For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

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On yadas and community

So I tend to get easily distracted by things. It shows on my blog, where I simply cannot put in the effort to be structured. I was mining this awesome vein on simple asexuality (as in, not being messed about by aromance and gender and queerness and demines and tricky things) and the structures we can put in to deepen asexual thought, and I had loads of plans, and then I got distracted by essays. And then I got distracted from essays by Yadas (for those who don’t know, the yadas are a group of originally non-binary trans asexuals who have formed a queer-ass e-gang). So it’s finally sunk in, and now I have two things I want to talk about. The next one is going to be more about my personal gender exploration, in relation to the gender exploration of everyone else I know. This one is, unfortunately, going to be difficult to appreciate fully if you don’t know about the yadas.

I want to talk about community. Because some of my greatest losses have been the deaths of communities. And the loss of relationships that could have been. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently looking at the good days, with friends, proto-friends, former friends, internet friends, meatspace friends, good friends, poor friends.
There’s something which hurts me just a little when I spend time with the Yadas, and that’s this sickening sense of de ja vous. Believe me, any Yadas reading, you are not the first (here comes the ‘back in my day’ story).
I remember the gang I used to hang out with on AVEN. Maybe a dozen regulars (I can remember about 6 of the usernames), and up to 30 familiar faces on the edges. We spent our time in Just For Fun, and started out just as posters who vaguely knew each other. Then came The Longest Thread on AVEN, and things- exploded. Almost literally. I think, at our strongest, we managed to get through about a hundred pages in a night. You know the chatterbox? That was made to try and contain me and my gang. We were despised! We were infamous!

And that’s the thing. I remember being the New Young Avenites. I remember our impenetrable in-jokes. I remember the way we all praised each other, and then copied each other’s praise into our signatures. I remember the thrill of making AVEN work for us, being radical. I remember hanging around the boards at midnight, taking over practically every thread as we greeted each other, and the forums rang with our delight. I remember laughing at the previous gang of New Young Avenites, as they disapproved of us, mostly just because we weren’t them and didn’t have the same jokes as them. I remember disapproving of the next gang of New Young Avenites, as they laughed our group into the fragmented darkness of the internet.

Boy, do the yadas remind me of me.

I wonder how much the name makes the community. ‘Our group’ seems to eventually get a name, and with that, it becomes something more. It’s happened with pretty much all my irl friendship groups, and the ones with a name seem to inherit a purpose. It seems to me that there’s a sharp difference- communities with names die, or are saved from dying. Communities without names just loose the potential to one day exist.
I’m vividly reminded of this by the fact that I’ve just been texted by one of my old best friends while writing. We had a gang of three, with a name. Within a gang of six, with a name. And each group had an identity. And each group isn’t going too well. And each group is starting to fight for it.

Some random thoughts. Don’t stop fighting, yadas. Really, don’t.

Operational definitions: Where things get technical

First- time for a short squeal of delight. A personal first: Someone I know mentioned the split between romantic and sexual attraction without being asexual or, to my knowledge, knowing an asexual. This made me fiercely happy. It also gave me the perfect conditions with which to bring up asexuality for the first time with my LGBT, but various people interrupted and the topic moved on to something different.

Anyway, I’ve been stumbling across a new way of defining myself for a while now, and I think I’ve finally got it sorted. It reconciles asexual and homosexual in a way that demihomosexual never did for me.
It’s based on the idea that sexuality has a number of ways of defining it, subtly different in ways that normally don’t matter. The three which I’m largely thinking of are:

The social constructionist:
Sexuality is defined by identity, feelings, belonging. It isn’t prescriptive or intuitive. Whatever labels fit, stick. It’s also very generic and vague, offering absolutely no definitions of what sexuality is, how important sexual attraction is, etc. In being open, it is blurred and unspecific. According to this definition, I’m asexual.
The asexual:
A definition of sexuality created by people who were told about sexual attraction in the assumption that they’d already know about it. A logical, thorough image of sexuality, like painstakingly painting around something invisible. Very much based on the word attraction. Compartmentalised, due to the difference in the romantic and sexual feelings of many of its creators. I’m guessing I’ll get a bit of flak for saying that asexuality doesn’t reflect reality, but my point is that nothing does. Not completely. I think the asexual theory is utterly awesome because it’s the only one that really looks deep into the complexities of what orientation means. Under the asexual definition, I’m homosexual.
The behaviouralist:
Defined entirely by how you act/want to act. A pretty sucky approximation for orientation, but it has in its favour the fact that it’s actually more important than orientation, in a real-world kinda way. In this sense, I think I’m bi.

The nice thing about this is that it gives me a reasonably succinct description of my sexuality that invites dialogue and hints at the complexities involved, while referencing all the identities that are important to me (my preferred label, my technical label, my behaviour). It’s way better than the “Don’t know, not sure how to say it” that I’ve been trying for recently, which is so difficult to make not sound defensive. Instead, I’ve got “depends on what definitions you use. From a general understanding, I’m asexual. From an asexual understanding, I’m homosexual. From a behavioural understanding, I’m bisexual.” Which is- well, it’s the most compact I’ve got it since I gave up being asexual, and it makes me feel so much happier than any partial label.

Get me off this tiger

I want out. Yeah, the hard way’s more rewarding if you survive it, but I really fucking want the easy way. Because we are the first, and we have no idea if that elusive milk-and-honey land that we’ve been telling each other about actually exists. Because we’re deluded fools on a ship bound to nowhere. Because I’ve been swimming against the tide for a few months now, and I’m starting to feel like I’m drowning. Because I can’t imagine how I could live my life like this.

And it’s true, only a few hours ago, I was feeling happier about this than I have done in weeks, talking to a friend who really genuinely gets where I’m coming from. And it’s true, I’m blaming aromanticism for completely other issues, screaming at myself that it’s my identity to blame rather than confronting what’s really going on. Yes, I have a crush that’s becoming unignorable. Yes, I have no idea how I’d ever translate that into any sort of mutually beneficial relationship without my aromanticism flaring up. Yes, it kills me to see him go home with another guy. But it’s more a standard story of unrequited love. If he really liked me, we could work something out. It’s the fact that he doesn’t like me (after, I should point out, spending almost no time with me socially) that makes all my old insecurities come screeching back with “YOU’RE DULL! YOU’LL NEVER BE AN INTERESTING PERSON!” Which, I should probably mention, is where a lot of my fears about aromanticism truly originate.

But sometimes you just need to rant, and lately, this blog has been nothing more than a place I can scream. And scream.

Construction will come tomorrow. And I mean actual construction, not this crappy, fake ‘blame it on the identity’ thing. I mean actually what’s bothering me, and why, and what I can do about it.

For now, just remember that feelings make you stronger. Remember that feeling you had as you were leaving and you shook your crush’s partner’s hand, staring into his face and wishing him a good night, smiling.

That’s a new one.

That super-random last post- Part II

So the last post- a lot of where it came from was what I’ve been thinking about aromance recently. Thinking about friendships and relationships, and how I can create relationships which work for me. How I create relationships is fundamentally an asexual issue, and that’s… odd, when you’ve just abandoned the only label you’ve ever felt comfortable in and now you have a suuddenly decreased quality of relationships.

I’m not going to talk about relationships today. Instead, I’m going to talk about creation. I want to create something. Something interpersonal. It was a goal of mine already to figure out how to do that, and now it’s a need. For want of better words, a party, but not a party as such, because a load of strangers and loud music is the opposite of what I want. A gathering. A meeting of minds. Mostly, I want to create a space. A space in which I can be myself and relax.

And, for me, it’s big stakes. It’s not just the people I chat to in lunch breaks, friends mean everything to me and they will always mean everything to me. There is nothing more out there.

On the doorstep

I have a small group of friends, back home, that I used to hang out with. One of the best moments I remember was when we first started meeting outside of school. We went to one girl’s house, and someone assumed that their mother wouldn’t let us in. So we hung around outside the door for a while. A while turned into a little longer, people who had been standing sat on the doorstep and the pavement and eventually, her mother opened the door and said we were welcome to come in. We never got round to getting up.
We sat outside as evening fell. We sat outside, a circle of pale faces, and talked and talked into the darkness.

We never made that mistake again. We went round to that girl’s house every week and watched youtube videos and films, until her mother became too passive-aggressive and we started going round to mine. Where we watched films. And youtube videos.

One of the group understood. We used to go for walks, and we’d sit on the grass and talk and talk. One day, it threatened to rain as we were leaving. We only grabbed one, large umbrella. We sat on a bench as it started to rain. We huddled under the one umbrella. We watched the drifts of rain, the banks of clouds, the foggy lights of the city beneath us. We talked. Every time we tried to get up, the rain got worse. We sat down, and continued our conversation, deeper and deeper. We agreed- we were glad we had only brought one umbrella. It forced us closer.
Hours later, the rain stopped. The familiar world had become different, breathtaking. A beautiful, shared experience.

Within the last year, I’ve fallen in with a crowd who, I’ve just realised, have spoiled me rotten. They have this unspoken habit of finding some quiet room or garden in which to lounge- going to some event and then almost deliberately avoiding the actual event, just hanging out with the same old people in strange new places, as dusk falls, transfigures. As the dark draws in.

As the dark draws closer.

I was thinking, before I went to uni, about how to capture these moments, make them happen more often. And here- well, I’m in the middle of a sudden neurotic episode caused by the combination of my periodic “Oh god, I’m aromantic. How can I have the relationships I want while people won’t commit to me because we’re ‘just friends’” and the new “oh god, I need to go out and make some friends, but I’m incredibly ill with freshers flu.”

And every single event on the freshers week programme was in a nightclub, apart from the mother and baby group.

And the girl who’s likely to be my best uni friend hates walking even five minutes, which caused some tension today when I just needed go get out and stretch my legs, because that’s practically how I emote (I even wear holes in my hallway carpet).

And I just feel so scared that I won’t find anyone who does this thing of collecting moments, moments of non-conformity, of the elements, of coming together through the weird places you find yourself and the wonderful people you find yourself with.

And I just want to be back on that doorstep, on the corner of the street next to mine, as the light fades.

Quick post-freshers week update

Hi, all. Little internet access, so this’ll be short.

Apparently, the uni LGBT is both vaguely transphobic and probably asexophobes, too. I’ve not had any first-hand experience of them because I accidentally fell in with a small and awesome splinter cell who are much more accepting.

Also, I’ve decided not to label myself as asexual anymore. This decision happened more than a month ago, but I somehow never got round to writing the long-winded explaination. Basically, if the label fits, it’ll come back to me. However, I’m still aromantic, I’m getting more and more sure of that. So:
-I still feel like part of the asexual community.
-I should still have a lot to write on here. Whether and when I do depends on how busy my life is.

My society went out to a trans resources centre, and they had forms which actually had an asexual option on them! I ticked them, partly because asexual is the option I most identified with, and partly because I didn’t get a single asexual tickbox when I actually was asexual, and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity.

You don’t count

“Isn’t it annoying how men are really sex-obsessed?”
“Not all men are sex-obsessed. If you thought about it for a moment, you’d realise that a lot of the men you know aren’t.”
“Give me an example.”
“I’m not.”
“Well, you don’t count. You’re asexual.”

“I think everyone would secretly do anything for sex, they’re just hiding it.”
“Again, not true. I wouldn’t.”
“Yeah, but you don’t count. You’re asexual.”

So what’s with this idea that, because I’m asexual, I’m outside of the normal spectrum of sexuality? I’m statistically written off? I think partly, it’s an example of how people construct a ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy in their stereotypes, especially of gender. They think that, for example, men like sex, and so think of men who like sex as being most typically men, and then, when they think of the people who they know who are typically male, surprise surprise, they all like sex.

There’s also an element, though, of odd otherness. Like when you cross the line to asexuality, your views are no longer useful because you’re in your own little subsection. Which is just not how it works. Firstly, asexuality is a spectrum, or several, not a little group of people born without any relation at all to the world of sexuality. Secondly, if you’re going to remove all the people on one side of the data, you’re going to have really badly skewed results. Thirdly, I’m a human being, dammit! (or a man, or whatever other population you were talking about). It’s as simple as that. I’m a human being so, whatever my sexuality, I am automatically one representation of how human sexuality can function. Even if that means functioning by absence.

So just what do you do all day?

The annoying girl (let’s call her V) from the last post returns! In a birthday party she had last Saturday, she brought her boyfriend along, who knew all about my asexuality, and he became the third person (after V and a guy from college), who responded to this news with the question:

“So just what do you do/think about all day?”

On the basis that pretty much everyone who I’ve ever come out to who isn’t a largely disinterested virgin has said this in some form, and it’s something I’ve not heard of from any other asexual, I think this idea deserves more examination.
Before, I’ve always answered with “Whatever you do/think about when you’re not doing/thinking about sex,” and they go away still bemused. This time, and largely to annoy V, who thinks I have some problem with her sexuality, and because I was revelling in the discomfort of this conversation, I asked her boyfriend, “How often, as a proportion of the day, do you spend on sex and girls?”
And he said, after much thought, and after we’d debated whether time spent sleeping could count, that everything he did was because of sex and girls. From the high-class degree he’s studying to the amount of time he works out, everything he does (direct quote) “is so people can find me attractive, and spending time with people who find me attractive.” He then asked me why I hadn’t accomplished anything major with my life. I have, in fact, done very little, despite not having this overwhelming amount of time dedicated to sex and romance, which he seemed to feel was fairly normal.

At this point, trusty V, in an effort to make the conversation awkward for me, and not for her, began to suck his face off. I escaped to the prudish corner of the room (which, given the inexperience of my friends, was basically all of it that didn’t have V in it).
But that’s been rattling round in my head ever since. What do you do all day? What have you achieved with the time you’ve been granted by your asexuality and effective aromanticity? What positives have you made out of a situation that would make people like V feel life isn’t worth living?

I was going to write this down and blog it, but I didn’t have an answer. I felt there was no conclusion. And then, today, on the irritating MSN popup window that always opens, I found this article.
I tend to like perusing the dating articles on MSN (which they have about once a week, sponsored discreetly but not too discreetly by an internet dating service), on the basis that, since this girl ruined Cosmopolitan for me, it’s the best way to press my face against the glass of cosy, vapid, thoughtless heteronormativity, and feel that sort of blankness that comes from seeing your future everywhere, which is normally denied to me.
In a cynical, objective way, of course.

I really can’t tell why, but this article got me thinking about my seemingly inevitable slow-motion realisation of some innate aromanticness in me. Somehow, it got me thinking about how people invest such a great amount of time in boyfriends and girlfriends, and how I have nothing to fill that void, no hope of an intimate connection that is just automatically an intimate connection, because society says it is.

And that’s when I realised. I can spend all of my life forming those intimate connections with other people, connections that don’t have to end, and that have a healthier amount of communication than the standard romance, and that are more tailored to our needs. And I can spend all of my time, outside of work and recreation and sleep and all that other stuff, thinking about my friendships, where they are, how to improve them, how to let my friends know how much they mean to me. THAT’s what I do all day. And I really think I’ve picked the longest straw.

Being come-out about

There’s one girl I know who’s incredibly rude and erm, forthright in her views, lets say. She does it in a way that’s hard not to love, and you take the sort of crap unthinkingly from her that you wouldn’t from anyone else. Anyway, I can only think of two (non-internet) people who I’ve actually come out to (her, and my mother. Almost everyone else who knows I’m asexual, including me, knows because she told them.

The fact that I came out to her and then she outed me to myself is rather confusing, and a result of me finding asexuality twice, and not thinking much of it the first time, except casually mentioning it to her. After that, everyone who walked into the room was told within ten minutes that I’m asexual.

Anyway, we all got our grades this summer. I didn’t get enough to go to university, so I quickly hopped onto a nice year-long art course, ‘cos it’d be fun, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. She went to university, decided she didn’t like it, and dropped out after three weeks. So she moved onto my course, with my help. I’d planned to keep my asexuality pretty secret, considering the amount a couple of guys on my course bonded around sex. I managed (not lying or denying myself, but not having The Talk), for another two weeks. Then guess what’s just happened. Go on, you’ll never guess.

Anyway, this (being the only tiny tidbit of asexual-related thing that could vaguely be considered to be happening to me at the moment) got me thinking about how little I’ve been bothered by the reactions to my outings. Apart from my mother (I still have no idea what happened in that conversation), the most common response was “oh?”, the best was “ok.” and the worst was “huh”. I seriously can’t relate to the people who’ve had drama about it.

Anyway, as mentioned in the last post, Dr Who Buzzcocks is on the iPlayer, so I have no more time to rationalise about this now. I’ll probably return to it next time I come out/are outed.

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