About 5 years ago I was sitting with a friend and we somehow got on the topic of sexual identities. They started telling me about how they identified as "Grey-A," which like many others I had no idea even existed. Prior to our conversation I assumed the label of "bisexual," knowing that it didn't quite fit, but without an alternative what was I supposed to do? As I sat intently listening to their explanation it suddenly felt like I had found this little part of me that I didn't know was missing.
Wait, Gray-A? What's that?
Grey-A (also known as "greysexual") is an identity that belongs on the Asexual spectrum. Yes, that's right, asexuality has a spectrum. Just like homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual are part of a spectrum, asexuality is also variant. You can be completely asexual with having absolutely no sexual attraction to anyone up to being sexually attracted (typical sexual attraction) to people. That area of typical sexual attraction is where the hetero-, homo-, bi-, pan-, etc. spectrum comes into play. Greysexuals fall in that middle ground or "grey" area that is neither sexual nor asexual. For some this can require a more personal connection, like demisexuals, for others it can be harder to pinpoint what might cause attraction.
Just to make things a little more confusing, or hopefully clear things up, there is also a range for romantic attraction that falls within (maybe parallel?) to the ace spectrum. The romantic spectrum helps give vocabulary to people who, like me, might not be sexually attracted to people but are romantically attracted to people. For example, someone can be heteromantic and asexual; this means that they don't experience sexual attraction at all, but they are romantically attracted to people of the opposite gender to themselves.
5 years later I now identify as a greysexual, panromantic person, in other words I rarely experience sexual attraction to anyone and have a romantic attraction to people of any gender. If we really draw it out though I'm a greysexual, panromantic, cis-gender, leatherwoman who is married, in a monogamous relationship, with a heterosexual, cis-gender leatherboy (whew, what a mouthful! and no he's not a child, it's just a title); unfortunately what that looks like from the outside though is that I'm a woman in a heterosexual relationship man trying to attend Pride events. While we've thankfully never been met with outright hostility, we do tend to get a lot of side-eye from people we don't know.
Over the years I've found my voice and my place enough to not let most of it bother me, but "most" isn't "all." It took years of identifying as bisexual, still not feeling like I belonged at Pride, and now years as an ace person to finally feel like I belong, and I'm still met with side-eye and people trying to appropriate the A in LGBTQIA+ as "ally" instead of the intended "asexual/aromantic."
I wish I could say I had a simple solution for my fellow new/struggling aces, but I don't. The solution I've found to finding community is going out and making it happen. Connect with groups locally, or online, that can help you build connections with other queer people and queer support groups. Our path may not be easy, but that's because we're still paving it.
To our fellow QUILTBAG+ people, please help us stop ace-erasure. Stand up for our right to be in queer spaces. We all have to start somewhere and with the state of things being as they are right now, if we can't count on each other, who do we turn to?
I'll be at Pride. I hope to see you there too!
About two months ago I was asked to create a video discussing chronic pain, disabilities, kink, and consent for Thomas Time / Yellow Couch Time. At the time I was TERRIFIED of being on video! "What if people don't like it? What if I look silly? What if, what if, what if?!" Eventually I got through my worries and created the video anyways, which can be seen below.
Now that you've had a chance to see the video, you can see that I basically covered some of the common misconceptions about disability and consent in kink spaces. Things like: what is actually required of a service animal, how to best navigate disabilities in your public spaces, and so on.
Now that the first video is behind me, I'm feeling a bit more comfortable about creating more. I've even done a few Facebook Live videos since! Below is one I did for ILSB-ICBB in the vendor room to show everyone what all the great vendors had available!
So now I'm giving this whole video thing a shot and trying to keep up with posting more often; I just have to figure out what to say! The silly thing is I can easily think of things that others might find interesting for other educators, but when it comes to my own topics I blank, every. single. time.
So I suppose in the meantime I'll keep trying to look at it as though I were helping coach someone else and try to not let my brain get in the way!
A little over a year ago my partner and I competed for the Florida Power Exchange title. While we may not have won, we ended up with a much busier year than we could have hoped for, a trend that has come to feel like second nature. Now that things have slowed down a bit, it seems fitting to take a moment to recap the year that has passed.
Events - 28
Now that I have a little time, I'd like to pose a question related to the Pride activities of this weekend, first some back story though.
This weekend was my first Pride, I've been to Gay Days Expo, but never a full Pride Parade. At one point we took a break from the parade activities to visit the local dungeon where they were hosting fundraisers for the Orlando Pulse victims. During that time friends spoke about the events, which I believe I shared the writing of already. The beginning of their speech started with asking anyone in the LGBT community to stand, instinctively I stayed seated.
As I sat there I actually started questioning why I didn't stand and realized that I was validating the prejudices and assumptions that come along with the fact that I'm in a relationship that very much looks like a typical heterosexual situation; but I'm not heterosexual. As I scanned the room looking towards the few people that stood, and the many still seated, I realized that I wasn't the only one not claiming my community.
It has become almost accepted that your current relationship is what defines your sexuality completely and that unless you have multiple partners to match each desire, then the desire must not be there. From there it, for some, simply feels wrong to stand and be counted for fear of not fitting what people expect when they think LGBT.
Once I realized what was keeping me seated, I stood.
I refused to deny that I too was part of this community. These are my siblings, my friends, my lovers, my exes, and my family.
My name is Ignixia and I'm a greysexual woman. I am LGBT.
How do you identify and (if applicable) when/how did you find your place in the community?
Saturday, June 11th, 2016 at roughly 9:00pm I was joined by some of my closest friends and chosen family; those who couldn't make it into town sent their love via email. As I looked up from finishing the NLA-O meeting, I saw them file into the dungeon space (which was already fairly packed from the meeting) until all I saw were those there for the sole purpose of honoring me.
Once upon a time I was sitting in my living room, pondering things as I do, and realized that we as a bdsm/kink/leather community don't have any kind of coexist emblem. Religious/spiritual people have theirs, and geeks have theirs, but nothing for us.
Sure, we don't really need one, or so many would say, but I disagree.
In a time where there are more fetishes than you can shake a stick at, and a growing number of communities to support them, where blockbuster movies feature kink and soccer moms whisper about their dark desires in book club, one would assume that our communities have more support than ever.
As I've traveled around and seen how we interact together, the more I see that we don't. The rope group does their thing, the heavy s&m folk do theirs. High protocol enthusiasts steer clear of newbies, and you can almost see the generational divisions like chalk on the floor.
We've recited "your kink is not my kink and that's okay" until we're blue in the face and in turn it's made us simply tolerant of each other. We accept that there's going to be noise in the dungeon, and rope scenes causing walls of onlookers. We roll our eyes and recite our phrase any time someone does something we just don't get.
The kinky coexist campaign isn't just some logo or design for people to get behind because it's cool. It was designed to remind each other that we exist together, all of us. The sensualists and the sadists, the leatherfolks and the kinksters, the old and the new.
Instead of simply tolerating each other, we should be fighting for each others' rights to do what we do. Not "your kink is not my kink and that's okay," but "your kink is not my kink and I'll still stand up for you regardless!"
We may not be at a point where people are being killed for their fetishes anymore, but the division is killing our communities. We've got to stop making excuses for the broken stairs while claiming that we "police our own." Stop talking about "old guard" vs "new guard," newbie vs master, and so on.
Stop just existing and start coexisting.
In September of 2015 my partner and I competed for the local power exchange title, and didn't win. Since that time I've had a few things that have bothered me, and I've kept them to myself for the most part. Since traveling to more title events and seeing the same things that bothered me, continue to happen to others, I've decided to throw this out there.
As kink and BDSM become more popular, app designers are working to try to provide the best social media and/or dating apps they can. For those looking to find a kink based app, it can be tricky finding one that fits your needs.
To help you out, I'm going to review 4 of the more popular kink/BDSM apps: Fetlife, Whiplr, Knki, and Vanilla Umbrella.
That moment when you watch a video about someone in a nearby community passing, and even though you never knew the man himself, you feel like you've lost a dear friend. There is a bond that permeates through all leatherfolk, and it is that bond that makes describing what Leather (not the material) really is to newcomers so tough.
Leather can't, or perhaps shouldn't, be described through words. It should be felt and experienced. It's in the hug you give each other that says you're family, you're safe here, regardless of how long you've known each other. It's in the way you hold your head high during adversity, ensuring that those who need help aren't forgotten. It's in admitting when you were wrong, yet not letting that slow you down on the path to what is right. It's in the way we comfort each other through the hardest times of our lives just as intensely as through times of mediocrity and greatness. It's in making strangers part of the family, because you all share that common soul: Leather.
There's so much that goes into this lifestyle that we try to use to get ahead and better ourselves, that we often lose sight of the commonalities we share together. Everyday, this day especially though, I am thankful to have my fellow leather brothers and sisters.
Love one another and allow yourself to be loved in return.
Ignixia is an international kink and alternative sexuality educator. The following blog entries range from educational information and resources from her classes to daily musings had on things occurring in the world.