I occasionally get media inquiries, because we’re a prominent asexual blog and we look like a place for journalists to start. I do not feel comfortable being featured in a news story! Neither do most of my cobloggers. We’re shy people I guess. In my case, I particularly don’t want to talk about how I’m actually gray-A rather than asexual, and I don’t want to talk about how I actually like sex. Gray/demis can totally do visibility, but I don’t personally want to do it with mainstream news sources.
Think about that for a moment. Talking to journalists is practically the canonical form of asexual activism, but I, an asexual activist, do not feel comfortable doing it.
I find other ways to be an activist, including: 1) running workshops for LGBT conferences (but I intend to stop doing this) 2) helping organize a community survey, and 3) running this blog.
If you feel uncomfortable doing asexual activism, always remember that activism is laudable but not obligatory. But also remember that activism is more than just educating mainstream audiences. There are plenty of alternate forms of activism. And I don’t mean that in the “everyone can be special and feel good about themselves” sort of way; these alternative forms of activism really do us some good. Let’s examine some of these alternate forms of activism:
Targeting the LGBT community. While I don’t feel comfortable talking to mainstream news sources, the demands of talking to the LGBT community are entirely different. My experience is a little bit messy around the edges, and doesn’t perfectly fit into a box or a narrative. LGBT audiences get that! Many of them feel the same way! If you identify with the LGBT community, you can make workshops, send some e-mails, or just talk to people. Later when other asexuals enter the same space, they won’t have to do so much work educating people.
Targeting other specific communities. Asexual activism targeting the LGBT community has been very successful, and you may be able to replicate this success in a community that you’re part of. If you’re part of a feminist community, a poly community, a kink community, these groups have different expectations of your narrative than do the mainstream. If you’re a part of fanfic or fandom communities, that gives you lots of opportunities to write or talk about asexual characters. If you’re part of a religious community… Well I don’t know, I’m not part of any of these communities. The point is, you know your community, you know what you can do, if there is anything you can do. If you do something within a specific community, this is just as worthwhile as doing something for the mainstream media.
Making Art. If you’re an artist or storyteller, I don’t really need to tell you how effective and important art is. But let me express my deep appreciation. Artists, you are all lovely. The person who designed the banner for this blog–lovely. The people who create Ignition Zero, Shades of A, and other works of fiction–fantastic. This tiny dinosaur–perfect. I am just absurdly pleased by this asexual song someone made. Even if you just make some imagery of asexual icons or symbols, you are the best. Really, you are.
I am not much of an artist, but I took a terrible photo of the asexual flag once and I’m pleased to see it reappear all over the place. This sort of thing even appears in news stories, replacing all those sad cookie stock images.
Grunt work. When I did analysis of the AAW community census, let’s call it what it really was: grunt work. I typed equations in Excel. I wrote a document describing the results. I hardly even know anything about surveys or survey analysis, I just have some moderate knowledge of Excel. But hey, it was valuable! And it didn’t require that I talk about myself or disclose any private information or anything.
There are lots of other things that are really helpful that are just grunt work. Become a moderator. Talk to the AVEN PT, and join one of those teams that responds to AVEN’s e-mail. Work on improving the AVENwiki. Create a tumblr that does nothing but repost stuff on the asexual tag, minus the trolls. Organize a local meetup. Create a directory of asexual groups (already done, but you get the idea). Apply for an internship at AAW. Everyone wants to do the most glamorous activism–talking to the public, educating people–but if you feel uncomfortable doing that, there are plenty of unglamorous things that are extremely helpful.
Building this community. I talked about targeting specific communities, but what about targeting the ace community itself? The community is really important.
Building community is mostly what I do now. This blog nominally conveys the opinions of its writers but its secret goal is actually to gather people together and stimulate blogging. (Not really a secret, it’s on our about page.) Blogging suits me because I’m loquacious, and
narcissisticopinionated, and have topic ideas coming out my ears. I think this blog inspires many people to do activism, but even if it didn’t, we just plain enjoy this space. If all you do is incrementally improve the lives of asexuals by providing them a community, that’s activism.
There are lots of special interest facebook groups, and you can try making one if you see a niche that needs filling (or you can do it on Tumblr or whatever). And of course, you can participate in an existing community, offering support to people who need it, or advancing important discussions.
Can you think of any other forms of activism?