My first steps in the asexual and aromantic communities

22 febrero 2019

This is my contribution for the February 2019 joint edition of the Carnival of Aces and the Carnival of Aros.

When I learned of asexuality, some terms like “allosexual” were not coined yet; we said plainly “sexual.” However, the split attraction model was developed, though unnamed, and the terms “heteroromantic,” “homoromantic,” “biromantic” and “aromantic” were in common use in the forums. I had my reservation with respect to being asexual, since I still hadn’t gotten the concept of sexual attraction, but the concept of aromanticism immediately made me identify with it, despite romantic attraction being a trickier concept than sexual attraction. For me, the split attraction model makes a lot of sense, even generalized to splitting also platonic attraction. I know that the attraction may be entangled for some people, like demisexuals and demiromantics, or even unsplit, but for me it works very well and we should not get rid such a useful tool.

I joined the asexual community with my reservations and, for a long time, there was no room for aromantics outside asexual spaces. We admitted there might be allosexual aromantics in the same way there are romantic asexuals, and even had our intuitions on how these people could be, but they were so unaware of their aromanticism as asexuals were of their asexuality before the community arose. They might deem themselves regular allosexuals of their own sexual orientation. They could be seen as heartless and commitment-scared by the romantic allosexuals, assuming universality of romance, but they didn’t have a community.

I remember a protest in AVEN for a space for aromantics in the same way the romantics had their own, which resulted in broadening the scope of certain subforum. Later there appeared forums for aromantics of all the sexual orientations, but I am still unaware of specifically aromantic in-person groups. In my experience, I meet other aromantics through the asexual community. It’s true that this way I meet aromantics that have more in common with me than aromanticism, but aromantic asexuals are still a minority within a minority. I still find denial of my aromanticism by romantic asexuals because of my platonic feelings. I still don’t know if asexual aromantics could feel alienated in general aromantic spaces if they evolved to not overrepresent the asexual because of historical reasons. I hope that initiatives like this new Carnival of Aros help the aromantic community.

A 10-year perspective

30 julio 2018

This is a contribution to July 2018 Carnival of Aces.

Next October it will be 10 years since I joined AVEN. The Spanish asexual community has changed a lot from then on, and also my personal circumstances. First, as one can check in my first posts in this blog, I was initially cautious about considering me asexual, identifying more with the grey label “hyposexual.” Only once I learnt what sexual attraction actually is, I could identify as asexual rather than grey. Nowadays there are better descriptions of what sexual attraction is, but the issue of having to describe something we don’t experience remains.

The asexual community in Spain, which back then was entirely in AVENes, was tiny because of the the lack of visibility and awareness among the Spanish asexuals. The international community was still centered around AVEN, but it was more dispersed than the Spanish one. I remember the forum Apositive and a pre-Tumblr asexual blogosphere. Indeed, it was my admiration for these few but worthy blogs what made me start one in Spanish. Nowadays there are a lot of blog on asexuality, especially on Tumblr, and I post mostly for this carnival in English.

There were offline meetups in Spain since I joined the asexual community, but they gathered very few people from remote towns. Nowadays there are plenty of meetups, mostly in towns with a group with regular meetups, as Madrid and Barcelona. But my impression is that the growth of the community in size has increased more the number of groups than their size. I relate this with a phenomenon observed by a meetup organizer: when the size of the group reaches a dozen, a unified conversation is not sustainable and the talk splits into two subgroups.

Nowadays, the role of AVENes has declined a lot, with a fragmentation of the community both in Spain and in Latin America. As it was observed by Chrysocolla Town, the Spanish-speaking asexual community has migrated to Facebook. So, the outlook of our online community is dominated by the use of third-party platforms. The preponderance of a central resource as AVENes has its drawbacks, but so does the preponderance of third-party services.

My view of asexual research

19 agosto 2017

Esta entrada es otra colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre la asexualidad y el mundo académico. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

Versión en español

When I entered the asexual community, I realized some facts I could check by my experience there. Some of these facts were supported by scientific research, but most were unresearched. In the first category we find the works of Storms and Diamond to which I have devoted my first contribution to this month’s edition of this carnival. The first work proposes a bidimensional model of sexual orientation that places asexuality as a fully legitimate sexual orientation. The second work supports the separation of sexual and romantic attraction, and even gives ground for explaining demisexuality. But most of the interesting conclusions of the asexual-community experience remain scientifically untested. Moreover, with the exception of Storms, who published in 1980, the rest of the scientific literature on asexuality is very recent and, in most cases, it comes to rediscover facts that are well known to the asexual community, even in weaker forms. It’s true that each scientific discipline has its research standards, and that passing from an empirical fact to a scientific truth takes its work, but good research should take into account the community experience, at the price of making up another theory of phlogiston.

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30 julio 2017

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, cuyo tema de este mes trata es Ace-ing it up offline. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

I envy those asexual people living in areas with regular meetups. I live in the middle of nowhere and I don’t have easy access to meetups. Since my beginning in AVEN, I was interested in meetups, and I was lucky to attend one in Madrid in my first half year in AVEN. Madrid has always been my reference for meetups, and I have attended a few there, but I have also dealt with the scarcity of AVENites in my area by arranging private meetings. These private meetings are not meetups as usual, but they’re meetings of only two AVENites, which allows a schedule fitter to the needs of both people. I have arranged such private meetings when I was going to visit towns where I knew a fellow AVENite was staying, so they depended on fortunate coincidences, and I’m lucky to say that they have always been successful. A disadvantage of these meetings over group meetups is that there’s more risk of not being chemistry between the two people, something that in a group meetup blurs, what makes them riskier to fail for incompatibility.

An issue in both kinds of meetings is how to recognize each other. I think it’s useful to exchange phone numbers and/or pictures (through private ways, or course) especially for the private meetings, apart of arranging a very specific place to meet. For group meetings the latter could be enough if the group is recognizable by any means like a flag. There are in AVEN safety guidelines which are advisable to follow especially in the first meetup, among which I would highlight the rule of staying in public spaces.

Another kind of meetups I have attended is the fortnightly meetings of the campus LGBT group. I was not out to them as asexual, but they were very accepting, since they’re a group that accepts straight and questioning people. These meetups were held in a corner of a gay bar, and were split into small groups, so I had the opportunity to talk with different people of the group each evening. For the first time, I contacted the group leaders and they met up with me in the same place half an hour before the rest of the people came, making it very welcoming.

When visiting a town for attending a meetup, I’ve had good experiences with pre-meetups and post-meetups. In pre-meetups, people coming early for the main meetup met the evening before. In post-meetups, people in the main meetup arranged an extension of the meetup for the next day. Also the International Conference of Asexuality, held this month in Madrid, despite not being a meetup, allowed to meet AVENites and to arrange pre-meetups.

Though I’m not out in general, when you meet up with an asexual person or group, it happens the miracle that, inside this circle, you are all out without having to come out and, if you have to do any explanation, you are understood because you share the terminology. This happens too, though at a lower level, in the LGBT meetups where I was not out as asexual.

Heterogeneity in the asexual community

6 enero 2017

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre diferentes formas de ser asexual. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval, pero hay una traducción aquí.

Despite not being two similar asexuals, even within subcategories, I still notice a great divide between romantics and aromantics. Although the border between both is blurred, existing a wide and diverse grey zone, I still find useful the distinction between romantics and aromantics. Whilst the divide between asexual with and without libido, which completed the now-obsolete ABCD model, deals with more private issues, the divide about romantic attraction has to do with the way the asexuals behave socially, especially about pairing off. We deal with very different societal pressures. In my first asexual meet-up, the host said in the introduction “I assume you all have sexual experience,” to which I replied “No, I don’t, and I’ve never felt pressured into it.” The point was that I was the only aromantic at the meet-up, and this made my experiences around sex very different to others’. Although there are people who, being aromantic in ignorance, succumbed to the pressure to pair off and so had to bear the pressure to have sex too, most experiences I’ve heard from asexuals could be roughly classified as, either happily single and celibate, or with couple issues around sex. Each group use to feel only one of the two aforesaid societal pressures, with exceptions. For instance, some happily single guys, once accepted as confirmed bachelors, feel pressure to get laid.

Contrary to the divide discussed in the previous paragraph, which can be recognized from the asexual’s story, there is another piece of information that should be provided in order to know where the asexual comes from and how society treat them: the so-called sex assigned at birth. I don’t mean the gender identity, which is stated in the user’s profile, but the sex assigned at birth, the socially recognized, especially by the most conservative ones, unless they go stealth. Whilst gender identity is necessary for politely addressing the other users, the sex assigned at birth is necessary for properly understanding the societal reactions and giving better advice. The more conservative the society where the asexual lives, the more relevant their sex-at-birth is. I am a cis guy, thus I state so in my profile. If I were trans and felt mislabeled by my sex-at-birth, I would consider using a formula in my profile that let other users know. But, recalling the previous month’s topic, it’s a matter of personal privacy to decide what data to share online.

Despite, their usefulness at introductions, the aforesaid categories are not clear cut, since Natura non facit saltus [Nature doesn’t make jumps]. We should not replace a homogeneous stereotype of asexuality with a discrete set of them, since it would be the same mistake at another level. I want to end with some words from Kinsey Report:

The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories. Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon-holes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning human sexual behavior, the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex.

PS. Another divide, in this case inside the romantic community, is discussed in this post at A Life Unexamined. Roughly speaking, it divides between aros driven to couplehood or driven to singlehood. The stereotype of aromantics I mentioned would correspond to those driven to singlehood. Anyway, its author’s conclusion is similar to mine.

A good ally

24 septiembre 2014

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval. Esta entrada va dedicada a un aliado de la comunidad asexual hispana.

When reading the call for submissions for September’s Carnival of Aces, whose topic is allies, I couldn’t help remembering Jose Cabrera, a bisexual activist and ally of the Spanish-language asexual community who blogs at La Radical Bi (in Spanish) about any minority marginalized for their sex, gender, orientation or combination thereof, including asexuals and intersexuals. He was an active member of AVENes around the time I was most active there, and he had a bidirectional communication with the asexual community. He asked to and learnt from the asexuals in order to educate both himself, the LGBT community and the open-minded public. He also informed the asexuals about queer topics that might be of their interest. I’ve known other LGBT activists doing these things, but they were asexuals themselves, so they don’t count as allies but as members. Therefore he is the only ally of the asexual community I’ve known, and he happens to be a good ally.

The asexual community in Spanish language

3 junio 2011

Este entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs sobre la intersección entre la asexualidad y la raza, cultura o nacionalidad. Escribo en inglés porque el objetivo de esta entrada es explicar a la comunidad asexual internacional las particularidades de la subcomunidad en lengua española.

I belong to the asexual community since 2008, when I started considering asexuality as a possibility for my sexual orientation. Now I identify as aromantic asexual and no longer take part in the forums, but I took part for long enough to compare the asexual communities in Spanish and in English. The greatest difference between them is that the macro forum of AVEN is exclusive of the community in English. There exists AVENes, the subsidiary of AVEN in Spanish, but it is much smaller. Its size and sex-positivity makes AVENes closer to Apositive than to AVEN. As far as I know, Apositive was founded because of a strongly anti-sexual current of opinion that dominated AVEN at the time of the foundation. Another thing I like about AVENes is that the Just For Fun subforum is small, not as in AVEN, where its bullshit overflows in such a way that one may forget that it is a forum on asexuality. The drawback of such a small community is that it is difficult to have subcommunities large enough to deal with the intersection of asexuality with, say, transgender or autism.

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