A few weeks ago, I read a post by redbeardace over on tumblr, calling for writing on personal experiences of and stories about asexuality. Like redbeardace, I feel that writing in the community often focuses on visibility, defense of asexuality and discussion of things like belonging in the queer community or relationship structures in a somewhat detached way. Here at The Asexual Agenda, we purposefully emphasise the political and theoretical over the personal, and though we often draw on personal experiences when we write something, we try to look beyond ourselves for implications and ideas that are more broadly applicable.
Obviously, the sort of writing we do here – the political and theoretical and experimental, even – is incredibly valuable, and necessary for expanding discussion around asexuality. As are the countless analyses and explanations everywhere on the net of asexuality and the various misconceptions it attracts. But equally vital to the asexual community, I think, is the space to share and listen to personal stories and experiences, which might have no obvious political implications, but which showcase the lived experience of asexuality in all its nuances and diversity.
For this reason, I’ve been working on launching a new project – The Asexual Story Project – which will act as a repository (not, as Australia’s Prime Minister would say, a suppository) of personal experiences of asexuality. The website will provide a place for anyone to share their story of discovering asexuality, of relationships they have been in (successful or unsuccessful), of coming out, of navigating a sexual world as an asexual person.
Telling stories is, among minority groups in particular, a way of building community, finding commonality (and difference), and asserting existence and pride. In telling stories, we share who we are and that we exist, and in listening to the stories of others, we are able to connect and learn and expand our own perspectives and worldviews. The act of sharing stories and listening to others’ reveals the invisible and the marginal, and creates spaces where dominant narratives can be displaced – or at least, expanded to incorporate the experiences of those not traditionally seen or heard. Stories can have just as much power as theoretical discussions and the more political types of activism.
Spaces where individual stories can be shared and valued without scrutiny and psychoanalysis are spaces where individuals are valued for who they are, no more or no less than the next individual. Such spaces say ‘we value your story, regardless of how visible it is to the rest of society, regardless of how well it fits within the established way of doing things.’ I hope that The Asexual Story Project, when launched, can be a space like this: one that collects the individual, personal stories and experiences of asexual and ace-spectrum people, and creates a platform for visibility and feelings of belonging and similarity among aces. At the same time, I want the project to highlight the diversity of our community, and be something that people can learn from. I want aces and non-aces alike to be able to browse the stories on the site and draw on the experiences of others.
In its current time-frame, the site will be launched in the next few weeks, towards the end of February. I’m currently seeking submissions for the site’s launch: personal stories about anything relevant to asexuality, but perhaps particularly about relationships, coming out, being an activist, everyday experiences of being ace, or grey-A, or demi, or still unsure. Stories can be anywhere between 500 and 1000 words (flexible) and can be submitted anonymously if you so wish. If you’d like to submit or help out in any way, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like the share the project around your networks, you can link to this post or the call for submissions poster.