When I started my Tumblr blog Still-a-Valid-Ace, I did so on a whim with no thought to where it might go in the future; to be honest, I assumed I’d grow bored and delete it after a week. I just wanted a place to post my own experiences regarding asexuality and gatekeeping, maybe rant a little, and generally shout into the void of the internet. Surprisingly, though, traffic picked up pretty quickly and I suddenly had people submitting questions, problems, and pleas for advice. Without knowing a single thing about me, users seemed to expect trustworthy, valid responses that might make or break their identity or relationships. It was a lot of pressure for someone who, as I said, thought she would just be yelling into the void. I felt honored, though, and took this new responsibility very seriously. Thus, I waded into the online waters of asexual activism–
–and into a river full of rapids, waterfalls, and hidden rocks. YIKES. Asexuals have come under some serious fire recently as the the cool new minority to hate on within the queer community. Not that the other popular targets, like bisexual and transgender folks, don’t still get their share of hate; it’s just that asexuals seem to be the hot topic right now. You can’t even skim the asexual tag on Tumblr without running into rabidly acephobic posts by people who dedicate entire blogs to hating us. I receive hateful messages and reblogs from these accounts on a frequent basis, especially when I say anything about cisgender+heteroromantic aces or the right for aces to use the word “queer”. I’ve been called homophobic for supporting religious asexuals; I’ve been called a cishet oppressor for supporting all asexuals, regardless of their other identities; I am routinely accused of being a “straight” who wants to kill LGBT people. I agree that cishet isn’t a slur in and of itself, but I have seen it used dozens of times to deny and negate my actual identity. And it hurts. I am actively hurt by the very same people who claim to be protecting queer asexuals like me.
Do I daydream about all the ways I’d love to respond to these people? Of course. Do I type up pithy answers and attach sarcastic gifs, only to delete the entire thing? Of course. Do I get so filled with rage and sorrow that all I want to do is vomit curse words onto the screen or send my own hateful, hurtful messages back? Oh yes. Always. I want so badly to fight on my enemies’ level, to make the “discourse” personal so I can verbally eviscerate the trolls. But I don’t. I don’t, even when the alternative is to remain silent, or to reply with a diplomacy that feels like surrender. I don’t, because that won’t win me anything but grief, and my fellow aces nothing but fuel for the trolls. You see, one of the most difficult aspects of any activism is this: you become a spokesperson for your cause and a target for the haters. It doesn’t matter if you post five hundred thoughtful, balanced, in-depth discussions about a topic; if in just one post you act too angry, too forceful, or too callous, that’s the one you’ll get called out for. Any emotion you portray will be blown out of proportion and used against not only yourself, but your community as well. Look how angry asexuals are, they’ll say. They’re so whiny, so entitled, so ignorant! They hate gay people! They’re just special snowflakes! Your every word becomes a landmine just waiting to smear you across the internet. People assume that if you take on the role of activist, you also take on the role of subject matter expert, public information officer, and referee. Despite being passionate about the subject, you’re expected to be completely unbiased and lacking any agenda. When the topic is something that affects you personally, this is impossible. Impossible, but expected. If you can’t be objective, you’re vilified.
Despite all of this, though, I maintain my blog. I delete hate messages, ignore reblogs from anti-ace accounts, and try patiently and kindly to explain my views to those who seem genuinely confused or curious. I do this because I love my followers, my fellow aces, and my whole queer family. I truly do, with a ferocity I never imagined. If I get down in the muck with the trolls, I can’t be a safe person anymore. If I let hate leak onto my blog, it can’t be a safe space anymore. Because I actively choose to remain a source of comfort, support, advice, and protection, I can’t fight fire with fire. My activism has to be professional, no matter how much I’d love to make things personal. At the end of the day, the safety of every one of my followers means infinitely more to me than my own wishes to take an eye for an eye. If I can bring any bit of hope or understanding to even one asexual out there, no matter who or what else they are, then all the hate spam is worth it.
Thank you for this post. It’s an important point of view!!
I was going to touch on some of these topics for SURE, if I decided to write a post for the Carnival of Aces this month… although I wasn’t sure if it even fit the topic well enough. But I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed and drained by some of this awful “ace discourse” on tumblr… Mainly because I got personally attacked and accused of being homophobic pretty recently for simply daring to suggest the split attraction model really helps some people and compulsory heterosexuality affects all aces too.
Anyway… I really appreciate how difficult it is to stay professional in your ace activism and how important it is that you do!
I don’t blame you for feeling overwhelmed – I see some of the arguments and discussions you get into on Tumblr and while I’m so thankful you’re speaking up, I’m also so thankful you’re doing it and not me. I don’t think I have enough patience in my entire body to last even a minute arguing back and forth with those sorts of people. I think I’d too quickly devolve to gifs and emojis, which would be entertaining but not very useful. But you, you’re a warrior.
And seriously, why the fuck does anyone have a problem with the split attraction model. UGH.
On Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 2:11 PM, Only Fragments wrote:
I might be one of your “most unlikely” followers being a cishet, Catholic, middle aged caucasian with an education level of HS Grad, but I can’t help myself. I am adding to my vocabulary with every post and I love it! You are obviously well educated and a joy to read.
Vocabulary aside, I greatly appreciate your efforts in keeping your activism professional. Troll fighting never brings out the best in us and by simply lowering to their level, they get the advantage every time. In this land of titles I would also add Peacemaker to you because you explaining to the point of being understood. In that, real change takes place. Granted it takes Peacemakers on the other side to desire to understand, yet your efforts still foster respect and understanding.
I have only recently dived into the this world of LGBT (and
now ACES)(or is it LGBTQ?) to get a better understanding of issues and another slew of vocabulary like cisgender, queer, transman, transwoman, etc… (The Katie Curic
/ Natgeo special was a huge help).
In advance of all trolls from the cisgender,cishet, and intolerant religious (there’s an oxymoron!) I apologize for their ignorance and desires to remain ignorant. I also want to assure there are more of us who want to understand the issues of your community. We are trying to catch up and learning to be your advocates.
Oh my gosh. Lance, I want to print this comment out and wear it as a T-shirt. Thank you so much for leaving such a thoughtful and humble comment! It’s always so refreshing to find someone from “across the aisle”, so to speak, who is so open-minded and interested in learning more about unfamiliar topics. It’s so nice, truly, to know I’m not just shouting into a queer echo chamber. Preaching to the choir can feel good, but it doesn’t get us very far in the grand scheme of things, does it? :) I’m so glad you’re getting something out of the stuff I post here, and please always feel more than welcome to comment if you have questions or another perspective. The best ally is the one who wants to learn.
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