About onlyfragments

I'm a writer on the hunt for someone as passionate about writing as I am. It doesn't matter what kind; it just matters that the person love the written word as much as I do. I dabble in different things, but my primary focus is something along the lines of cross-genre character-based multi-narrative introspective episodic flash fiction. (That's fancy mumbo-jumbo for "I write short fiction involving the same two characters in different settings and genres." I just liked all the kooky words.)

#1575 – Opening the Gates of “Queer”

After I commented on MyBeautifulMachine’s post “Allegiances, Language, and Space,” he asked me to write a guest post about identity policing and the term “queer”. I can only speak to my experience in the asexual community, but I hope I can share some insight.

[ A note: When I talk about the “queer community”, I’m using queer as an umbrella term for the entire community comprised of gender, romantic, and sexual orientation minorities (GRSM). While I prefer the acronym GRSM, it seemed more appropriate to use both of queer’s definitions in this post. ]

Opening the Gates of “Queer”

This post is a long time coming. If one thing can get my feathers in a ruffle fastest, it’s people policing who does and does not deserve to identify as queer. I see this aspect of identity policing most frequently in regards to people on the asexual spectrum. When I see people claiming aces, either as a whole or specifically heteroromantic ones, don’t belong in queer spaces… I’ll be honest, I immediately go into “angry mamma cat” mode.

Me when someone is mean to one of my baby aces.

99% of the time, the argument I see against asexuals identifying as queer is this: aces aren’t discriminated against, especially heteroromantic aces, and therefore have no claim to the term “queer” or to safe spaces for the queer community. I’m not going to call anyone out or screen-cap postings I’ve seen as examples, because a) I don’t support call-out culture, and b) they’re really easy to find, especially on Tumblr. If you want the evidence, it’s there for the picking. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of people who vocally oppose asexuals in queer spaces.

I could spend the rest of this post discussing how harmful this kind of anti-ace rhetoric can be for people on the asexual spectrum, but instead I want to pick apart the argument itself. Saying asexuals can’t claim queer spaces or terms because they aren’t discriminated against is flawed on a number of levels, which I’ll (try to succinctly) outline below.

“Queer” as a measure of discrimination

Many people argue that since asexuals have never had the term “queer” used against them, it’s a slur they can’t reclaim or use for themselves. This argument, either intentionally or unintentionally, defines “queer” as a measure of discrimination, not a valid identity. It reduces every person who identifies as queer in some way to a victim, someone who is defined by their suffering, not who they are as an individual.

While I am all for reclaiming slurs and changing them into positive community identities, in order to do so the term’s meaning has to change. Yes, queer has been and is still often used as a slur. However, by telling someone their positive use of that term is determined by how much discrimination they have faced doesn’t free the word from its dark history – it shackles the word forever to that darkness. We should always respect queer’s complex history, but that doesn’t condone the continued use of the word as a way to alienate others.

“Queer” as a fluid, not static, term

The meanings of words change. Language is beautifully fluid, influenced by time, history, culture, and in our current day especially activism. Understandably, queer has come to have many definitions which change from person to person. Queer can, and should, have many meanings; it can be used as an umbrella term for the greater gender/sexual/romantic minority community, or as term for those whose identities don’t fall under the current established labels.

When people rail against the use of queer as either of these definitions, or against the use of the term by certain groups, all I hear is fear. Fear of change. Fear of difference. Fear of compromise. Whether you accept it or not, queer is a fluid concept with different meanings based entirely on each person, or each community’s, experiences and understandings. That’s something to be celebrated, not stifled.

Appealing to (false) consequences

The argument specifically against heteroromantic asexuals in queer spaces often employs a certain amount of fear-mongering. People use the slippery slope concept to claim if heteroromantic aces are allowed in queer spaces, what’s to stop cishet people from invading the same space? This argument lumps heteroromantic aces in with cishet people, effectively denying not only their asexuality as a valid sexual orientation, but their personal experiences as well. What are the actual chances, though, that someone identifying 100% as cisgender and heterosexual will purposefully invade a queer space with the intent to do harm? Is preventing this unlikely scenario really more important than ensuring everyone who needs access to such a safe space can feel welcome there? Turning away a heteroromantic asexual because they are “basically straight” is not only discriminatory, it’s dangerous. Aces seek out queer spaces because they don’t feel safe or welcome in the cishet community – if turned away from the queer community as well, where do they have left to go?

Ignoring actual discrimination

When someone says “asexuals don’t face discrimination,” what they are actually saying is, “I haven’t bothered to look for any proof that asexuals face discrimination, therefore it doesn’t happen”. Because if you want to find the proof, it’s out there. A lot of brave asexuals talk about their experiences, both to educate others and provide support for other aces. So telling an asexual of any romantic orientation that they don’t belong in queer spaces denies experiences common to many aces: feelings of confusion, sorrow, and self-hate, self-harm, alienation from friends, family, and/or significant others, mockery, corrective therapy, and rape. You cannot possibly know what an asexual person, heteroromantic or not, has struggled with on their journey. Until you do, keep your mind and your heart open.

Everyone, regardless of sexual, romantic, or gender orientation, needs to remember one thing: you are not the gatekeeper of the word “queer”. You do not own it, define it, or determine who is worthy of its label. As we continue to reclaim queer, its definition(s) will continue to evolve. Embrace that change! Celebrate and support the various communities and people who fall under that term! We’re in this together – push your energy into healing rifts, not widening them.

#1573

A gun, while classic, would be too messy, he thinks as he selects today’s suit and tie.

He considers asphyxiation as he slicks back his hair, but it would be difficult to make it look like an accident.

Stirring sugar into his coffee, he wonders about poison, a possibility though traceable if done incorrectly.

As he picks up his briefcase he toys momentarily with blunt force trauma, but once again that one’s difficult to disguise unless stairs are involved.

“Goodbye, dear,” he says as he kisses his wife on the cheek and heads out the door.

In the car he lights a cigarette, briefly entertaining fire but tossing aside the idea as too grandiose and liable to get out of hand.

The parking garage makes him think of carjacking and he wonders if he could fake a robbery-turned-murder, though it might require some self-harm for believability.

“Hello, darling,” he says as he walks into his office and kisses the handsome young man who waits there.

Poison or strangulation or gunpowder, it doesn’t really matter; he’ll think of the perfect solution in time. After all, he did promise til death do us part.

[ Tanim has loved this song for years. It gives him… ideas. ]

#1572

The first time Tanim enters the house he is bombarded by the voices of the dead, so many speaking at once he can’t even determine their number. But it’s what isn’t being said that sends ice crawling down his back. Amid the emotional cacophony of the spirits around him, there is one presence inside the house which does not speak. He cannot see it; he can only sense it like the weight of a storm front looming somewhere in the distance.

The entity never makes itself known during his first session in the house, though Tanim can feel its awareness of him as he moves from room to room. He doesn’t acknowledge it, instead focusing on the other spirits clamoring for his attention. They are a startling range of ages, genders, time periods, and tragedies unlike anything he’s experienced. Yet beneath individual anger, sorrow, and confusion they share one common emotion – terror.

Records show no deaths associated with the property, though Tanim’s heard rumors about a suicide so long ago the details are lost. Why, then, the amassed dead? Tanim digs through archives, basements, attics, local myths and legends, but nothing explains the presence of so many dead. Even the findings of past mediums make no sense; no one seems to have encountered the same spirits twice in the house, and no one else has reported sensing the unknown entity which watched Tanim so closely.

The second time Tanim enters the house, he tunes out the noise of the dead as he passes methodically through each room. Beneath their racket he can still sense the unseen entity, its presence growing in strength as if it laid a trail for him to follow. And perhaps it has; Tanim feels himself pulled ever higher, up to the base of the attic stairs. There are no dead on this floor, which explains their density down below – they’re too afraid of what waits upstairs to venture closer.

Tanim climbs the stairs into a dim, dusty attic. Nothing stirs, yet he knows he’s not alone. The storm front sensation builds until the pressure tightens around Tanim’s chest, making him sink to his knees as he struggles for breath. Then the pressure lifts like the storm breaking and Tanim raises his head to see a man standing before him. He has just enough time to register pale skin and white hair, dark clothing and narrowed black eyes, before the figure vanishes again.

A single word accompanies the vision: Daren.

Tanim retraces every step of his research, yet still can find no physical records of the suicide or even anyone in the town named Daren. It makes no sense; other death records for the area go back to the founding of the town, certainly long before the house existed. Why, then, was this one death never recorded, if not in a newspaper then at least by the medical examiner?

Unless this death was meant to be wiped from the collective memory.

The third time Tanim enters the house, empty rooms and silence greet him. The dead who packed the house like frightened refugees are gone; only the single entity remains like a spider at the center of an empty web. Tanim can feel it waiting as he climbs each staircase and once more enters the attic’s oppressive gloom. Though he longs for the spirit to show itself again, fear makes him hesitate to call it out. He’s encountered entities that feed upon the energy of others before, but never one so powerful it could pull other dead from miles around and trap them in one place. This isn’t a normal haunting and he must tread carefully.

As Tanim takes a step forward, the entity appears. The spirit’s form is that of a young man, possibly Tanim’s age, with an angular face and thin, sardonic lips. It wears black clothing of an indeterminate time period, the color melting into the dark attic so only the figure’s face and hands are entirely visible. Those same hands twitch periodically as if the entity wants to attack Tanim, yet holds itself back.

“You must be hungry,” Tanim finally says as he watches its fingers’ slight spasms. “You’ve drawn everything in the area to you, haven’t you? You’re running out of prey.” The spirit says nothing, but that doesn’t surprise him. This one clearly doesn’t like to talk. “If you remain in this house, your power will eventually dwindle. You’ll become just another shade trapped where it died.” He approaches the entity, pleased when it neither moves nor disappears, only watches him with wary curiosity. “Of course, if you attach yourself to me, you could leave this place and go anywhere. We could find all sorts of things for you to eat.”

The entity seems to consider the offer for a moment. Then a wolfish smile spreads slowly over its face and it closes the distance between them.

Every time Tanim enters a new house, he watches its resident spirits scatter away from his approach; they sense the predator lurking within him, though they can’t know its exact nature. “Have fun, Daren,” he murmurs to the man standing at his side. The entity’s only response is soft, hungry laughter.

#1571

you think you shared a life together? hah!
you shared as much of a life as Rapunzel and the witch
one resigned to being the keeper
the other resigned to being the kept
I didn’t come climbing up that tower to steal her, you know
she just needed someone to catch her when she jumped
did you really think she’d stay forever?

#1569

Asexual/Allosexual Relationships and Sex

[ Warning to friends/family/others: I’m going to discuss my sex life below. If that’s TMI for you, I suggest not reading this. ]

After reading PrismaticEntanglement’s post about the topic of sex between allosexuals and asexuals, I decided to write my own post about how my girlfriend and I navigate this difficult topic. I’m going to try to impart some advice based on our experiences; that being said, this is based solely on my personal experience and what worked for us. I’m not an expert – just a person with a blog.

A note before I begin: The advice below is geared toward two sets of people – aces who for whatever reason are considering having a sexual relationship with their partner(s), and allosexuals in relationships with aces who are open to having sex. This is not geared toward sex-repulsed or sex-averse aces; nor is it geared toward allosexual partners who want to try to convince or force their ace partners to have sex. Nothing I say below will work if you’re not both 100% open and willing on your own to enter into this kind of relationship for your own benefit.

Now, that being said, here’s what I have learned during my journey from, “I will never date and never have sex” to “oh my gosh I want to marry this girl and have sexy time with her.”

1) Communicate

I know communication is always the number one relationship rule in these kinds of articles, but that’s because it is the number one rule. You have to communicate. Constantly. About everything. No matter how uncomfortable you might be discussing emotions, past trauma, previous sexual experiences, physical wants and desires, and everything else you bring to the bedroom, you have to spill your guts. An ace/allo relationship has to be especially founded on trust and communication to minimize the opportunities for hurt feelings or crossed boundaries.

One area of communication that I feel requires specific focus and emphasis is your shared terms and definitions. When you say “sex”, what do you mean? Do you two have different ideas of when being intimate crosses into sex, or when being affectionate but not sexual crosses into sexual territory? Do you both consider kissing to be sexual, or just romantic? Until you’re both talking the same language, so to speak, it’s easy to think you’re on the same page when you’re really reading two different books. Being open about how you define things like sexual versus non-sexual physical affection, physical intimacy, and sexual intercourse will ensure you understand each others’ wants, needs, and boundaries. Therefore, this rule and all the ones below apply not only to the actual act of sex, but to any physical intimacy between you two.

2) Set Boundaries and Rules

I want you to do something for me. Set aside the notion that “all aces hate sex” and “all allosexuals love sex” right now. Go put it in the trash and take the can to the curb. Wave goodbye. It’s gone. Yay!

In an ace/allo relationship, you both will have certain rules and boundaries when it comes to physical intimacy. The ace isn’t the only one who will have hangups, insecurities, and individual needs. The better you both understand your own relationship with sex, the easier it will be to come together in a physical way. For example, I don’t enjoy giving oral, so while I may change my mind about that in the future, right now its understood that isn’t something I’m willing to do during sexy time. Likewise, my girlfriend has certain hangups due to past experiences that I work around in order to make sure she feels 100% safe and in control the entire time. Also, we’re both very conscientious when initiating anything so that the other person can back out without feeling pressured or guilty.

Take it from me: consent is sexy. My girlfriend always ask permission before going down on me, and that simple recognition of my control and agency is to me one of the most beautiful moments we share.

3) Set Aside Expectations and Assumptions

I know every ace has heard the phrase, “you won’t know unless you try,” when it comes to sex, or its second cousin, “you’ll change your mind when you meet the right person.” I’m not here to tell you either of those is true; I hate hearing them as much as anyone. But I am here to say that… well, they might be for some people. And that’s okay.

I’m literally a cliche; I never wanted to have sex until I met my girlfriend and fell head over heels in love. Now she’s the only person I can imagine ever being physically intimate with – but we didn’t start out that way. When we first began dating, I was very clear I wasn’t interested in sex and needed her to be okay with that. She was, and respected my boundaries. When we first began exploring sexually, it was always my choice and at my speed. And as our physical relationship developed, I discovered I enjoyed being intimate with her. A lot. I only discovered this because I set aside my assumptions not only about what I wanted (or did not want), but also what physical intimacy would be like for me.

So keep an open mind as you move forward in your relationship. Don’t assume you’ll hate having sex, or hate not having sex as often as you want. Don’t assume your partner’s needs if they haven’t voiced them; likewise, be open to questioning your own needs and assumptions, and the fact that they may change over time. Don’t expect to enjoy the same physical activities – not even partners of the exact same orientation will always like the same things when it comes to sex. Everybody is different, and what you like may surprise you – I know I’ve surprised myself on a number of occasions.

Lastly, don’t expect to be sexually compatible and in sync right away. My first kiss with my girlfriend was super awkward (we counted backwards from 3 and had our eyes closed). Neither of us really knew what we were doing as we became more intimate, so the first months involved a lot of giggling and asking, “How does this feel? No? Okay, um… how’s this?” The silly awkwardness is actually a blessing, though, because it removes a lot of the pressure to make the moment super serious and sexy. Sometimes you just need to giggle over the ridiculousness of it all – especially if, like my girlfriend, you’re super ticklish.

4) Take Chances

If you’re asexual, please hear this loud and clear: nothing you do or enjoy physically will ever invalidate your asexuality. You shouldn’t be afraid that trying new things in the bedroom makes you less of an asexual because it doesn’t, it doesn’t, it doesn’t. So if you find yourself wondering about new practices or toys, go for it! As long as you and your partner are both open to the new experience and understand you’re just experimenting, and may decide you don’t like it, you should follow your curiosity.

If you’re allosexual, what I have to say to you is this: please try to be open to your partner’s experimentation. I know there are risks involved – it can be hard to divorce your own self worth from something your partner dislikes. You may wonder if it’s you they actually don’t like, or your body, or something else out of your control. But if you can understand that your partner’s likes and dislikes have nothing to do with you as a person, and have no bearing on your partner’s love for you, then experimentation can be a good way to find what you both enjoy.

One last thing I’ll add here – don’t be afraid to ask questions at sex stores (the respectable ones, at least). I’ve spoken to many knowledgeable employees at Lovers, from the one who answered our most basic questions about lesbian sex to the one who helped us pick out our first toys. We’ve even stumped a few with questions about working around physical disabilities. Every time we were treated respectfully and professionally, no matter how awkward or obvious our questions. Don’t be afraid to be honest about your lack of experience, turn ons and turn offs, and emotional or physical barriers. The employees are there to help and they really do know what they’re talking about – or at least the ones at Lovers do.

5) Give It Time

The virtue I lack most abundantly is patience, and especially so when my relationship is going through a rocky time. I want everything to be fixed and happy and perfect immediately. Unsurprisingly, that isn’t how things work. Even when it comes to sex, finding a happy balance between what each person wants and needs is difficult and takes time; maintaining that balance amid all of life’s stressors is even harder. What I thought would take weeks or months has instead taken years. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade a single day away to speed up the process. Working through problems and finding what makes you both happy serves to strengthen your relationship, both in and out of the bedroom. Will you make mistakes? Yes. Will you get hurt? Of course. But if you choose to see each bump in the road as an opportunity to work together, not against each other, you’ll find the perfect balance.

6) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate (Did I mention communicate?)

Communication is an on-going process in any relationship, and especially one between an ace and allosexual. You need to constantly check in with each other, both during sex and outside of intimate moments. Ask how the other person is doing, how they perceive the relationship is going, and if there’s anything they feel is lacking or causing an issue. Don’t assume that because a certain physical act was okay with your partner two weeks ago, it’s something they still want to do. Check in. Is this still cool? Are we being physical enough? Are we being too physical? Do you want to take a break for a while? Sometimes these conversations can be awkward or difficult, but they’re so incredibly necessary. It’s easy to feel hurt if your partner doesn’t want to engage in something physical, but that hurt can be alleviated by finding out why: maybe they’re tired, or feeling sad, or have a headache. If you don’t ask, you don’t know. So check in, ask questions, and be vocal about your own feelings and needs in the moment and overall.

As I stated before, these are some of the things that work for myself and my girlfriend. I hope they can be of some help to others out there who want to be in an ace/allo relationship involving physical intimacy. I know these kinds of relationships seem daunting, and often get a bad reputation, but with the right partner and hard work they can be incredibly rewarding.