Jaiden Animations is AroAce: The Internet's Reaction and What it Means to the Community
Popular Animator and YouTuber Jaiden Animations announced that she is AroAce! Rarely do we get real-world representation from someone with this big of a platform, so we talk about her video, the internet's reaction, and what this means to the community.
- Jaiden Animations, Being Not Straight
- Jaiden Animations, Flirting & My Stories
- Jaiden Animations, Dating things I shouldn’t
- The MLM Flag Tumblr Archive (sometimes referred to as the "toothpaste flag". This is a brief internet history of the flag and NOT the full discourse behind it. We don't recommend going down that rabbit hole, so you're on your own if you want to find)
- Baman Piderman
Courtney: Hello, everyone. Welcome back. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce, and together we are The Ace Couple. And today we are going to be talking about Jaiden Animations. Jaiden is an extremely popular animator on YouTube, and she has just very recently made a video explaining that she is Aroace, aromantic and asexual. And we want to take this time to talk a little bit about her video, the things we really, really loved about it, the things that were explained very well, but also just more broadly what this actually means to the aro/ace communities because we rarely get someone on this big of a scale giving us real world representation.
Royce: Right. A lot of the people who are out publicly as somewhere on the Ace spectrum are individuals or activists, or fictional characters. Not really people that exist in an entertainment sort of capacity.
Courtney: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Very, very few. And if there are, you know, the– the one-off person here and there, they don’t tend to have as big of a platform as this. So it is just extremely rare and very, very notable. And we’re going to talk about that and why it’s important. And you know, a little bit about the broader reception to this announcement. Because there was a lot of good, there was a little bad, there was some ugly that just comes with the territory of any minority sexuality or romantic orientation. But we will get into all of that. And right off the bat, I’m– I’m trying very hard not to use the word ‘come out’ or the phrase ‘come out’. Because Jaiden, in her video herself, said she doesn’t like using ‘come out’ for herself. She didn’t really explain what her reasoning was, but she doesn’t really have to. But most people talking about this video and this revelation, put it under the guise of like, “Oh Jaiden Animations came out. She came out as aroace.” And might slip up and say ‘come out’, because that’s– that’s just the word, that’s just the phrase that we use, but she said she didn’t like it. So, if I’m intentionally tiptoeing around that word that is why.
Courtney: But let’s just take half a step back and talk about who Jaiden Animations is. Because even though she does have a massive platform, I’m sure there are some people who do not know who she is. Because as a YouTuber, that’s a very specific sort of niche on the internet that you inhabit, and you can have millions of people watching you and still some people might have just never ever heard of you before. So, for anybody who is not aware, Jaiden Animations has over 11 million subscribers on YouTube. She hasn’t been making videos for quite a decade, but she did start making animations on YouTube while she was still a teenager. And as you just sort of scroll through some of her videos and look at some of the viewership on these, some of the newer videos have, you know, 11 million, 12 million, 13 million, but you go back to a year ago, two years ago, and you’re getting these massive numbers of people viewing each individual video. There’s one that has 44 million views, 25 million views, 35, 33…
Courtney: So all across the board, these are huge numbers that are tuning in to watch her videos. And I’m honestly just thrilled to have someone with a platform like this, make a video saying, “This is who I am. This is what this means.” Because I’ve been saying for years, we just need– we need a celebrity to sort of put our foot in the door to broader discussions, outside of the queer community. And although a YouTuber isn’t quite like an A-list celebrity, it’s not like everyone in the entire country has heard this name before, it’s still a huge step forward. I definitely said that when Demi Lovato came out as non-binary and started using they/them pronouns. I was like, “That is awesome.” As far as I know, that is the biggest name, star, coming out and saying that I am non-binary and using those they/them pronouns. And I was like, “That’s great, more of that, please.” And also I would love for someone on that scale to come out as asexual and/or aromantic, because that would be huge towards broader acceptance. Because the– the sad fact of the matter is that most people– I don’t want to say most, there is a percentage of people who just will not care about minority identities until–
Royce: Someone they have a personal investment in comes out as that identity?
Courtney: Yes, exactly. So, right off the bat on YouTube, you know, you have that thumbnail picture that you click on to watch the video, and thumbnails are super important to getting people to click on it; and it’s her little animated figure of herself standing in front of the rainbow flag. And it’s just entitled ‘Being not straight’. And I love that. I think it was really clever. I think if she entitled it ‘I am aroace’, I think she probably would have gotten fewer clicks. But also if you’ve been unfortunate enough to run across the “it is problematic that she used this rainbow flag in her thumbnail” discourse, I’m sorry, those people are wrong.
Royce: The rainbow flag represents a wide variety of different orientations. It isn’t just the gay flag.
Courtney: Yeah, it’s really not. And there– there are some people who will like die on the hill that, you know, “This is for gay people.” It’s not, it’s really not. I mean, you go to Pride and rainbow is the most prominent flag. It’s the most prominent symbol. It’s really– It’s kind of the umbrella flag at this point. Representing all of the orientations and every little iteration of queer has their own flag or several of their own flags in some situations. It’s flags all the way down. But yeah, no, she did nothing wrong by using that flag. And when she opened up this video, she very much started with a like. “Look here, everyone. Sit down, and listen. This is the most open that I am going to be with my personal life. I am a little uncomfortable talking about some of these things and I do not want you to assume or guess any personal details about me, past what I am about to tell you in this video.” Which I think is really, really fair because people love to speculate on the sexual habits of others. And as Ace, I think it is disgusting.
Royce: It also makes sense to say that right out of the gate, considering the title and thumbnail were, “I am not straight, but the mystery is, which one.”
Courtney: Yeah, what kind of not-straight? Which I think is so interesting because, of course, this was such a big win for the Aroace community. People in our little corners of the internet were just really, really celebrating this day because it’s a big win to have someone with a platform like this talk about these things. And I don’t know if people just got really carried away with being excited, but the number of people that I have seen, like, tweeting at their favorite queer podcast being like, “You should have Jaiden Animations on to talk about being aroace.” Stop... She told you, she doesn’t want to talk about it any more than this video. I would hate to think that anybody’s actually reaching out to her being like, “We want you to be the face of aromanticism and asexuality. Please come– come talk more about this thing you don’t want to talk about.” Because you do not need to talk about your sexual or romantic orientations constantly in order to belong to that group of people, and be valid.
Royce: And we said before, not everyone’s an activist.
Courtney: Not everyone is an activist, not everyone wants to be an activist. So stop asking podcasts to reach out to Jaiden Animations and beyond. Because that– that seems like a very clear boundary that she was trying to set right off the bat. So let’s not ignore that in our excitement. And so she says, right off the bat, “I am aroace. I’m going to talk about being aromantic first, because it’s my favorite.” She also definitely mentioned that she is more comfortable talking about it then asexuality.
Royce: Which seemed to me, like, being more comfortable talking about non-sex things, because when you start talking about sexuality sometimes it can get into some uncomfortable areas.
Courtney: Absolutely. And in this case, she gave us a really good story of her own life illustrating her aromanticism. And yeah, it could be that in order to tell a story of your life, about asexuality, it might bleed into uncomfortable things that you don’t want to advertise to tens of millions of people. Because that’s what her platform is. She knows, as soon as she posts a video, she’s almost certainly guaranteed to get a minimum of 10 million views. So, makes perfect sense to me. I did notice that nearly every time since – I mean, this is a cartoon, she’s an animator – nearly every time she shows the asexual pride flag, it’s actually not the Asexual Pride flag. And that was an interesting choice. Because– I mean, we say the Aroace community or the Ace community, the Aromantic community, etc. as if it’s like one homogeneous thing, but it’s not. It never has been and probably never will be.
Courtney: And so it does kind of make me wonder, like, what– what part of the aroace discourse did you happen upon, that brought you to this point. Because the Aromantic Pride flag has five stripes on it, the Asexual Pride flag has four stripes. So what I have seen some people do, in far more niche situations, is put the flags right next to each other, and people who are aroace will sometimes add an extra fifth stripe to the Asexual Pride flag, so that all the stripes line up if you were to put them completely side-by-side. And like, the Aro flag is two different shades of green and then white, gray, black. But the Ace Pride flag starts with black at the top, black, gray, white, purple. So to sort of make the flags, like, inverse of each other, people will, like, add an extra stripe of a different colored purple. And I did notice that she did that in probably at least half of the times that she animated the ace flag. And that’s– that’s not a super huge deal, I just thought it was interesting to point out.
Courtney: Pride flags are interesting. The histories of them are interesting. Because at this point, a majority of Pride flags were probably created by a single individual on Tumblr or perhaps DeviantART. And a massive percentage of them never really get adopted by a percentage of the community, but some of them will sort of get a following and start getting sort of a cult usage within certain percentage of different orientations. But the Asexual Pride flag was actually voted on by the Asexual community, and I find that really, really interesting. It was officially adopted in 2010, if I recall, and that was a collaborative effort of like, AVEN, the Asexual Visibility Education Network and other established asexual online communities, sort of all tried to reach out to one another and say, “Hey, let’s figure out our flag. Let’s do a survey.” And actually voted on flags.
Courtney: I don’t know how often that actually happens with Pride flags, because at least all the like really new ones, as of the last five years, the last ten years, seems to just be someone making a flag because they wanted to make a flag or they like it, or whatever reason is their own. But I don’t personally know off the top of my head any other Pride flags that got, like, formally voted on by the community. So that’s one reason why I’m particularly fond of the Ace flag, the official– the officially adopted Ace flag. But then, you know, in the video, Jaiden goes on to explain her first-hand experience with growing up as an aromantic person who didn’t know that that was a thing and it was hilarious.
Royce: Did you feel personally called out while watching that video?
Courtney: I felt personally attacked. It was so reminiscent of the story I told in our podcast episode, ‘An introduction to Aromanticism’, which– I mean, was it just like a month before this video came out?
Royce: Yeah. It was about a month. It was in February.
Courtney: Oh my gosh. It was, it was really funny. I was kind of glad that we did that story before this video came out because of course, Jaiden has a much bigger platform than the little old – The Ace Couple podcast. I didn’t want anyone being like, “You copied that story.” But really, it’s a really common baby aro story. That as she goes on to explain, she did not have any crushes, but around– I believe she said, like, fifth grade, she felt that she needed to have a crush because everyone else had a crush and that just seemed like the thing to do. She had this really funny story or this really funny line where she said like, “Don’t make fun of me, but nine year old me was a sheep.” I think most nine-year-olds are sheeps. But she explains like, she really robotically just chose a kid in class and said, “Yeah, that’s– that’s my crush.” But she didn’t tell anybody about her crush. She was like, “This was just my headcanon. I had a headcanon crush.” So that’s very, very funny.
Courtney: And she didn’t even say this out loud, but it was in the animation where she had her little animated self looking at a checklist on paper. That was like, “Alright, my crush checklist. Look at my crush for 5 minutes, check. Next, steal one of my crush’s pencils.” And I felt very attacked. Oh, seriously, I’m not going to recount the entire story, but please go listen to our Aromanticism video for that story. Because, yeah, 100% was stealing my crush’s pencils not because I actually had a crush on him, but because I thought I needed a crush and he was the most logical crush to have, to me at the time. And she said this, yeah, she was just trying to fill her “normal human emotions quota”, which is very funny because that goes back to the concept we’ve spoken about previously of amatonormativity, how having romantic feelings and romantic relationships is just sort of the baseline, the given, the ‘this is something that will happen to you if you are normal’. And that’s sort of why some people with this experience will feel broken, because they feel like they’re supposed to have this but they just don’t, then there’s people like me and Jaiden Animations who just mask and be like, “Yep. Got it. I see how people have crushes, I can– I can do that and I will.”
Courtney: She even– she even mentioned the cheesy Walmart, like store-bought Valentine’s that you swap with each other during school in Elementary, because I mentioned that too in that episode we released. That she kept the one that her crush gave her, even though everyone has to give everyone Valentine’s to be fair in those situations. And like, yeah, I did that too. I added it to my shrine with all the stolen pencils. But I also just thought it was really cute, because this is a little – unrelated to Jaiden Animations – video series that we watched on YouTube also called Baman Piderman, and she said she got a Batman Valentine from him, and she drew Baman from Baman Piderman, which is just such a silly, goofy, little animated series of Baman and Piderman being best friends, going on little adventures. And we still, like, quote that show regularly at home.
Royce: Anytime we need to get peanut butter.
Courtney: Yes, Pimbubber is good medicine for tubas. So that was cute. It’s like, “Oh, hey, Jaiden Animations knows Baman Piderman. Same!” Sameboh. But then, you know, she goes on to talk about middle school. How middle school is where you not only develop crushes, but now, now you do something about the crushes because you’re old enough to be in a relationship now, right? Which is something that I think a lot of kids in middle school think. But the middle school version of relationships that do happen are very much a facsimile of a real relationship. From my experience and from what I have observed from others. But there is also this very much societally perceived, compulsory escalation of relationships, where relationships do very much seem to be a hierarchy and a romantic relationship is usually placed at the very top of that hierarchy
Courtney:. And if you are very, very good friends with someone, if they are within your spectrum of sexual orientation as to be attracted to this person on more than just a friendship level, it is– it is basically expected that you will enter into a, quote, “higher form of relationship” with them. And that’s something that a lot of aromantic people try to speak out against, which later on Jaiden Animations even mentions, how she thinks it’s so weird that once you reach a certain age, people think it is weird and sad if you aren’t in a romantic relationship. And she mentioned, like, “Yeah. Why– why do you assume that someone is lonely because they don’t have a romantic relationship?” Because no one looks at a young child and thinks that they’re lonely because they aren’t in a relationship. And that is a very good point. Not being in a romantic relationship does not equal sad and it does not equal lonely.
Courtney: But I liked the way she talked about and animated the, sort of, sifting through batches of people in Middle School, like I’m seeking my new crush. Because now is the time where we escalate what we do with our crushes. It’s time to act on this, instead of just having a headcanon of who you like. But she’s like, “Uh, man, unlucky. Didn’t like anyone, what a shame.” And perhaps my favorite line in the whole thing was when she was explaining that she never in all of kindergarten through 12th grade thought that anyone was attractive, she did not actually have a real crush on anyone, just these assigned crushes that she decided on. And– and she just walks into the middle of like, school library, and just shouts, “Why are none of you attractive?” Yeah, tell’em Jaiden. But, yeah, there’s not only a sort of compulsory escalation with individual cases, like one-on-one relationships, where you have the steps you go from, you know, friendship to crush, to romantic relationship, to sexual relationship, to marriage and so on and so forth. There’s sort of these perceived steps that you are supposed to go through.
Courtney: But she also explains by the time she got to college, she hadn’t been in a relationship, so now she feels like she’s behind the curve. And that definitely does happen as you age. Because there’s a certain age, where– a very, very shockingly young age where you’re expected to have, like little schoolyard crushes, but then, yeah, you do have this perceived like, okay by high school you’re going to actually start dating and by college, you know, the college stereotype is that you started sleeping aound and come into your own, sexually. And then by like, I don’t know, your 20s, you’re supposed to have like a long-term relationship/maybe start getting married and having kids. Like that does happen. If you get to the point where you’re 30, and you haven’t done all of those steps, that’s when society will kind of start like side-eyeing you and being like, “What’s wrong over there?” And that’s why you have tropes like the– the 40 Year Old Virgin. Because society is telling you it is wrong and weird and bad to be a virgin at this, quote, “advanced age.” Forty is not an advanced age. I hope you understand I’m being very silly.
Courtney: But here’s Jaiden saying, like, “Well, I’m in college and I am behind the curve. So something needs to happen now.” And that’s where she said she actually thought she had her first crush. She thought she had one. She doesn’t go into too many details, which is fine, but she also says, like, “In hindsight, that was not a real crush.” And that is something I can relate to very heavily. There are definitely points in my life history that I can point back to and be like, “I thought I had a crush on that person at that time. But now I know more about what that emotion actually is and what that means and it is, nope, not true.” And I don’t know, Royce. I mean, you have, I think, more romantic attraction than I do, but do– do any of these little, like, nuggets remind you of anything or can you relate to any of them or…?
Royce: To a certain extent? I’ve always been romantically inclined. So there are some things that don’t hit the same way, but being asexual, there are definitely some underlying similarities. Where it wasn’t that I was feeling different in elementary school because other people had crushes, but it was definitely getting into middle school and high school being around people who were voicing their sexual attraction more frequently, and not feeling it the same way.
Royce: And the– for the one that you just mentioned, again I’m not aromantic, but I definitely had trouble telling the difference between what Jaiden describes as this excitement you get, when you meet a new interesting person and something that was actually more than that.
Courtney: Oh, absolutely because yeah, and when she was saying, “I thought I had a crush.” She says, you know, “In hindsight, I just thought they were cool and funny and I wanted to hang out with them more.” And that she kind of just gets, like, tunnel vision on really cool, interesting, new people, which I think– I think most people can relate to on some level. But she’s like, “Yeah, I get really excited about new people I find interesting but that doesn’t mean I want to hold hands with them or cuddle or kiss or be in an actual romantic relationship.” And she even voiced at one point like, “I thought maybe I could go along with it if they wanted to.” But there wasn’t anything inside of her saying “I want to do this.” And boy goodness, that is relatable. And she mentions an old flirting video which we actually had watched before at one point. We only discovered Jaiden Animations, I feel like, just a few years ago.
Royce: Yeah, I think it was a few years ago. We saw some of their videos along with some of the videos of another animator called the Odd Ones Out.
Courtney: Yeah, and those were kind of the first two people we got introduced to, as like YouTub animators, and we discovered them together at the same time, just probably a few years ago. So, since it was only a few years ago, maybe we didn’t actually watch this flirting video, because it was– it was like 5 years ago. I think it came out in 2016. But she said something in this video on not being straight, like, “Back when I made that flirting video, I didn’t realize there was an emotional difference between having crushes and just wanting someone to be your number one best friend.” And so she said something like, “Oh, sorry for the bad take. I think?” And so we were like, “What was the bad take? Well, clearly, we have to go back and watch that video now.” And so, we did.
Courtney: And she very much started the video with, like, “Flirting. I don’t like it.” And mentions how she doesn’t think she flirted even once in her entire life, except for maybe once by accident. And when she tried to be flirty, it was because she wanted to be like a flirty confident person even though she wasn’t, but her brain just kind of bullied herself into flirting. Which– now that we have a more full picture I can totally understand. She did not want to flirt, but society and by extension her brain, and probably some level of just, you know, anxiety, a desire to assimilate, just compulsory sexuality all around... She just decided to try flirting once. And apparently, it was really awkward and it didn’t work and she didn’t like it, and that’s about that. But the bad take that she was talking about I don’t actually think it’s a bad take. And maybe, maybe it’s just my asexual self, my probably demiromantic self looking at this, but I have always felt the same way, because she’s here saying that she doesn’t understand why people stop talking to someone because they don’t reciprocate romantic feelings. And in this video from 2016 she said it makes no sense and I still think that’s bad practice.
Royce: I think there are many reasons for that. Sometimes the terms around a breakup aren’t always great. Sometimes feelings remain unrequited and that can make it be painful to be around someone.
Courtney: Well, that’s what I think she was going for, like, not in a pre-existing relationship where things aren’t lining up, but like two friends, one develops relationships for the other and the other doesn’t feel the same and like, you just stop talking to that person because they don’t love you back.
Royce: Well, dating doesn’t always come from a place of two people who have a bunch of history and were friends first, you can meet someone and almost immediately start dating. And then, if it doesn’t work out, like you don’t have anything to fall back on.
Courtney: Well, that’s true, but– But in like, if you don’t have anything to fall back on like, you do not need to continue a relationship in any capacity with that person, but she was very much saying like, if you are already friends with this person and you already have a lot in common and you already enjoy hanging out with them and you have similar interests, but you want a romantic relationship with them and they don’t, why do you just leave and not continue your friendship kind of a thing?
Royce: Right. But the attempt to make it more than a friendship can make things weird. There can be bad feelings or unrequited feelings, and sometimes needing to step away, even for just a period of time, to get over things can be enough of a gap that you just never reconcile it. And there are cases like me where I just can’t juggle that many people.
Courtney: Well, yeah, then there’s you. Well, what– If I– If we’re talking about our own experience here, in my experience, if someone develops romantic and or sexual feelings for me and I do not feel that back– that is something that has happened a lot in my life, but it has never been resolved healthily or amicably. Because more often than not when that happens, it is a man who is attracted to me, and more often than not they will either get really angry and, you know, intimidating, abusive, like calling me horrible, horrible things all of a sudden. And I think a lot of women can relate to that. Or side B, option two, they just like, actually double down and convince themselves that they are the best person to be with me and they just will not let it go. And then it becomes like, in extreme cases, I have actually had stalkers who have stalked me for prolonged periods of time. And that is a very, very abusive and unsafe situation.
Courtney: So sometimes it’s me needing to be like, “You can’t act like this. I need to step away.” But it’s– it has just never been like, “I’m sorry, I don’t feel the same way. Can we still be friends? I value your friendship.” And then they’re just like, “Yes, cool. Let’s still be friends.” Like it gets abusive in one way or another. It’s not even just a clean break. Like, let’s stop talking. I don’t think that’s ever happened. So I don’t know. Maybe I’m a weird case. I don’t think I am, because of how many times this has happened to me, but it’s never made sense to me. I’m like, “Wha– What is it about these feelings that just makes people go completely off the rails?” So I don’t know. Do you think that was a bad take? Because he or she is in this modern video saying like, “Okay. I mean now that I know I’m aromantic. I guess that was a bad take.”
Royce: No, I think she’s just speaking from personal experience, and it makes sense that someone who doesn’t experience the kind of emotional– emotional connection that could cause a relationship misfiring like that, to be painful to them personally, probably would not understand what that would feel like to another person.
Courtney: So yeah, I– So I suppose that makes sense. And yeah, I mean nobody is obligated to maintain friendships with anyone. I fully recognize that but, yeah, like I said from my personal experience it’s not just “let’s not be friends anymore.” It’s– it gets dangerous and uncomfortable. And so don’t do that at the very least. I don’t, I don’t think that’s a bad take! I think that’s one we can all agree on. But yeah, there were just a couple other little, little things in that flirting video that I thought were pretty fun. Because she mentioned this like, “Oh how people tell you not to respond back to text immediately, to not look like you’re– You’re too desperate or too clingy.” Which is funny because clearly there are people who do feel desperate for these relationships, whether that’s internal or societally imposed. I don’t know if it really makes a difference in this context but people might actually be feeling a little desperate, but they’re like, “Dude don’t look desperate. Don’t do it. Wait, 10 minutes to respond to this text.” And I like how, how her aroace-self from five years ago is just like, “What a waste of time!” And it is! It is a waste of time. I agree. That’s why when we started talking, we never stopped.
Royce: Yeah, the whole social rules of dating never made sense to me either.
Royce: I think I was coming at it from a place of resisting the masquerade. Like, understanding that this was a behavior that was being imposed, basically.
Courtney: Yes, yes.
Royce: Or suggested at least, it’s not like anyone was forced, like taking your phone away.
Courtney: Yes, so, I mean, that’s– that’s amatonormativity at play, and how it does affect literally everyone. It’s disproportionately going to affect aromantic people who don’t have these feelings at all, or only feel them very rarely, or in specific situations, because this is being imposed on people who don’t get romance. But it’s also being imposed on people like you, who are romantically inclined but you’re like, “Why is this the way we act on that?” So absolutely.
Courtney: She also mentions, like, her very first date in– I think she said like junior year. It was nearing the end of high school, where she went bowling with a bunch of friends and one friend just decided like “Hey, there’s a group of guys over there. Let’s all take a picture with them to pretend like they’re our dates.” Which. I don’t know why one would do that. So that– That very much confused me. But the guy who was posing and pretending to be her date, whom she had never met before, actually exchanged phone numbers with her and they did actually decide to go on a date to the movies. And before she even started talking about how awkward and failed this date was, I was like, “Why would you go to a movie as a first date? That is the worst first date in the history of the world.” I know people do it. I know it’s a trope. But I have never once understood.
Royce: Why would you go on a first date where you explicitly can’t talk to each other for like 2 hours?
Courtney: Exactly. Exactly! Like, to me going to a movie with someone, that is like a pre-established relationship thing. Because then you’re also sitting next to that person for two hours and society and amatonormativity is going to tell you that you have to do that, like, Yawn Thing, where you– you put your arm over the other person and you’re going to be guessing, like, “Should I do that? Is it too soon to do that on a first date?” Or, or if you’re the the, the girl in this situation, since this is normally very hetero-normative trope too. Then you’re like, “Is, is he gonna put his arm around me? Do I want him to do that? No, I really don’t. But what if he does?” Like it’s– everything about a first date at a movie is wrong. It’s not okay. How– how do you get to know someone at a movie?
Courtney: But, yeah, and apparently, as she said, like, it was a failed date. They didn’t talk about anything the whole time. Their– their failed, meager attempts at conversation, were very surface level and awkward. And that checks out. That checks out. And she also told a little story about how she was with a gay friend of hers, just hanging out, and they were just on a bench in public and a couple walked by and were like, “Aw, relationship goals.” And also asked them how long they’ve been together and what– why do people do that? I just– maybe it’s not in my nature, but there are very few situations where I look at two people in public and just assume that they’re in a romantic relationship. There are some, like, very clear clues. If they’re like, literally holding hands, maybe if they’re actually kissing, if they have matching wedding rings, you know, things of that nature. But I know that people are weird. Amatormativity is weird. It’s all weird.
Royce: I guess I’ve experienced a situation sort of like that. Friend of mine broke her foot one day. And then–
Courtney: Oh, this is a great story.
Royce: She was actually out on a date with someone and I got a call the next morning, on a Saturday, I think. And she was like, “Hey, can you take me to urgent care?” Because yeah, she had accidentally kicked the median crossing the street and, like, broke a toe. Like missed the step up onto the median.
Royce: Exactly. And so yeah, I drove her to the Urgent Care and she told me after the fact, a couple of the times that the hospital staff had, like, whispered something in her ear about the two of us being together or something.
Courtney: Were they like, “Oh, he’s so handsome.”
Royce: Something like that or just being nice for being present for the situation.
Courtney: What– What a supportive boyfriend! And is this the same friend who is really awkward anytime anyone implies that you two are or were in a relationship?
Royce: Yeah, you met her once.
Courtney: I met her on multiple occasions.
Courtney: If that’s who I’m thinking of.
Courtney: Because you two actually met on a dating site and when we had, like, our housewarming party– When we bought this house and we had like a Halloween housewarming party and she came over and a bunch of our other friends came over, and so we had some friends meeting friends for the first time. Some people were meeting like one or the other of us for the first time, if they hadn’t met both yet. And I just remember this situation of someone asking her while I was standing there, like, “Oh, so how, how did you meet?” And she was like, “Well, Royce– Royce and I met on a dating site.” And I already knew this. She gave me kind of a tentative look like she wasn’t sure if I knew this yet, or if she should be saying this in my presence. But I was already aware and I know that you didn’t actually have, like, a real relationship, that’s just how you met and then you decided to become friends, pretty much right off the bat. But is this the same person who kind of couldn’t figure out how to reconcile your gender, gender expression?
Royce: Yeah. She definitely struggled with that a little bit to the point where it surprised me. This is also the person who, had I had the terminology back then, I would have asked her some questions about how she would consider herself under the split attraction model. Specifically being possibly, something along the lines of heteroromantic bi or pansexual.
Royce: And I think it was that aspect of gender presentation that was throwing her a little bit.
Courtney: Aha. I see, yes, so there was a lot going on, but she had become a fairly regular friend at this point. So I had met her on multiple occasions, but when she said that you met on a dating site and just sort of left it there, this guy, he was super nice, but he just got the wrong impression. But he started gushing about, like, it is so cool that even though the relationship didn’t work out you’re still able to be friends. And here, you know, here you are, like, hanging out with, you know, the– the wife and now they’re married and own a house and you’re over at the housewarming party. And he just kept gushing about, like, how cool that was, which I guess kind of goes back to the conversation of like, why can’t you still be friends if there’s something unrequited? So people do think that’s really cool and rare when that happens. But she just, like, panicked, like instantly burst into a cold sweat and was like, looking around trying to find an out in this conversation and to the point where I had half a second of like, was there more to this story than what Royce has told me? Like, was this actually a relationship for a while? And but no. Apparently, this is just an anxious friend.
Courtney: But yeah, and in just sort of identity questioning, to bring it back to Jaiden Animations, she mentioned that at a certain point, she thought she may have been bi, bi or even pan. Because she logically understood that to be bi is to be interested in, you know, both men and women. But she wasn’t interested in men or women, but she was equally uninterested in men or women. So she’s like, “Well, zero equals zero, I guess I’m bi.” Which is interesting because that wasn’t quite my experience, because apparently compulsory heteronormativity had its toll on me. Because I kissed some girls and I didn’t like it. And then I kissed some boys, and I also didn’t like it. But I was like, for some reason still thought I liked guys. I don’t– I really can’t explain that one.
Royce: Hetero was your default, so unless there was clearly something that overrode that, that’s what you fell back to?
Courtney: Pretty much, pretty much. It was, I mean, I hadn’t ever been presented with any other option at that point, which was, you know, pretty much the same reason that Jaiden gave for thinking she was bi. So that’s a very common experience. And it was interesting when she was talking about, you know, dating prospects in the past. How she didn’t understand that there were real emotions behind the decision about whether or not to date someone. And that she was just using a logical understanding of the steps and kind of rationalizing with pros and cons. Like, what are the pros of dating this person? What are the cons of it? And just generally treating it like a very transactional give-and-take kind of situation without the underlying emotion. Which at least sounds healthier than how I dealt with it. Because if I was not currently partnered, my rule, for the longest time, was to give everyone a chance.
Courtney: If someone asked me out when I was not in a relationship, my default was at least go on one date and see how it goes. And that led to a lot of shit dates and a lot of really uncomfortable situations. And I wasted a lot of time, and it was a horrible rule, and I should have never had it. But yeah, without really experiencing what drastically compels someone to date another, I just kind of had this rule of like, be fair to everyone. Because I didn’t want to be the person who’s like unfairly turning someone down. And like what if this ends up being a good thing. Which considering the fact that it was more men than women that I was being propositioned by, really just means I spent way too much of my life being overly concerned about being too fair to heterosexual men. 0 out of 10, do not recommend.
Courtney: So then she wades into talking about asexuality, which again kind of reiterates that she’s less comfortable talking about this publicly. So she doesn’t get very specific about personal experience, but she does very much explain the split attraction model without specifically calling it the split attraction model. But when you see it animated, it was really, really nice and very smooth. Because you have sort of a sliding scale of romance and a sliding scale of– I think she kept using intimate attraction because she didn’t want to say sexual.
Royce: Yeah, that’s what it was.
Courtney: And it was like 0 to 100 on both, and she’s like playing with these two scales and she’s like, “They aren’t necessarily connected. You can have one but not the other. Most people have both. I have none of them.” And it’s just like sliding the scales around as she’s explaining that. So I thought that was actually a very good introduction to the concept of the split attraction model. Because I reckon in the 12 million people who have viewed this so far that’s new information for some.
Royce: And the use of sliding scales on both spectrums showed that it wasn’t a binary; you have this or you do not.
Courtney: Exactly. And yeah, without getting into detail, she basically just says well, “I’ve never been magnetically attracted to the look or shape of a person even once in my life.” And that’s– that’s relatable. And she even goes on to explain, you know, “I understand the textbook definition of conventional attractiveness. I can say who is attractive based on societal standards, but not from anything that’s coming from me. And I did not realize that people were actually just sexually attracted to all these people and that they weren’t just exaggerating.” And she even says, “I especially didn’t realize people actually felt that for celebrities, which sounds absolutely exhausting.” And oh, my goodness, it is. How many times have we been like, man it’s weird when married couples have their, like, theoretical freebies. Like if you ever get a chance to sleep with this particular celebrity, you can, even though we don’t practice non-monogamy. Which just like– nothing about that has ever appealed to me. It doesn’t feel necessary. I literally have not a single person I would even consider putting on such a list. One of those things I’m destined to never understand.
Royce: Along with the fuck-marry-kill game.
Courtney: Oh, yeah that game. Hate it. Like do I have to fuck one? But yeah, overall I mean definitionally and as something that is very clearly going to be new information for a lot of people, I think it was done very, very well. She even explains that you know, some aces are genuinely turned off by it, some aren’t necessarily and maybe it’s because they want to make their partners happy, maybe it is a way for them to feel close to their partners. And she’s like, “I refuse to say what side of that spectrum I’m on.” And it’s good to have boundaries especially when you have a platform that big. And she again implores you not to speculate. I don’t know at what point she found this vocabulary and started identifying with it, but the definitions that she actually uses when she says little to no attraction is very much the new agreed-upon definition. It has not been around for that long, but she definitely mentions that, yeah, the words aro and ace gave me tools to describe the things that I’ve been feeling all along.
Courtney: She also explains how a lot of people who fall under one or both of these spectrums often feel broken and that is something we hear time and time again, but I think it was really awesome that she said she didn’t actually feel that way, and that she felt more empowered and capable, and that she thinks that this is just like the coolest and most confident orientation. I actually wrote down this quote, because I liked it so much, she said, “Not needing a single gram of romantic or intimate validation from anyone else is so cool.” And I love that. It is so cool. And even though some things about being aroace can be difficult, sometimes, I think it’s important to also emphasize the really good and positive sides.
Courtney: But she does say that even though she is feeling very empowered with these new labels and that she is totally comfortable in her own orientation, she does explain how she did start to feel a bit isolated at the same time. And the animation in it is really cool, where there’s sort of this crack that opens up in the floor, in just a room where a bunch of people wearing like a variety of pride flag shirts, to illustrate more people in the LGBT community, and a crack opens up and kind of drives a wedge between the aro and/or ace people and everybody else, and explaining that it can be really isolating. Because even in the broader Queer community people kind of relate to one another on the grounds that their sexual orientation is different from the societal norm, but aroace people are just kind of like, “We don’t do that attraction thing of which you speak.”
Royce: Even beyond that, a lot of queer people try to relate to or bond with the heteronormative people on the grounds of experiencing sexual attraction.
Courtney: Yeah. “Love Is Love” they say… only if it’s the right kind of love, and that right kind of love is romantic and sexual, at the same time. She does mention the– the age-old line that people like to use against us, is that, you know, sex and/or romance is what “makes us human.” But she’s here with the facts. She’s here with the bird based facts, that many birds mate for life. And that is better than some humans even. And that all animals, including birds, get frisky because that’s how they become not extinct. And that that’s certainly not exclusive to humans. Which thank you! That’s what I’ve been saying for years. How do you say sex is what makes us human? When most animal species do that. I don’t know how to measure romance in animals, romance kind of feels like a human construct, but maybe it’s not. I don’t know.
Royce: It’s hard to assess things when there’s no real measure of communication, but I feel like there have been enough studies of certain animals, animals on the higher end of, like, the intelligence spectrum who have shown noticeable social intelligence.
Courtney: Oh, of course, there are many.
Royce: Which I assume overlaps.
Courtney: Yeah, I believe it. People don’t always give animals enough emotional credit. So here’s the thing, by and large the reception to this was very positive. There were a lot of really, really good responses and reactions. There were a lot of comments talking about how, you know, fellow aroaces felt very seen and haven’t felt seen like this on a scale, and people who had never been presented with this information before, you know, saying thank you I learned something new. Even people saying, like, “That sounds like me, I didn’t have a word for this!” Like, thank you. I think you just helped me learn more about myself. So those are all very, very good things.
Courtney: There were some little pockets here and there that got very nitpicky and a little bit nasty. And some of it came from that scene where the wedge was being opened in the crack in the earth was forming between the aroaces and the romantically and sexually oriented– orientated– oh, oriented members of the LGBTQ community. People decided to take this very good video and do a flag discourse about it, which I was quite disappointed to see. The blank t-shirts had a variety of different Pride flags on them. Many of which I doubt the average viewer could point out and identify what they are. But if you’ve ever had the misfortune of stumbling upon online flag discourse, there are so many Pride flags, some of them are pretty niche, some of them inevitably have a, like, “This flag is problematic. And here’s why this flag is problematic.”
Courtney: And that’s what happened here, because Jaiden used a flag that a certain percentage of people think is problematic and I’ll give you a brief rundown of the thing just so you can at least understand how complicated flag discourse can get. Because I’m not going to tell you what the right or wrong answer is or if this flag is or is not problematic. Because if you ask people who are saying the flag is problematic, they don’t all have the same answer. They think they know the truth, but if you ask five different people the same question in flag discourse, you will often get five different answers. But the flag in question is– Royce. You might get a kick out of this. I kid you not, it is the MLM flag.
Royce: What’s that?
Courtney: Men Loving Men. It is not, in fact, multi-level marketing.
Royce: Are there other…? I have a few words to say about flags in general here in a minute, but are there other flags? I’m sure there is a gay flag. Is there a gay flag that is already specifically men and distinct from a lesbian flag or how many– How many similar overlapping flags are there to this potentially problematic flag?
Courtney: A babillion and a half. So yeah, so the MLM flag, the men-loving-men flag is basically the gay man’s flag, but it’s highly problematic I am told. And I’ve been told multiple reasons why it’s problematic, some of which I have found to be completely debunked, some of which I personally don’t see as much of an issue anyway, but flag discourse man. Basically, there was a WLW flag, which most are telling me predates the MLM flag. So the women loving women flag is like various shades of pink essentially, pinks, reds and purples, fuchsias. Some people call it the lesbian flag. Some people don’t call it the lesbian flag. They call it the Women Loving Women flag, and those two groups of people will fight to the death over which one is the more correct way to call that flag. But basically the MLM flag looks mighty similar to the women loving women flag because they have the same number of stripes, they’re just sort of like shades of blue and bluish green instead of shades of pink and pinkish purple. And so some of the people who you ask why is this flag problematic will tell you, “well, it’s because it was stolen from the lesbians, the lesbians made their own flag, and then the gay men copied them, and that is inherently problematic.”
Courtney: There are also some people who will tell you that the person who made the MLM flag is a trans man truscum, who– That’s a whole discourse, but basically invalidates trans people who do not medically, surgically transition, etc. Although I found an account claiming to have made the MLM flag and says, “No, a second account basically stole my flag and tried to make it seem like they made it. And I’m horrified that it was a truscum person who did this.” So, I will be 100% honest. I did not go deep enough down the rabbit hole to actually fact-check any of these claims, because I think the actual conversation here is the nature of the discourse rather than what is the actual answer.
Courtney: But so, some people are upset about it because of that but then I found a certain percentage of people who think that that flag is problematic because the person who made the MLM flag supports m-spec lesbians, which m-spec is one of those words that I have never once heard someone say in real life, in real life queer spaces. But it does stand for multi-sexual spectrum. So that would be the umbrella with which bi people fall under, pan people fall under, etc. So you have a multi spectrum that isn’t just pointing in one single direction. And there’s this whole can of worms discourse where some lesbian say, lesbians is just women who love only women and nobody else. And if you are m-spec and call yourself a lesbian, you are a lesbo-phobic.
Courtney: I think that’s a very reductive line of reasoning overall, because there are asexual lesbians. There are aromantic lesbians. And because of that fact alone, it baffles me every time there is someone in the Aspec community who says that you can’t be m-spec and a lesbian. Because just by nature of being aromantic and/or asexual, but also having being oriented, and oriented ace, or oriented aro, you’re already proving that there are so many different layers to orientation that just don’t get discussed all the time. So there’s definitely a camp of people online who will say, if you believe the m-spec lesbians are a thing, if you support them, you are a bigot and I want nothing to do with you. So some people are claiming– some people claiming that the person who made this MLM flag is exclusionary because they think they’re truscum, and some people think they’re too–
Courtney: Too inclusive, because you shouldn’t include m-specs lesbians. So yeah, really can’t win for losing in this discourse. But also then there’s just some people who are like, how dare you steal the concept of the WLW flag and turn it into an MLM flag with the same number of stripes but different colors. And it is difficult to find the actual answer to all of these questions. Unless you are elbow deep in Tumblr and have been for the last few years. I’m not saying it’s impossible to find, but I am saying I have better use of my time than getting to the bottom of these things.
Courtney: But the discourse around Jaiden’s video definitely became like taking a screenshot of people in that room who were wearing the MLM flag and being like, “Oh God. I can’t believe it. Jaiden used a problematic flag.” And then it became like, “I really want to believe that Jaiden doesn’t know how problematic this flag is. I really hope it was just like a rogue animation assistant, who is doing the coloring for her who put this flag in, but she had no idea that it was coming into the final video.” And like all this discourse of, like, lamenting the fact that if Jaiden Animations put this flag in on purpose she’s supporting something inherently problematic and “I don’t want to have to cancel her,” but my goodness, if that was your one takeaway from this video… yeesh.
Royce: So to jump off from that point, I get kind of frustrated anytime there’s this sort of expectation that you need to know and have memorized and understand every tiny little corner of every little community. Because when it comes to flags, I don’t like flags. I don’t like most forms of material symbolism.
Courtney: It’s true.
Royce: I have never resonated with a symbol. I have never felt represented by an object. And when it comes to the ace flag, specifically, I have on multiple occasions looked up the specific RGB color codes to reproduce it in some form. But if you came up to me on the street and were like, “Quick, describe the ace flag.” I– pretty sure I could come up with the four colors after a moment of thought. I don’t know if I could reliably tell you the order. And that’s my representative flag, let alone all of the other flags out there. And by the way, did all of you out there know that the name for the color purple in the ace flag is patriarch?
Courtney: Patriarch! Patriarch purple!
Royce: And– and people say men don’t get enough representation in the Ace community.
Courtney: Oh… No comment.
Royce: But if we can have another real quick, ‘queer people versus disabilities’ discussion.
Courtney: Let’s hear it.
Royce: I’m colorblind. I’ve seen walls of flags before where some of the bands bleed together, because the color values are too similar, the– the lightness portion of the color. I’ve seen flags where the boundary line vibrates and is physically uncomfortable to look at. I’ve seen cases where the bands are non uniform sizes and I have to stare at something really hard because I can’t tell if it has a thick band, or if there is that one band is actually two different colors and I just can’t see the dividing line, because the color choices were too similar.
Courtney: And it’s gone both ways. You have pointed at lots of flags before and asked me to clarify, like, what color is this or is this two colors?
Royce: So some of these flags can be difficult to tell apart. They can be difficult to look at, sometimes physically, not as in this doesn’t meet my taste, but as this appears to be moving because of the colors that were placed right next to each other, and it actually causes eye discomfort.
Courtney: Well, because a lot of people making these flags are not familiar with accessibility and I’d venture a good percentage of them aren’t even really versed in color theory. Because anyone can make a flag at any point. Anyone can put stripes in any size or combination or number of stripes, and put colors together. And that’s– that’s not a bad thing that anyone can do that, because I fully support people’s ability to just be creative and make things. But if it is representative of an entire community, like there can be some color issues where people cannot see it the way you do.
Courtney: Like physically.
Royce: Open creatorship is a double-edged sword. You’ll get so much more creative things being produced by a community but not everyone is formally trained to understand all of the ins and outs.
Courtney: Well in accessibility, I mean, there are even graphic artists who have been to school for such things that don’t learn about things from an accessibility perspective either, just because unfortunately in schools and education accessibility is such a low priority and sometimes not present whatsoever. So yes. All this to say people totally have any right to use whatever flag that they personally resonate with, but many of these are not officially agreed upon flags. And honestly, like, if you look up like the gay men flag, there are more than just this 7-band one, that I’ve seen people online start to call the toothpaste flag.
Royce: And why is it called a toothpaste flag? Is that a comment on its color palette?
Courtney: Well, here’s the color palette, it’s blues and whites and that kind of green
Royce: Oh. That is very toothpaste branding.
Courtney: Yeah. It’s so. Some people call it the toothpaste flag, but also like it’s not the only version of flag that has those color schemes. There’s a five band one that’s similar. I’ve seen three band ones. There are ones where the greens are more like grass green instead of seafoam green, but I mean, it’s all over the place. I found a post on r/gaymen that’s like, “Here are all the gay men flags.” And there are right off the bat, going back to Tumblr 2016 up till today, there have been 12 at least. At least 12 that have gotten enough attention that they made it onto this list. And sometimes that’s just because people don’t know that there’s already a flag for this and say, “Hey, I want a flag for this. So I’m going to make it.” And sometimes it’s because people hear through the grapevine that something about this flag is problematic, so they’re like, “Well if this flag is problematic, I have to make a new one so we can have a non-problematic flag.”
Courtney: And I’ll tell you, a time or two I’ve seen people try to make a very weird edge case for why the asexual flag is problematic, but I am going to firmly stand behind the fact that we had a community survey for this. We voted on the flag as a community in 2010. And it is older than a lot of these new flags coming up. Because 2016 for some reason seems to be the year of flag discourse, because I’m seeing so many flags which were created on Tumblr and 2016 and have continued ever since then. But yeah, it’s– It’s just–
Courtney: To me it’s very similar vibes to when someone nitpicks like a very specific word or the way you said something. Because here is someone who – although they aren’t saying that they like the word coming out – this is functioning very similarly to a coming out video. Where for the first time they are publicly saying, I am aromantic asexual. Here’s what this means to me. Here are my personal stories. Here’s a little more about the spectrum. And I thought this was important to do even though I’m uncomfortable with it, just because there isn’t a lot of representation out there. Talking about this for 15 minutes, making a beautiful animation… and your biggest takeaway that you are going to go online and start spreading discourse about is this coloration on this t-shirt in this one scene?
Royce: Where there are dozens of other flags.
Courtney: It is problematic. It’s kind of missing the forest for the trees. Like it’s nitpicky. I don’t like that because there were so many good things. So many good things about this video that to derail it with something that– really this was not about flags. That was purely a visual choice to have a bunch of people wearing a bunch of flags to just indicate these are all queer people. So I will not understand why that got so ugly for a while. But then there were also people who are like, “Wait, why is that flag problematic?” And that I’m seeing like three or four different answers coming at them. It’s like that doesn’t help those people who are asking. Or even worse when they’re like, “Why is this flag problematic?” And people are like, “Just google it.” Just– just google why– why this flag is problematic, when I venture, the average person isn’t even looking at that flag knowing what that flag is called in order to google it. They’re just seeing colors of blue and white pinstripes on a shirt, and saying google why that picture is problematic. Which I’ll say one thing for flag discourse, the flags that get the most discourse are the ones that I can actually pick out of a crowd now because I see enough people griping about them. And I don’t know if they’re problematic or not, but I know what they’re called now.
Courtney: But yeah that side of the discourse aside, she does say something that some loveless aromantics didn’t particularly appreciate, which is another thing that I do see is valid, but perhaps a bit nitpicky. Because she says at one point like, you know, “I think that sex doesn’t make people human I don’t think romantic attraction makes people human, if I were to guess what makes people human it’s basic empathy and I’m not an emotionless monster, like I can still love people. I love my family and I love my pets. And it’s just platonically.” And there are some people who are loveless aros and they, by and large, reject the necessity of loving as an emotion, period. And they’re like, “I didn’t like that she said, like, I’m not a motionless monster because I can still love.” Because that might imply that people who don’t still love are monsters. Which I can get to a certain extent. It is very reminiscent of what she had just said a minute earlier when she said, you know, this is what makes us human. And she just sort of flips the script and uses ‘monster’.
Courtney: And we certainly hear both frequently in the aspec community. But I do think she is redeemed by the fact that she outright says that these spectrums are much bigger than you would probably suspect. And she implores everyone to learn more about these spectrums. And even says, like, “I still have a lot of learning to do.” Like she admits that right out of the gate, I still have a lot of learning to do, and if you’re interested to learn more, you absolutely should because you might be on one of these spectrums and not even know it. Because there’s just so much more to it than this primer video that I’m giving. So, which, for as much as I saw some loveless aros take issue with that line, I did not – surprisingly – I did not see anyone bring up the quote, ‘basic empathy is what makes people human’ line because I could see that being a potential issue of ableism.
Courtney: I’ve– I know some people and I have watched some YouTube videos and read some blogs from people who have what would medically and diagnostically be considered Cluster B Personality Disorders, which things like narcissistic personality disorder fall under. Borderline personality, antisocial personality disorder, things of that nature, where you know that the ableism comes when people are like, “Oh if you don’t have empathy you are a serial killer and a monster.” But actually there are a lot of people who do not experience empathy in the same way as abled and neurotypical people do. And that doesn’t mean that they are monsters, it doesn’t mean that they’re serial killers. And so they– I don’t– I guess, just like, basic empathy is very broad. It’s hard to define basic empathy as the thing that makes people human and it’s just wrong.
Royce: It’s just another case of learning to not speak in absolutes, any time you make an absolute statement like that you’re going to be leaving some people out.
Courtney: Yeah, which I’m kind of oddly fascinated just by, like, the human desire to define one end-all-be-all thing that makes people human. Because I mean, every time we see that it’s problematic in some way, but people keep doing that. And if they don’t think the thing you say makes people human is correct, they’ll just make up their own.
Royce: We like our boxes.
Courtney: We like our boxes.
Royce: We like everything to fit up into a neatly organized connected pattern or pile.
Courtney: But we also like to make it based on some kind of emotion or behavior too, because I never see people take it like the strict, like, geneticist route.
Royce: You are a human because your DNA is configured in this manner. You have this many chromosomes, which will be proven false the first time a human brain is digitized.
Courtney: Well, not even everybody has the same number of chromosomes. But like overall, I’ve also just– I have taken to trying my hardest not to nitpick individual people. Especially when they’re talking about their own personal experience. Because Jaiden Animations is not a sexuality expert, she is not an activist. She is telling her own personal experience, and the way she feels at this point in time. Now, if this were like a nonprofit organization or a doctor, someone who has some sort of, you know, authority and advocacy who is saying exactly these same things, I would be much more inclined to be like, absolutely not, you cannot say that. Because, yeah, at the end of the day, that was one single line in a 15 minute video that was otherwise brilliant, and very good and very well done. And I would much rather praise the good than nitpick a single line from someone when they’re expressing their own personal experience too. But yeah, it was also kind of funny because when we heard Jaiden Animations is aroace and we saw this video the day it came out ,there was nothing surprising about it. Not even a little bit.
Royce: Yeah, you had pulled up YouTube and shouted across the house because I was in a different room that the video came out. And I said, “Oh, that makes sense.”
Courtney: That makes sense. It does. It makes sense. I mean, we watched back in November– November 2021, she made a video about playing weird dating sims, which is a beloved pastime of ours as well. There were definitely clues in there. I mean, she opened that video with like, “Ah, dating. Not a fan.”
Royce: Yeah. I’m pretty sure everyone is familiar with the term gaydar, as a general set of behaviors, mannerisms, speech patterns, whatever that is often present in the gay community, which makes sense because the gay community has a history of needing to hide away somewhere safe from the heteronormative community and has thus developed a very strong identifiable culture. And while the ace community hasn’t had that thus far, we haven’t had ace bars that you can just go out to, in any major city.
Courtney: There was one once, literally once, in the UK during Pride. There was like I think a beer company and alcohol company that, like, reached out to Yasmin Benoit and was like, “Will you partner with us to make an ace club during Pride?” And so that happened. But that was– that was just a pop-up. We don’t have any fixtures that I’m aware of.
Royce: But people can often see little pieces of themselves in other people. And so we’ve had moments or we’ve had other ace friends who have said that sometimes when they see another person out there they can just tell if there’s somewhere on a similar spectrum to them. And there are some things historically, throughout Jaiden’s videos that have made me think, like, this is probably someone on the A-spectrum.
Royce: And it was really the– it was really the video ‘Dating things I shouldn’t’ that I think confirmed a lot of those assumptions, to the point of being assured as you can without someone actually coming out and saying something.
Courtney: Yeah. Well, it was funny because some of the dating sims that she played and talked about on that video were ones that we had also played already, like Speed Dating For Ghosts was a thing that we played and it was very cute and we enjoyed playing it. And when we play dating sims we tend to try to go through all the routes, just so we can get, like, the full picture of the story and all the different characters. But from what Jaiden was rehashing she was just trying to, you know, actually find a virtual partner. And every time it was given an option, like “I like being alone, I don’t want to date,” and things like that, she would actually take them. And sometimes it would end the game early without giving her the chance to date. And she even said, like, ”Well, I guess I can’t actually be myself in these games.” And she tried to do different answers, but she was way more excited about the silly tangency you can go on, like, why go on a date when you could instead rob a bank. And I didn’t even know until watching that video that there’s like Namco dating sim, of Namco characters.
Royce: That’s because it was a pretty hard to track down browser-based game from about eight or nine years ago that had its server shutdown.
Courtney: I see. Apparently she went in saying, “I want to hang out with Dig Dug,” but you’re in high school and Dig Doug’s, apparently the principal. So she’s like, “Ow no, what’s even the point of going on,” but then she realized that she had the option to try to date Galaga Ship. She’s like, “Well now I have a reason to keep playing because I just want to date Galaga Ship.” So yeah, picking– picking the nonhuman thing to romance is very, very funny. So yeah, definitely little– little hints in that, little hints and things. Like the really old flirting video, just general things that made a lot of sense. We definitely saw these hints before the ‘not being straight’ video. And now we have our information. It is funny. We aren’t even the only ones, I saw a couple of tweets here and there that were like, “Jaiden Animations totally gave me aroace vibes. Glad to see I was correct.” The a-dar is tuned.
Courtney: But overall, we love it. Huge win for the aroace community. I guess she did also at one point just– I mean since we’re having this huge discussion, she did very, very definitively say that Aromanticism and Asexuality are two different things, and she made that very clear. And to a lot of people they are, but it is also important to understand that there are people who do not use the split attraction model. Even in our community, and the A-spec community use a split attraction model way more than anyone else. I mean, it started with us. We had a necessity to break these into two different things, in many people’s personal experiences. But I have come to meet many people who prefer one term over the other. Where for example, there’s– they’ll say, “I am asexual.” But they do not use the split attraction model. So to them, the fact that they are not sexually attracted to anyone and the fact that they are not romantically attraction to anyone is exactly the same thing. They do not split it apart. And the weird thing is that that’s kind of become weird in our community.
Courtney: There are some people who kind of insist that you use the split attraction model. And I think that’s a tremendous injustice to people who don’t use it and don’t have a need to. Because honestly, for as much as I love the split attraction model and I think there is a lot of utility to it for a lot of experiences, we are kind of the weird ones. If you ask the average gay man, what’s their sexual and romantic orientations are they’ll probably just say, “I’m gay.” Like they aren’t going to say, I am homoromantic homosexual. And if all signs kind of point in the same direction, there are some aroaces who say, like, “Yes, aroace is my title.” It encompasses both. But I know people say “I’m asexual” and they mean both and they don’t want to separate it. And that is fine and we absolutely need to respect those people. And not insist that they pull apart their orientation, if in their own experience, they are so intertwined that it’s difficult to separate or there’s no desire to separate them.
Courtney: But again, I say that for the benefit of the listeners, not to nitpick Jaiden Animations necessarily, because I think she did everything right. Making it clear she has a lot to learn. Making it clear there’s so much more and that these spectrums are bigger than you might expect and imploring people to dig in deeper on their own. So on that note, I think we are going to end it here for today. But in– in revisiting Jaiden’s dating sim video, I really do want to do an episode where we talked about some of our favorite weird dating sims, because we’ve had some very, very silly ones. And that’s an episode we’ve talked about potentially doing pretty much since we started the podcast. So maybe that will be coming in the near future, but until then, we will see you all next week.