This document is a work in progress, and changes will be made as additional information is discovered. If you have any suggestions, corrections, requests for clarifications, or archived copies of missing links that you would be willing to share, leave a comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
As some of you may (or may not) know, many aces were taken by surprise on May 8th, 2020 by a flurry of “#aceday” and “#acevisibilityday” tweets that eventually went trending, as well as some complaints generated about things like date choices and vague references to 2015 that probably make no sense to anyone who is newer to the ace community. In the wake of the event, there’s also been a lot of confusion and misinformation going around about what ace day is, when it is, who’s involved, and what its history is.
In light of that, wanted to compile some notes and links to relevant bits of history that I remember from the original ace day campaigns and controversy, which date back to 2015 when it was created by theasexualityblog, as well as a bit about what I have found about what lead to #acevisibilityday suddenly showing up as a trending tag this year (after the event nearly disappearing into obscurity in the intervening years, as well as being previously celebrated for several years on a completely different date).
This is not meant to be a complete narrative of that history; but I hope that the sources included here may be helpful for anyone who would be interested in attempting such a history. Unfortunately, because many of the blogs involved have since changed their names or been deleted, many of the original posts are gone. I’ve tried to provide archived versions or reblogged versions wherever possible.
Please also note that this still doesn’t include the vast majority of commentary – for either event – just because there was so much activity that it would get overwhelming. Instead, I’ve tried to include a sampling of some of the main points I remember seeing as someone active in ace communities around that time. I’ve also deliberately focused on discussions that were occurring within the ace community, rather than reactions from outside the community.
Update 5/30/20: FuckYeahAsexual has written up their own reflections on their involvement in Ace Day in 2015-2020, for those who would like to read another perspective.
Ace Day in 2015 Part 1 – Timeline
- (background info) On March 16, several black tumblr users organized a community wide 24-hour Blackout Day event to promote the sharing of content created by or featuring black people, in order to combat the lack of positive black representation on social media. The event also ended up spreading to twitter
- (background info) On March 31, many trans folks and allies celebrated the 6th annual Trans Day of Visibility (a celebratory counterpart to the more solemn Trans Day of Remembrance) with active social media celebrations onTwitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram
- On April 6th tumblr user theasexualityblog announces unilaterally that the ace community will be celebrating “Ace Visibility Day” in two days on April 8th, on which users are supposed to post an ace playing card, with assignments designated to specific romantic orientations.
- On April 6th, theasexualityblog announces they are changing the date to May 8th.
- On April 8th, some people get confused and still celebrate on April 8th anyway.
- Sometime around April 8th, theasexualityblog reached out to fuckyeahasexual who created a straw poll to pick a new date, which was set to close on April 17th. (note that due to how tumblr works, the other post declaring it to be April 8th or May 8th, depending on the version, continued to circulate widely this entire time)
- On April 18th, theasexualityblog declared the new date to be May 8, 2020. (for the second time)
- On May 8th, the first Ace Day is celebrated.
- Throughout this process, fellow big-name tumblr blogger FuckYeahAsexual continues to be heavily involved in sharing and promoting posts about the event and engaging in conversations with other users about the details, and remains involved in additional behind-the-scenes conversations with theasexualityblog.
- After the event, some users try to add it to wikipedia, but it is removed. Other users then try to spam wikipedia until it gets added, but that backfires. Other users explain why that won’t work and what needs to be done to get it actually added. See links here.
- Later that year, fuckyeahasexual and theasexualityblog publish an artbook which features many pieces of art that were originally created by ace community members for the May 8th ace day,
Criticism and Fallout from the first Ace Day attempt
- Several members of the tumblr community were immediately concerned that holding an ace visibility day less than a week after Trans Day of Visibility with the same “visibility” naming scheme is offensive to the trans community and fellow trans aces.
- Others called attention to the fact that the card assignments rely on romantic-orientation model labels that many aces don’t use and point out that compulsory romantic orientations can harm young aces, as well as the fact that the event description for the cards conflates aromantic and ace identities.
- Some users expressed concern that one of the leading nominated dates was the same day as a potential #asianinvasion event.
- Elizabeth of Prismatic Entanglements posts suggestions to consider for future ace day attempts.
- Users afterwards express continuing discomfort with the event and ask others – whether they choose to celebrate it or not – to be aware of its history (and clear up confusion around the nature of TDoV, Blackout, and their relation to “selfies”)
- There was an additional round of criticism mentioned here but everyone has since deleted or changed their blog urls so I can’t find any of it – if anyone has it archived, let me know! https://asexualnews.tumblr.com/post/115872508275/41-48
- Theasexualityblog continued to engage in further discussions in response to some of the concerns users had about the original ace day (unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find an archived version of this now-deleted post yet: https://theasexualityblog.tumblr.com/post/119335760151/be-who-you-needed-when-you-were-younger)
Ace Day in 2015 Part 2 – November Boogaloo
- On September 14, 2015, theasexualityblog announces that Ace Day will return (posted on AVEN also) on November 26th, 2015 and that this will be the date for all future events in light of issues with the last event. They have also added an event page on their website with additional details and issued a statement addressing concerns from the first attempt and apologizing for some of their responses at the time, and further explaining the reason the date has been changed moving forwards. #AceDay continues to be the standard tag
- The AVEN twitter account celebrates Ace Day in November 2015
Ace Day 2016-2019
Generally speaking, Ace Day activity starts to peter out when there isn’t much of an attempt at organizing anything major for 2016; there is an attempt by the theasexualityblog to officially announce it again in 2017, which does generate some activity, but to a lesser extent. All through this time, varying posts from all of the 3 previous date attempts continue to be circulated periodically (not helped by the fact that tumblr can sometimes make it hard to see date stamps).
- At some point in 2017, theasexualityblog posted an updated announcement and link to the Ace Day event on November 26, 2017. The announcement was also posted on tumblr. At this point, fyeahasexual was also still celebrating it on the 26th.
- The AVEN twitter account does not appear to have any easily findable references to ace day post-2015
- In 2019, theasexualityblog deleted their tumblr and website, including all ace day pages, for unknown reasons.
Ace Day in 2020
- (background) in late 2019, a user reaches out to fyeahasexuality to ask if Ace Day is still happening on November 26
- Starting on May 5th FYA begins tweeting/tumblring about their own “Ace Day” plans (using the #aceday hashtag)
- Also on May 5th, but several hours later, AVEN tweets about “Asexual Visibility Day” asking if users know that it’s on May 8th (most don’t). This is the first time AVEN has mentioned it in years. No hashtags are used.
- On May 8th, FYA clarifies that they moved back to May because “May 8th works much better for me and a few others“
- In the early hours of May 8th, Yasmin Benoit (another active ace twitter persona) drives attention to the alternative #acevisibilityday hashtag with this tweet calling for users to make it go trending
- The tag did indeed go trending! (request: does anyone have more screenshots saved of the tag in the trending list?)
- There were a scattering of other tweets posted earlier, including this one by @soundsfakepod, but none got anywhere near as much traction.
- In the leadup of several days before May 8th, this hashtag doesn’t seem to have been used at all. In the preceding years, it was used only rarely.
- Comparison of ace day vs. ace visibility day search terms on google trends.
- Some users pointed out that the event date conflicts with VE Day in europe, which could cause problems for many european aces, and asked that the date be reconsidered for future events.
- Others expressed confusion about the date change from November back to May.
- On May 11, Yasmin Benoit started a twitter poll asking users to vote for a new date
- Commenters suggested that 8/8 not be used to the potential negative connotations (88 is used in some neonazi symbols), and pointed out that David Jay’s birthday is not actually May 8th.
- On May 12, Yasmin Benoit announced that they were backing out of the date change discussions, but left the poll up for reference.
Bonus Content – Other Ace Calendar Events
Just to clear up any confusion – Ace Week, formerly “Asexual Awareness Week”, is a completely unrelated organization which was founded in 2010 and has been hosting ace week events ever since, typically held in late October.
AVEN also had an unrelated “Ace Visibility and Education Day” (also known as AVED/DAVE) event back on October 12, 2008.
France also has an unrelated asexuality day event – la journée de l’asexualité – that was celebrated on April 26, 2013. AVA now appears to be celebrating it (or a related event) on May 13, 2020. (I don’t understand french enough to do research, but if anyone is more in the loop about whether they’ve has similar events in intervening years, let me know!)
As a reminder, this document is a work in progress, and changes will be made as additional information is discovered. If you have any suggestions, corrections, requests for clarifications, or archived copies of missing links that you would be willing to share, leave a comment or drop me a line at email@example.com!