I don’t understand why love and inclusivity aren’t the norm

This is something I posted on tumblr just now, that I am posting here as well in case I ever need to access it again. I included my tumblr tags at the bottom.


 

I legit do not understand the pushback against het aces, any more than I understand the pushback against aces in general. But then, there’s a lot I don’t understand about the pushback on basically anyone.

I think what I don’t get the most is why anyone at all (but especially anyone whose gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, ancestry or ethnicity, etc, is something that is not the “default” or “universally accepted” in their context or culture) build their little boxes and tell other people NO YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO FEEL THE THINGS! YOU DON’T HAVE AS MANY BAD THINGS AS I HAVE SO ONLY I CAN FEEL THE THINGS!

It’s mind boggling to me. We are human beings. We are complex. We have life experiences and opinions and hopes and dreams and situations and environments and illnesses and disabilities and mental illnesses and mental challenges and socioeconomic situations and nationalities and ancestries and religions and so many other things, that all build together to make us who we are as individuals.

No matter how a person was born, it does not mean they have no right to feelings nor that they suddenly stop being a human being nor that their life experiences couldn’t have included trauma which manifests in a variety of ways nor that they couldn’t have lived a life free of trauma. No single piece of them being something unexpected or something that someone else doesn’t understand doesn’t invalidate anything about them.

Complexity is not something to fear, it’s something to embrace.

And measuring a person solely on the negative experiences makes no sense to me. YOU DIDN’T HAVE ALL THE TRAUMA IN YOUR BACKGROUND? THEN YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY FEELS. ONLY PEOPLE WHO ARE TRAUMATIZED CAN HAVE HUMAN EMOTIONS! That thought process is so bizarre to me. Telling someone they can’t feel bad because someone else had it worse is like telling someone they can’t be happy because someone else might be happier. Really? So we can only exist in a constant flux of comparisons relative to those around us? Is there a finite amount of human emotion allowed in this world and we’re supposed to divvy it up based on what other people assume about each other and not based on our natural human reactions to our natural human lives?

Trying to tell another person they aren’t allowed to feel a certain way or identify a certain way or react a certain way makes absolutely no sense to me. How do you know what their life experiences were? How do you know the context of their situation? How do you know all the reasons, big and small, that led to them being where they are, and identifying how they identify, and believing what they believe? How can you be so certain that your experience is so much more valid than theirs, by judging them based on one or two aspects of their holistic self?

Does skin tone alone, across the entire world, mean every single person with that skin tone is going to live the exact same life and have the exact same experiences and know the exact same people and have the exact same thoughts and follow the exact same belief system and like the exact same people and things? Of course not. Same with sexual orientations, gender identities, and so much more beyond that.

I just don’t understand. And I especially don’t understand why people feel the need to do to others what they say has been done to them. Isn’t that all the more reason to show empathy and compassion? Isn’t that all the more reason to be inclusive? And yet I feel like the places that are designed to be “most inclusive” tend to be the most exclusive of them all, with the little boxes some communities build and defend as if their identity is threatened by the very idea of something that doesn’t quite jive.

But to me, that is akin to the people who say they’re against gay marriage because they think it threatens marriage as an institution. If your marriage is so fragile that someone else’s happiness, completely and totally unrelated to your own, could somehow break it apart, then perhaps your marriage needs attention on its own because that is very worrisome.

And if your identity is so threatened by other people identifying in a way that is separate from your own, then that is also very worrisome, and I hope you have time to do some soul-searching and come to terms with who you are and find confidence in it, because trying to tell other people how to feel or how to act or how to identify won’t help you in determining those answers for yourself. So please stop trying to project your insecurities on others; it’s unhealthy for you and I worry for you, and it’s upsetting for the recipients and I worry for them. Everyone is wonderful as-is and no one should feel unsettled or insecure or unwanted or unaccepted simply by being who they are. Simply by becoming the person they were born to be.

I wish people would love each other and themselves more, and stop finding reasons to disengage. This world is beautiful and so are its people in all their complexity. And one of the most rewarding parts of being a human being is our ability to connect with other human beings; to overcome barriers in order to find common understanding, and to work together to make the world a better place than how we found it. Negativity and exclusivity are never the answer; people shouldn’t be demonized for displaying them because they have their own life experiences that led to them reacting that way, but ultimately that negativity and exclusivity is simply a hurdle on the journey to a more holistic, inclusive life. It isn’t the end of a story; it’s only the beginning. And the more we can all work a little harder to remember that the person on the other side of that conversation, or insult, or difficult topic, or screen, is another human being just like us, then the more we can work collectively toward a day where people aren’t told they aren’t allowed to feel a certain way or exist a certain way simply because somebody else doesn’t understand it.

 

Asexuality + crushes — Tell us a story – can be real, or fictional, about queer romance

See an explanation for the context of this post here.

Tell us a story – can be real, or fictional, about queer romance

One time someone asked me, “How does it work to be asexual? Do you never have crushes?” and this is the story I told them as the best personal example I could give.

If I were to have a type, for whatever reason it seems to be baristas. Even if I meet a girl completely unrelated to a coffee shop, if I like her and then talk to her I end up finding out she is or was a barista. Everything else about my crushes changes: from body shape, race, style, age, personality, interests, etc.

The thing with me is I instantly know if I like someone or not. It’s like love at first sight, I guess, except without any expectations.

There was this girl in her 20’s who was a barista at a coffee shop I frequented. I freaking loved her. She was funny, smart, beautiful, super talented in a variety of ways, and I loved how her personality came out in her clothing style. I can chat with anyone on any stupid topic but when it came to her, I wanted to talk more and more. And as my infatuation with her grew in those conversations with every new piece I learned about her, I came to have what I felt to be embarrassingly obvious reactions. I would start to blush, and then kind of stutter a bit, maybe ramble, and definitely joke even more than normal.

I always think I’m being ridiculously obvious in these rare crush cases but then later find out I wasn’t obvious at all. I guess it’s because I’m so rarely interested in anyone that, to me, having that interest is already monumental. It makes me feel like surely everyone else must know from a mile away. With her, I wasn’t sure if she knew I liked her and I was afraid to be overt.

Thing is, I have shit for gaydar. Like seriously, I rarely know if someone’s gay and it’s even worse with ladies. Which is a real pain as a lesbian. If someone isn’t wearing a shirt that says, “WHY HELLO I AM A LESBIAN AND I AM INTERESTED IN YOU OHOHO :D” then I basically have no clue. So after a while of going to that coffee shop once or twice a day to get a chai or iced tea, talking to her every chance I got and utterly failing at figuring out her sexual orientation but utterly succeeding in becoming more smitten with her, I finally started doing that dorky thing where I whispered to friends about this barista I liked but I didn’t know if she was gay.

My straight female friend, hilariously enough, has fantastic gaydar. So I brought her with me one day and asked her afterward. She said her gaydar was a little mixed on the woman. So then I asked all my lesbian friends, and convinced one of them to stop by the coffee shop one day and see. She also tried, and came back and said she wasn’t sure.

This went on for some time, with me getting increasingly giddy when I saw the woman. I mean, I felt my cheeks heat, I felt butterflies in my stomach, I didn’t want to stop talking to her even if it was the most inane of conversations. I found myself thinking about her even when I wasn’t at the cafe. I wanted to know more about her, I thought about how cool it would be if I could go out with her, or how awesome it would be if we could move in together eventually because I could also meet the pets she talked about. I thought about whether she liked to travel and if she would ever want to travel with me, and all the places we could go. I wondered if she could teach me how to customize clothes like she did for herself.

Things like that. It didn’t even matter if we talked. I just liked the idea of being able to spend any time with her.

I wanted to know whatever she was comfortable telling me because I liked everything I knew about her, even the things she might have expected people not to accept, like when she mentioned she had depression and ADHD. To me, they were simply facets of her beauty. It only made me want to know more.

This makes me sound like a stalker, but I swear I wasn’t. It was simply that I had such strong admiration for her that I felt like she was a story I could read every day for the rest of my life, and still find something new and exciting on the next page.

After weeks of this, and at the height of my giddiness, one day I stopped by again. In the process of talking to her about some topic I don’t even remember, she gave me her Facebook name. I had tried searching for her on google and Facebook already, hoping I could at least solve the question of whether she was gay or not, but I hadn’t gotten anywhere in my initial search and I wasn’t interested in becoming a total creeper so I stopped and figured I’d see if she ever was open to telling me, herself. So when she gave me her Facebook information, I was ecstatic. Finally! I would know if she was even gay, because so many women I had liked in the past weren’t.

When I pulled up her Facebook page, I was really excited to know a little more about her, like the sorts of things that interested her enough for her to post, or if she had any funny pictures of her and her friends, or if I could see her pets, or–

The first thing I saw stopped all the questions.

She was gay, definitely. I knew this because she was married to another woman. Their wedding pictures were all over her Facebook, and they were beautiful. Her wife looked really nice, and they seemed really happy.

Instantly, all that giddiness, that interest, that heat I’d had before– vanished. Completely disappeared. It’s like someone dropped a wall between me and it, and every piece of it was gone. There was literally no transition. I went from, “OMG SO EXCITED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HER I KEEP THINKING ABOUT HER CAN’T STOP” to “What? I know her?” in a second.

I still thought she was an awesome person, I still thought she was talented, but any and every bit of romantic interest in her vanished because I knew it would never happen. She was with someone else. That was all I needed to know. I was no longer interested or intrigued.

The next day I walked into the coffee shop, curious to see if I would still blush and maybe ramble. I was a little worried that I would have to lay off the coffee shop for a while so I wouldn’t bug her while I transitioned. But to my relief, that feeling didn’t resurface at all, not even when I saw her. I felt toward her the same way I felt toward all the other baristas: I liked her as a person, I joked around with her about stupid things, but when I got my chai and we were done chatting I said goodbye and left without looking back.

I never once thought of her after seeing her Facebook, except the way I would with any other barista there. After that, when I went in and saw someone else working I didn’t find a way to squeeze in casually asking if she was there/when she’d work next. Because it no longer mattered. It was cool if I saw her, but totally cool if I didn’t.

From what I understand from other people, or at least the way things seem to be represented in a lot of media, that is perhaps the difference between at least the way I am as an asexual, and the way other people might function who aren’t asexual. I’ve always gotten the impression that it’s much more difficult for others to turn off their feelings.

It seems like there’s a trope where people can’t turn off their love even when finding out someone is otherwise engaged, and they fantasize about stealing them. For me, there is no way I would have interest in interfering. Even assuming I still had feelings, why would I ever try to break up someone else’s happiness for something as selfish as my own? Especially since I would never be happy if she wasn’t happy. It just feels completely illogical and pointless to me. Which is probably what’s at the heart of it: I may feel the emotions deeply, but ultimately they are still immutably tied into logic in my mind.

But if she hadn’t been married/with someone else, and if she had been interested in me, I would have devoted myself to her for as long as she wanted me. I would have developed a loyalty that would mean I would never have any interest in straying or betraying her, because she was all I wanted and all I needed.

For me, it’s like a switch. I can’t control if it’s turned on, and I can’t control if it’s turned off, but that stark dichotomy between being supremely interested and utterly disinterested definitely exists. And if something occurs where I realize it’s not to be between us, that switch is thrown and every extra feeling I had is completely gone. I couldn’t recreate that same heated giddiness with her if I tried. Any more than I could make myself be romantically interested in someone I didn’t have an instant connection with the first time I met them.

Maybe it actually is exactly this same way with everyone else, at which point this isn’t a very good story to use as an example. But if this is not the way it works for you when you are romantically interested in someone, and if you wondered what it means to be asexual– then, for me, the story of the barista I adored until I found out she was married is the best way I can explain.

Tell us about your book(s) – belated QRM bonus

In October 2015 I contributed to Queer Romance Month with my post, The Equality of Differences, talking about how I’ve always felt like an alien on Earth because so much of who I am naturally is not “normal” for most people. At that time, QRM offered an option for “mini-interviews” that participating writers like me could do– they gave us 10 questions, told us to choose a few and answer them, then get them to QRM and they would share them on other blogs.

I ended up choosing some questions and answering them, but then not participating in actually sharing them. I had planned to post the Q&As on my blog but then I don’t think I ever did. I remembered it just now because of one of the questions and answers I did, and how it could pertain to a recent request for help from a friend.

I’m splitting this into different posts because they’re totally different topics.


 

Tell us about your book(s)

If anyone knows my name at all even vaguely, they probably know me because I’m half the writing duo behind the m/m series called In the Company of Shadows (first book is called Evenfall). You can find more information about it here, if you want: http://aisylum.com/project/icos/. It’s a long ass series, and you can download the whole thing for free.

But since ICoS has been around for years and I don’t want to spoil anyone on anything in it, what I’d rather talk about are stories I’m working on now, specifically a fantasy book I’m writing that I first started when I was around 13. I wrote 150 pages in it, decided it was crap, started over, didn’t like the direction I was going, and then shelved it. Over the years, I brought it out and worked on it for a bit, then set it aside for years, then started the cycle over.

By now, it’s much more complicated than it was in the original version. And there are some pretty funny things that happened along the way. For example, the girl who was the main character of the original version, who was basically the typical hero, is now a side character who is technically a bad guy. But her plot hasn’t changed at all; it’s simply all in the context used to tell her story.

For me, the world is filled with shades of grey. I think people use that term to sometimes imply some sort of lawless, faithless land; like the Wild West of morality. But to me, all the greatest beauties in the world are in that space where everything blends together and there is no hard and fast rule for what is good or bad. I don’t really believe in the idea of true good and true evil; I believe in the concept that people are people, and they do what seems right to them based on their life experiences and their motivations, and from one angle a person can be a saint and from another a devil. Because life is all about the POV you’re using to interpret reality.

That’s something that will come up, to an extent, in the book– simply in the process of telling the stories of the characters and the plot. As for how this is relevant to queer romance, when thinking of stories I go with what naturally happens when creating the characters and considering how they would react to different things or how they might naturally progress as a person. This includes helping me realize what their sexuality is. In the case of this book and the characters who populate it, it just so happens that there will be people who are straight, gay, lesbian, pansexual, possibly asexual, and one of the main characters is agender or trans. I’m looking forward to a lot of their stories and hope, when I finish the book and release it, others will like what they see. Until then, I don’t want to say too much.

If you’re interested in this book, I will definitely post more as I get closer to finishing. I’ve set myself the goal that I should finish the book by my next birthday, so it should hopefully be done by Spring 2016. I will post about it in various places online, so check out how to contact or follow me here: http://aisylum.com/about/contact/ 

2014 DC Evenfall Q&A – SPOILERS PAST EVENFALL, post 2 of 2

Please reference this post for a full explanation of this. This is regarding ICoS.

SPOILERS PAST EVENFALL BELOW!!! BEWARE!! Read with caution! There could be spoilers as far as the end of Fade!

This is the second section of the Q&A Santino and I did on our S&A GR group in September 2014. This is the section with all the spoilers past Evenfall. ONCE AGAIN – BEWARE SPOILERS!!

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2014 DC Evenfall Q&A – EVENFALL SPOILERS ONLY, post 1 of 2

Back in September 2014, in honor of our release of the Director’s Cut of Evenfall (volumes I and II), Santino and I decided to do a massive Q&A on our Santino & Ais Goodreads group. You can find the thread here, but you have to be a member of the group to access the page.

Recently on tumblr, I was asked if there was a way to share Q&A material somewhere that was accessible to people who didn’t have Goodreads accounts and therefore could not join that group. I have split the Q&A into two posts to stay in line with the way the Q&A was split up on that thread: the first section, this post you are reading, contains only spoilers for Evenfall. The second section, this linked post, contains spoilers past Evenfall so you should proceed with caution if you are not finished with the series.

There are two places in this section where there is a reference to something in Fade, and although it does not give specifics I still put it between **SPOILER** notes in case anyone wants to be very careful and skip those parts.

MAJOR THANKS to everyone who participated in the Q&A in 2014, and an especially huge thanks to Lenore, who took a lot of her own time and energy to compile all the questions that were asked and get them to Santino and me, and then she also organized the questions and posted it on our S&A group. Lenore, you are a legend. Thank you!

All the questions and answers are below a cut for length and so that anyone who has not even finished Evenfall will not see spoilers.

For anyone who may stumble upon this post and be very confused: All of this is regarding the series Santino and I wrote, called In the Company of Shadows.

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