Monday, June 30, 2008

Purple Hotpants, Here I Come!

I really enjoyed the Pride Parade. (The ensuing funnel-cake related mosh pit; not so much.) I wasn't expecting to find the whole thing so moving, nor did I expect to see such a large group of people in such uniformly high spirits. I discovered that the only people with large, elaborate floats were corporations like Wells Fargo and Macy's. Every other contingent-- and there were many rather obscure groups in attendance-- was just a few people carrying signs. I was left with the thought, "AVEN could SO totally do this!" And there was, indeed, some talk of marching next year. With the information that people don't have to be all that pimped out (although with enough prep, we certianly could be), I hope that people will want to get ready for the 2009 parade! That would really be the occurance of a lifetime (until we start doing it every year)! I'd like to think people would even come in from other places, as it would really be a watershed moment for asexuality. When would we get started...January? It would be cool to have some kind of theme...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Alt Sex Wins Again

Have I mentioned that I totally adore Andrea Nemerson? Her Alt Sex column is the only reason I pick up the SF Guardian instead of the (nearly identical) SF Weekly. She's very supportive of asexuality, and has done 2 columns specifically on the topic. This week, she writes to a man whose wife seems to be suffering from the symptoms of depression:

"And listen: just leave the no-sex part out of it for starters. 'I'm not getting laid and that means you're broken' is not a recommended opening move."

Tell me about it! And to all my family and friends who feel similarly: I adore you as well, and if you have the chance, spread the gospel! I'm trying to do so tomorrow at the SF Pride parade. I made this shirt, inspired by that rousing picture of the TV A-Team:

(Note to future designers: Drawing on a ribbed, highly stretchy fabric with a fabric marker is none too easy. Every curved letter is actually composed of lots of little dots. So if you get stuck in the same situation, dot away...)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Army!

I don't think I've talked about goals for this blog since my intro post. Since I'm coming up on 200 posts (I think this is 198 or 9) it seems like the perfect time. And as you all know from my "10 People at a Meetup!" militance, I have a thing for goals.

But let's talk about gay people for a second. Gay people do more together than just experience attractions to the same sex. They (to some extent) go to bars and clubs, have film festivals, go on cruises, and erect long-overdue busts of Harvey Milk. As most of us know, gay folks have been known to have their own culture. And the goal of this blog is to show that asexuals can do more together than simply eschew sex. We can have our own subculture. Even if we don't have our own cruises, we can talk about the same music, movies, and books. We can speculate on the same celebrities; we can have inside jokes. You know those terrified people who say, "If you're not having sex, just be quiet! There's nothing to talk about!"? I know we do have a lot to talk about, and I want to prove it. No one could read any of our blogs and deny that fact.

My other goal is: If you're ever in some kind of dire situation, and a villain snidely asks you, "Yeah, you and what army?" You can say, "Hah! My asexuals!" and we will all appear out of the background in impossibly nice suits and weilding futuristic gadgets. Mm Hm.

[Above: The original A-Team. Now, it's us!]

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Music is My Girlfriend

The Slumberland podcast has yet again introduced me to one of my new favorite bands. I don't know how they do it! This band is called Let's Wrestle, and they have a song called "Music is My Girlfriend". This is a concept I can really relate to, as I often think of music as my significant other. (But don't worry guys/ladies-- the more the merrier!) I even remember the general date when we became "serious"-- around Labor Day of 2002. I'd always loved music, but this was the time when I realized that I could discover music beyond what was on the radio. Again, I'm attempting to add more lyrics to the internet canon. I made a valiant effort at translating drawling British boys; luckily it's a very short song:

Music is my Girlfriend
by Let's Wrestle

It's not cool to be nice
So I won't be nice
It's not cool to be modest
So I wont be modest.
It's not cool to like Leo Sayer
So I won't listen to Leo Sayer
Music is my girlfriend (3x)
And I would do anything for her.
Sometimes I think that I'm trying too hard
But why would I be trying too hard?
I am never trying too hard (?)
I don't even need to try.
Music is my girlfriend (3x)
And I would do anything for her.
Music is my girlfriend (3x)
And I would do anything for her.

This is the band's Myspace, and this is the label site with a painfully short sample of the song. "I Won't Lie to You" is also the jam.

There's definitely a precedent for love songs about music, especially in hip-hop. I mean damn, "I used to love H.E.R.?" I can't even count the number of times that song has been referenced in other places, and I think most folks who have ever been in love with hip-hop can quote some portions of it. I'm trying to think of a woman who has performed a romantic/personal ode to music, and I can't. Can you?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

People in a Seething, Roaring Mass!

"Do you really want to be the kind of person that the masses understand?"

First of all, I'm psyched that people are interested in stickering! I'll definitely be doing it too! Just don't tell the authorities.

Well, I said I'd talk about the stony-faced, unbelieving people. Daria had Sick, Sad World and I suppose that I have Serious, Sad World. This is a post I made on Apositive (edited for length):

In short, the ignorant masses really bother me to the point of distraction. When someone makes a false statement about asexuality, even if I don't know the person, it upsets me. For as long as I can remember, I've been extremely overwhelmed with all the ignorance, intolerance, and injustice in the world...Even if someone's not talking about ME, I tend to take all statements about asexuality personally. Educating all these ignorant people seems like an overwhelming, if not impossible, task. I know there will be bigots everywhere, no matter what, but the fact that they are out there, not just for asexuality but for every group, disturbs me greatly and makes me paranoid. Sadly, there's no level of self-security that you have to have to be "made" asexual (or any queer person)... I can't be the only person who struggles with this, and I think it might be a reason why people are afraid to come out as asexual. These "ignorant masses" can be extremely hard to tune out if you're not secure in yourself, and sometimes even if you are.

Relevant and brilliant image from xkcd:

I'm not sure what I was getting at with this, except to raise an issue that I don't often see raised. However, it is a large one. How can we know that people are terribly wrong, accept it and go to bed? And how can we find other members of our small group without the fear of being told we're wrong? I don't know; questions are free but answers are valuable. I like to think of what everyone else says and does as a river flowing past me. If I see something I like going by, I can grab it, and everything else goes away and disappears. But sometimes I still feel like the ignorant masses are coming, like anacondas from the water (or something), to suffocate me with constant worrying about things I can't change. Freaky, that.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hello, I'm Ace

Continuing that discussion about relatively simple, cheap visibility projects that anyone, anywhere can do. Maybe that's a little ambitious, but it has to be easier than large, expensive projects that only a select few with CIA training can accomplish. This is one of my ideas, which might be ridiculous, but hey, we're brainstorming:
I've seen people writing graffitti on stickers like this:

I was thinking that one could take these stickers and a Sharpie, write asexual phrases on them, and covertly stick them around town. You could also use those blank labels commonly found in offices. The whole point here is to get people to Google the word "asexual" and hopefully compound other visibility efforts. If you live in a small community and you're the only out asexual that people know of, I guess it won't be that covert...but no one can prove it!
If you like this idea, go forth and sticker...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Senses Working Overtime

Here are two more things that I don’t understand in this world:

1) Why are laundromats so dirty?

2) Why are there so few active AVEN members in San Francisco?

The second is actually relevant to the topic at hand here, so I’ll continue to express my wonderment: Isn’t San Francisco, historically at least, the queerest city in the country? Aren’t we the most computer-savvy people in the world? And isn’t San Francisco the founding site of AVEN? (Yes, it is.) Maybe we’re just over-sexualized here. Or maybe there are too many "affinity groups" competing for attention. I’ll probably never know. What I do know is that we obviously need to do more visibility work here. But aside from disseminating pamphlets or doing “asexuals were here” graffiti (more on that later), what is there to do? I’ve thought about sending press releases, because we definitely have a newsworthy thing going on. But I don’t think all publicity is good publicity, and I don’t know who I would trust to tell our story well. I also don’t want to have to talk in front of groups of people. Or any stony-faced, unbelieving people, really. (More on that later.)

So, what are some cheap, easy, relatively enjoyable things to do for visibility? Preferably that we can do at a meetup while drinking FREE BEER? (That’s right. Meetup on July 12th, and there will be FREE BEER. Yes, I’ve gone there.)
I'm aware that not everyone wants to come out to the whole world. And even if people are out, most are probably averse to broadcasting their sexuality. Since these people probably represent the majority of asexuals, it's crucial to figure out visibility activities that they can feel comfortable doing. The person who comes up with a good answer to this question will gain a name forever honored by the blog gods. And I don't know what happened to my font and size. I should probably ask the blog gods for guidance. Durr...

Monday, June 16, 2008

House of Bamboo

[Above: "There is a rumor that Tarepanda increases by division."]

Apparently, even the world's shortest vacation messes up my posting schedule. But I'm back with pandas. As you many know, scientists have found asexuality to exist in various types of animals. I've never heard pandas mentioned. However, here is an animal that won't even have sex to save its own species from extinction. (Humans don't have that problem.) Interestingly, it is habitat destruction, not the panda's status as "poor breeders", that is blamed for its predicament. Interestingly, humans meet their fellows' preference for bamboo over sex with some indignance. The panda is so cute, cuddly and lovable that the World Wildlife Federation used it for its mascot. Apparently, the panda inspires a conservatory zeal in all who see it. If only I could say the same for asexuals and our habitat. What is our habitat, you may ask? You tell me...bakeries?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Double Date: Clerks

"I thought you were the only guy in the world that got me."
--Randall Graves, Clerks 2

A few of you told me to watch Clerks for an example of a romantic friendship.
So I watched Clerks and still didn't see it (whoa, it's in black and white, dudes!). The partnership between Randall and Dante seemed more like a friendship of convenience, the sort that you need to have to make retail life bearable. I didn't get the feeling that they'd stay together if they left their boring jobs.

I enjoyed the movie though, so I got Clerks 2, which is set ten years later. Randall and Dante are still together. 3/4 of the way through the movie, I still didn't get the romantic friendship vibe. But in the prison scene towards the end of the movie? There it was. And not just between Randall and Dante (the clerks in question), but also between Jay and Silent Bob, the odd-couple drug dealers that loiter throughout the movies. Jay and Bob definitely have an unconditional love for each other-- why else would you hang out for ten years with someone who never talked? In the end, it's a regular platonic love-fest. But as usual, it takes a jail cell confessional to bring all this to the surface. Also, consider the ending of Clerks 2. Would a woman ever be portrayed as making the same choice that Dante does in the movie?

My point behind asking that question is that it still seems to me that in male "buddy movies", women are present mostly as a divisive force. However, in similar female-led movies, the goal is usually to win the love of men, even if the friendship is maintained. This leads one to believe that men can get everything they need (except sex) within a friendship, but no matter what a female friendship is like, it's not enough. And I think, sadly, that most of us buy into that.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Tale of Two Meetups

Isn't it annoying how whenever there's two of something, people have to bring out that same old Dickens reference? But how else to catchily convey that I went to two meetups this weekend?
On Saturday, there was AVEN. Or the A-Team. I don't really know what to call it anymore, now that we're trying to draw people in from outside AVEN. Anyway, two people besides me came. We had a grand old time exploring Glen Canyon, fighting off coyotes with baseball bats, and eating a lot.

On Sunday, I accidentally attended a meetup of Couch Surfers. These are people who travel around and sleep on people's couches instead of hotels or hostels. I think there were about 10 people there. The leader of the group claimed that if he set a time and place, people would always show up.

It doesn't take much time to learn that San Francisco is a very transient city, with people coming, realizing it's too expensive for any living thing, and then going. This atmosphere makes people friendly and amenable to meeting new folks. Even the most random groups will draw crowds. If we didn't call our group asexual, but instead claimed to be vegan kebab-makers or Munispotters, we'd probably have more people than we knew what to do with.
It's odd that Couch Surfers can draw a crowd, while something as basic and primal as a sexuality can't (yet). My goal here isn't to make people feel bad or guilty for not attending meetups. Trust me, that's the last thing I want; life is hard enough. The issue lies somewhere beyond what any individual does or doesn't do.

The first AVEN meetup I attended was in November 2006. Four people made it. This was also the last meetup not planned by me, although I really hope someone else plans a meetup soon. Anyway, my logical thought was that slowly, painfully slowly, this number would increase. And that hasn't happened at all. Attendance peaked at six a few months after that, but that was the only time, ever, that a meetup had more than four people (and four is rare-- usually it's two or three). I keep thinking that this isn't working in its current incarnation, and that I need to change it. But to what? It's like banging my head against a wall. There are so many things in the universe that I don't understand. This is one of them. Most of those things, I let them be. This one feels deceptively like I can control it. But maybe I can't.

Friday, June 6, 2008

SF Meetup Tomorrow, and Market Research

More than one person has told me that they're freaked out by the amount of enthusiasm I display in my materials about meetups. This is funny to me; not because peoples' concerns are funny, but because in real life, I'm the most low-energy person you'll ever meet. Over the years, many people have told me I'm "chill", but I think this is just a euphemism for "has to make a pro/con list to decide if getting out of her chair is worth the effort". Anyway, I wonder how I can make my missives friendlier to people. What about a radical departure along these lines:

Meetup Tomorrow (but it doesn't matter, because you probably won't come).
Glen Park BART Station (if you're late, we'll leave without you).
for walking at Glen Canyon (where we'll probably be eaten by coyotes) and possibly eating (if we survive the first part).
Well, it may suck, but it may not. Your call.

A little humor never hurts...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

That's Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation

All pissed off with no place to go? Care to intensify this predicament? Well, pick up That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation and you'll be handcuffing yourself to state buildings in no time. I've been experiencing a sadly impotent rage since I started this book, which is more radical than most of us will ever be. The forces against assimilation pictured therein are heroic, but how can they possibly defeat the juggernaut of conformity? And what can I do to help?

Although it's a book about queers, it doesn't discuss orientation or identity per se. It's all about racism, poverty, police brutality, inaccessible bathrooms, the prison system, and so on. The main point is that no one is free while others are oppressed. If you can't provide for your basic needs, equal marriage rights really aren't going to matter much to you. When people say "asexuals don't need rights, you already have rights", that's missing the point. What about asexuals who can't afford health care or those who are targets of racism? (According to one study, aces are more likely to be nonwhite, less educated, and poorer.) That's Revolting really makes it clear that every struggle is connected in some way. You won't agree with everything in the book, but you should read it anyway. It's important stuff. (And I love the cover art.)

One of the most powerful quotes was from Sarah Schulman, one of the founders of an experimental gay film festival. She said:

...In the old days, if there was a lesbian that worked somewhere, I could call her. And she would call me back and tell me how we could use her organization, or how we could use where she lived to help gay people...We were the conspiracy. That was the relationship between us. It didn't matter if we knew each other. Now gay people identify with the power structure that they're working for. And that identification is a lot stronger than their relationship to each other. So therefore, there's no community. (73)

Can we change that? In our emerging community, can I call you? You can call me-- (or e-mail, or even comment here) no matter where you are, no matter how far. Listen, baby. Can we bring the conspiracy back?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We won!

The war of attrition is finally over...and it's official, I won the contest! That's right, Asexy Beast is now Best of Blogs 2007 in the LGBT category (which is kind of interesting, dontcha think?). This really doesn't say as much about this blog as it does about you: Since I won with something like 70% of the vote, it's clear that we can make things happen as a group. Hopefully winning the contest will direct some people here to get their minds blown, since heavens knows I don't actually "get" anything. Here, you get a special cake that looks like a rubiks cube:

Thank you...

Monday, June 2, 2008

SATC: The Movie!

So, I saw the Sex and the City movie yesterday. As you all know, I've been a fairly rabid fan for years. And the movie is pretty much what I expected. It's still a big fat ode to platonic love (just look at how Carrie's honeymoon turns out), and will still make you feel under-dressed, underpaid, and wistful for a world where love, in all its forms, comes first.
During the trailers for what looked to be a lot of crappy movies, we were subjected to a preview for He's Just Not That Into You: The Movie. It was never our favorite book around here. As I ranted to my movie-going companion (sorry about that), "What's next, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff: The Movie?" You heard it here first, Hollywood. I'm appalled that you're so low on ideas. Call my people, aiight?