This post is for the March Carnival of Aces.
The Carnival topic for this month, on writing about asexuality, was incredibly timely for me (so timely that this is my second submission to the Carnival!). This is the month that I got a post about asexuality published on a non-ace site and then was accepted as a columnist for that same site, to write asexuality posts monthly.
This current post is aimed at people who have decided that they would like to engage in asexual visibility work by writing about asexuality in non-ace spaces and who feel comfortable with doing such work.
The tips are based on my own experience; you might decide to go about it very differently. However, I figure I must be doing something right and that my experiences might be a useful model for others.
Consider writing for a specialized community
I’m not writing about asexuality for just any old site, but for a Muslim site. I am Muslim and I wanted to increase awareness among other Muslims about asexuality. This is partly for myself, as a way of coming out, and partly for other asexual Muslims so that they know that they are not alone.
Writing for a mainstream site can seem overwhelming. Writing for a community or interest group that you are already part of may be easier. Easier from an emotional perspective, because you are already familiar with the community and familiar to people in it, and easier perhaps from a writing standpoint. The site or sites you submit to may be smaller and more welcoming of new authors than a big mainstream site.
Even if you feel that you want to go on to writing about asexuality for a mainstream site (I don’t plan to), starting small can help you refine your skills as an author and to get used to the reactions you might get.
Be willing to go out of your comfort zone
Writing for publication, even for a blog with a relatively informal process, can be daunting if you’ve never done it before or if you’re shy, introverted, socially awkward or anxious, or otherwise are not comfortable pushing yourself forward.
Realize that you may need to be persistent, to follow up multiple times with the site about your piece. Realize that you may need to market yourself. Presenting your piece as, “This is what I’ve written and this is why I believe you’ll be interested in it,” is more effective as a pitch than, “Do you think you might want a post about this?” but it can also be more challenging. This is especially the case since asexuality is likely to be unfamiliar to most people and the site may not understand what your post is about or why it’s important to you.
Believe that you have a right to tell your own story
This really follows out of the last item. It was six weeks between when I submitted my post to Love InshAllah and when it was published and I was offered a role as a columnist. That gave me a lot of time – too much time – to worry and fret.
I discovered that I had internalized a lot of invalidating ideas, including things I had consciously rejected. I worried that my story wasn’t a “real” LGBTQ story because I’m ace, not L, G, B, or T. I worried that people would think I was making things up for attention or would say that I was just a straight person afraid of sex. I worried that my story was not interesting enough or that readers wouldn’t think anything I talked about was a “real” problem.
I realized after thinking about it that a lot of these worries came because there are people on Tumblr who actually do act this way about asexuality and who do actually do invalidate aces using these arguments. I’m angry at them and at myself for letting them get to me.
So be prepared to have some internal struggles with doubt or internalized acephobia. Think ahead of time about how you can counter these internal voices. Seek support and encouragement for other aces if you need it. I posted a number of times on Tumblr about events in the submission process and the encouraging responses I received from my followers helped me a lot in keeping up my spirits.
Above all, believe that you can do it. Your story is important, to yourself, to the asexual communities you’re part of, and to people that you don’t even know about who may read your writing and think, “I’m not alone!”