Tips for writing about asexuality in non-ace spaces

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!”

About Laura (ace-muslim)

Laura is an aromantic asexual, queer-identified, and a Muslim. She lives in the U.S., works in online tech support, and volunteers for a Muslim anti-racism organization. She blogs about asexuality, queer Muslim issues, and other topics at http://ace-muslim.tumblr.com and has written on asexuality for a number of Muslim sites.
This entry was posted in activism, Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Tips for writing about asexuality in non-ace spaces

  1. Elizabeth says:

    These are all excellent tips. And congratulations at becoming a columnist! I’m so excited for you.

    “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.”

    Yes. So much yes. I’ve had several people approach me wanting to write guest posts that have just been “let me write an article for you about ___” since I started doing guest posts. I usually ignore those messages, because a) if it’s not already written, I have no guarantee that it will ever be, and can’t make any judgment call about whether it would be appropriate for my audience; and b) most of them are spammers (or just shy of them) who completely misunderstand what my blog is about. It’s usually freelance journalists wanting to put something—ANYTHING—on their resumes, and they don’t really care what the site is. I especially get a lot of “let me use your platform to host something about improving your sex life” kind of crap. It’s sometimes hard to tell when a request is actually genuine because of all the spam.

    So to date, I have never published any guest post that I did not solicit myself.

    Also possibly worth mentioning: persistence is one thing, but you also need to realize that people are busy and do not have time to respond to emails RIGHT AWAY. Three days is not a reasonable amount of time to expect a response, and if you send another email so soon you will give people a very bad impression. The spammy journalists pretty frequently bug me like that, and it’s the surest way for me to send your emails to my trash bin. It’s also especially common for people who run things like literary magazines to not want people to try to follow up with them AT ALL, because of the amount of email they get—so it’s really important to understand who you’re writing to and what kind of response time to expect.

    I probably ought to write something about guest posts, I have a lot to say about it. My guest post policy needs updating too…

    • Great tips! I think a post on guest posts would be very helpful since that’s sort of an intermediate level. Love InshAllah is technically a blog, but all of their posts except for the occasional announcement are either regular monthly columns or guest columns which require a pitch to them, so it’s definitely a much more formal process than The Asexual Agenda, while not being as formal as you would see on a magazine site or similar.

  2. cinderace says:

    Congratulations on your Love InshAllah post and the column! 🙂 And thanks for writing this post; it’s great to have advice and encouragement like this out there.

  3. Great post..as some who researches asexuality I don’t tend to consider my own religious background (Catholic) but you’ve made me reflect on it.

  4. Pingback: March 2015 Carnival of Aces Roundup – cinderace blogs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s