Carnival of Aces – Guest post

This is an anonymous post I recieved for October’s Carnival of Aces.

I identify as asexual. I also happen to work in a church. My experiences in the church are wide and varied for a number of reasons, but let’s start with my faith background. I grew up in a Lutheran church and was involved in a large part of the music ministry at my home church. In middle school and high school I went to a Quaker music camp, and was exposed to the value of silent meditation and prayer. A number of my good friends from high school are Quaker, and while I cannot truly switch to Quakerism due to my own worship preferences, I have learned a lot from Quaker meetings and readings. When I went to college, I started subbing at various churches as an organist. During my junior year, I landed an organ scholar position at an Episcopal church with a rich tradition of choral music and what people would term “high church” practices. It was during that time that I realized how much value a ritual could have if the one performing the ritual truly understood the meaning behind it. It was also during college that I started to identify as asexual. Growing up, I was taught that sex was not something to be afraid of or ashamed of; rather, it was a gift from God. …Just not a gift I wanted to participate in. This was a point of frustration for me because I couldn’t wrap my head around why people wanted to do it, and that made it harder to relate to people on something that seemed to be so basic. And sex was discussed in the Episcopal church quite a bit.Since then, I’ve found ways to understand that sex is something that most people participate in and enjoy, but it is certainly not required to be a happy human being. However, it’s easy for people to just assume that it’s part of everyone’s lives, present or future, especially where procreation is the goal. At my current church (Presbyterian), I witnessed a couple of older ladies wishing “Happy Mother’s Day” to a high schooler who wasn’t pregnant or in a romantic relationship. I was shocked to hear this and to learn that the reason they said that was because she would most likely be a mother someday. (And oh yes, they tried to wish me the same. I was NOT pleased.) Belonging and community are incredibly important, and churches are, at their core, a social construct. But what if you feel you don’t belong? That you don’t have a community? That you aren’t even welcome? When you’re questioning your sexuality, this is especially sensitive. The smallest gesture or kind word can mean the world to people, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in working in the church it’s that it gives you many opportunities to work with all SORTS of people.This past summer I was in Boston for the American Guild of Organists’ National Convention, and we were hopping around various churches in the city. (BEAUTIFUL city by the way, I had never been there before.) One of these venues was Old South Church on Copley Square. When I entered I grabbed a postcard (of course) and each of the pamphlets they had about the history of the church, the windows, and the music ministry. And then I saw a pamphlet that had various words strewn about the cover; one of those was asexual! Curious, I picked it up; it had everything from gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, transgender, to questioning, straight, ally, and beyond, and at the bottom of the cover, it said “God loves you.” I was moved almost to tears because I had never seen anything like it, something that encompassed (or tried to anyway) all facets of the spectrum of sexuality. It didn’t matter what you identified as, or even if you were questioning at all. There was no judging, no shunning, just… “God loves you”. I have that pamphlet perched on a shelf in my office. And that’s really what it comes down to for me. I could talk for hours about my experiences as an ace in the field of church music. What I have written above only has the barebones of a structure, but ultimately, I see myself as a child of God. Being asexual is just one part of that.

Becoming Vegan

I’m not good at letting go. I know I’ve said this before, but I always struggle with change. I collect things. I collect lots of useless things because I don’t want to throw away a part of my life. I collect mugs, tea cups, toilet paper and tissues, badges, food packets, books I’ve never read, rubbers, pencils, socks, shirts that no longer fit… I have the same three posters on my wall since five years ago. I still always pick the same colour toothbrush. And yet again I have come to a point in my life where I have to change. It’s a positive change, but I’m still scared. But I’m going to do this. I know the younger version of me would be proud of my choice. I’m going to become vegan.

I’m writing this post now because I have failed myself. I decided to stop eating meat and fish before dealing with the eggs and lactic products (did you know some people are addicted to cheese?). I thought it would be much harder than it was, but I managed to maintain my composure in front of the delicious food I could no longer eat during three weeks. On the first day of the fourth week, my sister’s boyfriend made sushi. I had informed him earlier about my new eating habits, so he kindly made some maki with vegetables for me. And then I saw the salmon. I told myself to ignore it and just eat what I could eat. I tried to focus on the rice and soya sauce, but I couldn’t look away. I love the salmon’s colour, its texture, its taste. I reminded myself of the moral reasons of why I became vegetarian and promised myself I wouldn’t touch it. But then I looked up and when I saw nobody was looking, I darted my chopsticks towards the sushi and swallowed it down. And another. And yet another. I never remember feeling so ashamed of myself in my whole entire life. To punish myself I swallowed some wasabi. I screamed a swearword in my head and excused myself from the table as soon as I finished eating. What’s worse is that I ate the salmon because nobody was looking. I ignored the pain and life of the animal that had been murdered and acted upon my own selfish desires. I was much more worried about what the other people would think of me than the morals behind my initial decision.

But I’ll try again. And again. And as many times as I need to until I finally manage. I won’t succumb again to the power of the tastiness of salmon. Becoming vegan will be a process for me, a goal that will need a lot of strength and will-power. But I know it’s worth it and I know I want to do it. I know I can do it if I keep that in mind.

I promise it won't happen again.

I promise it won’t happen again.

Carnival of Aces: Call for Submissions

This month I will be hosting the Carnival of Aces! For details on the Carnival of Aces you can check out the details here.

Having in mind that lately there has been talk in the ace community about the connections between religion and asexuality, I thought it would be a good idea if this month’s Carnival of Aces was related. So I chose the theme Religion and Asexuality. Alternatively Atheism and Asexuality for those who prefer to talk about it from another point of view.

Spade recently made a post which listed a set of links written by religious people that talk about asexuality and their experiences as an asexual in religious spaces, but it would be great if we could hear more about other’s perspectives on this topic.

Do you find any connection between your religion and your asexual identity? You might want to write about your own experiences as a religious person in asexual spaces, or as an asexual in religious spaces.

Submissions in any form are welcome (written, drawn, audio, video, etc.). To submit you can comment below with a link or email me at . Guess posts are also welcome!

Good luck to everyone!

Walk your talk

I haven’t visited the internet for two weeks –unless it was homework related-. I finally started University on the 15th of September, and can successfully now call myself a college student. I was hoping to go to a big campus like my sister does, but I had to go for a private design school since it was one of the few places that offered the course I was interested in. Anyhow, I got in without breaking a sweat: I got a mark of 9/10 on my entrance exams when the standard mark was only a five (which kind of makes me worry about the level of the school).

The first week I hardly had any classes. The first day we got a guided tour around the area, which was completely useless considering I’ve had a guided tour three times, and then an inaugural speech. I didn’t realise it was only an inspirational speech until halfway through, which had me panicking the first forty minutes when I could see that I didn’t understand the main topic of the act. Great way to start off. The next four days of the week we met our teachers and classmates. I’ve somehow become the voice of reason of my class since I always knew where we were supposed to be and was the only one who managed to ask questions and speak up publicly. I think at least ten people have come up to me already and asked what the teacher’s name is / what homework we have to do / what materials we have to bring to class.

I have a tendency to talk more than usual when I’m new somewhere. I adopt a calm and collected air that has me become the gateway between other people. When everyone is sitting silent and nervously in a room I’ll always manage to talk until everyone becomes comfortable with each other. The problem is that once my task is over, I disappear into thin air and take a seat in the back rows (metaphorically speaking, I love being in first row of the class). Making the most of my momentary attitude, I decided that it would be a good time to find some friends and get to know people.

Unfortunately, my confidence boost doesn’t offer any social ease, so I am currently having what I refer to as a “social breakdown”. I made sure I got the house all to myself this weekend and won’t be talking to or seeing anyone in two days and a half. Just enough time to recover and start off fresh on Monday.

However, what did come alongside my change of attitude were my new year’s goals. I make these when school starts, instead of when it is actually New Year, since I’m most likely to make them last longer. I actually don’t really make a big fuss over Christmas or New Years Eve. Last year I nearly even forgot it was Christmas day. So the whole idea of starting over on the first day of January doesn’t really make sense to me.

This year I’ve aimed for things that I really really want to maintain, even if they are hard. Here’s my list:

  • Study more. I got through high school without hardly having to open a book; it wasn’t difficult but of course this means that my marks could have been higher if I had tried. College isn’t high school. It’s expensive and it’s the start of my future, the foundations of the rest of my life. If I want to be successful and have a job I like and a house I can call home, I need to get rid of my laziness once and for all. Images of Hermione Granger and Alex from Modern Family keep appearing in my head. They’ll be my role models this year.
  • Become vegan. After finding out that P was vegan, I became sort of uncomfortable eating sushi with salmon in front of them. After some time this feeling turned into guilt and I became extremely sensitive to animal’s rights. I feel like a horrible person every time I eat meat or wear my gorgeous leather boots, but I decided it was time to become vegan when I fainted in the butchers’ after seeing all of the meat. I’ll write a post about this one day, so I don’t want to say too much now.
  • Stop spending so much time on the internet. Enough said.
  • Be creative. I have been very creative this summer. For a couple of years I’ve been wanting to make a big sandcastle, build an amazing Lego house, play with play doe, etc. ; all which I have done in the past month. I love creating things and want to be able to make time for more things like these. Hopefully I’ll be able to relate them somehow with my studies? Who knows, maybe I’ll have to do a project that requires the skill of someone who has made the Eiffel Tower out of wax.
  • Finish the Senbazuru. I write this down on my list every year, and still having completed it. It only means I have to make a thousand origami cranes, I should really get on with it.

And that’s about it. If I add more it will turn out to be more like a bucket list than goals, so I’ve ended it here. I probably won’t be around so much anymore, but I’ll try to keep the schedule of one post a week. Oh, and it’s my turn to host the Carnival of Aces next month, so I’ll write something about that on October the first. See you until then!


(Intent of) Explaining My Gender and Preferred Pronouns

I’ve been asked twice this week whether I will start taking hormones soon or if I’m thinking about getting some kind of surgery to alter my sex. It turns out that P will be starting T this October and has also changed their name. My answer is always a clear and plain “no”, but I sometimes have a hard time explaining why.

So this week I had to try and explain my gender to P and my art teacher again, although I had already come out to them a year ago. I had a great conversation about stereotypes, non-binary identities and sexless angels though, so that was nice.

I often just tell people that I’m genderqueer and hope they’ll more or less understand where I stand on the gender spectrum, but the term “genderqueer” encloses so many different kinds of people who all experience their gender differently that it hardly gives any kind of explanation to start with. That is actually one of the reasons why I like the term though. I’ve talked about my sexuality here before and even made a table to separate which kinds of attractions I feel and to which degree, but my gender isn’t so easy to pin down. However, I feel like I have to write this down someday if I want to have a less difficult time explaining what it is I am when somebody asks about my gender identity. So here goes. I warn you that this may turn complicated and end up with me contradicting myself a couple of times.

Let’s start with the easy part. When I’m asked whether I’m a boy or a girl by somebody who I don’t know/will never know, I do what I’m not supposed to do and automatically classify them as cisgender, unknowledgeable of non-binary identities, and faithful partakers of the female-male binary. I then answer with a “male” or “female” depending on the day, simply ignore them or, if I’m in a really good mood and my safety isn’t in danger, answer with a “yes”, “no”, “sometimes” or even a “both and neither”. To be honest, all answers are correct. I’m a girl; I will always be a girl to some extent. But I’m also a boy. But I’m not half girl and half boy, I’m FULL girl and FULL boy. Some people treat gender as some sort of cube which you can fill up with bits of genders and once the cube is full, well there you have your gender identity (25% female, 40% male, 35% neutrois for example). But I’d need more than one cube; I’m 100% female and 100% male.

At the same time, I’m sure the way I experience me being a girl or a boy is probably different to how other people who identify as a girl or boy feel. I don’t really fit in at women or men spaces, and I share no bonds with people who are from the binary only because they share my gender identity. I don’t identify with them. This “neither” feeling would be connected to my non-binary identity, which I refer to as agenderism or neutrality.

Yet I sometimes feel like I would more likely fit in more with the masculine side of the binary and sometimes I lean more towards the feminine side. That’s why I also say I’m genderfluid, and will usually dress according to which way I bend. Of course when this changes halfway through the day, it can cause dysphoria. I had a hard time learning that clothes are just clothes, and I can wear skirts when I’m in boy mode and a shirt saying “I am a boy” when in girl mode. Agender mode is more like an in-between; I’m not particularly feeling more like a boy or a girl. In neutrality mode there is a sense of absolute gender void; there’s hardly anything there, and it would be very hard for me to understand what feeling like a certain gender would feel like. It’s like I forget the concept of gender altogether. This doesn’t occur often though, so I usually don’t bother making a difference between my agender and gender neutral identities.

So to resume all of the above I’ll use my original mathematical formula that combines all aspects of my gender:

Girl + Boy + Agender + Gender neutral = Genderqueer. Emphasis on one of the first four depending on the situation (a.k.a. gender fluidity).

Some people say that gender and sexuality terms only limit who you are and close you into a box. But since I’m in favour of people defining terms in their own way, finding their own meaning, breaking any lines that might limit them and also happen to love words, I see these terms more as a way of letting people try to understand you. My identity overflows from any kind of box that the gender spectrum has, but the term genderqueer is precisely a term that means “there are no boxes for me”, so I’ll be going with that until I find a better one.

Now that my gender is covered, I’ll get to the pronouns. I like he/him/his pronouns because they contradict what is established to be the norm according to my biological sex, so having someone refer to me as a boy makes me feel like I’m challenging society’s binary understanding of gender, which of course makes me glad. Until I realize that they are actually labelling me as male because that is what they see me as, and then I can feel uncomfortable. Because of the same reason, she/her pronouns sometimes also make me uncomfortable. Note that this only occurs when the person referring to me doesn’t know about my identity; I have no problem with any pronouns when used by somebody who acknowledges my gender, which is why I usually say I don’t mind which pronouns one uses after coming out as genderqueer. Any neutral pronouns are great, though I’m more used to hearing they/them/theirs.

The two exceptions are French, in which I prefer she/her pronouns, and Japanese, in which I prefer he/him/his.

And if you want a short Catalan lesson, when speaking I use she/her pronouns to refer to myself, but I usually write using he/him/his. In English this isn’t necessary, but in Spanish and Catalan we end all adjectives with one termination or another depending on our gender. For example, “I am tired” in English upholds no gendering, but in Catalan it would be “estic cansat” if you’re male or “estic cansada” if you’re female. There is no neutral form. But since all substantives have a gender (table is feminine, tree is masculine) I can sometimes manage to make sentences that don’t gender myself, since the adjective then refers to the substantive and not to me (“I am a happy person”: “sóc una persona contenta”). Of course this is difficult to think of quickly enough when speaking, so sometimes I talk with both he/him/his pronouns and she/her pronouns in the same sentence, just to confuse people.

So which pronouns do you all prefer? And how do you identify gender-wise? I challenge you to try and describe it (if not in the comments in a post maybe?). I hope I managed to make some sense…

Offensive Friends

I don’t consider myself a very sociable person, and this thought once again popped into my head last Saturday, as I was sitting on the pavement outside the train station with a few friends from class and hoping that the world would suddenly freeze and I could get up and go back home before I had to spend four more hours with them. Things eventually got better once we visited the comic shop and played a Japanese role-playing board game, but before then my friends had already said a great number of things that made me cringe.

I won’t get into everything they said or this would turn into a very long ranting post (ableist language, rape jokes, using the N word everywhere, insulting my lunch, etc.), so instead I just chose five things to talk about. I think I should tell you that all of these friends love manga and we went to the area in Barcelona which specializes in comics and Japan related merchandise, so be prepared for the amount of references to otaku lifestyle. Enjoy five of these stories!

1. Soon a drawing competition is coming up, and the winning picture will be the poster announcing an anime convention near Barcelona. Which means the picture will be printed many times, hung up around the streets and be in the background of every event related to the convention. They might even make clothing pins if it’s popular. Having this in mind, I wanted to draw something that would show awareness of some kind of minority or un-privileged group. Pear and I sat down on a bench and discussed what we’d be drawing, and when I said that I was thinking of having a main character with a disability, she said that it wasn’t very nice of me for drawing something like that because, if it won, kids would see it. She thought that having a disability was something that children shouldn’t see, that it would destroy their innocence. As I said the other day in a different post, there is nothing wrong with having a disability, and I don’t see why kids shouldn’t know that it’s ok and nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing bad, mean or shameful in drawing somebody with a disability. There’s nothing to hide. Because of this I am definitely going to be drawing somebody with a disability for the poster.

2. At the comic shop they told me that the euro note I used to pay wasn’t real, and therefore they wouldn’t accept it. Don’t fear though, I had another one which I paid with. I put the fake one back into my pocket and intended to bring it home and show it to my mother (she loves looking at fake money ever since she came back from China). Later on I went with Pear to buy a drink in a small nearby dairy, and as we left the dairy with our drinks she told me off for not paying with the fake euro note. The dairy belonged to a Moroccan guy and therefore, according to Pear, “he probably had lots of fake money”. Apart from the amount of racism in this stereotype and in what Pear wanted to do, I would never use false money. I was devastated when I found out that my money wasn’t useful and that somebody had tricked me when giving it to me, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do the same thing to somebody else. Also, if the police happened to find a Moroccan with fake money, they would probably make a big deal out of it, search his contacts, question him or something, but if I had a fake euro note, they would do nothing at all. White privilege. And I wouldn’t want to be the one who put him through all of that.

3. A friend of mine stole a 75 euro Link figurine from a shop. I was not there to stop him, by the way. When I was nine I used to go to what would be a Catalan version of the boy scouts or the patch girl scouts (with no distinctions between genders). One time we went out camping next to some gorges and there happened to be three boxes of costumes and old clothes for us to dress up in. I became very fond of a pair of pants that were there and wore them during the whole week we were out. The last day I secretly put them in my bag and took them home with me. If I had asked to keep the pants they would’ve probably said yes. But I didn’t ask for them. Nobody had ever cared about those pants and they wouldn’t even notice that they were missing. I hardly realised that I was doing anything bad, let alone that I was stealing something, but the point is that I did steal them. When I was thirteen I understood that what I had done was theft and from that point on every time I looked at those pants I was consumed by guilt. I still have them and still feel ashamed of what I did.

The difference between my friend and me was that I was nine and he’s twenty-two. I didn’t know I was doing something bad and he had planned to steal the figurine before he got to the shop. I felt guilty and he probably doesn’t. What I stole was free and useless and what he took was expensive and needed. He was caught and I wasn’t. I’m not trying to justify what I did; there is no way to justify it, but I don’t think it can be compared to what he did. I hope he feels sorry for what he did and never does anything like that again.

4. Pear thought it would be appropriate to say that she had never ever seen or met a good-looking boy who liked manga (what about me?), which means she was pretty much saying every boy in our drawing class and every male at the anime conventions we go to every year aren’t worthy of anyone’s aesthetic attraction. Which I think is slightly exaggerated, needless to say a bit rude. Throughout the day I could hear her counting the boys she remembered looked good.

5. “Emo’s aren’t cool and they all cut themselves” said Pear. First of all, the coolness factor usually has more to do with popularity and the type of hobbies one has, and less to do with their style. Though a dark attitude is usually considered cool, so that would invalidate the first half of the sentence. Second, an emo is somebody who is emotional (hence the word), usually on the depressed side of emotional, but the word also comes from a genre of music called emo –similar to screamo and heavy metal if I remember correctly- which many emos listen to. The way they dress is also important (type “emo boy” or “emo girl” on Google if you’re not familiar with their style). That is basically all the word emo claims, and it states nothing in relation to self harm. So no, not all emos cut themselves, and even if they did, it’s not something to look down upon or laugh at. Instead we should be helping them.

I found this statement offensive because I had an emo faze when I was more or less thirteen or fourteen. I would’ve actually been considered scene instead of emo, because even though I took example of the way of dressing, I didn’t listen to emo music or feel too emotional. But a couple of years after my scene/emo faze, I had the depressed feelings, contemplated suicide and felt like destroying the whole world. Nowadays I have a way of dressing which has many influences from that faze of my life, a slightly critical and negative view towards the world, and friends that helped me during the harder times. It was the emo community that helped me get over my depressed days, and not the supposedly happy and positive people. People who have/had bad experiences but still manage to help others, people who are unsatisfied with the world and who do things to change it, people who are strong enough to stick around even though they are miserable; that is someone I would consider to be coolest of them all.

I sometimes wonder whether I’m just too sensitive or if I’m doing right in getting angry about these things. Nobody else seemed to be bothered at all.

The Song Project: Arcade Fire – We Exist

Time for song number two of The Song Project. You can’t imagine how surprised I was when this song showed up on the radio. I dropped my ice cream on the floor. Yes, seriously (though maybe that’s due to me hitting my head against the door because I was staring at the TV). I had watched the video the day before on YouTube and I didn’t think that the music video program would dare show something like that.

The video stars Andrew Garfield, actor who played Spiderman in the movie, meaning I usually entertain myself thinking that Spiderman might be trans.

I’ve seen the video at least ten times and tears still come to my eyes when she passes through the door into the concert. “You’ve made it!” I think, “this is your moment to shine!”. Seeing her face of uncertainty and disbelief, having her get back on her feet after everything she’s been through, knowing she’s going to be ok. Knowing that I am going to be ok too. I stare at the screen and smile every time she stretches out her hands to the audience and their cheers become louder. This video gives me incredible amounts of hope and happiness, I genuinely love it.

I heard somewhere that the actor was playing the role of a non-binary person instead of a trans woman, which is what everyone else seems to understand. With Conchita Wurst being non-binary (the winner of Eurovision, for those who aren’t aware of her existence) and now this character, we’re getting quite a lot of visibility these days. But for some reason most people aren’t prepared to understand the concept of gender outside the binary and cover these examples up with a cross-dressing, binary trans or even a homosexual experience.

I could say that they should’ve found an actual trans actress to play that role, instead of Spiderman. I could say that it would be better if they didn’t make a big deal out of the identity of the protagonist and have her return safely home, instead of the typical “they beat up the trans” setting. I could say that the singers could educate themselves more on the subject so that they don’t say that “the kid is gay” again (though she might be, the video states nothing about her sexual orientation). I could tell them that not every trans story has a happy ending. But I won’t say any of this.

It is the first time a trans character has appeared so explicitly on TV in Spain, so I’m going to give them a tiny bit of credit for it instead of being mean.

(If you wish to recommend a song for me to talk about, you can say so in a comment below. I’ve been told many times that my taste in music isn’t admirable, and I wouldn’t want to review songs people don’t like.)