. (Public Service Announcement: To all those out there who are no longer 19 and want to go back to school: Go ahead. Just DO IT!)

Life isn’t all about studying. I do stuff… I don’t just sit at home, staring into my computer all the time…

I took riding lessons that summer that I was attending college the second time around. It was wonderful to gallop an Arabian through the forest that was next to the farm… jumped the horse over a fence… it felt like flying.

I’ve restored a classic car. And that was a lot of work! It literally took many years to do. I didn’t do all of it myself, of course. Just the minor repairs. I leave major engine rebuilding to professionals! But I taught myself to understand how things work and how to care for a car, especially a stubborn and antiquated old machine with a distributor and an automatic choke.

Now this is another situation, which has frustrated me. Sadly, many people simply can’t believe that I like the car for itself. “You must get a lot of hot guys with that car!” Now is it logical that I would do all that vast amount of work, spend all that money… just to get a guy??? Some people think that every single activity a woman does is motivated by the chance to “get a guy.” If a guy restores a car, it’s like, okay, so he’s restoring a car. If a woman restores a car… deep Freudian meaning in that, right? Nope.

I have traveled to many places that most people have never been. Paris, the UK, Canada (Toronto is wonderful!), Ireland, Bermuda, Austria… Portugal and Spain… and North Africa…

Another one of my hobbies is creative writing. I’ve actually had a few things published, mostly science fiction and fantasy. I’ve written a few small features in old car publications, too.

I’m taking martial arts class at night, twice a week. The younger kids are a heck of a lot faster than me. It’s hard to keep up with 19 year olds. I keep trying, though!

I’m not a recluse. I often wonder if people may possibly imagine asexual people to be like these people who live in a basement and don’t go outside or something… But this is wrong. I do a lot with my life.

I go to art museums. I love science, literature, nature, music, and culture in general. I love the theatre.

I want to let people know, you don’t need a sex life to be creative. You don’t need a sex life to dress nice and like yourself, or to just basically live, either… You don’t need a sex life to go places, do things, have experiences, adventures, or be successful. You really don’t need a sex life to be happy, or to have inner peace. Most people describe feeling they are “missing” something, or they are “frustrated” if they lack sex. I have never felt this way, and I’m just happy to basically exist.

Continuing on… Got great job. Then got laid off. It’s called life. Or they called it “budgetary shortfall.” Figured I needed a job there is a lot of opportunity… many employees at that workplace were threatening to sue because of various issues, and then I realized — everyone sues everyone! Right? Right!

College degree No. 3 is coming right up! On to paralegal school! Dean’s List again. This is what happens to people who aren’t always out trying to get some. You end up studying all night long!

This is where my life is now… Working at a law firm. Happily single. Of course… Still have the nice old Buick I restored. Two cats. I have the scratches to prove it. Still writing and getting stuff published… my novella is now available on Amazon.

Still not interested in marriage… not even interested in dating, and now I realize I never was, really. Now I realize why it didn’t interest me… I’m just at peace with my condition in life.

It would be nice to have friends who understand, though…

And here’s the problem: If I could have just one wish, I’d hope that society would accept asexual people, and just let us live damn it… I once read a book about the turbulence of the sixties, the decade in which I arrived on this Earth, and the writer at the time interviewed this hippie, and he asked, “What do you people want?” “We just wanna be, man!” I wish people would accept me as an asexual person, because I just wanna be, man, but they can never know… I can’t tell them! And why is that?

Sadly, many of the people I associate with on a daily basis have a lot of anger towards various different “types” of people. They become very descriptive about how they feel about this minority group, that minority group, “and I don’t like those immigrants!” People I must associate with will colorfully describe their feelings about African Americans, Hispanics, feminists… Why give them another minority to hate?

And so… that’s my motive for writing this. I want people to know: I’m a good person. I have a good life… I’m a lot like you, but not exactly. I have a life, I have a job, I pay bills, and I have hopes and dreams. Those hopes and dreams just don’t include sex or finding a man to make my existence meaningful. And I don’t always see things the same way as most people do. I realize that vast numbers of people hate gays, Muslims, Rastafarians, Catholics, Puerto Ricans, Your Group in This Space Here…

So, to conclude, if you know anyone who appears to be permanently dateless, please refrain from constantly attempting to fix her up. It truly may not be what she really wants.

And please stop calling people like us late at night! We need sleep too, you know.

Thank you for reading this. Any questions?

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Early Ace History for Amateur Historians: Finding Primary Sources

ETA: So, it turns out that Tristifere beat me to this and already posted some great tips for Ace historians, many with more detail than I provide here. Check out their post here!

This is a post for the July 2015 Carnival of Aces, on the theme “Asexual History”


This piece is specifically concerned with the period of “early asexual history”, which I consider roughly anything before 2004. There reason I focus on this period in particular is because 1. It’s one of my personal areas of historical interest; 2. The smaller size of the community at that point makes it a more manageable introduction to ace history; 3. It’s the formative period for many of the ideas that we see in the ace community; and 4. It’s one of the periods that’s hard to find out about than some more recent history.

This is also not meant for actual historians – it’s more for amateurs like me with an interest in poking around and learning more about early ace history, so I’m not getting into theories of historiography or anything like that. Instead, it’s all about how to find primary sources to read and learn more from. It’s pretty loosely structured, so let’s jump right into it:

1. Check out existing collections and guides.  While existing ace historical archives are unfortunately pretty sparse, there are a some out there – things like AsexualExploration’s Bibliography (which includes some early works) and the AVENwiki media lists (which has links to many early newspaper articles that have already been dug up, from ) or the Asexual Zine Archive (more recent). Another tool is looking at links from other posts in this carnival (like my other post), or searching for terms like “asexual history” in the AVEN forums – there are some threads already where people have dug up some pretty cool stuff.

2. Check out existing asexual community websites’ archives. Many online asexuals communities still have records available from the moment they were founded. For example, you can view AVEN posts all the way back to when the forums were first added (minus any threads that have been lost to deletion/hacks/server problems). Many other communities like the Asexuality Livejournal also have most of their old posts online. You can also read the entire archives for the Haven for the Human Amoeba (arguably the first asexual community) as well, which is super interesting.

While most of these communities are now far too busy for anyone to keep track of their activity, many started with only a small handful, making it easy to read through the first few months of activity in a few days, giving you a really intimate glimpse of early asexual communities. I highly recommend reading through some of the early AVEN, HHA, and Livejournal days for anyone interested in early asexual communities.

2. Use Archive.org’s Wayback Machine. Seriously, the Internet Archive’s wayback machine is the #1 most useful tool for any internet historian. Basically, the wayback machine is the archived results from years of web crawlers that gathered snapshots of most publicly accessible pages on the internet.

This is the easiest way to access asexuality pages that no longer exist, from well known pieces like My Life as an Amoeba or lesser known sites like TNGirlTech’s Asexualism Page. You can also use it to view older versions of current websites, like past iterations of the AVEN home page.

While the archive may only have one snapshot every year or so for smaller and obscurer sites, it can still be a great insight.

3. Snowball through your sources’ sources. Of course, the tools above are only good for viewing pieces you already knew existed. What about the ones you don’t already know of? One of the best ways to find other early ace communities or websites is by trolling through links pages, posted links, and webrings that you find on the few existing communities that you do know. And everytime you find a new website, check all of it’s links, and so on and so forth. That can be a great way to dig up lesser known items, like this ambiguously sarcastic (or not?) page or this research on asexuality for a Toronto newspaper from the late 90’s.

One of the best ways to start getting to know early ace communities is to begin with the HHA archives and the “My Life as an Amoeba” comments section – many people in each of those are aggregating links much the way we do now, which makes it a good collection of sources to start from.

4. Talk to people! One of the other great things about the ace community being relatively young is that most of the major figures in ace history are still alive! It may take a bit of work to hunt down people who may not be very active in the community any longer, and the people behind some pseudonyms just won’t be findable, but there are still tons of early ace community members still hanging around – think SwankIvy, David Jay, Nat Titman, etc. Interviewing people who were around in these early communities, whether as Big Name Asexuals or just anonymous lurkers, is a great way to get more information on what things were like. Interviews can also get you personal  insights into things that aren’t in the public record, whether it’s about things that went down in private, or personal feelings or perspectives that can’t be determined from reading old posts alone.

5. Wanna go even further back? Try newspaper archives! These are very useful when you want to try and look into “pre-internet” asexuality. Many newspaper archives are increasingly being digitized, allowing you to simply search for words like “asexual” or “asexuality” or “nonsexual” or “autoerotic” or whatever your term of choice is. Google has a public newspaper database, and academic institutions and libraries may have access to other databases like ProQuest Historical Newspapers, and some individual papers may have their own archives hosted online.

6. Search academic and library databases, and academic texts. Another way to potentially find things is by brute force searching terms like “asexual” in any databases you have access to – whether it’s LGBT archives, general library catalogs, old journal databases, or anything else.

Just searching “asexual” may mean wading through a lot of biology papers before you find anything relevent, so one tip is to search for “asexuality” (slightly less common in biological texts) or for combinations like “asexual orientation” or “asexual”, “homosexual”, and “bisexual” or “asexuals are”.

If you have ebook or digital versions of various sexological works, you can also search digitally for the word “asexual”, and many may have brief references even as early as the 50s and 60s (or even the 20s!). You can also use the old fashioned method of checking the indexes in paper books, or scanning chapter titles (focusing especially on anything about celibacy, frigidness, dysfunction, etc, which are likely sources for mentions in early works).


Anyway, those are just a few ideas to start, but that should be enough to keep an eager ace sleuth up for months – I’ve had fun digging for years using these techniques and starting points. As always, feel free to ask if you want help finding anything re: ace history.

And, to close, I’d like to issue a challenge to any followers who might be interested: take a few minutes (or hours, or days, or however long you like) to try some of the tools above, and post a cool fact or link you’ve found in the comments below – there’s tons of cool stuff out there, and I’d love to see what everyone else’s favorites are! And who knows, you may even find something no one else even knew existed!

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Link Dump: Early Asexual Sites via Archive.org

This is a list of links (relevent to my next post) that I’ve had sitting on my computer for years now, as I keep meaning to make it into a neatly organized list…but since I still haven’t done that yet and probably never will, I figure I’ll just dump them all here and people can explore them as they wish :)

There’s no particular organization or order or relevence here, it’s just some fun things to check out if you’re into ace history.

This is a post for the July 2015 Carnival of Aces, on the theme “Asexual History”


  1. My life as a human amoeba:
    1. (comments): http://web.archive.org/web/19970626042139/http://dispatches.azstarnet.com/zoe/amoeba.htm
    2. (article): http://web.archive.org/web/20030210212218/http://dispatches.azstarnet.com/zoe/amoeba2.htm
  2. Asexual Coalition:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/19990429195445/http://members.tripod.com/~asexual/coalition.html
    2. oldest archived instance April 1999r
    3. looks like it might be more satire?
    4. does link to leather spinsters though.
  3. Leather Spinsters (Asexuality page):
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/19981206022711/http://leatherspinsters.com/asexuality1.html
    2. Earliest archived instance: December 1998
    3. No links to offsite asexual pages
  4. The Fourth Sexuality:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20020607150136/http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~lb122098/fourthsexuality.html
    2. Article about nonsexuality; this version first appears sometime between august 2001 june 2002
    3. (later hosted on swankivy’s page?)
    4. previously written article:  http://web.archive.org/web/20021005123031/http://www.geocities.com/smidgen110/nonsexual.html
    5. originally written sometime before august 2001
    6. Does not appear to have any links to other asexual websites
  5. Haven for the Human Amoeba
    1. Archived posts can be found here: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/havenforthehumanamoeba/conversations/messages
    2. First Post: Oct 11, 2000; founded by drksparkle
    3. (July 15: tngirltech joins)
    4. Things linked to/mentioned in HHA:
      1. SCUM Manifesto – July 16th, 2001 (drksparkle)
      2. Antisexualism Online – July 28th, 2001 (Montgomery_Erick…)
      3. TNTechGirls’ asexualism page –  July 31, 2001 (tntechgirl)
      4. RU Antisex –  August 1, 2001 (tntechgirl) http://web.archive.org/web/20090630084017/http://www.ktk.ru/~cm/go.htm (notes as too extreme)
  6. Asexual Web Ring:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20070106164418/http://www.ringsurf.com/netring?ring=Asexual;action=list
    2. founded by HHA members
  7. TNGIrlTech’s Asexualism Page:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20020407104252/http://www.geocities.com/tngirltech/asexual.htm
    2. first mentioned in a link on HHA on July 31, 2001
    3. Links to: (as of April 2002) AVEN, Asexual Manifesto, HHA, The Asexual Rant (swankivy)
  8. The Asexual Rant/Nonsexual Rant (Swankivy):
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20040712183711/http://members.aol.com/swankivy/nonsex.html
  9. Asexual Manifesto:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20020331053603/http://www.asexualmanifesto.org/
    2. First archived instance November 2001
    3. links to: the celibate webring, Organization for Antisexualism
  10. The Celibate Webring:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20010407034755/http://www.geocities.com/tofanti/webring.html
    2. (later http://web.archive.org/web/20020829115151/http://www.moonbeamsworld.com/webrings/celibatewebring.html)
    3. (list of member sites here: http://web.archive.org/web/20040718074627/http://www.ringsurf.com/netring?ring=celibate;action=list)
    4. Links to Nonsexuality Rant, OFA
  11. Organization for Antisexualism/Antisexualism Online:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20100623132917/http://ofa.cjb.net/
    2. -first recorded archive appearance in April 2000
    3. -shut down in April 2006
    4. -had forums which cannot be accessed via webarchive
    5. (see links page)
    6. -links to antisex stronghold FAQ
  12. RU.Antisex:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20090630084017/http://www.ktk.ru/~cm/go.htm
  13. Asexuality.net:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20020328032737/http://www.asexuality.net/main.htm
    2. first archived appearance: june 2002
    3. last archived appearance: october 2002
  14. The Official Asexual Society/Official Nonlibidoism Society:
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20051029233626/www.theofficialasexualsociety.com/index.html
    2. First appearance in the internetarchives: May 2004
    3. But has been linked on AVEN at least as early as August 2003
    4. Date unknown: changed name from Official Asexual Society to Official Nonlibidoism Society (somewhere between december 2004 and february 2005)
    5. Dissolved sometime around late 2006/early 2007 (according to an apositive post by Dargon)
  15. Asexuals/”Asexuals We Are” [livejournal group]
    1. First post: July 20, 2001: http://asexuals.livejournal.com/2001/07/20/
    2. Pretty much defunct by 2007, with less than five posts per year
  16. Asexuality [livejournal group]
    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20021117210033/http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=asexuality
    2. First post: April 28, 2002: http://asexuality.livejournal.com/2002/04/28/
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Reminder: One Week Left for July Carnival of Aces Submissions on Asexual History!

Reposting the call for submissions details here:

Original Call for Submissions is here.

It’s now July, and that means a new Carnival of Aces! For those of you not familiar with it, the Carnival of Aces is a recurring blogging event where we write and collect blog posts (or tumblr posts, or linkspams, or videos) on a select topic each month. You can view the masterpost of previous topics here. Last month’s topic was “Mental Health”, and you can view the submissions here. Anyone can write a post – to be featured in the carnival, just post a link to your article here in the comments or shoot me an email at sennkestra@gmail.com. Submissions are due by August 1, but if you think you might take a little longer you can just shoot me a message to let me know and I can hold a spot for you :)

This month’s topic is “Asexual History”

For all that the asexual community is a young movement compared to communities like the LGBT community, we’ve developed a lot over the last decade and a half–and I’m still amazed that it’s really been that long. To put things in perspective, there are people on AVEN now who weren’t even born yet when the site was first created. But while we talk a lot about our speculation for the future of the community, there’s still very little formal conversation about our past. As such, for this carnival, I want to talk about our history – both how we remember our past and how we record our present for future aces. Some possible ideas for this topic include:

  • What events or trends do you see as the major highlights of asexual history?
  • What have been some of the highest and lowest points in asexual history, in your view?
  • What memories of your personal experiences with “asexual history” (whether it’s five years or five months ago) would you like to share with future aces?
  • What should we be doing (if anything) to record our history?
  • Why should we as a community care about asexual history? Why should non-asexual people care about asexual history?
  • Is it possible to speak of an “asexual history” before the development of self-identified asexual communities? If so, how should we approach that kind of history?
  • Is it appropriate to speculate about the a/sexuality of individuals who lived before asexuality and sexual orientations were a well-accepted concept?
  • They say that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it – what lessons can we learn from ace communities past that are important for ace communities moving forward?
  • How can we prevent the loss of institutional memory as older members move on from our communities to other things?
  • How is asexual historiography affected by the fact that ace communities are largely internet based?
  • What unanswered questions do you have about asexual history that you would like to see addressed?
  • And, of course, anything else not on this list!
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Creating Change 2016

Heya ace followers: if any of you are planning on attending Creating Change this year or plan to submit proposals, hit me up! I’m putting together a facebook group now and we’ve started shooting emails around about proposal drafting, so nows the time to get connected.

About Creating Change:

CC is the big annual conference for all the big-name LGBTQ organizers, with an emphasis on professional development, and it’s happening in January 20-24 in Chicago for 2016.

It’s one of the best ways for the ace community to form connections with big-name LGBT leaders and formal LGBT organizers. It’s also super expensive to attend (like $200+ reg fees, plus travel and hotel costs….). I believe there are some limited student and low-income scholarships and the like, but I’ve heard they are hard to get so if you want to try for one you should apply as soon as they open.

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Boosting Representation for Ace PoC (or other underrepresented groups)

I originally wrote this in response to this discussion, but I think it’s generally good advice that’s worth sharing here too. Although this post was specifically written about Ace PoC representation, it stems from my experiences with asexuality and aromanticism more generally, so really I think it’s good advice for any underrepresented group that’s looking for practical ways to seek out more representation. Would love to hear any additional suggestions in the comments below.


Some miscellaneous thoughts for the specific issue of boosting ace POC representation – I’m overloaded with projects atm, but if someone wanted to take a stab at any of these I’d be happy to try and provide advice. I’m not really well connected with ace PoC for various reasons (including the weirdness of being mixed in PoC spaces), but there have been some similar questions of tools for representation for aromantic aces or asexuality in general that I’m more familiar with that are probably applicable here too.

1. PoC content aggregation. Sometimes the problem isn’t that there are no PoC aces writing about being PoC, it’s that there’s no way to easily find them since those posts get mixed in with all the other non-PoC related ace discourse (especially considering how threads and forum posts get quickly buried over time). Therefore, creating things like linkspams and “weekly roundup” type blogs are one way to make that content more prominent and easier to find for people who aren’t already well connected with ace PoC.

2. PoC blogger aggregation. One of the other reasons that is seems like there’s so little PoC ace discourse is because you can’t see the face of the person you’re talking to on the internet, and people are typically assumed white until proven otherwise. One idea to counter this would be to create something like a PoC-centered group blog; another idea would be something like an RSS feed package of specifically PoC Ace bloggers or a PoC Ace Blogger network or webring where blogs could link to and promo each other. This also has the advantage of making it easier to find PoC perspectives on topics that aren’t necessarily directly about race.

3. Ace PoC activist orgs. I’m admittedly out of the loop here, so I don’t know if there is something like this already, but while I’ve seen several individual bloggers who are trying to promote Ace PoC representation, I don’t think I’ve seen any collective organizational attempts? Having something like an organized group with say, a single org name and a centralized webpage for linkspams and resources is more powerful than an individual, and (cynically/practically speaking) will have more credibility in the eyes of the media or other activist organizations in terms of being taken seriously.

4. Ace PoC social spaces. Again, totally out of the loop here, but so far the only big attempts at ace PoC community creation that I’ve seen have been on tumblr, which is not a great interface for having casual conversations with multiple people. A good step would be things like Ace PoC forums, or chat groups, or skype groups, or facebook groups, or mailing lists, etc…things that are more social than blogging oriented can help build more concrete communities that can work together on bigger projects as they grow.

5. Ace PoC Media Kits. One of the bigs things to know about news media representation is that the easier you make it for them, the more they’ll represent you. In particular, collecting and making available high resolution images, quotable soundbites/quotes, and contact lists of aces willing to be interviewed or photographed makes reporters much more interested. If someone starts a project like this, it would also be good to reach out to larger sites like AVEN or Asexuality Archive, or to big names aces like David Jay or SwankIvy, so that they can also link to the kit when they get media requests.

4. Static Content. While there’s a lot of representation in blog posts and tumblr posts, they tend to disappear quickly and can be hard to find. Having static, nonchanging content like the AVEN front pages or the AsexualityArchive pages would make Ace PoC resources like linkspams or media kits or whatever easier to find.

6. Proactive outreach. This is takes a lot more work and nerve, so it can be harder especially for new activists, and might be something to grow into, but the effect can be really significant. Being ready and having resources available for attempts to include ace PoC is important, it only goes so far. While many spaces may not think to include PoC on their own, if you reach out to them and offer to do much of the groundwork to set things up, they will often be open to the idea. This is especially true if you have a pre-made workshops/press-releases/etc. that don’t require them to do much more than say yes and give you a time slot or some pages space. (For example, in my experience with general ace conference representation – if you just write and vaguely request ace representation, there’s not much most places can/will do – but if you can offer to come and perform a workshop yourself if they give you space, most places will jump on it).

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Advice for MAAPLE and other ace political orgs

As a leader of an ace group who has been considering whether it’d be worth it for us to dip our toes into formal incorporation and political activism, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about things like institutional structures and best practices for ace activist orgs, among other things.

So in light of what happened with MAAPLE and UKIP earlier, I have some miscellaneous thoughts and advice for MAAPLE moving forward, and for other groups pursuing similar strategies. While MAAPLE has definitely made some poor decisions, I think their goals are important ones, and it’s worth taking some time for them to learn and grow in order to better pursue their mission.

This is hardly all-inclusive of the steps required to make a good political organization, but it’s a good start.

1. Maintain accountability to your constituents

Accountability to your constituents means maintaining good communication and relations with the group you are  trying to help. It means acknowledging their concerns when they express discomfort with some of your actions. It doesn’t have to mean doing everything everyone demands, but it does mean acknowledging concerns and trying to suggest ways to help ameliorate some if not all of those concerns. A simple “we have heard and understand your concerns about __[problems]__. We are taking __[whatever steps]__  to help mitigate the possible negative impact is a great start.

2. Maintain transparency

One of the frustrating things about the MAAPLE/UKIP incident is that no one could tell what was going on – who reached out to who? What guarantees did UKIP have to make to be a supporter? Has UKIP fulfilled any of those guarantees? Who actually runs MAAPLE? Is it a charitable org or some other kind of org?

Having these kinds of things clearly spelled out in your official website and other materials helps maintain the trust between your constituents and your group leadership.

Suggested information to have visible on your website (this list is not all-inclusive):

  • Who are the leaders of your group?
  • What type of organization is it? (tax exempt or not? incorporated or not? nonprofit or commercial?)
  • If you have a supporters page, what are the requirements to be listed as a supporter?
  • What has each supporter done so far? (2-3 sentences is plenty)
  • What are your goals?
  • What are your specific strategies for achieving each of your goals?

3. Keep your partners accountable

When you take on partner orgs as “supporters”, make sure they are actually taking steps to support you and not just taking on a chance for free publicity. One way to do this is to have a specific pledge for organizations to sign and comply with, or a list of certain steps that an organization must take to become a sponsor, etc. These requirements should include not only ace-specific support but support for related communities like LGBT people, nonbinary trans people, etc. And if organizations have not taken these steps, they should not be advertised as supporters.

This also means, ideally, not listing an org as a supporter until after they’ve shown at least some initiative in supporting asexuality. One of the problems with the MAAPLE “supporter” system is that none of these supporters appear to have made any visible efforts towards asexual inclusion – none of their official policy materials make any mention of asexuality at all, let alone supporting asexual inclusion in law or education.

Some suggestions for possible items for supporter pledges (not all will apply for all orgs):

  • supporters should include mention of asexuality in materials where they discuss sexuality or the meaning of LGBTQ+, etc.
  • supporters should include some mention of support for asexuality in their official materials, not just transient posts on satellite social media. This could include official campaign materials, manifestos, press releases, official blogs, mailings, downloadable resources, links pages, etc.
  • supporters should attend seminars or webinars about how to be inclusive of ace people and support the ace community
  • supporters’ stated policies must be compatible with all of your organizations aims, not just some of them.
  • supporters should support affiliated causes, like LGBT rights and education
  • supporters should contribute volunteers, financial donations, materials, services, or other material support

4. Make sure you have proper institutional structure and strategy in place before you start taking on your main tasks.

This means having the patience to set up your institutional structure, foster connections to the community, and build ground support before you begin to take on the big tasks like campaigning and seeking political support. Sometimes this can mean spending a lot of time and effort on administrative tasks before you get to the big sexy action items.

Some of the organizational needs that should be met before taking big actions:

  • make sure you have enough committed, long term volunteers to manage basic operations, and set up a method for recruiting future volunteers (including fostering connections with possible sources of community volunteers)
  • find a source of legal advice – even if you can’t pay for an official lawyer, you can find law students, or consult with a more experienced organization that has similar goals, or consult with various non-profit legal advice groups. You need to make sure you really know what you are getting into, especially for a political activism organization.
  • determine what organization structure is best for you. Any group that is going to handle money should consider incorporating in some way – but explore the different options. Note also that nonprofit ≠ charity – charities are tax exempt but usually face strict political restrictions against supporting certain parties, individuals, or policies. Other types of nonprofits will have to pay taxes but have substantially more political freedom to affiliate with organizations they approve of. Think hard about what structure will work best for you (and get legal advice!)
  • Make detailed policy documents – not just your big goals, but also the finer details of how you plan to achieve them (as well as things like proposed text, if you want to change a law). Also detail your related policies (ex. support for LGBT in general, being against discrimination on other factors, whatever else).
  • Have plans of action – who do you reach out to, what do you do with positive/negative responses, how will you handle negative PR, etc.
  • Develop and publish any supporter pledges before recruiting supporters
  • Have an independent website where you can post all this

If you are going to send out letters to organizations calling for support, consider making the text available on your website, and waiting until you have everything else about the org done.

5. Start small, have patience, and build up

Even when your organization is ready to launch, start small and build your way up, especially if none of your leaders have run this kind of organization before. For example, start with outreach and programming for local LGBT university groups while you get used to your org’s structure, and begin the process of making connections with supporter orgs, volunteers, your constituent community, etc. You want to work out any issues and figure out what your big challenges are going to be before you try to hit the big leagues, not after. Once you have experience with smaller local orgs, then go on to say, larger but related orgs like larger lgbt nonprofits. Then only once your organizational model has been proven should you go after the big leagues like national political parties.

6. Know your limits. Know your weaknesses.

When planning your actions, keep in mind your current manpower, time, and available resources. Be careful not to get in over your head by rushing into big things too fast, too soon. Take stock of what you have been doing well, and what you haven’t, and reevaluate the scope of your actions as necessary.

7. Don’t go in expecting gratitude and easy relations

No matter how good the work you do, there will be people unhappy with your approach. Whether it’s because you made a mistake or because you made a hard decision, the people you are trying to serve will not always like you or be grateful to you for your effort. You should be doing this work not for gratitude or praise, but because you believe it’s important. If you go in expecting praise and gratitude, it will just lead to disappointment and  frustration. Some level of frustration and disagreement is inherent to running anything as high stakes as a political group, so it’s important to learn good coping strategies for dealing with that frustration to avoid being tempted to take it out on the groups you are trying to help. Consider finding a friend you can vent to in private, or taking scheduled breaks to engage in unrelated hobbies and take your mind off things; have coworkers who can cover for you if you start feeling overwhelmed, and have people to review your decision when you are in a state of frustration or panic to avoid any rushed decisions.

8. You don’t need to give up just because you hit a new hurdle

Part of starting a new organization is learning what works and what doesn’t. You will make mistakes. The important thing is to not immediately throw in the towel the first time things get hard. Instead, take accountability for your mistakes, but also look for solutions moving forward. You may need to take a break to restructure or reevaluate your decisions, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop. If at the end of the break you determine that the project just isn’t working, then sometimes ending it is just what you need to do, but don’t make that a rush decision. Give some time to really think it over and explore alternatives first – maybe you need a new approach. Maybe you need new people. Maybe you need a mentor. But even when things go bad, they can also get better with careful planning and patience.


Anyway, these are just a few possible suggestions. Followers, feel free to leave any additional general tips for how to run an ace political organization well in the comments below.

ETA: Laura (Ace Muslim) has also shared their thoughts here: https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/structuring-asexual-groups-and-communities-to-be-anti-bias-and-anti-bigotry/

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This is an Angry Post

“I feel really alienated when a person self-describes as sex-favorable or sex-enthusiastic, because I feel like I need to assert among other asexuals that I do not have that experience of sex.”

“Maybe sex favorable asexuals should leave the community and identify as other things since sexual attraction doesn’t seem to be important instead of trying to carve out a space where they’re going to cause damage”

“I just don’t know if it’s possible to spread the information about asexuals’ sexual agency (to engage in partnered sex) in a way that actually bolsters all asexuals’ sexual agency. I feel alienated by asexual spaces that valorize sex by emphasizing the segment of the community that have enjoyed partnered sex in the past and may consider it in the future. I feel like within the asexual community, their sexual agency is not threatened as much as the sexual agency of people who don’t ever desire sex.”

So there’s another round of “is talking about sex-favorable or sex-indifferent asexuals bad for the community”, and while it started out with some valid points about the problems of phrases like “some asexuals are willing to have sex and some aren’t”, it’s starting to turn  (unintentionally or not) into the bashing of anyone who might be sex-favorable or sex-indifferent or who might ever want to talk about the possibility of being open to having sex. And, what the hell, people.

You don’t get to silence asexuals with different experiences than you just because it’s inconvenient to have people in the community who aren’t all exactly the same.

You don’t get to kick us out of the community because we don’t experience things the same way as you do.

You don’t get to scapegoat our very existence for the misleading stereotypes that other people will hold no matter what we say.

You don’t get to tell an entire group to suck it up in silence or fuck off just because people might use their existence to confirm misguided stereotypes.

You don’t get to throw us under the bus and expect us to smile and go along with it because we are “less threatened”.

You don’t get to tell us to shut up because we’re just a small minority and it’s better for the majority this way anyway.

Aces who hold neutral or even positive feelings toward sex are not just theoretical talking points, we are real people. We are not hypothetical cases or a minority not worth mentioning.

If you wonder why sex-indifferent and sex-favorable and other aces with similar experiences keep talking feeling uncomfortable and attacked in asexual spaces, stuff like this is why.

There are serious issues around the pressure on asexuals to have sex, on the way that aces who deviate from the current gold-star norm (in any direction) are silenced or portrayed as just “those weird deviants”. There are real problems with statements like “sex-positive asexuals are asexuals who are willing to have sex”. But telling any aces who aren’t sex-averse and celibate that their very existence is harmful and that they need to shut up or get out solves nothing and just does more harm.

Driving us underground might certainly make parts of the community more comfortable, but sometimes you need to stop and think about at what cost that comfort comes.

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July 2015 Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions: Asexual History

It’s now July, and that means a new Carnival of Aces! For those of you not familiar with it, the Carnival of Aces is a recurring blogging event where we write and collect blog posts (or tumblr posts, or linkspams, or videos) on a select topic each month. You can view the masterpost of previous topics here. Last month’s topic was “Mental Health”, and you can view the submissions here. Anyone can write a post – to be featured in the carnival, just post a link to your article here in the comments or shoot me an email at sennkestra@gmail.com. No worries if you don’t have a blog – we can host posts for you here.

Submissions are due by August 1, but if you think you might take a little longer you can just shoot me a message to let me know and I can hold a spot for you :)

This month’s topic is “Asexual History”

For all that the asexual community is a young movement compared to communities like the LGBT community, we’ve developed a lot over the last decade and a half–and I’m still amazed that it’s really been that long. To put things in perspective, there are people on AVEN now who weren’t even born yet when the site was first created. But while we talk a lot about our speculation for the future of the community, there’s still very little formal conversation about our past. As such, for this carnival, I want to talk about our history – both how we remember our past and how we record our present for future aces. Some possible ideas for this topic include:

  • What events or trends do you see as the major highlights of asexual history?
  • What have been some of the highest and lowest points in asexual history, in your view?
  • What memories of your personal experiences with “asexual history” (whether it’s five years or five months ago) would you like to share with future aces?
  • What should we be doing (if anything) to record our history?
  • Why should we as a community care about asexual history? Why should non-asexual people care about asexual history?
  • Is it possible to speak of an “asexual history” before the development of self-identified asexual communities? If so, how should we approach that kind of history?
  • Is it appropriate to speculate about the a/sexuality of individuals who lived before asexuality and sexual orientations were a well-accepted concept?
  • They say that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it – what lessons can we learn from ace communities past that are important for ace communities moving forward?
  • How can we prevent the loss of institutional memory as older members move on from our communities to other things?
  • How is asexual historiography affected by the fact that ace communities are largely internet based?
  • What unanswered questions do you have about asexual history that you would like to see addressed?
  • And, of course, anything else not on this list!
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