Writing From Factor X

June 26, 2011

On Community

This post was originally written for the Carnival of Aces. This month’s prompt is “community.” 

When I first saw that Siggy had chosen the topic of community for this month’s carnival, I was excited. I could do this one! I’d been meaning to write a post about community anyway!  I could share my feelings about how important community is to me!

And then I promptly got distracted and forgot to actually write the post for several weeks. Whoops. (In fairness, I am less late than I have been with the two other carnivals I’ve written things for, when I ended up writing posts on the evening before. I’m not great with deadlines.)

The thing is, I think community is really, really important. Especially if, as with asexuality, you’re banding together around an identity that’s generally rendered invisible in every aspect of our lives. When you’re dealing with people telling you all the time that you can’t exist, it can be lifesaving to have people who not only say “yes, you are real,” but “and I’m the same way.”

I’ve gained a lot from interacting with asexual communities over the years. Just the knowledge that I’m not alone is very important to me. I can’t stress that enough; knowing you’re not the only one out there

But it’s stronger than that. It’s things like–when I was beginning to figure out what I wanted in terms of relationships, when I was confused and upset and trying to understand what I wanted, I had people who would tell me that it was okay, they wanted that too. And I had people explaining what they wanted when I asked, and trying to explain what they felt when I asked to know that, and telling me that however I ended up it was okay. Even when I didn’t ask, reading the explanations other people wrote of the kinds of relationships they wanted and didn’t want helped me to understand what I wanted, too.

When I’ve said I’m scared for my future, people have crowded around to tell me they understand, they’re scared too. Or that they’re optimistic that things will get better. Or even just that they hear my pain, they acknowledge it, and they wish the world was a better place.

When some asshole on the Internet says something nasty about asexuals, I know that I’m not the only person who will stand up for us. When I complain about being depicted as sociopaths in media, I know that other people will band around me to share in my anger, and when I’ve needed to vent about experiences that have left my hands shaking and barely holding back tears, I have had people who will bandy around me and tell me that what happened was wrong, but not my fault.

Community is important. Standing up for each other is important. Alone, I am easily ignored; with community standing behind me, we can begin to change the world a tiny bit.

When the Ace Admiral wrote this post about responsibility for one another some months ago, I nearly applauded before I remembered I was sitting at a laptop. Because I fundamentally agree with the central argument of the post: we have a duty to one another. Not a duty that asks for more than we can give, no. But I think that we owe it to each other to pay support forward at least a little. And I think we have an obligation to help each other as best we can.

One of my primary goals in creating this space is to try to engender a sense of community in the asexual/aromantic blogosphere. It’s why I run linkspams: I want everyone’s voices to be heard, not just a few voices. It’s why I started the Carnival of Aces to begin with–I wanted to come up with a way to encourage people to start sharing their thoughts. It’s why I’m experimenting with open threads right now. I want people to discuss their problems and feel comfortable bouncing ideas off each other and find support with each other. I want people to feel comfortable writing their own blogs or sharing their experiences or speaking their minds in any format they like.

And I want them to have different spaces to have those discussions in. I am a big believer in decentralized communities and having multiple spaces devoted to particular topics. I’ve seen many new community types spring up in the past year, from vlogs like HPOA to a slew of new blogs in the blogosphere to the active Tumblr scene to at least three or four new forums. Having a lot of different spaces to interact with serves a variety of purposes. Some people are more comfortable interacting with people in some formats than others; I, for example, really dislike dealing with video, so spaces that are more text-oriented work much better for me. And the different cultures that form in different spaces even within the same medium can create niches for different people.

I’d like to see more kinds of spaces for asexuals yet. I’d like to see more offline spaces, just for starters. Most of all, though, what I want to see is asexual communities decentralizing. I’ve seen communities take huge, bounding steps in this direction in the past year, and that fills me with joy. Because here’s the thing: Lots of smaller communities are more likely to be able to serve everyone, or almost everyone, than one big community.

6 Comments »

  1. *applauds*

    I think many, if not most, asexuals are hungry for community. When I started my Aces United group back in March, I wasn’t sure if there was much point to starting a meetup in Raleigh. Imagine my surprise when four people signed up immediately. I got busy with moving and other life stuff and we didn’t meet again until June and *gasp* PEOPLE STARTED EMAILING ME ASKING WHEN THE NEXT MEET UP WAS. To date, 15 people have joined, although not everybody has made it to an actual meet-up, and some of my non-ace friends have met some of them, and a good time was had by all.

    On the other hand, I gave up my Examiner.com column because they wanted me to write about local events and other than things set up by me, there was nothing local to write about 😦 And my rabbi has agreed to include information on asexuality in a seminar about LGBT issues but he doesn’t want me to present it because he’s concerned about me feeling comfortable in the congregation afterward, and I have no idea where I’m going to find anyone else willing to do it.

    Anyway, I think as asexuality becomes more visible, there will be more local communities and more offline communities.

    Comment by Shula Asher Silberstein — June 26, 2011 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

    • PS This post reminds me, Sciatrix, do you want to write a blog for my Asexual Awareness Week blog carnival?

      Comment by Shula Asher Silberstein — June 26, 2011 @ 12:02 pm | Reply

    • I have no idea what’s been up with my moderation system lately. *grumbles at it*

      I’m really thrilled to hear that your Raleigh meet-up project has been a success! I keep meaning to try to do something similar in my city, but I honestly don’t have the spoons right now, particularly not since I anticipate moving next year. Maybe after I move.

      Ah, I wondered what was up with the Examiner project! Yeaaaah, local events + asexuality is… not a promising intersection to try to base a column on. 😦 Er, on the presentation–is there someone else from your meetup group who wouldn’t mind, or does he want a congregant to do it? I don’t really see why you can’t present it if it’s something you’d feel comfortable doing, though.

      (Sure, I’d be happy to try to come up with something to contribute–what’s the topic, exactly?)

      Comment by Sciatrix — June 26, 2011 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

      • Eh, I think my rabbi’s afraid that if some ignorant person gets up and says, “Have you seen a doctor about your lack of interest in sex” or something, I’m going to get offended and never come back, and he doesn’t want that, so he refuses to let me do the presentation. So far I’ve had no luck getting anyone else to do it, but we’ll see.

        As far as the blog carnival I’m doing goes, it’s pretty open-ended. I’m going to be targeting bloggers in the LGBT, mental health, sex education and sex positivity fields to host blogs, but as long as what you’re writing is marginally related to one of these fields, it’ll work.

        Comment by Shula Asher Silberstein — July 3, 2011 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

        • Ooooh, I can do that–actually, I can do at least two of those pretty effectively if you count autism-related issues in with mental health, maybe three as I’ve already written one paper on asexuality as it relates to sex education. Drop me a comment or send me an email when you’re ready to start accepting submissions and I’ll come up with a piece!

          Comment by Sciatrix — July 3, 2011 @ 6:26 pm | Reply

  2. […] Building this community.  I talked about targeting specific communities, but what about targeting the ace community itself?  The community is really important. […]

    Pingback by Do the activism that suits you | The Asexual Agenda — April 4, 2014 @ 2:53 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: