The Journey of Being Mixed Race and Ace in STEM ft. Sarah Cosgriff

Today we explore the intersections of science, sexuality, and identity with science communicator, Sarah Cosgriff. Learn about the complexities of being mixed race, the intricacies of the ace community, the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusion in STEM, and SO much more!

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Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to The Ace Couple podcast. My name is Courtney. I am here with my spouse, Royce. And we are, you guessed it, the Ace Couple. And today, we are joined by a guest: a good friend of mine, a wonderful community member. We always have loads to talk about, so I can’t wait to get into this. So, let’s just dive in. Please introduce yourself, and let’s get to it.

Sarah: Hello! Thank you so much for having me. My name’s Sarah Cosgriff. I am based in the UK, down in the south west, and I am… I guess a way to describe myself, first and foremost, is not so much my Ace advocacy and activism, but I’m a science communicator. What that can mean is lots of different things, depending on which context you work in. Some people will be science journalists who work in the media. There’s people that work in science museums. Whereas for me, I tend to work primarily with young audiences. I work with schools as well. So I work part-time, but I also freelance. So some of that freelance also involves helping other people do science communication and lots of different other projects. So, yes, I’m a science communicator.

Sarah: And I am also involved within the Ace community. One of the first things I actually did was focus on raising the visibility of those who are Ace within STEM subjects, so those who are studying STEM subjects or working in STEM subjects as well. But I’ve also been involved with things like ACAR, which I know the Ace Couple have talked about before, but also just being involved with lots of different things, really, such as the Ace Conferences. So, yeah, that’s kind of a good, I guess, summary of [laughing] who I am.

Courtney: Sarah does everything. [laughing] You do so many things. Actually, I was so excited to learn about your science communication when we first met and got to talking, because I don’t even know if I’ve mentioned this on the podcast before, but that is a job I used to have. I worked at a science museum, and I would give the science demonstrations. And I loved that job. I absolutely adored it. And so it’s really cool because, aside from my fellow coworkers at the time, I don’t think I’ve met another person that does this sort of thing. But you work — tell me more about what that work entails, because you actually… Schools OUT? Am I remembering that right?

Sarah: Yeah. So… [laughs] it’s very tricky to summarize everything I do, because I sound like I do a lot, but it’s more that I do several things part-time.

Courtney: Ah.

Sarah: So it sounds like I do a lot. And [laughing] that’s partly why.

Courtney: I see.

Sarah: So maybe to start segmenting it, I work two days a week for a science education organization. We run a program there which focuses on inclusion within secondary schools. So in the UK, that’s generally 11 to 18. We do have some middle and high school systems, but mostly we tend to be either 11 to 16 schools or 11 to 18. For the 11 to 16 schools, they might go on to a college afterwards, which tends to be 16 years old to 19 years old. So I have worked with teachers with that setting to support them to have more inclusive practices, try to do things on a whole-school basis — because that’s the thing that really works, is doing things at a whole-school.

Sarah: But, as I say, I work for a science education organization, so many people on my team do come from a science background. And the project that came before this was actually focused on girls’ uptake of physics subjects in schools. So the UK system is a bit different in that when you reach the age of 16, you take some exams. So you take usually around 10 subjects, and then you tend to choose fewer subjects for, then, what we call A-levels, although there are other qualifications available as well. So, when I was in secondary school, I took four subjects for that, and then I dropped it down to three subjects by the time I reached my final year of school — which I know is very different to other education systems, like, for example, the American education system. It means that we’re making choices a lot earlier on here. And so that’s why you tend to see people opt out of physics by that time as well.

Sarah: So we were looking at: How can we increase the number of — I say the focus was on girls, but then the program I now work on is actually looking at it more broadly. Like, do we see — how can we see a change in what subjects are taken up if we have more inclusive practices? Because if we look at physics, about 20% of those who take A-level physics in the last two years of school will tend to be girls. And on the other hand, if we look at English, for example, we see about 20% of those who take English for the last two years of school are going to be boys. So we see that these subjects tend to be quite gendered. So, yeah, so this is why we try to look at inclusion very, very broadly.

Sarah: But I say that’s just one of my jobs! The second job, as you mentioned, is with Schools OUT UK. They are the founders of LGBT History Month in the UK. So, this has been running since 2005, off the back of the repeal of Section 28. This was a law that was in place since 1988 to 2003, which banned the promotion of homosexuality — that was the phrasing within the schools, which is deliberately a little bit vague, because it’s like, what do you mean by “promoting”? Like, are we handing out pamphlets to the kids saying, “Come join”?

[Courtney and Sarah laugh]

Sarah: I don’t know, “Come join the gay agenda”? Is that what we’re saying? But it was very much driven by fear within the ’80s that we were seeing here and the AIDS epidemic, for example. It actually came from a book. I think that fear was particularly from this book that was talked about, which talked about relationship between two men, and I think it was one of those kinds of books where you talk about different types of families. I don’t remember exactly what the book contained, but it wasn’t anything you would think would be particularly controversial, but within the ’80s, it was, and this law came in. And it meant that within my education — so, up to the age of 14 — it was therefore… well, illegal, technically. Well, the other complication here is that, by the way the law was applied, it wasn’t technically illegal in schools, but schools felt like they had to follow it because otherwise you could get in trouble with, let’s say, local parents. You could get fired as a teacher. So, yeah. The history month has been going on, I think, almost 20 years, and it’s amazing to see how much has changed in that time.

Sarah: And I support the project work. I’ve also worked on different resources to support teachers — in particular, STEM teachers — to raise the visibility of LGBTQ+ people in the classroom. So that’s something I feel is like a really, really good representation of my work, is that kind of the STEM side, the science STEM side, and then mixing that with the LGBTQ+ inclusion side. That’s where I feel like I’m quite sort of unique in terms of my work, because not many people are doing that.

Sarah: And both of these jobs I’ve mentioned really influence my freelance work as well, because inclusion very much comes into my science communication. I recently was at a science festival — quite a well-known science festival called Cheltenham Science Festival — and with a friend of mine, we did a show about LGBTQ+ scientists. I do a project with a local LGBTQ+ youth group, voluntarily, where we bring queer scientists into the youth group to deliver interactive, hands-on activities and to just raise the visibility of LGBTQ+ people in science. So, yeah, you can see this in lots of different things I do.

Sarah: I brought it across to the work I do with Aces in STEM as well, because I realized that — after coming out that, well, actually, I don’t see people very often talk about being Ace within the STEM sectors. And so I wanted to see ways in which we can raise the visibility, but also so that we’re not putting pressure on people coming out, either. Because that’s a thing about the visibility things you tend to see, and when you see people being visible, it’s so reliant on them being in positions where they can be out, and that isn’t going to be a possibility for everybody. And it’s something I was very conscious of as well through… when posting different profiles, for example, on Twitter, I wanted to make sure that people had the opportunity to participate anonymously as well.

Sarah: So, yeah. So, yeah. I realize… [laughs] That’s a lot of stuff that I just shared with you, because I tend to be involved with lots of different things, but you can really see how, then, that can come into my interactions with the Ace community there as well.

Sarah: Oh, yeah, another thing I should probably mention is I really wanted to explore science demonstrations, which, as you mentioned, very commonly used within science museums, used in places like science shows. So these are things that are really well used across the sector in different ways. And I wanted to see how that could tell the stories of Asexual people — maybe in a way where sometimes it might be quite difficult to explain our experiences to other people and show what that’s like, and I wanted to see if we could use science demonstrations to do that. So kind of being able to share my experiences personally and also using my work to do that. So that’s something I have done on TikTok, very much as a creative project.

Sarah: And doing those sort of things in my spare time really influences, then, me as a science communicator at work, talking to scientists about how they could communicate their research. So there’s something about being within the Asexual community that’s really benefited me personally in so, so many different ways, but I also really try to bring my work into the community as well.

Courtney: And it is really, really cool. And for any listeners out there who haven’t seen Sarah’s work yet, we’ll, of course, put links, as per the usual, in show notes, so you can check them out. But seeing your science demonstrations — especially, I know in the past, around, like, Ace Week, you’ve had a lot of very Ace-specific science videos that are just so cool and fun. So you get the science, but you also get the pride, and it’s so creative how you can combine the two, also, which, as a creative person myself, I know that that must be incredibly just freeing to be able to do. But you also… like, that’s not just the extent of your work in the community. You don’t just put out these videos. I mean, you have the entire Aces in STEM Discord server. So you’re, like, community-building and bringing people together.

Sarah: Yeah, that’s something I feel… When did we set up? It was towards the end of 2020. It was myself and a friend of mine, Jazmin Scarlett. So Jazmin, I should say, is the, at the time — I was figuring myself out — was the only out Asexual person I knew and, I think, possibly the only one I knew of as well. I’ve met a lot more people since, but, yeah, it’s because of hearing some of her experiences and knowing somebody else who wasn’t out at the time but who is now really helped me and it was really good to have people to come to speak to.

Sarah: But yeah, it was towards the end of 2020. And Jazmin said, “You know, it would be really good to meet other people, maybe through, like, an online social.” And I said, “Sure, let’s set it up. What if we used a Discord server to maybe help announce some of the dates, help organize some of the socials?” And then it turned into a community space. And we have a ton of… we have a few moderators who are able to help us run the space, which I’m incredibly grateful for. I’m really grateful for their time to do that.

Sarah: And we have a lot of different academic channels. Also, little things, like, you know, you have a meme channel. You have a pets channel, where you could put photos of your pets. So we do have, like, some really very good vibey kind of stuff. Things around media; things where, you know, people could talk about, like, films they’ve seen, video games. But also just asking for career advice as well, where, “Oh, I want to do this, but I’m not exactly sure how,” or “How would it be best to navigate this work situation that I’ve got going on?” Our most popular academic channel is actually the maths channel, which is very interesting. Not falling into any kind of stereotypes whatsoever as well.

Courtney: Interesting.

Sarah: Yeah. And we actually — at the moment, I’m organizing a social for… in a few weeks, called Speed Science. It was actually started by another member of the server just to get people talking about science just for five minutes. You get a five-minute slot and you can talk about whatever you like —

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: — whether it’s your work, related to your work, but also your opportunity to be experimental about it. So people taking, you know, film approaches, video game approaches, TV. I think people talked about Star Trek, for example. So it’s an opportunity for you to just try something out with the group. And it’s a group of people who are keen to learn new things, but also, you all have something in common with each other as well. So, yeah, so we’re organizing our next one in a few weeks, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s so nice to kind of see people be — you know, to talk about their subject, be really passionate about it. And you might find that, say, somebody who may be doing their undergrad at the moment could also be really inspired by what other people are talking about and what they’ll be sharing.

Courtney: Oh yeah, absolutely. And that is so cool. I remember… Because I joined the server. But I remember feeling like such a fraud and asking you, like, “Do… do I count? I don’t actually work in STEM anymore, but I have at least two previous jobs where I did.” Because I had the science communication job at the science museum, and then I was also a zookeeper for a number of years. And it’s like, “Eh… those are sciencey. Can I join, please?” [laughs]

Sarah: I’m just like, “Yeah.” I mean, I’m a science communicator, so, you know… I mean, there’s things about — I wondered, “Do I count as a scientist?” And I do. I definitely do so. So, like, even I’ve had the impostor syndrome slightly for myself. Like no, no, no, you do. You count enough. You count enough to be here, I think. Like, I think if people had previous experience. But the thing is that these are also professions if you ever wanted to go back to in the future, you also can. And I think it’s also cool to see all the different types of professions out there that you may not have come across before.

Courtney: Oh yeah. Like, if the Ace imposter syndrome wasn’t enough, we have to have, like, the scientist imposter syndrome also. Because, especially, like, I am very not tech-savvy. I’m one of the least tech-savvy people I know. And here I am married to a software engineer. [laughs] And so anytime we get into anything technical, I’m, like, way, way out of my league. This is Royce’s bag. I’m more the natural sciences, environmental sciences.

Sarah: Mmm. I think a complimentary skill set, I would say, you know?

Courtney: So, yeah, I remember when you put out a call at one point asking just to feature Aces in STEM, I was like, “No, that’s not me. Oh, but Royce, you’re an Ace in STEM! [laughs] You count.” I don’t actually remember. Did you end up submitting for that?

Royce: I did, and you did not.

Courtney: No. I am very much in the history and art world now. I was once in the science world, and maybe one day I’ll return. But

Sarah: Come back to us. [laughs]

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: There’s plenty of people who do also, like, the history of science as well that kind of come into, I guess, the umbrella of science communication. But yeah, you also get science historians, medical historians as well. Yeah. Although thinking about the conversations we have, I feel like you say you’re a historian, but I can see a lot of medical historian in what you do.

Courtney: [laughs] Well, I have a friend who is very specifically a medical historian, and I love her work. I’ve followed her work for years. I’ve read her book. So I do maybe know a little bit more about medical history than the average person does, but it’s not the focus of my study. Honestly, if anything that does fit more squarely in my wheelhouse, it’s more the racist pseudosciences of the past that we know are not real, good science but people would use in the 1800s. Because my focus on history is in hair, and normally it’s in the artistic use of hair. But I know that when eugenics was just really popular table conversation, people would use, you know, various features to try to medically and scientifically explain why different races of people were differently, and that gets very racist very fast.

Courtney: And especially when it comes to the anti-Black racism, the differences in hair texture, they would always try to use that to say, “Ah, this hair texture is wooly, so it’s more animalistic.” And it’s just awful. And so I know the history of those awful pseudosciences. [laughs] Yeah, I don’t know. I just like learning a variety of things. I feel like I have had so many different jobs and so many different interests that I can talk at least moderately competently on a lot of different subjects.

Sarah: It kind of makes you sound like how I feel as a science communicator. Because there’s some people that will come with a PhD, and they’ll have expertise in a certain subject, and that’s their kind of thing they talk about as a science communicator — although maybe not necessarily all the time. Whereas I don’t feel like I have that. I don’t think I have that particular passion for that. I think about what stories I could tell.

Sarah: So for me, as a biologist, I didn’t like physics at school, and then I worked on a girls in physics project. Very interesting, I know. [laughs] And so one of the things I was interested in is how we could talk more about the crossover between biology and physics, because it’s not something I was seeing in school. So, say, it’s not a thing that… I used to do microscopy, so there was definitely that crossover there, and I think that’s when I really had an appreciation physics for the first time, I think, in that kind of way. And so that’s something I was interested in is, “What are the stories we’re not telling? What are we missing?” Rather than, “What subject am I really, really passionate about and I want to talk to people about all the time,” you know. So I kind of relate to what you’re saying.

Sarah: But also the thing I found from doing my undergrad and my master’s, at least in my experience — maybe the programs have changed — we did not talk about ethics, the ethics of science, even though we keep saying, “Science is so important, science impacts people, so these are really important careers and jobs to go into,” yet there was this lack of talking about how it impacted people. Now, we did talk about — for example, my oncology module, we’d talk about from a patient perspective, but it wasn’t necessarily from an ethics perspective, really. And this is stuff I’ve had to learn myself after graduating from both my degrees. And it’s something that I really hope has changed since I started at university. But, as I say, it’s stuff I’ve had to read myself and it’s something I do think about, I think as a science communicator as well. I think maybe that’s the reason why I started to think about ethics is because of being in that profession, if that makes sense.

Courtney: Oh, it does. Because yes, especially when it comes to scientists, there’s definitely a camp of person who’s just like, “Science is always good. Science and progress is inherently positive, and there are no downsides.” But there are definitely unethical ways to do science, and there are unethical scientists.

Courtney: And, yeah, I like the cross-interest and the interdisciplinary approach to everything. When I was doing my science communication, I sort of mixed the actual science education with more of, like, a sideshow, theatrical performance. Because we would do things like the bed of nails, you know, standard working act sideshow. But there’s a scientific reason why you can lay on a bed of nails if it’s made the right way. So you’d do the act for the shock value of it and the entertainment value, but then you’d go into the science and why this works and, of course, try to tailor that to the appropriate age for your audience as well, so that it’s in terms they can understand. Because at the museum, I mean, we had adults, we had high schoolers, but we also had very small children sometimes. So depending on who was in my audience every time, I’d have to sort of think on the fly and tailor my language to the age level, to a certain extent.

Sarah: Oh yeah, oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I think that’s the thing that… Whenever I deliver training sessions about science communication, I get people thinking about the sort of things that they do outside of work, whether that’s things like crafting, they do any kind of performance, things like dance. Actually, one project — or one organization, actually — I should mention within this conversation is Science Ceilidh. So if you’re familiar with what a cèilidh is, that is a Scottish folk dance. You’ll tend to do it in physical education lessons when you’re in school, if you go to school in Scotland. And so Science Ceilidh — who basically was founded by my friend Lewis — is about cèilidhs and weaving science into it. Like, you could do that!

Courtney: That’s so cool.

Sarah: That’s the thing. You can communicate science however you like. There’s so many different mediums to do that. But I think performance has been very much — a very important thing. So when I present science shows, I have to think about not just presenting a dry talk. It’s how do you engage your audience, how do you make exciting, how do you build tension, how do you… And storytelling tools can be used within science communication, which is why I do include storytelling elements into my training sessions as well.

Sarah: To give an example from the science show I mentioned earlier, something I actually want to get a lot better at even is improv. And my friend Phil, who I co-presented with, does this so well. We were at the end of the show. We had used these ball pit balls in one of our demos, and it had come off the bottom of the stage too. So at the front, well, there’s these very little kids who are having a whale of a time basically recreating a ball pit in front of our stage. And we had this bit of time at the end, and we were just looking at them, and we said to the audience, “Hey, we’ve got a bit of time. Does anybody want to see another demo from us?” And there was this little kid at the front who put their hand up to say, you know, that they had a suggestion. And they said — I said, “Oh, what is it that you would like to see?” And they said, “Unicorns.”

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: I went, “Unicorns. Unicorns. Phil, they want to see unicorns.” And Phil said, “Alright, I’ll be back.” And he ran off stage, went into this — I think it was like a sort of back bit. We were in kind of this tent, and it’s these flaps you can open up. And then he came out, and he came back out, and he’s like, “Oh, I’m so sorry, but they’ve gone away. They’ve gone away, I’m so sorry.” And the fact he could just think just like that on the moment and think, “What is it, what can I do in this moment?” I just thought, “Wow, I want to be — I want to get better at doing things like that.”

Sarah: But it really shows, like, how anybody who does any drama, any performance, those are such useful skills in science communication. But also, science communication as a sector, we learn a lot — or we should learn a lot — from the art sector about how they do things, you know? There’s so much we can be inspired by there. There’s also people from the art sector who will then come into science communication — people who don’t have science backgrounds but will be brilliant science communicators because of the other things that they bring as well. So, yeah, it’s just, it’s something I try to think about. How can I be inspired by other things? And this is why I feel, for me, being within the Ace community — so something that isn’t necessarily STEM-related — really inspires my work as a science communicator as well.

Courtney: You know, we have become a little bit obsessed with unicorns in recent years, because we learned a little bit of a science fact about unicorns.

Sarah: Ooh, do tell!

Courtney: Royce, do you want to take this one?

Royce: Maybe? You may have to help me on some of the details. But a while back we watched an anime that we really liked called Heaven’s Design Team. And the entire premise of this anime is that the main characters in the show are angels who are being given these just absurd, vague, oftentimes contradictory tasks from God to create a new species of animal. And the plot of the show is how they take a very odd description and then create a creature from it. And one of the characters on the show is famed as being the inventor of horses, but he’s stuck in this creation cycle where he can’t get over his past success. He can never one-up the horse, because it was such an amazing animal.

[Sarah laughs]

Royce: And he’s repeatedly trying to create a unicorn. But they take the concept of a unicorn to their R&D team to, like, test out prototypes, and it keeps failing, generally because of osteoporosis.

Sarah: Ohhh.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: Because, given the metabolism, given the digestive systems of horses, they just don’t support growing horns in the same way that elk and other — deer and other creatures like that have.

Sarah: Oh my God. That’s so nerdy. I really love it. [laughs]

Courtney: It is. It’s a very nerdy show. It’s really funny, actually. And so, yeah, ever since that, like, anytime we see a unicorn, we’re like, “Aww, the poor thing has osteoporosis.”

Sarah: [laughs] Aww.

Courtney: Which was also very, very strange, because we did not tell my mother this, and she randomly decided that she was going to make, like, a big bead painting for us. And she’d never done this before. I don’t know where she got the idea. But she was, like, scheming with Royce randomly for months — like,

Courtney: “Hey, measure this wall in your house for me. Don’t tell Courtney.”

Royce: Oh, this went on forever.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: I think she missed two holiday deadlines, like a Christmas and a birthday.

Courtney: She’s like, “Oh, this is going to be for your birthday. No, nevermind, I’m still making it. It’s not ready. It’s going to be for Christmas. No, wait, nevermind, sorry.” [laughs] And so I was like, “What is this thing?” And so she shows up randomly at our house, not on a holiday at all, but it’s finally ready. And she’s like, “Come outside!” Has this huge package, this giant frame. And I open it up, and she goes, “They call it dark unicorn.” [laughs]

Sarah: Oh my God.

Courtney: It’s this very gothic, like, black and gray unicorn that’s kind of dead and has, like, exposed ribs coming out of it. [laughs] Very strange. And I just started cackling, because I was like, “Oh my gosh, it’s a dead unicorn. It died of osteoporosis.”

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Sarah: Oh my God, that’s… wow. Wow, that is a…

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: That’s an interesting, like, package to receive. Yeah.

Courtney: That’s hanging above our bed, now, in our bedroom.

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Courtney: The dark unicorn. [laughs]

Sarah: Oh, wow, Wow. I’m also just thinking, in this conversation, I have a load of friends who are animal biologists who would love the, like, “Unicorns can’t exist because of osteoporosis.”

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: They’ll be like, “Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Yeah.” They’re the kind of people that if you need an animal fact, yeah, there’s… [laughs] plenty that I’ve been given over the years.

Courtney: Oh, yeah? Well, maybe, they’d like that show. Because there is actually also a canonically trans character in that show who’s one of the design team.

Sarah: Cool.

Courtney: Which is always fun to see the representation. But yeah, it’s very nerdy and very weird, ’cause they’ll just get a random order from God that’s like, “Make a mammal, but it lays eggs.” And everyone will be like, “What?”

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Courtney: “What are you doing to us, God? How are we supposed to do that?” And then they make a platypus by the end of the show. And it goes through all their iterations — like, all the things they’re trying to do to make it work.

Sarah: Yes, I think they would definitely like this.

Courtney: It’s very silly.

Sarah: I’m actually probably going to go to the WhatsApp group [laughs] —

Courtney: Yes!

Sarah: — after we’ve done this recording and be like, “Have you heard of the show?”

Courtney: Let it be known. Let it be known, absolutely. Oh. Okay, so, we talked about the science.

Sarah: Yes.

Courtney: Science is very good. But let’s talk a little bit about [sighs] race, racism, being mixed race. One of our first conversations, and actually the way we got to talking, was… I believe it was during Ace Week, I had made a tweet a couple years back, and I started talking about just kind of how weird it is to be my particular brand of mixed race and how you don’t really fit into anything. And something I said resonated with you, because you reached out to me. And we got to talking, and we’ve been talking ever since. So let’s talk about that. That very weird world it is.

Sarah: So the thing of, like, you don’t… The everlasting, lifelong question: “Where are you from? No, no, no, no, no. Where are you originally from?”

Courtney: Mhm!

Sarah: “Where are you actually from?” And I’m just… I think I remember the last time somebody asked me this question, I just got really stubborn and I just said the town that I currently live in. And he’s like, “Yeah, but you look Brazilian, you look this.” I was like, “No, but I’m also from this town.” And his look, the way he looked at me, he just looked so just… just didn’t know what to do, and so I just moved on, And I was actually out with my mum as well, and we just had a very good laugh about it.

Sarah: But also… so, maybe to provide a bit of background for me. So, my mum’s originally from the Philippines. She is specifically Ilocano, if anybody’s familiar with the different ethnic groups, and she is from the Mountain Province. But I think we have… So going back to, let’s say, my, like, my great-grandparents. They’re from Ilocos, which is kind of this region up in the north. My mum and I, out of my mum’s side of the family, are the only ones that live in the UK. And her siblings, with their children, live in the US. Apart from like, we have an uncle that lives in Guatemala ,and then he occasionally goes back to the States. So, as well as being a mixed race person, I’m also the only British person on my mum’s side of the family as well, so I was the one that talked a bit funny [laughs] whenever I would go over to visit family.

Sarah: On my dad’s side, so, he was a white man. He was originally from Australia, but I think his mother was originally from England. I think specifically Birmingham, I think. But I never actually had a chance to meet her because I think she — but so both my grandparents on my dad’s side died before I was born. So I don’t really know anything about Australia, really. I visited a couple of times when I was a kid. I know nothing about Australian culture, even though I actually have an Australian passport because of my dad. And I also have a British passport from living here.

Sarah: But I’m way more interested in actually learning more about my Filipino cultural side for a couple different reasons. I think one of them is, I had some exposure to it from, you know, since I was a kid, from visiting my family — not so much from living in the UK, because I didn’t grow up around a Filipino community. I grew up in a predominantly white county in the east of England. And so, yeah, so it’s interesting that depending on which parents I was with, you know, growing up, there may be a different way I may be treated in vicinity of them, but without them, people just can’t figure out what I am.

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: And Filipinos also don’t think I look Filipino either. So there’s this thing where I don’t look Filipino, and then I don’t look white either, and then people, like, try to do this rough approximate, which is like, “So, are you Spanish? Are you Italian?” And then it’s even more confusing to tell — like, if they say, like, “Where were you born?” I’m like, “Well, actually, I was born in Italy.” So they go, “Ahh, so you’re Italian!” I’m like, “No.”

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: Because then they have this vision of what they think as how you look, like, and I seem to fit it. And I’m like, “No, I’m not that either.” So it’s this thing where you’re not really from, like, anywhere, but you kind of are from multiple places at the same time, so you feel like you don’t quite fit into any box, and that’s kind of weird.

Sarah: But I think I had that realization that I didn’t look Filipino to others more when I was an adult, and that’s kind of a weird thing where people perceive you differently than what you think in your head. And then I realized as I got older how much I didn’t know about Filipino culture. I don’t speak any of the languages that are spoken. So I don’t speak Tagalog, although I’m learning Tagalog at the moment. I don’t speak Ilocano, which is a language that my family speak. And so there can be this feeling of, so, I don’t seem to fit into… like, I don’t 100% fit into white spaces, but I think I’ve learned over time to know how to navigate white spaces because I grew up in it. I didn’t really have, like, that much of a choice. But I don’t really fit into Filipino spaces either, because there’s this feeling, “Oh, I’m not Filipino enough to be here.” And it’s a conversation I’ve had with other Filipinos in the diaspora — those who have both parents who are Filipino as well — where we realize how much we don’t know, we don’t speak the language, and then it’s like, “Oh, so am I allowed to call myself Filipino if I don’t have these things in a tick box?” But also this feeling of, like, you just don’t fit in any space. You’re kind of in this… And so, what do you do about that, really?

Sarah: And it’s interesting how there are very similar experiences being mixed with being Asexual as well, where, as an Asexual person, you’re like, “Well, you don’t quite fit into straight world, even though you’ve learned how to navigate that your entire life, but then you aren’t always sure if you’re welcome in queer spaces either,” you know? So there can be that feeling there, too. Also, that thing where people try to assign a sexuality to you as well.

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: So when people go, like, “Are you Brazilian? Are you Italian?” You get that as an Asexual person there as well. Because it’s like, “Well, what if you haven’t met the right person yet?” Or, when some people… I know more anecdotally that other people have experienced where they’re like, “Well, maybe you’re a lesbian. Maybe you’re gay.” And it’s like, you’re assigning these things to me that I’m not, and I’m telling you that I’m this, but you seem to be refusing it. And also the way that… how are you perceived, how you seem visibly as well. So it’s really interesting how being mixed and being Asexual do have these interesting overlaps. Have you found that yourself, Courtney?

Courtney: Oh yeah, absolutely. One thing that I’ve noticed is that people will treat you based on how they perceive you.

Sarah: Yes.

Courtney: And there can be a lot of underlying bigotry involved on the one side of it, but on the other side of it, it could just be erasure of identity. Because if people don’t perceive you to be a person of color, or they don’t perceive you to be queer, they’re going to just put the default identity on you, which — the default identity is going to be white and cis and straight.

Courtney: And that’s been something that’s been kind of very, very strange for me as an adult. Because my appearance has changed a bit from when I was a child. So I’ve always… I’m starting to own “racially ambiguous.”

[Courtney and Sarah laugh]

Courtney: I hated that phrase my entire childhood, growing up, because that’s what everybody called me. But now as an adult, it’s like, that is how people perceive me, so that is how people treat me, so it is an aspect of my identity, whether I like it or not.

Courtney: And notably, my skin tone has gotten, on average, lighter as an adult than it was when I was younger. So now, there are very specific instances where I could be perceived as white, and that’s been weird for me because I never had that when I was younger. And especially as a teenager, I was subject to extreme racism, including being called racial slurs. As a kid… Well, and I still, to this day, get the “What are you?”

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: I don’t get the “Where are you from?” but I do get “What are you?”

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: Which is just… And the problem is, when someone asks you that you almost never will give them an answer that satisfies them.

Sarah: Mhm.

Courtney: Much like the, “Well, I was born here,” or like, “I’m from here,” people will be like, “No, no, no, no. But actually.” And people do that with “What are you?” too. And I have tried, my entire life, experimenting with how I answer that question, and there is no good answer, I have learned. Because my mother is white. She is the parent who raised me. So if I tell people who are asking what I am that I am white, they’ll be like, “No, you’re not.”

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: “I see something in you that is not white. So what are you actually?” But I also… I’m mixed, like, Native American, Indigenous, but I am — although I do know the First Nation I have ancestry from, I at least know that much, but I am not enrolled. I am not at all connected to the culture, even from my dad’s side of the family where this comes from. They were very self-hating — racist, even. Very racist people. So we were very removed from anything culturally. So I don’t feel right, nor do I think it is right, to just say, “Oh, I am Native American. I am Indigenous.” Although a couple of times when I was younger, I tried saying that and that would satisfy people. Sometimes they’d be like, “Oh, okay, I can see that.” But then it felt so wrong and weird to say that because that was, like, the only answer that people would accept.

Courtney: And I was sort of trained from a young age to tell people that I’m Italian. So, and that was something my dad, like, drilled into me when I was really, really young. Like, “You tell people you’re Italian.” And so when I’d get like, “Oh, what are you?” I’d be like, “Oh, I’m Italian.” They’re like, “No, there’s got to be something else. Like, are you Hispanic? Are you Asian? Like, what else is in there?” So, even if you tell them you’re Italian, like, that’s just not going to be good enough.

Courtney: But there is a very odd sort of, you know, colorism involved too, with being a mixed race person, because, even though you’re not fully one thing or another and you might be completely detached from the culture, like… I was, like, three years old when my dad told me, like, “Oh, you can’t play outside in the summer anymore because your skin is getting too dark.” Again, very racist. He actually said, “People are going to start mistaking you for being a little N-word child.” It’s like, [tentatively] “Oh, okay.” Then, as a teenager, I had a cop calling me a prairie N-word. So it’s like, okay. So that racism is so deep. And I see this line throughout my entire life with all these parallels to the way people have treated me based on how they were perceiving me and the things I was told versus the things I heard, and it’s just very, very complicated.

Sarah: Mmm, I can sense that. So we have the colorism aspect I just want to pick up on. It is something that you’ll find in some Asian cultures, including Filipino culture as well. It’s not something that was told directly to me, I should say, and it’s probably because of how light-skinned I am that it’s not a comment that was made to me. But a thing that can be said is, “Don’t get out in the sun. You will get dark. If you get dark, you get ugly.” And there’s the whitening soap, the papaya soap; that’s still very common and commonly bought as well. And so colorism is definitely…

Sarah: And I should also say anti-Black sentiments are something that I have definitely seen within Filipino culture. So, for example, there’s an actress — I believe that’s what she does. Her name’s Asia Jackson. She’s mixed Filipino and Black. I actually think she’s specifically… is she Kalinga or Igorot? She’s also specifically Indigenous Filipino as well, on one side of her family. And she did spend some time living in the Philippines, I think, as a child, and the racism she got by being a Black Filipino…

Sarah: And also, that’s the other thing. Like, mixed Filipinos, like myself, it’s quite common, and it’s something that you also see within the media in the Philippines, in terms of you will see some actors, actresses will be mixed. But when we think mixed, the automatic thing you think of is mixed with white. You don’t think mixed with any… like, for example, Black, but also any other Asian ethnicities either, apart from Chinese. You might see Chinese Filipinos. But that’s the thing: when we think mixed, that’s where you kind of automatically kind of go to as well.

Sarah: To go back to… In terms of what you’re saying about being able to engage with your culture, that’s something I really — like, from our conversations, I’m really grateful that I do have the opportunity to engage with a culture that, you know, the way I’m able to. I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to afford to fly to the Philippines and actually spend time there. I’m very fortunate that I have a good relationship with my family members, so I still continue to learn from them. I could go to them to ask some questions. The fact that I’m on a Discord server — they also have a Facebook group — called Aromantic and Asexual Support Philippines. Great group. They also have an Instagram page, if anybody wants to go check them out. But that’s been a place where I’ve also been able to learn more about my culture. So, although I was there to meet other Ace Filipinos, it’s really cool that I’ve actually been able to get some cultural aspects from it too. So, yeah.

Sarah: And I realized kind of, I think, maybe the last couple of years how much it’s a shame that it is a privilege. But there’s something about being able to access your culture. Not everybody has equal access to culture for so many different reasons. That could be, for example, if you’re adopted, there could be barriers to accessing culture. But also — so, thinking about my access to culture: when I was a kid, I didn’t have a lot where I grew up, but as an adult, there’s quite a lot I could still have access to, even though I don’t live in the Philippines. But one of the things I don’t really have access to in person is an in-person, like, Filipino group, for example, that I could go to. So that’s something that I really wish I had access to.

Sarah: But even though I feel like I don’t know as much as I’d like to, I do have the resources where I can start making the steps to learn more about my culture in different ways. Even though there’s probably some nuances that I can’t gain from learning in the UK, I have still got access to my culture in so many different ways, and I’m really, really grateful for that.

Sarah: And I think part of the reason why it has been important to me — eo, thinking about, for example, understanding my family more. But because I am in a society where I am an ethnic minority, the fact that I am treated differently, because of the way I look, even if people can’t [laughing] figure out what I am, it’s something about wanting… I think that’s probably the other reason why it’s so important to me to learn more about Filipino culture is because… I’m trying to figure out the right way to say this. I live in a culture which is a white-dominated culture, and I really want to bring my culture to the things that I do, whether that’s my experiences of being within the Ace community and talking about Filipino Asexual experiences as part of that, or even within my work, I want to push back against that dominant narrative, and that’s another reason why it’s so important to me to learn as much as I can. Does that make sense?

Courtney: It does. And when we first started having conversations about similarities and differences in our experience, one thing — it’s always very kind of healing for me to speak to other mixed race people.

Sarah: Same.

Courtney: Regardless of what they are mixed with, even if it’s very different from my experience, there are just these little commonalities that’s like, “Yup, that is the mixed experience.” [laughs] And, again, I guess maybe the theme of this episode is imposter syndrome.

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: We’ve got the Ace imposter syndrome. We’ve got the science imposter syndrome. You’ve also kind of got the, like, racial imposter syndrome, because I was astonished to hear that you had similar feelings, like, “Can I claim this identity?” To me, I’m like, you seem so much closer in proximity to your culture than I feel, because your mother is Filipino; she is from there! And it’s just so shocking to me that that questioning aspect is still present, because it is such a shockingly common experience for any and all mixed people. But I suppose if all of society asks you what you are long enough, you will inevitably start to wonder yourself, start to question, “Mmm…”

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And, you know, we talked about the similarities with experiences in terms of being Ace and the imposter syndrome there and being mixed. The one I’ve found the hardest is being — it’s definitely linked to race/ethnicity. That’s the — out of any of the identities I have, that’s the one that has taken — is still needing a lot more work and so much more… Like, whereas being Ace, I’m kind of like, “Yeah, it’s… [laughs] I mean, yeah, sure.” [laughs[

Courtney: Oh yeah, me too.

Sarah: That’s the easiest one. Or the easier one, I should say.

Courtney: Yeah, well, I know that Ace imposter syndrome is a thing, because I have so many Ace friends, I’m a part of the community, I hear so many people ask, like, “Am I Ace enough for this?” And you know, it does, in my experience, seem so much easier to just own a queer identity, whatever one it may be, or a combination of several — it’s just so much easier than these, like, deep-seated mixed racial hangups that have been instilled in me from a young age and just sort of reinforced every step of the way.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s also partly to do with how you learn about Asexuality, the communities you have access to. And I should say this from someone who’s based in the UK, so it can be really different depending where you are in the world. But for me, to engage with online communities — and I should say, like, actually, as part of this, finding out that I’m Ace in 2020, when all communication and interactions with people were online — or most, I should say — that made a difference there as well, because it meant that there are many people I could reach out to and ask questions and stories that I read. I also think there’s something about being in my 30s and having more confidence of being able to go and learn these things, but also more confidence in myself, so I had these things on my side there as well.

Sarah: Whereas… I mean, there’s no guidebook on how to be Asexual, but you have the definitions down, even if they’re still very broad umbrella definitions, there’s many different experiences, some of my experiences don’t match up to other people’s experiences. I was able to accept that that was fine, and this falls under definition, and I think that’s partly down to the communities I was part of. They were very open. And, yep, you know, like, “It’s up to you whether you think yourself as Ace or not, you know? We don’t want to — we’re not going to be excluding you.”

Sarah: But there is no definition of what does it mean to be Filipino. There is no, like, definition, like, “This is what it is.” And the complication of that is — so, living in a diaspora as well, not just being mixed. So, diaspora experiences can be so varied depending where you live around the world. But even in the Philippines itself, there’s so many different ways to be Filipino there, because of all the different cultures, all the different ethnic groups, because of the history of the Philippines. It’s not — there is no, like, simple thing of, like, “What does it mean to be Filipino?” And so it’s already challenging to have that. Whereas to define, you know, Asexuality, there’s a community definition that is broadly used, and there isn’t really anything like that for being F— like, not in the same way, anyway.

Sarah: And so it’s hard to be like, “Do I count as this thing?” And I think I’ve had to accept over time, like, “No, you definitely do, and you also don’t have to prove it to anybody.” That’s the thing. And you know there’s some of the learnings you can get from, like, realizing that you’re Asexual and you’re accepting that label for yourself, I can also apply that and be like, “You don’t have to actually prove it to anybody. You know that you are, and you know because you are just living your life, and that should be enough.” You shouldn’t have to feel like you’ve got to tick all these boxes. You don’t have to pass any exams. You don’t have to know the language. In fact, with Tagalog, not all Filipinos in the Philippines also are fluent in Tagalog as well, so that doesn’t even determine whether you’re Filipino in the Philippines. So why are you having to try and prove yourself? Who are you trying to prove as to?

Sarah: And so that’s, I think, why, more recently, I’ve relaxed a bit about it. And I think one of the things that’s really helped with that is meeting other people who have similar experiences to me, who, you know, I’m very, very grateful to be able to speak to them, because that helps me feel a bit more at peace with myself.

Courtney: That is very cool. And it is wild to me every time you remind me that you, you know, discovered Asexuality for yourself in 2020, because that seems like it was so recent, and yet it also seems like you’ve been like such a big part of the community of Aces I’ve built around myself, which — I guess it has only been a couple of years.

Sarah: Yeah. [laughs]

Courtney: But, man, time these last few years has not been behaving correctly. [laughs] But I have noticed, even in just the last couple of years, just with your social media posts and things incorporating Filipino food, Filipino clothing, garments, and it’s been really, really cool to watch. So I love every time you post things like that.

Sarah: Oh, thank you. I kind of almost see it as a documentation for myself, I guess, in a way, and again, it’s that I want to share pride in different ways. The other thing with social media is you’re often… So one of the, I guess, slight downsides when you’re talking about being Asexual on social media is then sometimes you can get, you know, pinned down as, “You’re the Asexual person,” when it’s like, well, actually, I’m so many other things.

Sarah: The reason why I got on Twitter in the first place was because I wanted to go into science communication, and that’s what somebody said to me: “If you want to go into science communication, get yourself on Twitter.” And I didn’t really understand why at the start, but then it was so good for network-building and building connections to other people, getting advice as well. It’s so, so good for my career. In fact, I’ve met many, many friends through Twitter. So then, I started posting about being Asexual. And so sometimes you can get boxed as the Asexual person, where I’m like, “Well, you know, that’s not all I am, but the reason why I’m posting about it so much is to meet and reach out to people like myself that I could speak to. So that’s why I’m using it in that way, and so if people see me post about it a lot, it’s just because that’s what I want to use social media for.”

Sarah: However, on the plus side, I think maybe four, five-ish people, around that kind of number, have come to me directly and said, “Hey, I saw your Tweet about being Asexual, and that made me realize that I’m also Ace.” One person said this to me while I was on a panel. We were speaking on a panel together.

Courtney: Wow!

Sarah: And then they told me during this panel! And I was just like, “I can’t believe you’re telling me this right now.” So, but what’s really funny about this person is that they told their best friend, “Hey, I think you’re Asexual,” and that best friend or close friend turned out to be. And then it took them a while for them to realize that they were themselves, and also from seeing my Tweets about it. So I find that quite funny [laughs] there as well.

Courtney: It’s so interesting. I mean, I made a couple of just little one-off posts about Asexuality long before we ever started this podcast — on my business platform, actually. I mean, I’m a small business owner, I had my art accounts, and basically just, like, here’s my Instagram and Facebook that’s just going to be for advertising my business. But then a couple of times it’s like, “Oh, you know, I’m starting to get a pretty decent following. Maybe I’ll throw in a couple of posts about Asexuality here and there.” And I think, especially when people aren’t expecting it — like, this isn’t an Ace account, but I am revealing myself to be an Ace person for those of you who don’t know me personally already — can be so important to, like, the one or two Ace people who actually see that post, and that’s happened to me as well. People come up and be like, “Oh my gosh, I am also Ace,” or “I’ve been questioning whether or not I’m Ace,” or “I’ve been afraid to come out as Ace.” And it’s really, really cool that with the power of social media, we can have that extra day-to-day visibility for these identities.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. And again, that kind of networking thing as well, just to find out resources out there, groups that are out there as well, things like International Asexuality Day is also really great, when you see people talk about that. Yeah, I found it to be such a powerful tool.

Sarah: In fact, like, when I invite people onto the Aces in STEM Discord server, I’ve reached out to many people on Twitter — not just Twitter, but has been a lot through Twitter — and there’s been a few times when I’ve done that where they said, “Oh, I only know one or two other Aces.” That’s the other thing that’s very common within the Ace experience is that they don’t know many people who are Ace, especially in person. And the thing about coming onto the Discord server is then you see, gosh, how many members do we have now? Is it past the 300 mark, maybe? But just, even if you’re not active yourself, then you kind of go, “Oh! Oh, there’s quite a lot of us out here.”

Sarah: And it’s like, well, yeah. If we have reports and research that suggest, what, one, two percent of the general population are Ace, I’m like, that sounds like a small percentage, but that’s a lot of people, if you think about that. So if we have, what, 67 million in the UK, that’s one or two percent of that 67 million, which [laughs] I’m not going to do the quick maths now, but that’s still a lot of people who are Ace.

Sarah: And so to then find out, “Oh, they’re also within STEM. Oh, wow, there’s a lot of us.” Like, yeah, there is an absolute ton of us. I actually had a conversation with a young person recently at a school I visited, and they also have that same feeling of, “Oh, there’s only one or two people that I know.” And I reassured them that, even though we might be invisible as a sexual orientation, there are a ton of us out there. And just to reassure them, like, “You are not alone. There are so, so many of us out there. It’s just, we are an invisible group of people.”

Courtney: Absolutely. And tell me if you have any experience talking with other Aces in STEM about this, because I have not had a lot of these personal conversations, but just sort of a curiosity I’ve had: since there are so many Aces who are agender, otherwise somehow nonbinary, I’m curious if you have experienced or know others who have experienced sort of this guilt if you are an AFAB scientist who sort of entered the science realm presenting as a woman, and then coming to terms with your queer identity and understanding that “Maybe this doesn’t work for me,” because women are underrepresented in STEM, so sometimes you can take on sort of a leadership role, a role model, as a woman in STEM — but what then happens with those feelings if you see, “Maybe ‘woman’ isn’t right for me”?

Sarah: I have definitely seen these conversations before, because I think I talked about it myself on TikTok. Because I did the, “Oh, so I figured out my sexuality. Wait, what’s my romantic orientation?” Which, still, who knows. And then, “Oh, wait, gender. What is gender?”

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: So I had actually posted on TikTok of, like, “I’m having these thoughts!” Which are, in the end, I’m like, “Ah, the cis box fits enough. That fits enough for me. That’ll do.” Where I think a couple of the commenters said, “Yeah, this kind of feeling of…” I think you can get put in this box as a woman in STEM. I think that’s something I had definitely been, throughout my career as well, been put in the women in STEM box of like, “Ooh, you’re this role model, and you’re inspiring to young people.” And then what if you don’t live up to that particular expectation? It can be… I think that can be quite challenging.

Sarah: And, yeah, so it’s something I’ve definitely heard people speak about. I’m trying to remember what exactly that they said, but it’s definitely something that’s come up. Because there’s a set of expectations that come with that, you know, in terms of, “Oh, you’re so inspiring.” I’m like, “Well, what about me is inspiring?” Or whatever you hear the stories about how women have broken these glass ceilings when all they really wanted to do was their job. I don’t think these women set out to be inspiring. And it’s something about being kind of chosen as a role model like that, when you haven’t really asked to, sometimes, when you’re just kind of like, “Listen, I’m just here. I’m just doing my science. [laughs] I didn’t realize this was particularly inspiring.”

Sarah: So it makes me also wonder for those who are trans men, for example, who were also maybe in that position before transitioning, whether they also had the same feelings. I know that — so maybe this is me sort of diverting off a little bit, but there was this neuroscientist called Ben Barres. He had a book, The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist. So he was somebody who, I say, was a trans man and he realized after transitioning… well, one experience he had is, he presented his work and then somebody said, “Oh, it’s so much better than his sister’s.”

Courtney: Oh no! Oh no!

Sarah: Yeah.

Courtney: Oh no!

Sarah: And I remember he spent some of his career trying to advocate for women in STEM. But there was something about that experience influencing his work. And sadly, he died a few years ago. I’m trying to remember why. But he was somebody… yeah. So I remember that’s a story that I’ve seen being shared.

Courtney: Ugh.

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah.

Courtney: That’s so painful.

Sarah: Mhm.

Courtney: Because, yeah. Ugh. I don’t even have words for that, so I’m just going to make pained noises.

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Sarah: Yeah. I’m trying to remember exactly what nonbinary scientists have said. But just thinking from my own experiences, I remember when I did science shows at events, where it was — so, science presenters, many of them will tend to be cis white men, from my experience, and I kind of get added on, and I’m wondering, “Am I the token woman here? Or do they, like, actually like my presenting as well?”

Courtney: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah: So I can imagine if you are somebody who’s assigned female at birth who’s like, “Hey, I don’t think this label, ‘woman,’ works for me,” those experiences will also travel with you as well.

Courtney: Yes. Very, very unfortunately so. But yeah, that too. I mean, whether it’s being a woman in STEM or whether it’s being a queer person in STEM, like, there is always a sort of… you sort of become the representative for an entire marginalized identity if you’re the only one visible in a space. And the biggest issue with that is, I say the only one visible in that space, because you are almost certainly not the only one in that space, but not everyone gets the opportunity to be the visible one.

Sarah: Absolutely. Absolutely. Something I sort of thought about, as somebody who gives talks around Asexuality and is invited to speak about Asexuality, if I’m talking from a STEM experience as well, if, let’s say, I kind of go, “Hmm, maybe I should hand over this opportunity to somebody else so that other voices are represented.” And then you kind of realize that, when you do want to do that, how many people who feels comfortable to do that who are white? And so you can get put in a box sometimes. But then you also get moments like that where you kind of go, “Maybe I have to say yes to this.”

Courtney: Yeah.

Sarah: “Because what if I do have to provide representation?” And then it could be a thing where either expectations would be set on you, or you feel like, “Oh, I feel like I need to live up to this. What are these expectations maybe I put even on myself and make sure I get it right.: So, yeah, this is something… I’m just trying to think how to phrase this. I guess this kind of ties back to the previous conversation of the not feeling enough thing there as well. So you feel like there’s a set of expectations put on you, but then I go, “Oh, but I don’t know everything about the Filipino experience. I don’t know everything about the Filipino Ace experience. What if I don’t do this justice as well?”

Courtney: Yeah. I totally get that too. And it’s kind of unfortunate that you in a position like that might be thinking, “Well, maybe I can pass this off to someone else,” but you also look at everyone else who’s like, “Yes, I’d be happy to do this,” and it’s like a lot of white people in the Ace space, a lot, a lot of very, very visible white people.

Courtney: And this is something that we’ve spoken about a lot in the ACAR server and in our meetings. Which, like, by the way, listeners, ACAR would not exist without Sarah, because you were the first person I came to and I was like, “I have this idea. Is it a good one?” And with your experience with the Aces in STEM Discord, you knew Discord. I did not. I was like, “I don’t know. How do I Discord?” [laughs] So thank you for that.

Courtney: But this is something we’ve spoken about a lot when talking about, like, what does allyship look like, especially if you are a white person and you are going on an anti-racism journey? A lot of the recommendations from the book Me and White Supremacy, which we’ve read through as a group, says, like, “Be willing to pass the mic to other people.” And so I think, as an ally and someone who gets ample visibility, that very much is the hope, is that people will want to pass the mic. And that’s… it sounds like maybe your natural impulse to want to pass the mic. But then you look at who are you passing the mic to? And it’s like, “Oh, actually, if I’m the only not completely 100% white person in the room, maybe I should be doing this.” [laughs]

Sarah: Mmm. But also, I have been also on panels where maybe I’m the only person of color, but because I am mixed, I do have a proximity to whiteness there as well, and it’s something I also feel conflicted by of like, “Well, am I the palatable person of color?” Especially also having my accent there as well. My accent does give me privilege. Because I’m racially ambiguous, people will perceive me on my accent first and go, “Okay, she’s British. She’s got this type of accent as well” — what we call Received Pronunciation in the UK. So this is a regionless accent, it’s not tied to any region, and it’s kind of perceived as to be a posher accent. And then also, with that — so, I remember reading a study on intelligence perceived with accents — it also will be perceived as a more intelligent accent. So I actually do remember times when, you know, I’m out with my mum, and sometimes I might consider the way I’m speaking in this accent so that we’re taken more seriously as well.

Sarah: But yeah, that’s the thing, is that I’ve also been thinking about this a bit recently where I’ve realized that, well, “What if I’ve been chosen because I’m palatable? I’m the palatable person of color. But they can tick the box because they have a person of color on the panel,” you know? And that’s another thing that I… And so the thing I also would say, especially to any mixed listeners watching — not watching, listening — to this, because the thing is… So, anybody who can be perceived as white, people who are lighter skinned — so, thinking about colourism there as well — I found the book Me and White Supremacy still to be a really useful book also for mixed people as well, and also the fact that the author does also consider that as part of the exercises there as well. It’s something where I also have to do that reflection work for myself. We didn’t have conversations about racism growing up. I didn’t have it when I was at school. But it’s something that’s been really important for me to learn from, because, because I can be perceived as white, because I’m lighter skinned, I have this proximity to whiteness. That is something I do really need to think about as well when I am being featured on these panels. Because, should I be the only person of color on that panel, being somebody who, as I say, has this proximity to whiteness, this palatable one?

Sarah: I also feel this palatability as an Asexual person as well, in that I am married to a man. So, “Oh!” you know, you get people who have that attitude of, “Oh, well, at least you can love,” which is —

Courtney: Ugh.

Sarah: — awful. Because I’m just like, “Well, what if somebody’s not romantically interested in people?” That doesn’t make me having a relationship with somebody… it just makes me different. It doesn’t make me better. So this is when amatonormativity kicks in as well. But yeah, it’s something I also think about in terms of also being an Ace speaker. I’m like, “Well, actually, I’m a fairly palatable Ace speaker as well for that reason.” So, yeah, it’s something I’ve had to kind of go, “Oh, I don’t like the fact I’m palatable.” But speaking to a good friend of mine about this, they said to me, “Okay, so, you know you’re palatable for these reasons. How will you use that power in those spaces to give access to other people?” And so I’m trying to think about it in that way, rather than, “Ugh, I don’t like the fact that I could be palatable and that’s why I’ve been chosen.” It’s kind of like, okay, you’re in this space, what are you going to do with it? And it’s just something I’ve been thinking about a little bit more.

Courtney: Yeah, and I would love people to understand that this is, like, the constant internal conflict and questioning that can happen [laughs] when there isn’t an abundance of diversity in any given space.

Sarah: Yeah. It can feel like a lot of pressure, can’t it? [laughs]

Courtney: Yes. Yes. It can be. And that is something interesting too. Because I do try to talk about the racism issues present in the Ace community because I do know that it is a big issue and I do have friends who have had firsthand experience with it. Me, I have had direct racism in my day-to-day life, but I don’t think I have specifically or knowingly received any racism from the Ace community itself. Now, I’ve experienced a lot of ableism from the Ace community, so that is something that I can speak to on a personal level. But as far as the racism presence, I don’t actually think I have, and part of that is probably the fact that not a lot of people have actually seen me.

Courtney: People are also from a variety of different places. Because that’s another thing with the racial ambiguity: some places are a lot more racist than others and I always know when I’m in a particularly racist place, because I feel it. And in fact I grew up in South Dakota. There was a lot of anti-Indigenous racism there, so I experienced a lot of racism. And some people would look at me and they would perceive native features in me and would treat me that way, whereas moving to Kansas City, there are some people where that never even crosses their mind. And we’re still technically in the same region of the country. I mean, it’s a huge country, but we’re still technically in the same region, and I perceive those little differences. But if I go further South, I feel it again. Like, I know when I’m in more racist places. So, it’s interesting. It’s odd. Because I want to fight back against racism, especially as someone who has faced it in other places. But, yeah, I’m not coming at community racism issues from a personal experience necessarily.

Sarah: Mmm. That’s interesting. So for me, I think… Well, here’s the thing. I think there may be things that may be said to me in school that maybe, at the time, I didn’t understand as racism, that maybe I reflect on now that I’m older. But it’s one of those things that for me, it’s been the odd comment that’s happened to me. So I don’t think I’ve really faced that much racism in my lifetime, or is it one of those things that maybe I have and just not recognized it as well? So it’s… yeah. And I also know that I live in a very different context, too. So, for example, those who live in North America, I think I remember saying to you that I could be perceived as white here, and you were surprised by that.

Courtney: I was like, “Oh, really? Hm!”

[Courtney and Sarah laugh]

Sarah: Yeah. I remember you being surprised, and that doesn’t surprise me, because the construct of race is also different, and Spanish would be regarded as technically a white ethnicity. Now, it doesn’t mean that we can’t get things like colorism in different countries in Europe, or at least a different — maybe something that looks like colorism, if that makes sense. But I would still be seen as, “Oh, you’re Spanish; you’re therefore European.” And so I think that’s a thing. And so that’s probably, I say, what’s protected me, I think.

Sarah: Or, as I say, maybe I got more of these things said to me when I was much younger, because I went to a very white school where I lived. As I’ve gotten older… so, my university was still quite white, but we had people from different countries from around the world. And as I’ve got older, I’ve been in… I mean, at work, still been in predominantly white spaces. But I don’t know, maybe it’s a fact that because I grew up in a white space, that as I got older, I just continued to fit in like that. I’m not really sure.

Sarah: But whereas the one time I know I experienced racism that I’ve noticed, where I know that somebody was discriminatory towards me, was actually in an Ace community space.

Courtney: Oh, really!

Sarah: Yeah.

Courtney: Mmm.

Sarah: I won’t go into the details here, but it was the way that this person felt about me and another person of color, and the way they treated us in comparison to some other people — to other white people, basically — I kind of went, “Ooh, ooh, that’s very interesting. That’s happened.” Whereas that’s not something I’ve noticed in my day-to-day life.

Sarah: However, sometimes, there can be that fear in the back of your head, is that if you are talking about race and if somebody knows you’re from an ethnic minority, that you’re coming with an agenda. So there is a little bit of that. But again, as I say, being lighter skinned, having this accent, I do have privilege in that, and I know that I would be taken more seriously than somebody who is more visibly an ethnic minority.

Courtney: Yeah, goodness. It did surprise me the first time when you said, “Oh, yes, I could be perceived as white here.” I was like, “Ah, not where I grew up.” [laughs] So, sometimes, geographic location can actually make a difference.

Courtney: But yeah, when I was a kid, I mean, I grew up dancing, and for many years, everyone in the dance class, everyone on the dance team, was white, except for… she was actually half Filipino, a half Filipino girl and me. And the thing is, when we were dancing on stage, only our mothers could tell us apart. Like, our mothers knew which ones we were.

Sarah: Oooh. [sighs]

Courtney: But we would get all these comments from other, like, dance moms that would just be like, “Ah, I can never tell the difference between you two.” And it’s like… So I actually got some questions occasionally, like, “Oh, are you Filipino?” Because they knew she was. And I’m like, “No, I’m not.”

Sarah: There is —

Courtney: “I’m Italian.”

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Sarah: There is… It’s happened to me within my sector. There’s a friend of mine who — we don’t look alike; we have different cultural backgrounds — that we have been mixed up before. Although, I think a few of the women of color in my sector also get mixed up, which I’m just thinking, if we all get mistaken for like different people, we must be really talented, because apparently, we can do all of these different things, so, you know. [laughs]

Courtney: Oh, yeah.

Sarah: Apparently.

Courtney: Wide-ranging work. [laughs]

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. But there is, yeah, one other person I think I have — I know, at least on one occasion, I have been mixed up with. And I’m just like, “Is it because we’re both women of color? Is it because of that?” And it’s one of those things where you kind of — yeah, you kind of second guess yourself a bit.

Courtney: Yeah. Yeah. So this is a conversation that we have had privately many times, so I’ll be very curious to hear where you’re currently sitting on this. Do you consider yourself an Ace activist?

Sarah: [laughs] Just coming here with the big questions.

Courtney: [laughs] The big questions!

Sarah: Oh, I think it’s one of those things… Is it one of those things that people have told you enough time that you are, that you’re like, “Fine, I am. Fine.” [laughs] But I remember… so, at the Ace Conference last year, there was a panel about Asexual activism. And because it’s a UK conference, we’re in the UK context. And so Yasmin was one of the panelists, and she suggested me to be on the panel, which, I’m just like, “Oh my God, Yasmin’s suggesting me!” This is Yasmin Benoit. But also, then, I kind of went, “Am I an activist?”

Sarah: And it was really lovely to kind of reflect on that on the panel, because I’m like, “Well, I guess I do all these different things, and depending on how you define activism…” But one of the things that we talked about is “Well, does the label actually matter too much?” And also, like, “activism” is such a broad term. It works for Yasmin because she does so many different things that it makes so much sense for her to describe herself as an activist, and it works. Whereas sometimes, being more specific about the things that you do — so, for example, “I built this community. I run this community.” That might make more sense in terms of describing yourself rather than an activist. I think it depends on the context. It’s a bit like any labels, right? Any queer labels. It works on the context you’re in and what you want to communicate. So you don’t necessarily have to label yourself as an activist, even if you technically are. What are your thoughts on that?

Courtney: Ah, many.

[Courtney and Sarah laugh]

Courtney: Well, this is something that I have had a lot of conversations with. Because when I do look at the Ace community, I see a tremendous lack of activists compared to other identities in other communities. And I have participated in activism at local levels with local legislative work. And I have known a lot of other queer activists who aren’t necessarily Ace, and I see how they organize. And I have made the spreadsheets of legislators to contact. I’ve known what laws we’re advocating for and what we’re fighting against. And so I’ve seen the actual organizing that goes into activism. And I’ve also seen how incredibly thankless it is.

[Courtney and Sarah laugh]

Sarah: It is.

Courtney: And how most of the activists I’ve known in real life and admired are multiply marginalized people. We’re talking Black trans women, you know, queer and disabled. There’s always some sort of intersectional marginalized identity here. Because in our society, those are the folks who have the most to lose. So to them, it’s not a vanity project; it’s not about platform. It’s about change that needs to occur.

Courtney: And in cases like Yasmin, I would say she’s one of the only Ace activists. There aren’t very many. Because she is actually doing research, she’s doing studies, and those studies are going to be used to lobby for political change. And so that would fit very squarely within my definition of activism.

Courtney: But more so than getting caught up on, like, the semantics of what is an activist versus what is an advocate versus what is whatever else you might call yourself — an influencer. That gets thrown around on social media: “Are you an Ace activist or are you just an influencer?” [laughs] I sometimes have seen people use the word “activist” in Ace spaces to either seemingly inflate their positions — to sort of use it as, like, a status symbol, like, “I am an activist and this is a good thing.” And I normally see that from white community members, so I’m very conscious of how are you using this word. And are you just saying this word, but we don’t actually see you organizing; we don’t actually know the work you’re doing. You aren’t community organizing; you’re just posting on your own platform, kind of a thing.

Courtney: But then I’ll also see the reverse of it, where if someone gets criticized for not taking enough of an intersectional approach, for maybe making a misstep or speaking out of turn, I have seen people say, like, “Oh, well, I’m not an activist. I’m not an activist, so you shouldn’t be holding me to this high standard, because I’m not an activist.”

Courtney: So I’ll see it both as a way to sort of shirk accountability or to inflate one’s own platform. And I don’t like it when it’s used in either of those ways, because to me, it’s not a title; it is a verb. It is active. It is activism. It is doing something. So I’m very conscientious of the different times and places that the word “activist” is used.

Courtney: And I have sort of…Actually, this is interesting. Because in ACAR right now, we’re reading Black Disability Politics by Sami Schalk. And the author actually uses a really great phrase that I had never seen used in this way, which I think I’m going to start using. Because it was laying out, you know, all of the people who are activists, the people who are artists, the people who are just doing cultural work — she calls them “cultural workers.” And I like that so much, because I think you can be a cultural worker and still be active in a community with visibility or education.

Courtney: And I think that’s sort of a kinder term. Because I think some people — I’ve heard like, the, “activist” versus “advocate” argument, which often gets very silly very fast, where it’s like, “I’m not an activist; I’m just an advocate. I just advocate for Aces. I don’t know activism work.” But I think if you are advocating or if you are educating, then you are essentially a cultural worker. And if you are doing that, I think there is some level of accountability to the community whose culture you’re working with. But it’s also still kind of an umbrella term, and “activists” can be a specific term under the umbrella of “cultural worker.” So that’s sort of been how I’ve been framing it lately after reading that.

Sarah: Mmm. I think that’s very… “Cultural worker” is really interesting. Because I can see how that could be broad. I guess the challenge is — well, I mean, I was about to say, the challenge is, will people understand what that term means? But then, even defining the word “activist” consistently is also… [laughs] People have their own interpretations of what that means as well.

Sarah: So I think, for me, I lent towards “advocate” originally because I was like, “Oh, I’m not being an activist. I’m advocating for Aces in STEM.” Because that’s what I was doing. That’s what I felt like I was doing. And then, as I continued to do things, people started calling me “activist.” And I know the conversations we’ve had in terms of community-building. And I’m like, “Oh, yeah. I’ve definitely done community-building.” And you’re like, “Well, that comes under activism.”

Sarah: I do talks with different organizations and I try to do it for STEM-specific organizations because of my background. And that is with a hope to try and change things within the STEM sectors in terms of thinking about the people who work in those sectors and try and make them more inclusive places for Aces. But I also include Aromanticism as part of that conversation as well, because I think it is a much more stigmatized identity than Asexuality.

Sarah: And I also want to influence, like, the way that scientists and engineers design things for people and to think about things like allonormativity and amatonormativity. So, for example, I was at an engineering company’s event around inclusion, specifically looking at the intersection with queerness, but also thinking about POC experiences. And I talked about — so, somebody asked about what could they do as an engineer in terms of thinking about town and city design. And I said, “Well, towns and cities, or places in general, are not designed for single people,” and wanting to address that. So I really want to come very solution-focused like that.

Sarah: Within science research, I do want to get them to know about how Asexuality is very medicalized as well, and also, when we start to think about the intersectional identity with that — so, for example, I talk about the fact that disabled Aces’ experiences are going to be different.

Sarah: So, in that way, like, is that activism? [laughs] Is that activism? Because the thing I also think about when giving these talks is that, yeah, I, you know, I appear, I give a talk, I get paid, I go home. I do really want to make sure that these talks are impactful, and I do want it to lead to change within the STEM sectors, in various different STEM sectors. But I also have to accept, as much as I can try to be really persuasive, it is down to that organization to decide what to do with that information. Also, individuals decide what to do with the information area as well. So, therefore, is that activism? That I don’t know. Or is it education? Would it fit more into that?

Courtney: I can’t necessarily answer that for you.

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: I would say, what would make that closer to activism for me is the fact that you are coming with answers and solutions to a problem, so you are advocating for a change. You might not be able to ensure that your message comes across and then gets implemented. But I would say that that is at least a much different approach than the sort of Ace 101 advocacy that we see very often online that’s just like “Aces exist, and we are valid.” And there is a time and a place for that, undoubtedly, because there are some people out there who still don’t know. [laughs] But I would say that just the broad, sweeping visibility sort of education is a lot different than “Here’s a problem. Here are answers.” So that could be one way to help you think about it, maybe.

Sarah: I have a follow-up question to that, and I think it’s because I saw somebody talk about this on Twitter and there was an article that they posted. So, if we’re thinking solutions-focused, do you think academics… Say they’re doing research which then lead to them publishing solutions to issues, to social issues, are they activists?

Courtney: Oh, okay. So I would say it depends, because I have known academics who are also activists. They are doing the research, but then they are taking their research to intended parties, and they are actively putting their research in front of legislators. They are using that research to try to change policy. And those folks that I have known do consider themselves to be both academics and activists. But on the other hand, there are people who just do the research and put the research out there for anyone or anyone who may be reading it.

Courtney: So I don’t think research and education is always activism. I really don’t. I think it can be used for activism. Because, I mean, in academia, like, it is also a job. Which gets very complicated, too. Because of course you could work for a nonprofit, and you can still be doing something that is for a charitable cause, and you could have probably a very meager salary, because they normally don’t pay particularly well. And I’ve known people who have worked in the nonprofit sector who have considered themselves activists, and I’ve met some who don’t. And they’ll say, you know, “I work for this organization, and we work closely with the activists in the community, but this is, at the end of the day, my job. And I do have to adhere to the rules of my employer, and I am confined by these parameters, whereas the activists we work with are invaluable to this because they are not constrained by those things, and they can, you know, think outside of the box and be a little more creative.”

Courtney: And I’ve thought about that too with art, because so many people say that art is inherently activism, and I don’t think it always is, [laughs] as an artist myself. I think art can be used as a tool for activism, but I think someone just making art and putting it out there is not necessarily doing something active for a cause. Because when I think of… well, artivism, I guess — when I think of artivism, I think of, you know, during the AIDS crisis, you know, queer artists and activists, like, putting a giant condom over a legislator’s house. Like, that is an artistic expression of protest, but they are doing something very specific for a very specific goal and with the desire to impact, like, meaningful change.

Courtney: And that can be something people can get hung up on, also. Because you could argue that visibility can lead to change in just societal perceptions, and surely it can. But is everyone who makes a TV show with a marginalized character in it an activist? I don’t really think so!

Sarah: And this is why I wonder whether the label does always matter. I think sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, really, right? Because otherwise, if we go, like, having two things side by side, “Which one of these things is activism?” And if both of them are making positive change, it doesn’t matter whether to call it “activism” or not, sometimes.

Courtney: Yeah! And it’s in situations like those where I like the term “cultural worker,” because I think that can be positive change with a wide scope. And I don’t see, necessarily, a way that that phrase can be weaponized in the same way I see “activist” weaponized. Because I do see people say, “I’m not an activist, I’m not an activist,” if they’re ever criticized. And it’s like, “If you have said or done something worth, you know, good faith criticism, then it does not matter if you are an activist. So why are you using that word?” Because then that also implies that we should hold our activists to a much higher standard than we hold anyone else in the community.

Sarah: Yes. Yes.

Courtney: And that gets really dangerous, real fast, too. [laughs]

Sarah: It does. You are —

Courtney: ’Cause there’s a lot of burnout in activism.

Sarah: Absolutely right. Absolutely right.

Courtney: It is thankless work, and it is difficult, and it doesn’t pay.

Sarah: No. No. And if you — let’s say you’re an educator rather than — let’s say you’re somebody who’s an educator rather than activist, being called out for something, it impacts your education, right? So, and also, just thinking about you being part of a community: we are all responsible for making the community to be a safe place, you know? It’s not like there is a designated person who’s going to be like — well, I mean, you have moderators of servers, but for the entire community, there isn’t, like, this one person who’s in charge of, like, making sure it’s inclusive. Like, everybody should be responsible for that, right? No matter who you are. You know, collectively, we have to make the community a safe and inclusive place, so that it is a safe and inclusive place, right?

Courtney: Absolutely.

Sarah: Yeah. I don’t think I have a proper answer to your initial question.

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: But I think I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just like, in a way, it’s just easier for me to say it, because — and I think partly, actually, for the same reasons that Yasmin uses the word “activist” — although I would say her work is activism, so she is an activist. I think because I do so many different things, sometimes, it’s just a bit easy to say, “Yes, I do activism and advocacy.”

Courtney: Ooh, both! [laughs]

Sarah: Yeah. Because I do see myself doing both. I do bits — I feel like I do bits of both, or bits of both at the same time.

Courtney: I think that’s how it often is. I mean, once you get really deep into community things and projects and your own personal work, like, you get a lot of tendrils in a bunch of different places. Which, and for that matter, I mean, speak of everything that you have ever done, which is a lot — you also have a Queer Cuz podcast.

Sarah: I do. I do indeed. A very inactive [laughing] at the moment; I think we haven’t posted for, like, over a year, maybe a year and a half. Because actually, you know, running podcasts [laughing] takes a lot of time, which I don’t have. But yeah, it’s called Queer Cuz. We have different episodes, you know, uploaded, so it is stuff that exists and it’s said to be listened to.

Sarah: It is involving me and three of my cousins. We’re all Queer. We are all Filipino as well. So we’re all part of this — so, this is my mum’s side of the family. So we have Alaina, who’s the youngest, who’s recently graduated from university. So she’s — yeah, she’s —

Courtney: Congratulations, Alaina!

Sarah: I think she’s either just… I think she might have already started her job, actually, but she was due to start her, you know, grown-up job [laughs] around now. And then there’s Angelika, who’s currently in vet school and has the most pets out of any other family member, unsurprisingly. Then there’s D, who is — so Angelika and Alaina are kind of more early 20s, whereas me and D are in our early 30s, so we’ve kind of got a bit of an age gap between us. Me and D spent a lot of time together as kids, so, when I used to visit in the US, and he also used to visit us in the UK as well. And he works within the publishing industry, which was, like, his very, very long-term dream.

Sarah: And so, yeah, we talk about different things. So, we’ve shared our own experiences. We’ve interviewed people. We’ve been very fortunate to interview two Filipinos from the Philippines. So we had Ria, who is Asexual and Aromantic; really fantastic interview with her, and so, so useful in terms of informing, like, my knowledge, about the Filipino Ace experience as well. And we also interviewed Amber, who is a trans woman about her experience of being a trans woman in the Philippines. So, really, really grateful we managed to work it out — with several different time zones, I should add. So there’s me, BST; then, D is six hours behind me; Angelika is eight hours behind me; and then Alaina, I think, is six hours behind me. So, yeah, technically, so, it’s three different time zones there. Plus —

Courtney: Yeah, no one can blame you for not regularly uploading with that schedule.

Sarah: [laughs] Yeah. And also, you know, our lives. But then interviewing someone in the Philippines who’s eight hours ahead of me!

Courtney: Mhm!

Sarah: So I remember when we interviewed Ria, I think it was midnight for her, 4 o’clock in the afternoon for me, and then 8:00 in the morning for Angelika, [laughs] which was quite a time.

Courtney: Wow. That’s wild.

Sarah: And I think it was 10 o’clock in the morning for D. So, yeah, trying to interview people in the Philippines with the rest of us is quite challenging. But, yeah, we really wanted to delve into the Filipino queer experiences. But the beautiful thing, I think, about the podcast is that… So, me and my cousins, we are talking about things that we’ve never talked about before with each other.

Sarah: I was learning things about D that he’s never, ever told me before, during a recording of the podcast, even though we spent a lot of time together as kids. So he doesn’t use his handle anymore online, but the handle he used to use was Off White Magician. And he, like me, is mixed; his dad is white. And he said, like, on the forms, as a kid, they would have to tick, you know, which race box. And it was like, there’s white and Asian, and he’s like —

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: “Which one? Which one do I tick?” And so he said he had this feeling of being “off white” about how he’s experiencing the world. And that was just so interesting to hear him say that, because he’s never told me that, even though both of us, you know, both of us have white fathers, and then our mothers are sisters. So, yeah, it’s just little things like that.

Sarah: And then, of course, queer experiences of him, you know, as a teenager into early adulthood. There’s a lot of that stuff around that time. He didn’t tell me any of that stuff at the time. So it’s been really, really — a great family bonding experience as well as also a collection — so, a collection of these conversations recorded where we’re speaking about these things for the first time, but also say specifically queer Filipino experiences.

Sarah: A conversation I had with Alaina quite recently was actually about feelings of the imposter syndrome with feeling if your’re Filipino enough, and me sharing my experiences with her. So we did this not on air but kind of just more in person. And so it’s really actually great to find how we are finding these similar experiences between each other, but also the differences in our experience, especially with the age gap, the fact we grew up in different places. So Alaina grew up in Texas, Angelika grew up in California, D grew up near Chicago, and then I grew up in the UK. So we both also grew up in different places. So our access to Filipino community also differs depending where we are as well. Like, Angelika, living in California, has a fair bit of access to Filipino community. So, yeah, it’s been such an interesting podcast. But it’s just one of those things I would love to put more time into. It’s just, podcasts take a lot of time. [laughs]

Courtney: They do, yes. And it’s so much harder when you’re all in completely different places. Like, the only reason why Royce and I are able to upload every week is because we live together, and we both work from home, and we both have flexible work schedules, and we never leave the house, so we can record at any time we want to and make it work. But, oh, yeah, with those time zones, that’s got to be a headache. But the episodes I have listened to I have really, really enjoyed.

Sarah: Oh, thank you!

Courtney: So I definitely recommend. And we’ll put a link in the show notes, of course.

Sarah: Thank you. I actually have a question for you two. So the podcast is something that you both work on. What other projects have you — so maybe I should say, solely both of you worked on? Or is the podcast actually one of the very few things you’ve ever worked on together?

Courtney: Well, it’s probably the only thing very publicly that we have done together. But we’ve worked on some other things together. I mean, we are Dungeon Masters for Dungeons & Dragons. We have both written a campaign together to run for friends and also have gotten premade adventures to run together. So that’s sort of a very, very ongoing but private creative project.

Royce: Yeah, the podcast is definitely the most concrete thing — like, the thing with a particular goal in mind. We’ve been trying to get into more creative projects.

Courtney: Yeah, well, you know, I mean, kind of just with our particular skill sets and the fact that I am self-employed and not tech-savvy, like, a lot of the things that I do are actually somewhat a collaborative effort. Like, Royce builds my website for my business and always has.

Royce: I think that’s why there was such a long pause before either of us tried to answer that question.

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Royce: It’s like, “Well, what do you consider ‘collaborative’?”

Sarah: Up to you!

Courtney: Well, and I have a lot of —

Royce: Like, is cooking dinner collaborative?

Courtney: Yeah, we cook dinner together. Well, I have a lot of antique books for my research, for the history side of my business as well, and Royce actually devised a system of scanning and archiving those to put them in PDF form so that I can give those to my patrons on Patreon, but also so, like, in case our house ever burns down — like, heaven forbid — we have access to those, and other people have access to those. Because I have probably the most robust collection of literature related to Victorian-era hair work than… I haven’t even found a museum that has as many resources as I do in my private collection, so I’m very — like, we need to have this backed up.

Royce: And it’s somewhat surprising and mildly alarming that there aren’t already digital copies of some of these books.

Courtney: Yes. So, like, that’s a thing that we’ve done. Back when I used to make YouTube videos, like, Royce edited them for a period of time before I got an official editor. We’re kind of always just doing little things together. But I was surprised when we started the podcast. I don’t know if you listeners have picked up on this, but I talk a lot more than Royce does. [laughs] But I also have been in the public eye for a variety of reasons over the years, and Royce really has not. And as a much more private, introverted person, I never really thought that Royce would want to, you know, go out publicly in this way. But why did you decide to do this, anyway? I was so surprised. You were like, “Yeah, I’d do that.”

Royce: I think you’re asking the question the wrong way. I think it was more that —

Courtney: Ah, the wrong question.

Royce: — I didn’t have any reservations about participating.

Courtney: There you have it, folks.

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Sarah: Thank you. I was just kind of curious. Because I’m like, “What else do you?” Because, like, it’s interesting, because I don’t think I do any kind of collaborative projects with my husband. Yeah. I think we have a similar dynamic in that. Like, I’m very much a public person, do a lot of public speaking, and he’s more of, like, an introverted person himself. He’s very supportive. He’s supported a lot of things I’ve done. He’s attended events I’ve spoken at. But he’s not somebody who collaborates with me in that kind of way. Although, I don’t know, is that true? Because I’ve also said, “Hey, I put together this talk. Can you listen to it and see how it lands?” Because he is a good example of who my audience could be as well, in terms of not knowing about something as much as I do. So he’s supported in those ways, but not necessarily collaborated, if that makes sense.

Courtney: Yeah, that makes sense. But yeah, we’ve kind of — I mean, Royce has kind of served both roles for me, either just, like, an extra set of eyes and ears if I need an opinion, but also, like, building my website is a big one, because I need that to do business. But, yeah, we often find ways to work together, but we have very, very different skill sets. So I think that sort of… We complement each other pretty well in a few different areas, for that reason. Like, even with the podcast, I have an abundance of ideas and things I can talk about forever, and Royce can edit them, so. [laughs]

Courtney: But yeah, and back, like, pre-pandemic, when I would have some in-person business affairs to attend to, sometimes it would just be me going alone and sometimes traveling alone, but occasionally, I’ve, like, really needed an extra set of hands, and Royce has been able to do that for me in some cases. Which was actually really, really funny. Royce, do you remember when that local history museum brought me in for a lecture and you came to, like, run my little merch table off to the side? Those women who were talking after my lecture about how weird it was and how weird I was. What did they say specifically? They were, like, in front of Royce, not realizing that Royce was my spouse. [laughs]

Royce: I don’t remember exactly. This has been several years. But it was something to the effect of, like, “I wonder what her husband thinks of this,” or something like that.

Sarah: [laughs] Because —

Courtney: You probably didn’t even respond either. You were probably just like —

Royce: Yeah, I didn’t say anything.

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: Because apparently, a woman’s husband — assumed there’s a husband there — is the opinion that matters, right? Apparently? [laughs]

Courtney: Yeah, I think they saw that I was wearing a wedding ring and just, first of all, assumed husband.

Sarah: Ah. Yeah.

Courtney: And then also, second of all, assumed that Royce was not? I don’t know. I don’t know what the logic is there, but I thought that was rather funny.

Royce: Well, I don’t wear a ring.

Courtney: Ohh.

Royce: So that could be part of it.

Courtney: That could be part of it. I didn’t even consider that. Yeah, people are very, very weird about, like, checking for rings. That could be a whole episode in and of itself, is, like, ring culture. Well, before we wrap up, is there anything else that you want to make sure we get to? We’ve covered a lot of ground already.

Sarah: I don’t know. Was there anything else that you had?

Courtney: Not necessarily. I mean, we summarized a few regularly occurring conversations.

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Sarah: What is activism? Still don’t have the answer. Still don’t have the answer to that question.

Courtney: We will never have the answer to “what is activism?”

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Sarah: Because I’m just like, still, we talked about it —

Courtney: All I know is that I would not be mad if I never saw another white, abled person in the community say, “Just being you is activism!”

Sarah: It is something that I remember Amber saying when we interviewed her for Queer Cuz. And I think in her context, because of being a trans woman… So, she talked about — there was a trans woman in the Philippines who won an award, and she was an actress, I think it was. And she said, like, that was activism because of that being change. And I just thought that was — I remember hearing her say that and then kind of like, “Hmm,” because it kind of it being — or was is it more of a signifier of change, rather, or is that leading to positive change, because it was so high profile that people saw that. I don’t know. So it’s just a thing —

Courtney: Well, it’s also interesting, because I have heard some folks who are from whatever marginalized identity it might be who vehemently reject that. Like, someone will say, “You’re an activist,” and they’ll be like, “But I’m not! I’m just living my life.” [laughs]

Sarah: And I’ve seen that happen as well. Like, especially when you have the list of people on — when you say, “Oh, follow these people on Twitter!” And then somebody’s like, “But I’m not an activist! I mean, like, it’s nice that you think I’m great, but I’m not an activist.”

Courtney: Yeah. I’ve seen that specifically with Black Aces in the community.

Sarah: Yes.

Courtney: Which, like, yes, following and listening to Black Aces is a good thing and you should do it. But sometimes the framing of it, where someone will be like, “Well, I hear there’s a racism issue, but I don’t know what to do about it. So here’s a list of Black Ace activists to follow!” And then most of the folks on the list are like, “I’m not even an activist. I’m literally just a Black Ace existing.”

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. And I should say I’m guilty of doing things like that. I didn’t realize, actually, I shouldn’t do that. Because then also people do it to me and I’m just like, “Listen, I’m just somebody who just says things on Twitter. I just put some things on and press Tweet.” [laughs]

Courtney: Oh, well, there’s something, too, that we’ve talked about in the past, where we often talk about how racism is kind of a trending topic. We talked to Marshall on the podcast not too long ago and he said, “Yeah, the racism conversation is like disco. [laughing] Like, it goes out of fashion.”

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Courtney: Love Marshall. He’s hilarious.

Sarah: Yeah. That was such a lovely interview to listen to, by the way. It was so wholesome. It’s just so nice to have, like, a lot of the episode being about just cake and just —

Courtney: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Cake.

Sarah: — and his mum. I was just like, “That’s so nice to just listen to amongst the very serious topics around, like, Asexuality.” It’s like, “Cake! Isn’t cake great? And this is what my mum does!” And I’m like, Oh, this seems so wholesome.”

Courtney: Yeah! We should have a balance.

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: We should have a little bit of each. But —

Sarah: Yeah.

Courtney: Yeah. So with that trending topic, though, one of the biggest, most sort of intra-community viral conversation that’s happened in recent memory was kind of accidentally “started” — “started” in quotes — by you.

Sarah: No.

[Courtney laughs]

Sarah: It wasn’t started. That’s the thing. It wasn’t started by me! That’s the thing. It was…

Courtney: That’s why we put in quotes. That’s something you’ve talked to me about where, like, your Tweet, was the one that got the attention.

Sarah: Noticed. Mhm.

Courtney: But it wasn’t the first.

Sarah: No. And the thing is, a friend of mine — I remember talking to them at the time — said, “That’s what’s going to happen!” And they were completely right. And it made me feel really uncomfortable because… But, again, thinking about, like, why is it my Tweet? It’s my proximity to whiteness. That’s what it is. It’s a fact that, like — and, yeah, and that’s why I kind of backed off and went, “I don’t — No. No, I don’t want people to pay attention to me.” And I even sort of regretted, in a way, like, actually tweeting about it in the first place. Because I’m like, you know, in a way, I’m glad that people are taking this seriously — although the conversation’s died off again, like, as Marshall said, it just comes and goes, right? [laughs] So the “just like disco” thing. That’s a very good analogy.

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Sarah: So, thanks Marshall.

Courtney: Well, yeah. And that’s the thing, too. Because I don’t think the issue was even necessarily that your Tweet got a lot of attention. But I do recall, at that time, that people just sort of showing up to the conversation for the first time and seeing that your Tweet was the biggest one and it was the first amongst all these others that started getting retweeted with more attention. I would start to occasionally then see Tweets where it’s like, “Thank you so much to Sarah for bringing this, like, very important conversation to us.” And that’s when I started seeing you go, like, [timidly] “I didn’t start this conversation.” [laughs]

Sarah: No. And also, like, I’m not the first person to talk about this as well. Like, Black Aces have been talking about this for how long, whether they’ve been taken seriously. And I even said this in the thread, that I’m not saying anything new here. I know I’m not. I’m just saying, “By the way, [laughs] this is still an issue.” And so, yeah, there was this part of me that went, “Ugh, maybe I shouldn’t have done that,” because that’s not how I wanted it to go. I just wanted it to be just me sharing my own frustration.

Sarah: But really, it’s the fact that other people have shared this way before me, and several times before me as well. And people should be paying attention to that and actually trying to make change from that already — that we should already be seeing change. And we’re talking about years. This was talked about years and years ago — so not even a couple years ago — years back, where we’ve seen racism talked about and seen in different Ace community spaces online. And so it is therefore frustrating when, you know, “Oh, thanks for this.” I’m like, this is an incredibly old conversation, and why aren’t we seeing change, you know? This is something that’s been talked about before. We should have already tried to change this.

Sarah: And, you know, as something you’ve said in conversation to me, and your motivations for starting ACAR as well, we can’t just do following lists on Twitter. Like, that’s not going to cut it. We need to really drive change, actual change in the community beyond… Because I think this is a problem with anything I see within equity, diversity, inclusion, is people want to be like, “Right, give me a lesson how to be an ally.” And it’s like, you don’t want to give them all the information because that’s, you know, a lot to digest, but just a tick list of, “You’ve done these things, therefore you’re an ally. Have a cookie,” you know?

Courtney: Uh-huh!

Sarah: It’s not as simple as that! It’s a thought process you need to change, right? And this is why I think ACAR is a good place for that, because we’re really trying to change our actions, change how we approach things. But also, the great thing about the community itself is it’s people not doing this alone. Because often we don’t know what to do. We have the best intentions, but we don’t know what to do, and then we don’t do anything because we don’t know what to do. And this is why I really appreciate somewhere like ACAR where I can go, “Hey, this has happened. Can I have some advice? I really want to make sure I did the right thing.” And I’ve personally found it really, really valuable to have that space.

Sarah: But, yeah, that’s the thing, is like, we need stuff like that. Not tick-boxing, because that’s not going to cut it. It’s not going to lead to that change. But even with the tick-boxing of, like, “Oh, tell me how to be an ally,” Black people, Black Aces, talk about, “Here are the issues,” and yet we don’t see change. So you have people saying, “Oh, yeah, we need change,” but they don’t listen to Black Aces.

Courtney: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and the thing is, too, I liked what you said about, like, “Have a cookie!” Because part of being an ally is reframing your thought process and understanding that you are not going to get cookies for not being racist.

Sarah: [laughs] Yeah.

Courtney: You don’t get cookies for doing the minimum, the bare minimum, to try to make the community, you know, welcoming and safe. And I think that’s… not only being someone who wants the cookie, but also wanting to give other people the cookie. Because I think that’s where — what happened with your Tweet that blew up, with that particular thread, part of the issue was that so many white folks in the community wanted to hand you cookies. They were like, “Thank you, Sarah. Thank you for this very valuable insight.” And it’s like, those aren’t your cookies to give in the first place. [laughs]

Sarah: No. No, it isn’t. And I’m also not — [laughs] it shouldn’t be for me! It’s just… yeah. But again, it kind of comes back to that feeling of knowing you’re palatable and then going, “Ugh.” And it’s just so…

Courtney: Because it wasn’t a bad thing that that happened. And I know you felt really bad about it, but I think you handled it in the best way you could by pointing out to those who said, “Oh, this conversation was started by Sarah,” you were like, “No, it wasn’t.” And you are making those corrections and bringing that information to people.

Courtney: But I do think that that was a very particular couple of weeks on Ace Twitter where a lot of people who had never been exposed to this cycling conversation before got a taste of it. And so if it did open some eyes and if it did start people paying a little more attention and if it did get people to, you know, later, join ACAR, like, it is positive at the end of the day.

Courtney: But I think it is important for anybody out there who is speaking on these issues to, I guess, understand when praise might be unwarranted. Because it’s also hard to, like, reject praise.

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: Like, if people are saying, like, “Thank you, you did a good job,” it’s really hard to be like, “Stop that. [laughs] I don’t want your attention. I don’t want your affection.” But that’s part of being an ally, is knowing your place.

Sarah: Yeah. And I know it’s one of those things that — it is well intentioned, but it’s just also like, no. As I say, it made me feel really uncomfortable at the time. I’m just trying to think if there’s anything else to add to this or anything else we need to talk about. It’ll be a thing afterwards — I’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, there was that thing I could have talked about.” But I think I have this with every podcast interview, just like —

Courtney: Yeah. That does happen.

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: It’s okay, we’ll just have a Sarah part two next year.

Sarah: Oh, great. Excellent.

Courtney: We’ll start keeping a list now. [laughs]

Sarah: Excellent. Excellent. Because that’s the thing. I was like, if I compare myself to what I used to talk about, and I’m like, how much I’ve just kind of learned about the community since, it’s just, yeah. I think that’s the thing I’ve always thought about and try to think about very carefully, is that I’ve only been here, like, a few years as part of this space. But, yeah, it’s something I wanted to think very carefully about: an existing community space I’ve been going into.

Sarah: And, like, sometimes, with Aces in STEM, I kind of do a thing and go, like, “I hope this is what the community want. I really hope so.” And I had the kind of same thing about conversations around race as well, because some of them are going to be very old conversations. I want to be really conscious of that and respectful of that as well. Because I could be wading in with an opinion that, you know, isn’t a new opinion, it’s not a new thought. So that’s why I want to be…

Sarah: Sometimes, it’s one of those things that, if you are interested in activism and advocacy, sit back and, like, watch things for a little while. Have conversations with people. I think that’s really, really important. And as much as possible, I try to also ask — like, I remember going on Aces in STEM going, “I think I’m going to do this. Is this what you want? Is this a useful thing?” And really thinking about what I’m doing. I still have that fear of, like, “What if I’m getting this all wrong? What if I’m really going the wrong direction?” But at the same time, I don’t want fear to stop me not doing anything at all as well. So it’s about finding that balance between the two things.

Sarah: And so, yeah, so that’s the thing just to bear in mind with, like, as I’m just thinking about conversations about, like, racism, Twitter, the same kind of stuff coming around again, just be really conscious when you are joining a community for the first time, like, observe what’s going on. And, you know, because there’s a lot of stuff that’s been already discussed and talked about.

Courtney: Oh, yeah. Observing is very important. But I also think that, like, genuine community-building is really important and something that we really often lack in the Ace community. But it is good to, yes, follow a diverse set of voices, but if you aren’t building meaningful community with them, there are still going to be, you know, gaps in your understanding.

Courtney: And plus, like, it feels good to build community. It feels good to have someone that you can talk about — like, if you have a really bad day on Twitter, if the trolls are coming out, if the, you know, Acephobia is cranked up to 11, like, it’s really nice to be able to DM someone you’ve had real conversations with before or jump on a call with someone who’s a member of your community. Or if there is a difficult situation, or if you are sort of an aspiring ally or you’re new to the journey and you do, like, make a misstep — it does inevitably happen, and it is very uncomfortable — it helps to have a community of people actually there with you and rooting for your growth, to say, you know, “Here’s what you should do going forward.” And you may not be able to correct the situation, but you can get a lot of meaningful advice for how to go forward and not make the same mistakes again. And that’s just so much more productive, I find, than the social media cold war that is Twitter. [laughs]

Sarah: Yeah. There’s something about being able to discuss things off… Because I think there’s only so much — I mean, I think it’s good to see discussions and open discussions about things and asking questions and getting perspective with that. But I have definitely really valued the one-to-one conversations, kind of just, you know, separately and privately. And for that reason, I’m very grateful to have been able to come across you, Courtney, because you’ve been in community so much longer than I have, and that’s why I feel like I’ve also learned so much from you in terms of understanding the history of the community and the activism and advocacy that’s happened in the community. So I’m really, really grateful for that. Thank you. Just, yeah, just knowing you has been really, really great.

Courtney: Oh, good. I only kind of feel like I’ve been in the community a long time. [laughs] I feel like there is a pre=podcast Courtney and a post-podcast Courtney.

[Sarah laughs]

Courtney: Because pre-podcast, I was here, I was trying to talk, I was observing very, very closely in a variety of places, but the acceptance from the wider community was not there. Not there until we started the podcast.

Sarah: Yeah. No. I’ve seen you talk about that before, so, yeah.

Sarah: The other thing I think I also want to see a bit more from the community is also reaching out of our community, and that’s how I kind of feel — kind of looping back to what I talked about earlier about working as a science communicator — that kind of bridge in between. I think about that as a science communicator, that often, you know, I do want to go to speak to science professionals about Asexual people because of a lack of understanding within those sectors, right? It makes sense for me. And that means I can see change. I think it’s something I’ve also seen with my work with Schools OUT: the importance of different LGBT charities getting together to talk about an issue. It’s just, it makes sense to do that, to go and work with other people right across the queer community, working in different sectors. It just makes a lot more sense.

Sarah: And this is something I think Yasmin does so well. I think that’s one of — I mean, she does so many amazing things, right? But one of the things I think she does so well is actually goes out and represents us in so many different contexts, and therefore you’re seeing those conversations, and her perspective’s being brought to those contexts so, so well. And I think that’s really important. It’s one of the things — I’m inspired by that to do it myself as well, to go out and reach out to outside the community.

Sarah: I do understand why, as a community, that we do like to keep to ourselves, in that many people have had bad experiences of going out of the community and come back to the safety of being in the community. I do really understand that. But I think it is something we do need to think about within activism and advocacy going forward, is we should be reaching out wherever possible. So, for example, if there are any talks about Asexuality, they’re serving the needs of the community, absolutely, in terms of them getting access to things like that. But it would also be really great to get medical professionals to come to a session about that, for them to learn for themselves too, just to give an example.

Courtney: Yes.

Sarah: Yeah. So, I think that’s something I would love to see more in the future. Especially when Aces do come from a range of different sectors themselves. They come from different parts of society, where maybe they’re not in a position to talk about Asexuality because they don’t want to out themselves. Completely understand that. But for those who do, who do want to do this education stuff, don’t just do it within the community. Go and reach outside the community if you can. I should emphasize that: if you can, safely.

Courtney: Mhm. Yeah. I completely agree with that. Because even… I mean, you and I have both been on panels for various conferences related to Ace things, and my question is always, when a conference is being organized, who is the audience? Is this for the community? Is this just a celebration of Aces by Aces and for Aces — which, again, has its time and place and is good — or are we taking an academic approach to this? Are we taking a practical approach to this? And have we reached out to other people to come in and learn from us? So those are just always things that I have in the back of my head. And I would love to see more things that is sort of cross-community organizing.

Sarah: Mmm. I agree.

Courtney: Which, again — and this is just right on the top of my head because ACAR’s current book is Black Disability Politics, so we’re having meetings about this and we’re reading this together. But the cross-community organizing: the very first chapter is about the Black Panther Party and their cross-organizing with the disability community. Remarkable history, and very effective ways of getting things done. And a lot of big just historical wins for marginalized community have been done by cross-organizing with one another and pooling resources and materially supporting one another.

Sarah: Yeah. Absolutely.

Courtney: And that’s what I don’t see. I don’t see a lot of material support for Aces from outside of the community. [laughs]

Sarah: And I raise that. I raise that when I speak, when I give talks about Asexuality, because it’s the feeling in the community that we feel like we’re kind of just by ourselves and we’re going to deal with this by ourselves, right? Yeah. It’s something I try to talk about wherever possible, where we feel like there’s a lack of support. But I think part of that is when people outside — like, within the broader queer community who aren’t Ace — don’t recognize what things like Acephobia looks like. They don’t know what discrimination towards Aces look like, and I think that’s part of the problem.

Sarah: But actually, I was on another podcast, Rule 63, which is run by Anna Marie LaChance. She is a fellow Ace in STEM. She does some really good education content on TikTok as well, so somebody that people should really follow. She does some really, really great work. And the episode she interviewed me for was around how Asexuality is pretty queer. I think that was the title of the episode. And the key things we had, if you — you know, breaking down the content of the episode — is how much we have in common with the broader queer community. We had the same political goals. We all — very similar issues that we’re facing. And that’s another thing I try to talk about, is based on these experiences, based on these things I talked about, can you see how much we got in common with the broader community?

Sarah: So the fact that when I speak about my personal experiences — so the first signs of me being Ace, I remember being about probably 14 years old, and I was on like one of those camps you do away. And I was in a dorm with some girls who were flicking through one of those teen magazines commenting on how good looking the guys in the magazine are, and I just could not understand this. I was just like, “I don’t get it. I really, really do not understand this.” And I remember sharing this, and lesbians say, “Yeah, I get that. I understand that experience, because I didn’t understand that either.”

Sarah: And it’s the fact that, like, I have stuff in common — like my experiences have overlaps with lesbian experiences. I have overlaps with bi and pan experiences as well. So, yeah. And we’re facing some of the same issues. We are all experiencing, you know, cisheteronormativity. We are all experiencing allonormativity, amatonormativity, right? So it makes sense to be in community with us. Historically, Aces were part of the bi community, until we kind of separated and had our own community there as well. So, yeah, it makes political sense to work together.

Courtney: I mean, the goal should always be collective liberation and identifying that it is all the same fight.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely.

Courtney: So, on that note, Sarah, please tell us and our listeners all of the places where we can find you.

Sarah: You could find me on Twitter at @Sarah_Cosgriff, Sarah spelled with an H and my surname spelled C-O-S-G-R-I-F-F. And I’m also on Instagram and TikTok as @ace.scicomm, so sci comm spelled with two Ms at the end, and the name suggests Ace science communicator. And I’ve also just joined BlueSky. I finally got a BlueSky code today, or yesterday, so I’m there on @acescicomm, so without a dot in the middle. So, yeah, that’s the places you can find me: as I say, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and now BlueSky. So, yeah. And of course, there is the Queer Cuz podcast. We are on various podcast platforms as @QueerCuz, so cuz spelled C-U-Z.

Courtney: Outstanding. Well, thank you so much for sitting down with us today, Sarah. It is always a pleasure speaking with you.

Sarah: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so glad that I finally have been on the podcast, because I’ve been so keen to for a while. I love the podcast and what you both do. It’s fantastic work. It’s stuff that — conversations I generally don’t see talked about across the broader Ace community. So just thank you so much.

Courtney: Well, thank you. I never know how to end these things. So, Sarah, as our guest, what are we ending on? Any final thoughts, any key takeaways?

[Sarah and Courtney laugh]

Sarah: Key takeaways. Uh… Do I want to say something like “Be gay, do science”? Is that the takeaway of this episode: be Ace, do science?

Courtney: Yes!

Sarah: Or I don’t know. Is that going to be the takeaway?

Courtney: Be Ace, do science.

Sarah: Do science. Listeners, that’s it. That’s all we need to know.

Courtney: Just make it ethical. Ethical science.

Sarah: [laughs] Yes. Definitely ethical science.

Courtney: Be Ace, do ethical science. And we will see you all same time, same place next week. Goodbye!

Sarah: Bye!