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.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” by a lovely blogger named alesbianspeaks! Thanks so much for the nomination. I love being nominated for awards 😛 .  It makes me happy to think that my little blog may be inspiring people. She’s a great blogger, so you make sure you go and visit her blog!

Rules for accepting the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:
1- Thank the amazing blogger who nominated you, with a link back to their blog.
2- List the rules and display the award on your blog.
3- Share seven facts about yourself.
4- Nominate other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they’ve been nominated.

Seven facts about myself:
1. I’ve been wanting to get into body boarding properly and see it as a sport rather than a hobby, so I’ve started to practise a bit more strictly.
2. I love rainy days.
3. All my socks have colourful stripes.
4. The comic shop that sparked my liking for manga (obsession, better said?) closed down a couple years later, and I often dream that I’ll meet the shop owner someday and thank him for what he’s done for me. I don’t remember his face.
5. I faint a lot. I’ve gotten into the habit of telling people not to worry too much if I suddenly collapse in the middle of the street on a sunny day.
6. We used to have a cat when I lived in NZ. It hated me and I hated it back; we often got into fights. But I think I might be the person in my family that misses it the most.
7. I love coconut.

Bloggers I want to nominate:
There are so many blogs that I love and follow, so I had a hard time making this list. I tried not to nominate those who already have this award though.
1- From Fandom to Family: Sharing my many thoughts
2- More Than A Headache
3- Ally Loves
4- Janitorqueer
5- lgbTJ
6- Musings of a Life in Transience
7- Apparently I Don’t Exist
8- 3kids2cats1divorce
9- The Notes Which Do Not Fit

Non-binary visibility

I have recently realised that facebook has permitted it’s users to change their gender between 50 different choices! The reason I realised this so late is because I have my settings in Catalan, which brings me to the first point in my criticism post. Why is this only available in US English? They could open these options in UK English, NZ English or Aus English, to state a few examples, since the terms are pretty much the same.

I can half get my head around them not translating them into other languages other than English because that would mean finding these words, that aren’t usually common in everyday cis conversations, in these other languages. But while they are adding lovely features to the United States’ facebook version, they could make an effort to find somebody who knows the equivalent to the terms in other languages. I myself could help them with the Spanish and Catalan terms. Maybe even a bit with the French ones.

In second place, there are only 50 terms, and half the lot of them are synonyms for “man” and “woman” (like cisgender man, transgender man, trans man, cis man… they are all men!). It’s as if someone asked you what your favourite food is, letting you choose out of 50 options of course, where 20 of them include different ways of cooking cheese. With the gender option, there are many terms missing, such as the well-known butch and femme, or less known like trigender or demiguy. A person’s gender identity isn’t that easy to categorize; some prefer options that many people have never heard of. They should give you a gap to fill in. The other day they put up the new “add another term” button, in which you send the word to facebook headquarters for them to check, but the time they take to review it –let alone accept it- is a very long wait.

And they’ve made a step forward in the gender identity process, but according to your facebook profile, you’re not allowed to be attracted to anyone that isn’t a man or a woman.

Though it seems I am angry about this new feature, I’m actually relieved that we are finally getting some visibility on non-binary issues, especially coming from a site like facebook. Also, with Conchita winning Eurovision recently, I’m hoping that when our next generation grows up they will be able to meet somebody knew and tell them they are actually neutrois and only get an “oh, ok. So which pronouns do you prefer” as an answer. Talking about Conchita; a male assigned at birth that presents as female who happens to be bigender and prefers different pronouns depending on the day , who also has a beard! Talk about messing with gender!

One last thing; these days I won’t be writing much because I have the final exams coming up. I need to get good marks to be able to get into the University I want. I’ll leave you a comic strip by Sarah Anderson that resumes my mood these days.

Image

Queer Community in Real Life

After finding out that a person from my Japanese class, let’s call him P, is also non-binary (thanks to my facebook stalking skills), I sorted out a moment to talk to them about which pronouns he preferred and also to talk about gender and our experiences in the queer community. My queer community is strictly online, since I don’t know many people who are trans in real life, but it turns out that P has great contacts and even has a girlfriend who is trans. Though we had this conversation four weeks ago, we still haven’t been able to meet again. Hopefully I’ll see him tomorrow at a meeting I’m going to about queer identities in feminism, since he is supposedly also coming.

Anyway, discovering P’s gender and developing this friendship (?) led to three different things. First of all, I came out to my family. Knowing that I was no longer alone, I was able to stand in front of my parents and sister and show them a video I had made a long time ago talking about what the word transgender meant in relation to my gender, as well as saying that I liked girls. Their reaction to this was a mix between “we don’t care”, “we already knew” and “just don’t tell anybody”. I knew they wouldn’t react negatively, but they don’t seem to understand the concepts of dysphoria and community. Now that my gender is out of the way, the next thing I can announce is that I plan on going vegan as soon as I leave home, that I am an aromantic asexual and that I also happen to be polyamorous. Okay, maybe that can wait a while.

The next thing that happened is that I also realised that I have idealised my art teacher too much, nodding my head in agreement to everything he said –though I don’t think he realised. As I said elsewhere, he is the first person that I came out to, and though he was very supportive, he couldn’t really help me when it came down to non-binary issues. Now that I feel more secure and have managed to identify openly as who I really am, I have finally gotten a hold of myself and started having my own opinions again, regardless of what my teacher says, which is good.

Getting to know P also made me develop some kind of attraction towards him, which is funny because I identify strongly as aromantic and don’t imagine myself with anyone any time soon. I got to the bottom of these feelings and came to the conclusion that it is just a platonic attraction mixed up with relief and admiration. I think I just wanted to feel understood by somebody in real life.

Oh, and I met another girl yesterday, but I’ll talk about her next time.