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.