Answering Your NGL Questions

Time for an anonymous Q&A! We asked for questions via the NGL app and you delivered! We do our best to answer them all, but a few of them are complicated enough that they could be an entire episode on their own!


Courtney: Hello everyone and welcome back to our podcast. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And today, we have a little Q&A episode for you all. We downloaded that silly little NGL app and asked our Twitter followers to send us anonymous questions. And send us anonymous questions you did. We have a lot of them. So we’re going to sit down today and answer as many as we can fit in a single podcast episode.

Courtney: Our first question comes from Anonymous. [laughing] Should I say that every time for every question? “Out of the common Ace symbols, such as cake, garlic bread, dragons, et cetera, do you have a favorite and a least liked?” Royce, do you want to start us off on that one?

Royce: I was going to say, this is your question. I don’t really get symbols. I think the whole thing is kind of silly.

Courtney: Royce does not feel represented by objects. Or people, really. You’re just sort of an un-representable entity. And, you know, I feel like I am in some ways. For me, symbols have power insomuch as they can spark community. And I think some symbols do that a little better than others, or historically have. Unfortunately, I am contractually obligated to not publicly talk about Asexuality and the cake symbol for another couple of months. So, instead, in the show notes, I will link to you an article that I recently wrote for Bon Appetit about the history of cake as a symbol in the Ace community, and by extension, a little bit about garlic bread. And I lightly answer the question on those two foods in there. But out of all of the other symbols, dragons is, to me, fairly new. Dragons wasn’t really an Ace symbol at the time I came to understand my own Asexuality, so I can get on board with it because I like dragons. I mean, we both play D&D quite a bit – as players and as dungeon masters, just the two of us and with groups. So I suppose my association with dragons doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Asexuality – unless we take it in a route that I don’t necessarily love, but I also think can be reclaimed, in the, like, “the nerd who likes nerd things and doesn’t get laid and cares more about dragons than sex.” That’s something I’ve gone back and forth about as to whether or not I like it as a reclaimed thing or not, but I guess I just don’t associate it with my personal brand of Asexuality. There are things like the Ace ring, wearing a black ring on the middle finger, and by extension the Aro ring, a white ring on the middle finger. I’ve never done that personally either.

Courtney: So on a – let’s do favorite, though. I really like axolotls, and I don’t know why. [laughs] Because axolotls was much more the big Ace symbol when I was coming into my own Asexuality, like, over a decade ago now. It was axolotls instead of dragons. And I still really like axolotls. We’ve purchased little, like, Asexual pride color axolotl crocheted and craft things. We also collaborated on winning an axolotl plushie from one of those little Japanese crane app games. So we’ve got a couple axolotls around our house. But… so that’s probably my favorite. I don’t know that I necessarily have a least favorite, because this isn’t necessarily a symbol; it’s more of a meme than anything. But more often than not, I don’t love the Denmark thing. The “invading Denmark.”

Royce: Question. So that was because Denmark is, what, approximately 1% of the world’s population and that’s the number of Asexuals?

Courtney: It was based on, like, the size of their military.

Royce: Ohhh.

Courtney: This happened just, like, last year. So again, this is a very new thing, but someone posted, like, “Denmark’s military is this number of people, and if Aces make up 1% of the population, then we have so many more than them. So, let’s invade and take over Denmark and have an Ace haven.” And I don’t know, I don’t know. Around the time I first saw that, I also knew, because I was volunteering behind the scenes, that World Pride was about to come up, and World Pride was based in Denmark that year. And so organizations like AVEN and independent Asexual volunteers were actually working with a Danish Asexual organization to make an Ace conference as part of World Pride. And so at the time I saw that, I was like, “Why? [laughs] Why are we coming for Denmark? They’re actually doing some good things right now.”

Royce: Also, I know this is meant to be a joke and that’s fine, but like, maybe don’t try to make a sexuality version of an ethnostate?

Courtney: I mean, we don’t love colonizing. [laughs] Let’s not make taking over other places our brand, because that’s just not a great look. So yeah, that’s probably my least favorite. And I think I would have liked it better if it was just a single post that never got repeated. But I still see, like, “When are we taking over Denmark?” It’s like, that was over a year ago that that became a thing and we’re still just talking about it. [laughs]

Royce: It would be like if people, to this day, were still talking about rushing Area 51. Like, the joke’s passed. It’s done.

Courtney: Oh my gosh! [laughing] The Area 51 thing! That is a great comparison. That’s perfect.

Courtney: So this next question’s a big one. Could probably be its own episode. We’ll try to give some key points, but: “How can able-bodied Aces better embrace and support the disabled part of the Ace community?”

Royce: Well, on the broader scale, for the parts of life that don’t really have anything to do with being a part of any particular group, just trying to make the world that we live in more accessible is a big part of that. And that includes putting alt-text on images. Trying to create transcripts for any content that you put out. If you’re involved in any sort of conference or gathering, making sure that the places that you are allocating for people to gather at actually meet people’s accessibility needs.

Courtney: Oh, Absolutely. And on that note, not making accessibility, like, an afterthought, like, “We are putting together an event. We’re doing a thing, hosting a place,” whether that be virtually or in-person, don’t wait until the last minute to bring someone in and see if everything is up to accessibility standards. Because oftentimes, that can create a lot of tension, that places a lot of burden on disabled people and accessibility experts to say, “These things, X, Y, and Z, you’ve already put in place are not going to cut it. You have to redo it or totally change it.” And that can lead to conflict. So, really incorporating it at, like, every step of the process from day one. You should have someone whose job it is to look out for accessibility. And you need to really treat them as priorities, essentially.

Courtney: And some of the other ones, just takes a lot more ongoing intentional work to unpack ableism in your own mind. Because we are all born into a society that is ableist. And we all have things to unpack. And part of that is just really, really, really every step of the way, doing the work to understand that disability is not a bad thing. A person who is disabled is not wrong or lesser. They are disabled because society does not accommodate them and inherently devalues their lives.

Courtney: The way I see this manifest often in the Ace places is this really, really harsh divide of almost overstating how little Asexuality has to do with bodily function or pathology. And I get it, because Aces are told that this isn’t a real orientation, this is a medical issue, this is something that needs to be fixed. Well, that in and of itself is kind of an ableist train of thought. Other people are looking at Asexuality and saying, “That is different. Therefore, it is wrong. Therefore, it needs to be fixed. You need to be fixed. We don’t need to accommodate you because you’re the broken one.” So, I honestly think a lot of the bigotry that Asexual people get is just an extension of ableism.

Courtney: And if you can start thinking of it in that way, then maybe you can understand that everything you are getting in the form of Acephobia, disabled Aces are getting it, usually, worse, on average and from multiple different sides and different places. So I always recommend easing up on the “Aces aren’t broken! We aren’t crazy! There isn’t anything wrong with our bodies! There isn’t anything wrong with our heads!” Because that can get really, really alienating for Aces who are disabled.

Courtney: And I’d even say above all, I want all of us to try to get better at not seeing other people’s experience as a threat to our own. I see that a lot online – with disabled Aces, with older Aces, with Aces of color. If an Ace is sharing their experience and it doesn’t quite fit into the world view of what the popular talking points are in the community at the time, we tend to dogpile them in a way that is really, really harmful. And one way that that happened for me, I’ve mentioned a bit before, but a little over a year ago, I was quoted in an article talking about my experience as a disabled Ace. And I mentioned that as a disabled person, I have a lot more doctors, diagnoses, doctor’s appointments, I have to take a lot more tests, we have a lot more medical bills, et cetera. And since I also have the capacity to get pregnant, I have to take a lot of pregnancy tests. Often, like totally unnecessary, totally, totally unnecessary. One instance I was talking about in particular was I had to have an x-ray because they thought I had pneumonia and they wanted to x-ray my lungs. I’m sitting there not able to breathe, and they’re like, “Well, we can’t give you an x-ray until we give you a urinalysis to make sure you’re not pregnant.” And I was like, “It is impossible for me to be pregnant right now. Promise. On every level, there is no way that I am pregnant.” But there wasn’t a waiver I could sign. They would not believe me. But like, in the American system, they’re not paying for that. That’s not free. That’s just another charge that gets put on my bill completely unnecessarily. And if you have to do multiple of those a year, that starts to add up.

Courtney: But the really, really popular talking point in the community at the time was steering in the really sex-positive direction, where everyone was saying, you know, “Some Aces do have sex!” And so a lot of people ended up taking me talking about pregnancy tests, like, really personally, and I got hundreds of negative comments about, you know, [mock outrage] “How dare you imply that Aces don’t have sex when they can, and some even like it!” And then when that internet groupthink kicks in, people start saying, like, “Well, yeah, of course, even if you told your doctor that you were Ace, the doctor should know that that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have sex. So the doctor was doing the right thing and you’re in the wrong here.” And people were way extrapolating and starting to, like, speculate on what my disabilities actually even are and whether or not I talked to my doctor correctly, or, like, blaming me for not being able to advocate for myself, which – I’ve been disabled my whole life. I have seen more doctors than I can even contemplate. I know how to advocate for myself as well as I possibly can in this current system. And it was just nonsense. But more than that, it was mean. I was getting DMs from people saying, “You should never talk about Asexuality again because you’re the wrong advocate for this, and we don’t want people seeing this.” And I was like, “Never once, never once did I say or imply that Aces cannot have sex. I said, I have had to pay a lot of money out of my own pocket for unnecessary pregnancy tests.”

Royce: And that’s a particularly frustrating part of existing online, is that you can use first-person personal pronouns, and somehow, some person, for some reason, will take and internalize what you’ve said to be, like, a personal attack on them as a person. But like, never once did you claim to be 8 billion people at once while… [laughs]

Courtney: Why no, I don’t think even once in my life have I done that.

Royce: I guess in this case, it would be more like, what is that, 40 million?

Courtney: 40 million and some change. [laughs]

Royce: Half the population, and then 1% of that. [laughs]

Courtney: Yeah. So if there is ever a situation where you personally are reading someone else’s experience and you feel this reactionary pull of, like, “That’s wrong! That’s not what that means! This isn’t my experience!” I would rather you take a day to stop and think and sit with that. And instead of attacking people, think about how that person has a different experience that has brought them to this point. And, of course, I’m not saying like an outright bigot, someone who is not Aspec, someone who hates large swaths, if not, all of the queer community – I’m not saying give them the benefit of the doubt. But if someone’s here saying, “I am Ace, and this is my experience,” and you feel something negative and reactionary. That’s what we all need to work on, I think. And that’s not just for disabled Aces. That’s for any Aces that are not in the spotlight, which is a lot of them, actually.

Courtney: And those talking points I mentioned – they change a lot over time. Right now, the landscape of the conversation talks more about sex than we ever did ten years ago. So, ten years ago, I probably could have said a similar thing and – well, 10 years ago was also not great to disabled Aces, so there still would have been some percentage who were like, “We don’t want to talk about disabled Aces,” but I don’t think they would have gotten as hung up on the pregnancy test component of that. I could give more recent examples of things like that happening, but I think we’ve tired that question out for now. So maybe that’s for next time. Maybe that’s for an upcoming episode.

Courtney: This question is impossible. It’s not Ace-related, but we’ll answer it anyway. “What is your favorite time period in history?”

Royce: Oh, you have something to work through on this one? These sort of questions have no meaning to me.

Courtney: It’s an impossible question, because by what standards? I tend to not have favorite anything. If anyone’s like, “What is your favorite food?” I have just, my entire life, [laughing] not been able to answer those questions very easily because there’s way too much to consider, and…

Royce: In my case, I think that the future is unknown, and if you think critically about the past, it all kind of sucks.

Courtney: Yeah, exactly. Well, and so, that’s where it’s hard to take it. Because I am a historian, so I do love history, but it’s really only learning about history and aspects of the history that I like. I would never say, like, “The Victorian era was the best era,” because, like, mmm, wasn’t a great time for lots of reasons, pick your favorite reason. [laughs] And I could also just say, like, “Well, today, because today in history is better than it ever has been,” and in some ways, that’s true.

Royce: Although instead of saying today, you might want to go back a few months.

Courtney: Oh my goodness. “My favorite period of history was four years ago!” [laughs] But we could also take this to, like… “My favorite period in time was pre-humans.” [laughs] Quite fond of the Paleozoic Era myself.

Royce: My favorite period in history was that undescribable time before the Big Bang, where everything was calm and peaceful.

Courtney: Oh. I think that’s the best answer.

Royce: My favorite time period was the nothingness of the void.

[Courtney laughs]

Courtney: “What is your favorite part about being Asexual?”

Royce: Yeah, I can’t answer that one either.

Courtney: Wow!

Royce: This is a case of where, if I started to pick apart how I understand myself as a person, I can’t really grab or disassociate anything without, like, deconstructing my entire experience and personality. And if I started to do that, I’d be a different person, if that makes sense?

Courtney: It does make sense.

Royce: Like, there isn’t one thing that I’m drawn to, and part of that is because I have only lived one experience.

Courtney: Well, my favorite part of being Asexual is that it brought me to you. And that’s true. I would have had absolutely no reason to ever reach out to you if you did not publicly state Asexuality. And since meeting you, my life has become so much happier than I ever anticipated it possibly could be, so. There are lots of other great things about being Asexual. But from a personal perspective, nothing really tops that.

Courtney: Okay. Yeah. Some of these we’re definitely going to need to just make them their own episode. But we’ll touch on them super briefly. “Can you maybe explain more of the lesser-known Asexual labels? I would love more representation. Signed, a Myrsexual.” So this is actually an episode that is on – we have, like, a master list of episode ideas, and some take more planning than others, because some we just sit down and live-react to things, some we just sit down and have a conversation, but some are a little more educational, in a sense of, “Here are words and definitions” and “Here are facts and statistics,” et cetera. But we’ve considered doing an episode on microlabels and, as they say here, the lesser-known labels. Because sometimes microlabels get a really bad rep. And everyone has a different relationship to all the different nuances. Some people really love them. Some people don’t feel like they need them for their personal experience. And this was definitely sparked by some, like, really viral hatred going on to microlabels, which is not cool, where we wanted to maybe entitle the episode, like, “In defense of microlabels,” to not only talk about what some of those labels are, but also why they can be really important to the people who use them. And of course, there are so many labels; we couldn’t possibly get all of them. But that in and of itself could be at least a podcast episode, if not more.

Courtney: But since it’s signed a myrsexual, we can mention that one here. That is a microlabel which, I’m not the most familiar with it, but I have seen it a bit. And from what my understanding of it is, it is someone who identifies as both Demisexual and Graysexual simultaneously. And that’s a really interesting one, because, honestly, any Aspec label – even just the overarching, like, Asexual – different people have different relationships to those, and they have different ideas of what the definition means to them. And I think that’s okay. But some people might see Demisexual and Graysexual as the same thing, and so they will sort of use the labels interchangeably. But there are also some people who see Demisexual and Graysexual as two different things. And if you see them as two different things, you can also be them both simultaneously. So yes, I hope I got that one as correct as can be with a quick definition example there. But, yeah. We’ll be talking more about microlabels at some point.

Courtney: Next question: “Have you ever gone on a date with someone without realizing beforehand that it was a date.”

Royce: I have not, but I think that’s a factor of only really going out to public places or restaurants with people who, like, weren’t coworkers under the context of a pre-established date. Like, everything was very clear, and otherwise, I mostly just kept to myself.

Courtney: I think, in hindsight, I’ve been on a lot of dates [laughs] that I didn’t realize were dates. Oh, Royce. Do you remember what episode… I feel like I had a revelation about this live on microphone [laughs] while we were talking about something. I don’t know what episode that was. But while I was explaining the story, I was like, “Oh no. That was a date, wasn’t it?” [laughs] So yeah. The way I kind of was at a time that I dated, I just assumed nothing was a date unless it was very explicitly told to me that it was a date or asked specifically to be a date. If someone was like, “Hey, do you want to get coffee sometime?” I’d be like, “Great! We are getting coffee. We are two people who are getting coffee together, nothing deeper than that.” [laughs]

Courtney: And with the gift of hindsight, I think I actually went on several dates with the same person without ever realizing that they were dates. And now, I feel really bad, because I don’t know if this poor guy just thought I was stringing him along this whole time. I don’t know if he was [dramatic tone] madly in love with me but didn’t think that I reciprocated any feelings. [regular tone] I have no idea what was going on in his head, but with hindsight, I’m thinking back to all of the times we were together and I was like, “Was I dating him?” [laughs] ’Cause I was never asked on a date in those terms. I was never given any verbal intention of this being a relationship. But we went out to brunch. And then we bought – well, he bought for both of us roller skates, and we went roller skating on the bike trail. And then he invited me over to his house because he heard that I had never watched Star Wars, and so he, like, tried to get me interested in Star Wars. He was like, “Well, we’re going to watch Star Wars.” And he made sangria. And we did that in, like… I don’t remember actually watching Star Wars, but we must have watched a single… Maybe we just ended up talking, because I couldn’t tell you anything about it.

Courtney: Oh that’s right! We did just end up getting to talking, because then we had another movie night where he was, like, really excited to show me this movie and it was… What was that dang movie called? Hold on, I have to google this now. I don’t know what movie that was. Okay. So Silver Linings Playbook. He was like, “You’re going to love this movie,” because I was a dancer, and he was like, “This has to do with dancing.” And, yeah, now that I’m looking up the summary of the film again, like, it’s a love story, but I also remember thinking it was a very questionable love story. [laughs] And, like, he made sangria for us to drink while we did this. And, like, at no point was I like, “This guy is romantically interested in me.” [laughs] But now, in hindsight, I’m like – And then I think he took me to, like, a fancy dinner with his, like, dad and grandpa. So I think we might have just been dating and I never once knew. [laughs] People need to be very clear with me about what they want and what they’re asking for; otherwise, you’re gonna get something totally different.

Courtney: “What are your thoughts on Asexuals who are Acephobic?”

Royce: Well, what’s the context? Because we’ve seen a lot of cases recently, going back to what we were talking about earlier, of someone reading someone’s personal opinion, taking it as an attack, and then calling them Aphobic when they were just talking about their own personal experiences.

Courtney: I do feel like I need more context, yes. Because there are also definitely people who are Ace who are like, “I’m Ace, and Aces aren’t part of the LGB community!” And it’s like, that is a much different story.

Royce: There are absolutely cases where someone can belong to a marginalized group and do harm to said group.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Or to identify as a slice of a group and have an issue with another slice.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Like, if you think about the entire Ace umbrella, there are sometimes romantically-inclined Asexual and Aromantic infighting and things like that.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: Which would still be Aphobia of some kind.

Courtney: Totally.

Royce: What is the question asking? Because…

Courtney: What are your thoughts?

Royce: I mean, I mean, irrational hatred of a group of people based off of how they identify or their orientation is… bad?

Courtney: [laughs] I think… I think there are two different levels. I think when it’s a situation of someone who is Asexual, they have their own experience, they have not been able to connect to many other Asexual people – which is really common – it’s really, really difficult to learn and engage. And when people do try to earnestly show up to a community, usually online, usually for the first time, they are not going to have the agreed-upon vocabulary that certain corners of the Asexual internet have agreed upon. And that can sometimes disproportionately affect older Aces. It can disproportionately affect people who maybe this isn’t their first language. So in those situations where it is an earnest attempt but maybe just doesn’t have the verbiage and capacity for these conversations that we have, I think those people need a lot of compassion that they are not currently likely to get. And I think we should be nicer to those people and still support them, even if they have their own learning and unpacking to do.

Courtney: If it is someone who has, for example, been swallowed up by the TERFs, I have, oddly enough, actually seen some people who claim to be Asexual and trans-exclusionary, and I have literally seen people say, like, “I’m Ace and that’s valid, but it’s not LGB!” And it’s like, “Yeah, I see you left that T off there.” You realize the TERFs also hate Asexuals, right? Like they hate you. Your buddying up to them and agreeing with them on those terms is not going to make them [laughs] respect you more, and it’s not going to make them respect the community more. So those are definitely the people who… Yeah. I’m disappointed in them. I am disappointed in those people. Those are my thoughts. [laughs]

Courtney: This next one is really tough, because I want to answer lots of different things, but the question specifically asked for the main thing. So I’ll be curious to see what you think of this, Royce. “What’s the main issue / topic you would like to see focused on in Ace activism right now?” Oh, that’s a good question but very tough.

Royce: I feel like I need to see a list of topics to make an educated decision on this, but I feel like the most pressing thing is probably the combination of the lack of solidarity that our community has and the targeted attacks that we’re seeing. Like, I think that we need to have a more dedicated approach to combating the outward threats that we’re seeing.

Courtney: I think I agree with that. Because there are so many issues within the community that definitely need more exposure: the ableism issue, the racism issue, ageism issue – all of those are really, really important and need to be discussed. But on the broader Ace activism scope, we’ve gotten, like, marginally better over the last year, I would say, but I do think we’re still really, really stuck and focused in education mode – education and damage control. Because yes, while it is true that we have a lot less exposure than other identities, and there are people who are uneducated about us, it’s not as bad as it used to be, but a lot of the actual threats to our livelihoods are coming from real honest-to-goodness bigots, and I don’t see that we have properly organized in a way that will be able to reliably combat that.

Royce: And I will tack onto that that unity or solidarity can’t fall back on gatekeeping, or this idea of the “perfect activist.” It’s more about having numbers that can actually deal with – I’m just going to call them cyberattacks. The sort of information warfare that is happening.

Courtney: Mmm. Mhm. Yeah, and I think, to the actual organizations that we have, the actual nonprofits or the organizations that aren’t even nonprofits and they all kind of have their own thing, right? And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I see very little from organizations in terms of strategizing to actually get us more rights and to actually keep and retain the rights that we have. I’ll be really, really curious to see how the Yasmin Benoit and Stonewall Project goes. I’m cautiously optimistic that good things will come out of that for UK-based folks, because it sounds like they are actually doing research and hoping to use that research to presumably lobby for legislation. And I think that is not something we see a lot of, and I want to see more of it. I hope it is successful and I hope we see more. But I also think of that and it’s like, well Stonewall’s a more broadly queer community organization and Yasmin is an Ace activist, so that is still not an Ace organization that is really doing political work. I think a lot of our organizations are very neutral. I think a lot of our organizations are very education-based. And I think we need more. I think we need more.

Courtney: This is another one. We might need to keep a secondary list of things to come back to for an entire podcast episode. This one’s huge. “Question. If both of you could custom design some fictional Ace representation in media, what would it be, what medium would it be, and what would you avoid?”

Royce: Yeah, that’s a big one. It’s broad. I guess it would depend on what the purpose was. Is this a case where we are making something because we had the creative insight to make something, and that thing also happens to have Ace rep? Or is, from the beginning, Ace rep the point of the project in general? I think that in terms of media, the one that just experience and skill level that I would be most comfortable in would be some type of game. I just feel like that’s the medium that I would be able to do the most in. But I don’t have a clear idea of how something like this would manifest.

Courtney: Yeah, this is one that’s so hard to answer just on the fly. Because we talk about representation so much, about what we do and do not like about it, that actually creating our own is a totally different ballgame – which we’ve, like, lightly talked about a little bit over the years, but not in in so many details. I think the biggest thing for me is that I would want it to be something that I would want to consume, even if it didn’t have Ace rep. And I think that is a little, like, under-discussed sometimes. Because I’ve read some books that, as far as representing the orientation goes, I think it’s really good, but honestly, the Ace rep is the only reason why I picked up that book or I picked up that TV show, and I wouldn’t ordinarily care about it, because to me, like, the Ace rep is the only thing going on. And part of that might just be my particular taste. I’m really kind of picky with media. I almost never love movies, and I very rarely like the things that everyone and their uncle seems to be loving.

Courtney: So medium, I want there to be more movies with Ace rep, but I don’t think I would want to… I wouldn’t care as much about a movie as a TV show, as long as the TV show had the flexibility to go for exactly as long as it needs to go and no longer. Because sometimes I think shows run out of ideas and go on way too long, past the point that they’re valuable, and I hate that! I want there to be a good ending to a good thing. And some get canceled early, and then it’s just a shame, because I wanted more and I think there could have and should have been more. So, there are a lot of variables there. I think games can be really, really powerful. I think the right video game has the potential to leave a bigger emotional impact than other, more passive forms of media, like a movie or a book, because if done right, the player has some level of control. Perhaps they’re making choices; they’re moving about in this world on their own. So there’s a chance for more emotional investment to happen there. And I don’t know how that would be yet, but I want to think on this more.

Royce: I do think that to be effective, the game would need to be very dialogue-heavy. Like, the first genre that comes to mind is – whether or not there is actual romance involved – the sort of dating sim genre, where you’re just, the game is navigating interpersonal relationships in some way.

Courtney: A graphic novel that isn’t necessarily dating-ish, potentially.

Royce: Potentially. The other thing that came to mind was a game that we played a while back called Oxenfree, where there was a game, there was a story to it, but there was enough dialogue amongst the characters in the story that was happening very passively where you could tell a story that was not focused specifically on one character’s identity, and that story was engaging, but you got to know the characters in the story and, again, navigate their interpersonal relationships as well.

Courtney: I want weird fiction. Some of my favorite media is very strange fiction that still manages to portray very real truths about the world that we live in and the diversity and range of humans to exist in it. So I think that would be really, really cool if there was some sort of game that players could play, get really invested in, but also get to know the characters in a way that they not only love but are really emotionally invested in, and would itself be a really good game even if you took out the Ace bits. Because I want the Ace bits to be important and meaningful, but I also just want it to be a good game. And the same with movies and books. Like, I want there to be more going on than just that.

Courtney: We’ve talked about some of these a little bit, but we can give the Cliff Notes. How did you two come to figure yourself out to both be Ace? Did you know another was Ace when first dating or was that a later discovery?”

Royce: So is this specifically asking how did we learn that each other was Ace? Or how did we come to identify as Ace ourselves? Or both?

Courtney: Both, how did we come to identify as Ace ourselves, and then how did we find out about each other?

Royce: Okay. I mean, the latter part is very easy. We knew that each other were Ace when we met via a dating site.

Courtney: We probably wouldn’t have met or talked if that wasn’t pre-established. The entire story is in one of our first episodes, if you want to go back a bit, called “Our Asexual Love Story.” I think it was the third one. But yeah, so we knew right out of the gate, easy.

Courtney: As for me, for figuring myself out to be Ace… I mean, it was a bit of a journey, as it all kind of is, but I’m very much on the more sex-repulsed side of things, and I think that was really evident really early on. And I distinctly remember having some conversations as, like, early teenager, like 13 years old, with just some other girls, like, around the time – starting to go through puberty, starting to have sort of these sexual tensions. And I would say, like, “I’m really freaked out about this. I want no part of this.” [laughs] And just having these conversations about, like, “Eew, gross, why would anyone want to have that?” And, like, as kids, when you first start learning what that is, the girls in my social groups and at my school would have these conversations like, “Eew, no.” But then, there came a time in high school where all of a sudden, it seemed like everyone else changed their minds, all of a sudden [laughs], and they would either be really curious and interested in exploring or they would actually become sexually active. And it got to a point where I was like, “Now, wait a minute. [laughing] We were all on the same page a few years ago. What happened?” And, yeah, so it kind of just became a thing I knew about myself before I even knew that there was a word for it. I actually, oddly enough, made the word “Asexual” for myself in my head as a teenager and I just thought to myself, “Okay, I’m Asexual,” but not knowing at the time that other people identified as that, or that that was something that there was a budding internet community for. I just sort of kept it to myself and felt content in the fact that, like, “Yeah, I’m Asexual,” but I didn’t really share it. And then the more I did start to learn, the more it just reconfirmed everything I already knew and felt.

Royce: Mine was a bit of a slow process. I assumed I was heteronormative growing up. I do have the hormonal or physical manifestations of a libido. I’m not sex-repulsed. I’ve had inclinations of fetishes basically forever. It just wasn’t until I started dating that it was like, “Oh, something isn’t quite what I expected here.” But also, in hindsight, I’ve realized that there were little hints along the way that I was somehow a little bit different than most of my peers and most of the people that I knew, but I kind of rationalized it as a difference in expression instead of experience. And so, it took me a while to finally realize, “Okay. This isn’t a case of everyone else just exaggerating,” or something of that matter. And I eventually landed on Asexuality kind of starting with the gray areas in between allosexuality and Asexuality, and eventually setting into a more confirmed just Asexual label. And past that, it took a number of years after that to sort of start looking back through my past and deconstruct what things were more genuine feelings or actions and what things were sort of habitual, what things were done because I thought that that was the way that things are supposed to be, or perhaps because it was more comfortable. I’ve realized – not too long ago, actually – that I think some of the cases where I did have sex, it was because I also have chronic anxiety, and sometimes sex was easier than trying to figure out how to be a good host or, like, an entertaining date.

Courtney: Yeah, and if that’s something the other person wants and is interested in and is initiating, it’s – if you’re not totally repulsed, like, it could be easier to just go along with it than to reject.

Royce: Yeah, there was an underlying curiosity, certainly, while I was figuring things out. And in most of the relationships I had, the women I dated were prone to initiate something like that. And yeah, it was a lot easier to go into a sort of well-defined thing that I understood than to be anxiously wondering if I’m being entertaining or fun or something like that.

Courtney: [earnestly] It sounds very sad. [laughs] Like, you poor thing. [laughs]

Royce: I think it’s kind of funny, because as sort of robotic is this sounds, like, sex is very well-defined. There’s, like, feedback built into it. You can tell if you’re… It’s easier to tell if you’re doing the right thing with a basic understanding of anatomy than trying to navigate, like, social discourse.

Courtney: So this next one is actually not a question. It is a recommendation. But we have good news for you. It says, “Since you two review Ace-related related media for your podcast, I’ve been wanting to ask If you’ve heard of the J-Drama Koisenu Futari about a relationship between two AroAces. I was so surprised and happy that something like that show existed.” And yes, it is on our list. We already planned to talk about that one, so I can’t promise exactly when it’s coming, but –

Royce: We haven’t watched it yet.

Courtney: It is on our radar. And the reason why we haven’t watched it yet is because we have extremely high hopes for it, but we’ve been wanting to watch it for months. And over the last few months, we’ve been really busy, stressed, had a lot of projects, so most of the time, if we’re putting something on, it’s like, we just need something fluffy to turn our brains off to and maybe also fall asleep to. And so, we’ve had this for, like, when we have energy to sit down and consume the entire show with our full attention, that is our very next project. We’re quite excited.

Courtney: Next question: “What do you think of all the nomenclatures inside the Ace Spectrum? I’m Ace, and for me, it is so confusing. And I wonder if it is confusing for new Aces who are discovering themselves, and also when trying to explain to allos who want to understand the Ace-spec.”

Royce: I believe we’ve spoken about this a little bit before. We’ve both come to the conclusion that, while we could dig into our own orientation and fragment it into a number of different microlabels, we personally didn’t find it more useful, I guess I would say, than just saying Asexual – at least, I prefer to just say “Asexual” or, even though I would have to say this with an asterisk, “Heteroromantic Asexual,” something along those lines.

Courtney: That’s a big asterisk, because that can be a complicated asterisk. [laughs]

Royce: It is. That is maybe more habit from a number of years ago. “Romantically-inclined Asexual.” I don’t have a good word for “attracted to women,” and even then, like, that is a… getting to be –

Courtney: Mmm, asterisk.

Royce: Yeah, exactly. It’s getting to be a bit… broad.

Courtney: Asterisk, asterisk, asterisk. [laughs]

Royce: But I guess – Courtney, before you answer – I will say that I tend to just say Asexual and tend to prefer that instead of diving into microlabels, because I struggle to keep track of them as well. I generally have to google things when I see them. In situations where I’m having a more in-depth conversation with someone about distinct aspects of orientations, I’m going to use more descriptive terms of feeling and experience than a microlabel, because of that language barrier.

Courtney: Mmm. Mhm. And yeah, to your point about new Aces who are discovering themselves, I have 100% seen people try to just, like, dive into Twitter or Reddit and just get completely overwhelmed because they don’t – there are so many words and there are so many phrases that don’t tend to get used outside of Aspec circles. And that’s another situation where I think we do need to be nicer and more helpful to those people instead of being angry at them for not knowing the right vocabulary. And I think sometimes there’s even too much of a focus on the right vocabulary. Because yes, vocabulary is important, but like Royce said, the vocabulary is not more important than the experience. The words we use are an attempt to verbally explain what our experience is.

Courtney: And when you get into the microlabel side of things, sometimes, that’s really important and necessary and valuable for people, because they’ll be going around with this sort of like Ace imposter syndrome, like, “Well, the experience I have, I haven’t seen reflected yet. So does that really mean that I can say that I’m Asexual or Demisexual, because my experience differs from what this other person says.” And so, sometimes seeing the right microlabel at the right time can get something to really click for someone and say, “Yes, that is me. That’s my experience right there.” And that’s where the real value in those lies. But if you personally don’t need them, if you don’t feel like they benefit you towards explaining your experience, then you don’t have to use them.

Courtney: And then there are other things like – even more broad things that aren’t microlabels, like the Split Attraction Model. Lots and lots and lots of Aspec people love it and use it and find it to be one of the most effective tools to explaining Asexuality to allos. But not everybody uses it. Not everybody likes it. Not all Aspecs even subscribe to it. And that’s okay, too. So I don’t ever like when the big sort of branded activism online narrative is, “These are the words. These are what they mean. They are applicable nearly all of the time.” Because even just the definition of Asexual – the agreed-upon definition that most people use has changed drastically since I started identifying as such. And some people still use definitions that are slightly different from the, you know, what AVEN had officially changed to last year, to “experiencing little to no sexual attraction.” I know some people who have a longer definition than that with more nuance. I know some people include “does not have sexual attraction or an interest in sexual activities.” And I don’t think that’s wrong or bad to include, but some people will get really, really angry and say, “No, Asexuality is only about attraction, not about action.” But I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong if someone, in their own experience, does associate the two with one another. So I think they’re good when they’re helpful. I think they can cause extra problems when we take them as law. [laughs] Because they are tools. And we should play with them and use them to our benefit and not use them to harm or challenge others.

Courtney: And really, more than any other queer community, I feel like the Ace community talks about definitions and sexuality in like a more abstract, academic sense than any other community I’ve been in and around. And I don’t always know if that’s a good thing. Because you don’t have – on the same level, on the same scale – a group of, for example, gay men breaking down exactly what it means to be gay, from attraction to action to this, that, and the other thing. So I think theoretical and academic conversations that take it that far are important and have their merit, but they aren’t the end-all be-all. They aren’t the only way to talk about this. And I don’t think we should expect that from ourselves or others.

Courtney: Aha! To extrapolate on some earlier points, our next question is, “How can I tell other Aspecs that I don’t care about microlabels without being offensive? I understand that they’re extremely helpful and important to some people, but they’re not for me and I don’t want to be asked about them, but I don’t want to sound like I look down on them either.”

Royce: We may have already addressed this one in various aspects throughout what we’ve answered so far. In one part, a responsibility lies on both sides of this. It isn’t fair for other people to get angry at you for you to say, “I personally don’t like these things,” right? Saying, “I personally don’t like these things” doesn’t mean that no one can have them or that they’re incorrect.

Courtney: Yes. I think it’s probably bad form to ask someone for their microlabels, because not everybody does have them. Like, if you say, “I’m Asexual,” and someone comes back and be like, “But what are your microlabels?”

Royce: Right. If I had microlabels, I would have used them.

Courtney: That’s kind of how I feel. Because if someone, to me, comes and says, you know, “I identify as fill-in-the-blank microlabel,” then in my eyes, the word they used is important to them, and there’s a reason why they used it, and I’m going to respect that. But I think the same should be true for more broad terms that are used in an umbrella sense. If someone says, “I’m Asexual,” I’m going to say, “Okay, that word is important to them. That means something to them.”

Courtney: And I suppose if I were asked this question, I would personally say, “Microlabels don’t work for me, and here is why.” And I am someone who’s more prone to wanting to have conversations and dig deeper, so I would go so far as to explain more nuances of my experience and why they don’t necessarily fall under microlabels that I am comfortable with. And then that can be a whole discussion, because honestly half of the reason for me that I don’t care for microlabels for myself is because I would rather have the conversation from an experience side of things and get into all the little details rather than saying, “This is the word that encompasses these experiences,” or “These are the couple of words that encompass these experiences.”

Courtney: So… But that’s also not owed to anyone, either. If someone… like, you have no obligation to tell people the nuances of your experience if you don’t want to. So, I don’t think it’s wrong to just say, “I don’t use microlabels because they’re not for me.” And I think if that’s a situation where someone were to get reactionary and get upset about that, I don’t think that is your fault. I think that is another situation of someone else getting a little defensive of their own experience when it doesn’t align with someone else’s. And even – you even kind of said it yourself here. You said that you understand they’re helpful and that you don’t look down on them. So you can even say that you think microlabels are great for people that actually find them valuable and you love that they can be helpful to people, but they don’t work for you. And that’s just that. I think a lot of people are in your same boat. Microlabels are just very much a matter of preference. And we’re kind of with you on that.

Courtney: Next question is: “I’ve noticed you, Courtney, say ‘LGBT’ a lot rather than ‘LGBT+.’ Was wondering if the plus is usually just implied, or if you do specifically mean ‘LGBT’ in a lot of those contexts.” This was an odd one to get, honestly. Because I didn’t – I mean, I don’t think about the acronym much when I’m just talking.

Royce: Speech patterns are so reflexive that we actually had to search through our transcript history to see what the patterns actually were.

Courtney: Yeah, I was like, “How often do I say LGBT?” And [laughs] I do do that. But for me, the plus is always implied. I am never going to just cut it at LGBT in my head. The plus is always implied. But for me, where I think it comes from is the fact that everything I heard verbally spoken for, like, 20 years was “LGBT.” Even after we knew there was more to it, “LGBT” was how it was shortened to in speaking.

Royce: And to clarify, in this context, which is also how I’ve sort of seen it and internalized it, is, “LGBT” is basically just another way to say “the queer community.”

Courtney: That is how a lot of people use it, yes. And when I saw written here, “the LGBT+,” I started thinking, I personally have never heard anyone say LGBT+. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that. Because to me, in my mind – and this is purely just what I have gleaned and absorbed, so I’m sure other people have heard different things, but it was LGBT for so long, even after I knew that it was LGBTQ and QIA and QIA+ – heck, even LGBTQ2IA+ – all those different iterations that I was hearing, when having discussions in person with friends, with family, with other members of a local queer Community, “LGBT” was the shorthand. That’s what we said. So a lot of that is probably habit. But I’ve also seen LGBTQ. I’ve seen LGBTQ+ and LGBTQIA+. For some reason, I have just, like, I’ve never heard people put the plus after the T. And it makes sense. When I read it, I know what that means. If I heard it, I would know what that means. But in practice, that just hasn’t been around me.

Royce: In practice, the habit shown in the transcript were overwhelmingly “LGBT” with other instances of “LGBTQ+” and “LGBTQIA+.”

Courtney: So that’s super interesting, because that was in line with how I started thinking when I read this, because I was like, “Well, if there’s gonna be a plus, it either comes after the Q or it comes after the A,” because that’s just where I’ve seen it. But I mean, why stop there? The acronym has evolved in so many ways. I mean, I remember a time when they were trying to have two distinct different Ts in the acronym. I remember a time where there were like two different Is. I remember the debate about whether or not there should literally be a 2 or just an extra T to represent Two-Spirit; I usually, more often than not, saw the number 2 around that period of time. I’m not going to speak very much on MOGAI because I don’t know enough about it – I haven’t known enough people that use it – but from what I can glean from internet conversations, people have strong opinions about it one way or another, [laughs] and I don’t know enough about it to get into that, but I know that’s a thing some people said. QUILTBAG became one, because once it was LGBTQIA, it was like, “Okay. We want all these letters. But how do we arrange it so that it’s a nicer way to say verbally?” So it was QUILTBAG for a while. I’ve seen people try to shorten it to, like, GSM, gender and sexual minority. Really, the things people have used or do use is kind of endless.

Courtney: So in those situations, unless you’re saying “LGB,” you’re not wrong, [laughs] I kind of think as a rule. Like, the people who tend to use “LGB” are intentionally leaving off the T, and we don’t do that here. But to me, LGBT – my association with it is that is the most widely agreed-upon shorthand that most people will understand what I’m talking about. And I think that’s really important when trying to reach a variety of people, too because if I did start using MOGAI – which, again, if you hate it, if it’s problematic, please don’t come for me, I haven’t researched it yet! [laughs] But if I did start using it, I know there’s a lot of people who do not know what that means. I would have to re-google it to find out what it means. I would need to not only educate myself, I’d need to educate more people when I talk to them. LGBT seems pretty succinct. So a lot of my conscious decisions for the things I say are, “How can I make this as clear as possible to the most number of people?”

Courtney: Next question. “Hello. So do you guys ever get aroused from each other? Sorry if this is too personal, but I’m slowly realizing I might be Asexual and I’m currently dating an allo guy. I still am not sure about my sexuality, because on rare occasions it happens that I do get aroused when I’m with him. Sorry again.” So, you don’t have to apologize. If we didn’t think there was something worth mentioning, we’d just ignore the question. But this question is a lot more complicated than just what our experience is. Because if I was just answering, like, “Do I get aroused by my spouse?” Like, “Not really, no,” is kind of the answer for me. But the heart of this question seems to be, like, arousal versus attraction, which can get complicated and can really throw off a lot of Aces who do experience arousal. Because they aren’t necessarily the same thing. I’m not the best to talk on personal experience about situations of arousal when sexual attraction isn’t necessarily a factor, because I’m on the low libido, sex-repulsed side of things, so that doesn’t really become a factor for me. But right off the bat here, in explaining your experience, you do say it’s “rare occasions,” which already could put you in the area of Asexual or possibly something like Demisexual, where attraction is contingent on getting that emotional element first. And this is something that you can really only answer for yourself, and it can be tricky to know, because the question then kind of becomes, “Is this arousal I’m feeling because I am sexually attracted to this person?” In this case, the allo guy you are dating. Because arousal can be separate from attraction. Arousal doesn’t need an object to trigger the arousal, I am told.

Royce: So I guess that’s the first distinction that I want to make, is that there is – I see a difference between what, in my case, would be arousal and erection, or to say more broadly, the sort of very physical hormonal aspect of arousal that would include, like, changes in blood flow, elevated heart rate, and those sorts of things that would be more widespread. I tend to mean “arousal” as – or I tend to see arousal as a different thing that has a different connotation than just an erection. Because erections happen all the time for a wide variety of reasons – you know, because it’s morning and hormone levels are higher, because heart rate is accelerated due to anxiety, because it’s Tuesday –

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: – because the moon’s in a certain section of its phase. Like, it happens. [laughs] And sometimes, it doesn’t have a rhyme or a reason.

Courtney: So, like, physical arousal can just happen.

Royce: It can just happen for a variety of reasons. And in my experience, that is a different sort of feeling or sensation than what I would use the term “arousal” for. I make a distinction between what I experience as erection versus arousal. And I’m not exactly sure what the person asking this is asking. One thing that I touched on a little bit earlier is, after having identified myself as Asexual, it took me a long time to start to look back and and break down experiences versus what things were habitual or expected or, you know, influences from just growing up in an an allonormative culture, in a very sex-focused culture, and what things were more, like, genuine experiences. How much of things were I interpreting how I was supposed to be and, like, projecting those views on myself versus what was I actually feeling organically. And I think that’s, I guess, an important part of this answer, although I can’t really answer the question adequately without [laughing] asking more personal information, but…

Courtney: “What does arousal mean to you?” That’s –

Royce: Sometimes –

Courtney: It’s so complicated.

Royce: Sometimes, if you are speaking specifically about a physical reaction, sometimes bodies do things involuntarily. Sometimes it is sort of, I guess, a muscle memory, if you will. Sometimes it is just a hormonal shift that happens regularly. There are a variety of factors here.

Courtney: Well, and if there is actually a sexual interaction happening, if there is something sexual occurring, one thing I have read over and over from, you know, sex experts, sex psychologists, is that you can be aroused by a sexual act without necessarily being sexually attracted to the person you’re engaging in it with. And that’s where you start to get really complicated nuances of sexuality. I think back to – we’ve mentioned him on here once before, but there’s a doctor, Joe Kort, who is himself a gay man, and he has talked about how straight men can still be aroused by sexual encounters with other men even if they aren’t sexually attracted to men, because that’s a situation of, you’re attracted to the act, the activity, but not necessarily the person. So that’s another component of it. But –

Royce: I was going to add on to that that you could be in a situation where you are aroused in some way, but do not feel any desire to act upon it or to engage.

Courtney: Right, and that could be no desire to act upon it period, but that could also be no desire to involve someone else in it, also.

Royce: Yes.

Courtney: So those are two different layers of that. But, I mean, for me, I’d say no. It can be pretty complicated with inter-orientation relationships. If you are, in fact, Asexual and you are, in fact, with an allosexual, there can be a lot of added layers of complication there, which hopefully you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to figure out exactly what is right, and you just sort of allow yourself to feel and explore. Because some of it may not even be something you’re able to figure out now. Some of these things need more time and more hindsight and more, I guess, experimenting and/or self-reflection before you really see things for what they are.

Courtney: For example, my sort of history of determining that I’m probably somewhere in the realm of Demiromantic came not as easily or inherently as my identifying as Asexual. Because Asexual was very clear and obvious to me at a certain point in my life. But to really get to the point where I started determining, “Well, my romantic attraction seems very conditional, it seems very rare,” I sort of needed a lot of data points before I could kind of piece it together. Because once I got in my relationship here with Royce, I was like, “There’s a whole new layer to this feeling I’m feeling that I have not felt before.” And upon lots and lots of reflection, based on previous relationships, I think that’s romance. [laughs] I think that’s romantic attraction that was in some way lacking in other situations. Which has also led me to believe that I think my romantic attraction is very contingent on having a partner that isn’t, like, explicitly sexually attracted to me, because my relationships with allos have been really sort of contentious and uncomfortable, just given my place on the spectrum, but it can absolutely work for other people, no doubt. So I hope that helped. That was a little bit of our experience, but also giving some additional examples that might apply to you, may or may not.

Courtney: And our last question for today, because we have been talking for quite a while, is also another really complicated one. You guys are bringing really good questions. This is another one that we could make an entire hour-long episode about, easy, I think. So, the question is: “How do you two personally see the difference between romantic and platonic attraction? I’ve been confused about it for years now, ever since somebody told me that what I saw as romantic for myself was platonic for them, then what I saw as platonic was romantic. [character voice] Psyduck.” I imagine that’s expressing a headache. [laughs] [character voice] “Psy-y-y.” Ooh, that’s a big one.

Royce: That’s interesting. I think I would need some examples to really dig into it, because it doesn’t sound like they are saying that they basically don’t experience romance, or otherwise, I would expect it to be more like, they see both what people describe as romantic and platonic as the same thing. It doesn’t appear that that’s what’s happening. But I wonder what exactly is being seen where the same actions are being seen flipped by two different people. I can’t really speak to platonic attraction. I don’t know if that’s something I really experience. So I think I’ll leave this question to you a bit more.

Courtney: Mmm. Okay. So I suppose, definitions – we’ll get definitions out of the way. I consider “platonic attraction” to be both non-sexual and non-romantic. I know some people use platonic in the just non-sexual way. I don’t love that. I like considering “platonic” non-sexual, non-romantic. So setting that right out of the gate [laughing] could possibly help. It could be that you and this other person see those definitions in two different ways. Because they are very abstract concepts that we are trying to apply to our own experience. And for as much as we’re defining everything to death in online discourse, people are not going to have the same associations with different words.

Courtney: So really, the only way to actually be able to tell the difference is to trust yourself and what you’re feeling and experiencing. And if you don’t know, being willing to admit that you don’t know and that that’s okay. And then just sort of continuing to live your life and see what you continue to learn through your experiences. Because at the time – I’ve talked a little bit about having had a queerplatonic relationship in hindsight. I did not know at the time that that’s what I was experiencing because I didn’t have the vocabulary for it. It was a feeling that was very… almost similar to romance, as far as actions and what we did with one another, insomuch as I wanted to send her flowers, I wanted to get her gifts, I wanted to go to brunches and dinners and have time the two of us and have time at the end of a hard shitty work day where we just, you know, ate ice cream on the couch and watched TV together. It was a very loving feeling, but at the time, it didn’t feel romantic and I don’t think it was. And that’s why I call it platonic attraction, because it was also something distinctly different from what I felt and experienced with other good friends in my life.

Courtney: And it’s difficult to explain, but just the fact that it was different and almost unexplainable in that sense is what made it queer. I mean, a queerplatonic relationship is that you are queering the lines of what expected relationship structures are. And something you see as one thing might be experienced different by someone else.

Courtney: And I would say the two most important things to consider when whether or not something is queer is, first, the current society you live in – the current societal expectations and social structures that are the norm. And the second thing to consider is what your relationship is to that. Because some people will find that they fit in really nice and easily and comfortably and happily with the current agreed-upon social relationship structures, and some people will fall outside of that. But we know that society changes, culture changes, what is seen as normal and accepted – or expected – does change drastically.

Courtney: Random Victorian example: it used to be exceedingly common to have jewelry made out of your hair to give to a loved one. That wasn’t just a romantic thing. It could have also been a familial thing. It could have also been a friendship thing. But that was sort of how people showed their affection. We don’t do that so much anymore. Some people do. I mean, that’s my job. [laughs] It is making a bit of a comeback and is happening more often. But there were several decades of time where that was considered very weird, very gross, “people don’t do that anymore,” and people almost didn’t really know about that. So, you know, 20 years ago, we didn’t have “Netflix and chill.” [laughs] So even just behaviors, actions, and relationships that are expected change with the times.

Courtney: And I would say, general rule of thumb is if your relationship to current societal standards is different from what you’re observing from other people, then there might be something queer in there. And you don’t have to define it. You don’t necessarily have to say, “This is the difference between platonic and romantic for me,” because everything’s going to be fluid. Some things might change for you personally over time also. And, you know, some people think sex is an important part of romance. Like, allo people often feel that way. And that’s something where I, as someone who loves romance and have always wanted a romantic relationship, hated. I hated that. I was like, “No, sex is not romantic. Sex is sex. Sex is sexual.” So I never once had a romantic connotation with sex. But a lot of allo people who don’t split their attraction do. So that’s sort of a really glaring obvious example of something I can point to and say, “This is one person’s association that I do not have whatsoever, and that’s okay.”

Courtney: And I think that’s – it really all just boils down to experience being more important than vocabulary, because your experience is your own. And the words you use for that experience may not have the same association to everybody you explain it to, which kind of sucks for us, because it would be really nice if you could just use words and everyone knew exactly what it meant to you. But we’ve kind of been doing that this whole conversation, haven’t we? Like, “Oh, well in this question, they use the word ‘aroused,’ but when you say ‘aroused,’ [laughs] just how do you mean?”

Courtney: So overall, I think, moral of the story: more nuanced conversation that is centered around experience is kind of the theme for today’s episode. I think that’s the big takeaway. And to not get mad or aggressive or overly defensive if someone else doesn’t have the same association with vocabulary that you do. We’re also going to do an episode on just words and vocabulary and things people have different associations with, because that’s a whole topic in and of itself.

Courtney: Yeah, I mean, this is why I try not to be the advice-giving type. We obviously opened up a Q&A, so we wanted your questions regardless, but some of these were on the advice side of things. And we normally try not to give advice because I find the same piece of advice almost never is universal enough to be useful. If you hear a piece of advice and it’s useful for you, then it’s kind of just lucky that you were there in the right time and place to get that. But blanket pieces of advice are going to be way too simplistic and not really allow room for all the nuances of individual experiences. So I guess that’s kind of another reason why I really like sharing personal experiences and hearing other people’s personal experiences. Because then you can really start to see the rich diversity that the Aspec community has to offer.

Courtney: But we have talked for quite a long time. Courtney is hungry. I need to go find food. So, if you liked this Q&A format, let us know. Perhaps we’ll do another one in the future. In the meantime, please do all of the liking, subscribing, commenting, rating, reviewing that there is to do. And we will talk to you all next time.