Question of the Week: May 24th, 2016.

Do you identify with the term ace? Would you use it to describe yourself?

For years I only identified as asexual. Ace was a term I’d picked up from the asexual community and so I associated ace with feeling like a part of that community. For a long time I didn’t feel like I fit into the community and so I resisted seeing myself as ace. I knew being asexual regularly overlapped with being ace, but for me it did not at all. I preferred when academics or organizers used the term asexual over ace because the latter did not include me.

What eventually changed my mind, slowly and subtly, was finding my own place in the wider community. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but over time as my feeling of belonging increased, I started using the term ace more and more. Now in some situations I even prefer to use ace over asexual. I  regularly choose to use the term ace as an act of embracing community.

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is
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18 Responses to Question of the Week: May 24th, 2016.

  1. Turtle says:

    Honestly I’ve never thought of ace being connected to the community in that way. I always just saw it as a synonym for asexual. But I identified as aromatic first(and read a lot of stuff by aroace people) so I was aware and felt some connection to the asexual community before I personally identified as asexual. So I never really had a time where I knew I was asexual but didn’t feel part of the community?

    Personally I prefer the term ace. For one I just really like the word. Like before I knew I was asexual I was all “damn those asexuals with the coolest label!”. Secondly idk how to articulate my feelings, but it feels more…real? Less clinical? Like most people would call themselves gay, lesbian or straight not heterosexual or homosexual. With the latter even sometimes being seen as offensive. Ace just feels more like a chosen label along those lines instead of a orientation description. Which I guess is similar to what you’re saying, now that I think of it.

    Similarly I find myself using “aro” a lot instead of aromantic. Even though it’s not a separate word. It’s kind of like “bi” or “pan”. Most people don’t say they are “bisexual”. But I don’t feel as strongly about it, i’ts more just about ease. Though both aro and aromantic are a bit hard to say haha. Now I’m thinking I just like abbreviations? I also like shortening non-binary(when referring to myself) to just NB.

    The thing is though that a lot of people irl have some passing knowledge that asexuality is a thing. Even if they are totally wrong about what it means(I was!) they have heard of it as a concept? Not everyone but a lot of people. But absolutely no one knows what “ace” means in that context. So saying I’m asexual almost always involves a lengthy explanation or just not caring that they are getting it wrong. But saying I’m ace just gets total confusion. :/

    • Turtle says:

      Also I only started identifying as ace around a year ago. I think maybe because I got here so late in the game the “asexual community” as it were has spread out more? And generally gotten better(ideally it should be ever improving). But when people talk about not feeling part of the community etc I’m not really sure what they mean by that. Like to me the asexual community is just what I choose to follow and read, it’s the asexual agenda, it’s people’s blogs who I like. Idk if I’m just good at avoiding the “bad community”? I definitely don’t really like aven, and I’ve encountered a few terrible/misguided people. But I’ve always felt like those are just small aspects of the community as a whole? If the community could even be considered a singular thing.

      • Talia says:

        Yeah now I also see the community (communities? I go back and forth) as what I choose to follow, read, and engage with. That’s definitely helped with my sense of belonging. Back in 2008 when I first started engaging with the asexual community online all I knew about was the AVEN forums and livechat. I thought the community started and stopped there. I’d like to say it’s spread out more, but maybe it was spread out back then and I just didn’t have the resources to realize.

  2. Seth says:

    Huh. I never saw it as anything more or less than a slang synonym for ‘asexual’.

  3. TreePeony says:

    I’ve only ever seen it as a slang term for ‘asexual,’ and I only ever use it as such.

  4. lengray says:

    I usually use the term ‘asexual’ with people who I’m first coming out to or who I feel might not understand the terms. But I refer to myself as ‘ace’ with people who already know the term and that I’m out to. Most commonly in the form of space ace jokes. I don’t get to use ‘aro’ too often, but I’d like to.

    To be honest though, I generally use the term ‘lesbian’ unless it’s someone I care about explaining myself to, because it’s easily understood and sends a clear message of who I’m interested in pursuing an emotional relationship with.

  5. Siggy says:

    “Ace” has been around since at least 2009 when I joined AVEN. I think there was a blog or two with “ace” in the title. But it became a lot more common over time, particularly when it adopted the meaning of “asexual spectrum”. And I have lots of reasons to talk about the asexual spectrum, so I started using the word on a regular basis too.

  6. I hadn’t thought about it, but I usually think about and refer to myself using “asexual” rather than “ace”. It may be because I encountered “asexual” much earlier (2004) or because it seems more specific. I also feel like “ace” is more casual so in my writing I tend to use “asexual”.

  7. Rachel says:

    I call myself aro ace because that’s the primary community slang and because it saves on syllables, not because it has any particularly different meaning that its parent terms.

  8. I do like the word ace as referring to the entire spectrum. Especially now that the label asexual doesn’t entirely fit me anymore, it’s nice to just be able to use ace as a shorthand for “somewhere on the asexual spectrum”. Grey-asexual works as well for me, and technically demi too, but I’m still in the process of getting comfortable with these labels, so for now the only label I really identify with is ace.

  9. luvtheheaven says:

    I grew more comfortable with the slang “ace” over time, and I think it’s because at first I thought it sounded silly, and maybe only a subset of asexual people used it, but later on it seemed like everyone used it, it became just as common as a phonetic shorthand for asexual as bi became for bisexual. I think my experience with Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic and their hesitance to ever make it known on a sign in public that a group of “Asexuals” was meeting helped too, because in addition to “A-Mid-A” as a code/hidden way to say “are you looking for us?” on a sign, and also a plush/stuffed cake, sometimes just a sign that said “ACES” might be used… XD Plus I liked it more once I saw it seemed like it was more inclusive of gray-asexuals and the entire spectrum.

    • luvtheheaven says:

      As for aro, I tend to only use it casually like on tumblr, maybe fanfiction circles, and in person I’d never say it. I’m not even sure how to pronounce it lmao (“arrow”? “Ey-ro”? Those are different in my dialect of American English, at least), and I don’t usually think to mention it. Plus I think I say “Aro” alone different in my head than I do when it’s linked to “Ace”.

      I want people to know what I’m talking about. Even fellow aces often don’t know much about the romantic orientation stuff so explaining in full what “Aromantic” means just makes more sense.

  10. Sciatrix says:

    I default to ace because it’s more informal and less clinical.

    • queenieofaces says:

      Same here. I’ll use “asexual” when I really want to get my point across or if I think people won’t understand “ace,” but most of the time I just use “ace.”

  11. Sennkestra says:

    Like Sciatrix, for most casual conversation I tend to use ace, partially because it’s more informal/less clinical and also partially because of the inclusive thing. I tend to lead with “asexual” in contexts where people aren’t familiar with it, but once I’ve introduced the term I usually switch back to ace. It’s also easier to say and lends itself better to punning.

  12. Silvermoon says:

    I like using ace! Possibly in part because I’m Australia, and we’re notorious for using as little syllables as possible when we speak.
    But also, yeah, it sounds less proper/clinical than asexual in spoken language? Like, I use asexual when I’m writing or when the person I’m talking to doesn’t know what asexuality is, but I use ace for people who are aware what it means (or occasionally when I forget they don’t). Like someone else said, other people rarely go around talking about how they’re “bisexual” and “heterosexual”, just “bi” and “straight”.

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