Disabled BIPOC Aces Panel: Disabled Ace day 2023
Today we have a special treat! A recording of the Disabled BIPOC Aces Panel featuring Justin Ancheta, Dal Cecil Runo, Johnnie Jae, Charlie the Prophet, and Courtney Lane which was streamed live on Disabled Ace Day 2023 during Ace Week. Tune in for a fascinating, intersectional discussion!
- Is Your Stuttering a Disability? By Justin Ancheta
- The Weaving Spider & Moth by Dal Cecil Runo
- Ace by Angela Chen
- Ace Notes by Michele Kirichanskaya
- Refusing Compulsory Sexuality by Sherronda J Brown
- Ace Week
- Disabled Ace Media and Resources List
- A-specs Committed to Anti-Racism
- Tucson Alliance for Housing Justice
Follow Charlie the Prophet on YouTube and Instagram.
Follow Dal Cecil Runo on her website, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Ko-fi, and Patreon.
Follow Johnnie Jae on their website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Ko-fi, A Tribe Called Geek, and Grim Native.
Follow Justin Ancheta on Twitter, Instagram, and Medium.
Courtney Lane: Hello everyone, and welcome back to the podcast! My name is Courtney, and I am NOT here with my spouse Royce, because today we are breaking from format just a bit, but please stick with us because I promise you it is for a very special reason. As many of you may be aware, Ace Week takes place every year during the last full Sunday-Saturday week in October and Wednesday during Ace Week is Disabled Ace Day. Disabled Ace Day is dedicated to awareness, visibility, and celebration of the intersections of Asexuality and Disability and advocates for material and social support of Disabled Aces everywhere. On October 25th, 2023 A-specs Committed to Anti-Racism organized and hosted our first Disabled BIPOC Aces panel and today I am thrilled to present the recording of said panel right here on The Ace Couple podcast. And for the very first time in this podcast’s history, you can even watch a video of the panel on our YouTube channel if you’d like to see all of our lovely faces. So without further ado, let’s get on to the panel.
Justin Ancheta: So welcome everyone. Well, happy Ace Week and Happy Disabled Ace Day. This is the Disabled Ace Day 2023 panel discussion. And yeah, again, welcome to everyone.
Justin Ancheta: I thought I would start with a simple acknowledgement. We acknowledge that we are living on colonized and occupied lands. Colonization is more than just settler colonialism. It is resource extraction, including culture and knowledge, land use, political dependency, and so much more. We acknowledge that non-Native folks to this land actively benefit from the exploitation, colonization, and we acknowledge that that colonization is not over, and fighting its effects means continued learning, unlearning, and defending the rights of all people to housing, safety, and having their basic needs met. We acknowledge that the extractive practices that mine rare earth to create the computers and the technology that allow us to meet in this virtual space while those on the other side of the digital divide do not have this type of access. And we acknowledge the impact on people and the planet that this causes. And that was adapted from the Tucson Alliance for Housing Justice. Thanks to the ACAR community member RuthAnn for introducing us to that.
Justin Ancheta: So, yeah, what we’re going to do is we’re going to get questions for the Q&A during the break. If you have any questions you would like to ask our panel, you can put them in the Q&A section, the Q&A box at the bottom of your window.
Justin Ancheta: And… Yeah! Let’s just do a quick go-around to introduce ourselves. Would anyone like to go first and do a quick intro?
Charlie the Prophet: Yeah, I’ll go. So, I’m Charlie. I am a nonbinary trans person. I have schizoaffective disorder, which is a fun mashup of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Yay! I also am Asexual and in an Ace-Ace relationship. I go by they/them pronouns. And if you’re looking for me, you can find me on YouTube. I make videos about being Black, trans, disabled, and part of what I call the Beloved Community. And so that’s on Charlie the prophet on YouTube. But I’m excited because that’s exactly what this panel is about: being in the Beloved Community and seen and known and loved and encouraged.
Charlie the Prophet: So I’m excited that we get to kind of talk about that stuff more in-depth today.
Johnnie Jae: I guess I’ll introduce myself next. Hello, everyone. I’m Johnnie Jae. I’m from the Otoe-Missouria and Choctaw tribes out of Oklahoma, although I’m currently residing in Los Angeles right now. I am here because I have lupus, and I’m also Ace, and they both kind of intersect with a lot of the issues that I face as an Indigenous person. And so I think these discussions are really important so that we kind of get a wide variety of perspective in understanding what it is to be Ace, especially when there’s so much Acephobia [laughs] and just denial of our existence. And even as just being disabled, you know, I feel that so much of our experience is kind of colored by all the intersections of racism, sexism, you know, even just seeking health care, you know, these are all things that we have to kind of contend with. So I think these discussions are really important. So I’m really happy to be here today.
Dal Cecil Runo: Alright, I’ll try. Hello, everyone. I am Dal Cecil Runo. I am a sci-fi writer. And… funny, I am also severely visually impaired, and my doctors say, “Girl, you’re blind. Just say it, you’re blind.” But I can still see a little bit, so I am on that very fine line between blindness and “She can still see colors.” And so, yes, I write science fiction and other genres. My book is coming out this Halloween — shameless self-plug. And I am also, like, at the very end of the Asexual spectrum, because I am very, very, very, very, very Ace. It’s like, no attraction of that kind in me. And yet, I have a partner, so. Oh, I currently reside in Argentina, but I am a citizen of the world. And I have a long story of found family and very peculiar adoption, and I’m also Pagan. So my intersections are… it’s a very crowded intersection here.
Dal Cecil Runo: So… So, I’m very happy to be part of this panel. I am open to all kinds of questions. Except for my weird accent — I already know I have it. [laughs] But yeah, all the things regarding Asexuality and disability and being a person of the world and stuff like that, I am happy to be here and discuss. I think it’s very important to have these kind of panels. Thank you so much for the invitation.
Courtney Lane: And my name is Courtney Lane. I am the founder of Disabled Ace Day as well as Aspecs Committed to Anti-Racism, also known as ACAR. Some of the folks from the Ace community may also know me as one half of The Ace Couple podcast. In my professional career, I am a Victorian hair artist and historian, so I make artwork and jewelry out of human hair and teach people the history behind this art form.
Courtney Lane: As far as my disabilities go — they are plural — it’s more of a constellation of disabilities, because I find a lot of them are related to one another. But the largest, most debilitating diagnosis that has sort of been present throughout my entire life is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It’s a connective tissue disorder, so it can affect all kinds of things in the body — joints, organs, skin — and can cause tremendous pain and injury. But it’s also very common for folks with EDS to have things like POTS, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome; MCAS, mast cell activation syndrome, which makes, you know, allergy reactions go haywire.
Courtney Lane: So, I have sort of a fun mismash of all of those things. And, more recently, in my adult life, having gone undiagnosed as a child, I am now on my neurodivergent journey, learning more about Autism and ADHD and how these things apply to me.
Justin: And, yeah, I guess I’ll go. My name is Justin. I use he/they pronouns, and I am the host. And I’m also a writer as well. I’m working on… Well, I’m working on one book project which is essentially a development of my Asexuality and the Tarot series, where I look at the Rider–Waite–Smith tarot deck from an Ace, disabled, and racialized perspective. And I’m also working on a literary project, which is kind of a memoir in pieces where I use experimental creative nonfiction, including braided essays and hermit crab essays, flash, and prose essays to talk about my experience with Asexuality and with being disabled and being racialized.
Justin: And my disability is that I stutter. I am a lifelong stutterer. Claiming the identity of being disabled has been something that I’m still… It’s still a bit of a discovery phase for me. It still is kind of me trying to suss out this label, this identity for myself. I wrote an essay about it in carte blanche magazine that was published this year, which was titled “Is Your Stuttering a Disability,” which was kind of me kind of putting that conversation down. Yeah! And I identify on the Asexual spectrum as demisexual biromantic. And I kind of came to that label, I think, in, like, 2019-ish, so… Yeah!
Justin: Thanks, everyone. Let’s get into the first question. First question is… which I’m also putting in the… How have your general Ace and Aro experience affected your experience with disability?
Johnnie: I think that’s an interesting question. One of the things I find with disability and being Ace is the fact that it’s, more often than not, deemed a symptom of our disability, and not really seen as just the way that we are. [laughs] And, like, every time I go for healthcare, I find that there’s a lot of things that get disregarded. Like, you know, we can tell them that we are Asexual, that we’re not sexually active, and yet I still get a pregnancy test. The last medical procedure that I had, I had two pregnancy tests. [laughs] And I was cracking up, because I was like, “Seriously?” [laughs] Because they did a rapid pregnancy test and then they did a blood urine test. So I was just like, “That seems a little extreme for somebody who’s Asexual.” [laughs]
Johnnie: But also, it’s not just in, like, getting our physical health care. It’s in our mental health care. When we disclose that we are Ace, oftentimes, they try to uncover a reason for it. And oftentimes, you know, it’s like, they start questioning you about whether you were abused as a child or what kind of trauma you experienced, and you’re just like, “Yeah, that doesn’t really fit into how this is,” you know?
Johnnie: Because for me, you know, I don’t think I… Like, when I was younger — I grew up super religious, and so you didn’t question your sexuality. Like, it wasn’t something that you were allowed to do, really, you know? You were male, you were female, you were straight. [laughs] And so I didn’t really even think to explore, like, my sexuality or anything. But I knew from a young age that, like, you get crushes on people and all these things that kids around me were doing — dating. It wasn’t the same for me. Like, I wasn’t interested. I didn’t have those same attractions. And, like, I did date out of trying to be normal, [laughs] you know? ’Cause it was kind of expected in my family. And, um…
Johnnie: But I also had to deal with my disability. So I have lupus, and when I was younger, my symptoms were very severe. So, I didn’t really date because I really didn’t expect to have a future. And, you know, growing up religious, like, I wasn’t really dating anyway. It wasn’t allowed.
Johnnie: So it wasn’t until I was 18 and, like, these decisions were my own that I started trying to figure things out. And, like, I actually ended up married. [laughs] And, you know, and trying to force myself into this idea of what a normal relationship — like, trying to force myself to have this attraction, to kind of fit into this mold, while also having lupus and having to deal with the fact that, you know, there’s a possibility I could die. And, you know, in my family there was just so much pressure. Like, you don’t want to date and get close to somebody if you’re going to die, but at the same time, you know, you want to be normal. And there was just so much pressure on me when I was young.
Johnnie: And I kind of didn’t know which way was up [laughs] until after I got divorced in my late 30s. And, you know, it was the first time in my life that I had the freedom to really just explore who I was and who it was I wanted to be. And I had more freedom, more autonomy, ’cause I didn’t have to consider anybody else but myself.
Johnnie: And you know, then I started kind of running across discussions on Twitter, and that’s where I found Ace community. And, you know, once I had the language, it was like, “Oh, this makes so much sense! Like, this is, you know, like, it is totally normal for me to not have these attractions.” And it just made everything kind of fall into place for me.
Johnnie: And… you know, like, I think… And I kind of held it close to me. It was something that was very personal. Because I was also dealing with a lot of health issues at the time and trying to figure out, you know, like, “Okay, this is part of who I am,” but also kind of listening to the healthcare providers and the way that they frame being Asexual as possibly a symptom — you know, a symptom of your medications, a symptom of your disability, of your hormone level. And so, like, I was having to contend with all that. So it made it really difficult.
Johnnie: And it was kind of like a years-long journey before I was able to actually just come out and say that I am Asexual, and it’s not a symptom of my disability, it’s just who I am at the very core. And, you know, it’s such a difficult thing to have to contend with when you’re trying to get your health care, [laughs] because you’re battling for your identity when you’re trying to battle for your life. And it’s just a whole mess of things that get conflated.
Johnnie: And, you know, like, if you’re just now exploring this side of your identity, it can be very difficult and very overwhelming. And I found that was my experience. But thankfully, we are able to connect with each other through our digital spaces. And, you know, that’s where I found a lot of comfort, a lot of strength, and also a lot of confidence in just being able to figure out which way was up for me.
Justin: Thank you so much.
Charlie: So for me, it really comes up when I’m meeting new people that I want to relate to romantically.
Charlie: It could be a lot just to talk about. It’s another thing to navigate. Like we were saying before, I have so many identities that could throw people off, like… And so I try to, like, just be chill about that and, like, put all of that upfront so that people know kind of where I’m coming from. So, mainly that’s how it is in my social relationships.
Charlie: But for my day-to-day experience, I think it comes up more with my disability. And it’s been helpful because knowing myself to be Ace has helped me recognize, actually, some of my symptoms. So, whenever I go into a manic episode, I get way more sexual. Like, my libido goes up, and I am manic, and I, like… I don’t know all of these, like, weird urges come on that I know are out of my character. And so if I hadn’t acknowledged myself as Ace, then I would think, “Okay, that’s just part of, like… Like, maybe I’m allosexual. Maybe I’m, like, I don’t know what.” But knowing myself to be Ace, I can clearly say, “That’s a symptom,” and go to my doctor and talk to them about that, whereas before I knew, I just thought something weird was happening to me. So that’s one way that being Ace has helped me understand my disability better, by giving me that warning sign.
Courtney: Can I just say how fascinating that is? Because how often in the Ace community do we hear, like, “Asexuality isn’t a thing. That’s a medical disorder,” or “Asexuality is a symptom of a bigger problem. You should get that checked out.” But in your case, you’re just very confidently like, “No, it’s actually the sexual desire that’s the symptom.”
Dal: I absolutely love that.
Justin: That’s great.
Courtney: I suppose I could —
Dal [simultaneous]: Should I try?
Courtney: Oh, go ahead, Dal. You first.
Dal: Thank you. Okay. So, how is my journey with Asexuality and disability, right? Well, I wrestle — many of the things that were said here before resonate with me. Because, you know, being born blind — I will use “blind” shortly, it’s shorter, but, you know, I can see colors and big picture details. But that’s all I can see. I cannot see beyond that. So growing up like that, being born blind in… Let’s say I was born in a part of the world that is not part of the Global North, and education is not the best.
Dal: So, if you’re born blind in a very religious area, there are two things that are going to happen. One: overprotection, so you’re going to grow up very sheltered because they are afraid that something is going to happen to you or that you’re going to do something evil because you’re blind, therefore you are some kind of punishment from the heavens, or something like that. And so, they have to take care of you, but at the same time they demonize you. I don’t know if that resonates with other disabled people from very religious regions in the Global South, but that is my experience.
Dal: So, growing up, I had this kind of dehumanization process. I know this is hard to say on such a public space, but… I got it rough. I now sound kind of cheery about it, but I’m just — I’m trying to hide it. It’s painful. I got it rough. And growing up, it was just like, “Am I even a person?”
Dal: And so, it was only when I finally got an opportunity to escape that landscape and move on and move to live on my own and find my own family that I kind of started to discover that, “Hey, I don’t feel…” It wasn’t just the dehumanization process. It was not just the bullying. It was also that I genuinely don’t feel attraction towards other people. It is just not a thing in me. Even though I could like somebody and I can feel love for somebody, I don’t experience the other tickly things that happen to other people.
Dal: And so, at first, it was kind of a joke, because I heard older people say, like — they had a saying, like, “I’m asexual, you know, like plants!” Which is a complete misconception, but, you know, it was the joke of the day, you know? “I’m asexual, like plants!” And I was like — I never took it seriously because it was the tone of the joke. And I never knew Asexuality was legit, ‘cause it was a joke.
Dal: And then, when I moved abroad, and I started having my own life and knowing other places and other people, and realizing that it wasn’t my blindness that was causing my lack of attraction. Because the main assumption was, “Of course you don’t like anyone! You cannot even see them. How are you going to like them?” As if attraction was purely and specifically visual — like, you see a hot person and, “Ooh, I’m attracted.” It doesn’t have to be that way.
Dal: And I started seeing very good-looking people, and I still didn’t want to do the do. And I was like, “Okay, so what’s going on here?” And I started looking more into it, and people were suggesting that I could be Asexual. And then I started exploring it online. And at the same time, I also had a lot of social pressure from friends who were a bit older than me — because I am that kind of odd person who always hangs out with older people — and they saw me… You know, I was this kind of cute girl, if I say so myself, but they said things — I don’t know if some of you saw that Tweet that I shared the other day that “The people said that I’m pretty, but I just need a cosmetic eye surgery and then I can find a boyfriend”? And I have things… People told me that to my face. “Oh, you just need a cosmetic eye surgery! Then you’re perfect. Don’t limit yourself. You will also find love. You’re so pretty.” And I was like, “Who told you that I want that?” I did find love, but my private life is private. And also, it feels so bad to me that I have to, like, validate my Asexuality with, like, “Hey, I actually have a partner.”
Dal: The assumption that being blind makes me Asexual, and because I say I’m Asexual, people think it’s because I’m blind. It’s like, it is so intertwined, because ableism is so, so prevalent, especially when your blindness is very visible. Like, my eyes are not complete. Like, I don’t have proper irises, so they look kind of funny. And people are very judgmental about that, even though I don’t mind having my eyes. My eyes are mine! I like them! It’s okay! But people assume that it’s a self-esteem problem when it’s not. And so they pressure me into dating and doing things that I don’t necessarily want to do, just to be normal.
Dal: And not to be a people-pleaser, but, like, more like in the tone of, “Okay, I’m going to try this so you leave me the crap alone.” And I did date for a while, and that’s when I realized, “No, no, I really don’t like this.
Dal: I really don’t like this.” And later, I found my partner and all that. But the dating process was like, ugh.
Dal: And I came out as Ace. And when I finally was like, “I’m Asexual,” then everything was falling into place. And then I started, like… It was the most liberating thing in the world for me. It was a whole journey of finding my identity, my family, my love, my sexuality or lack thereof. And all because people tend to dehumanize people with visible disabilities. It’s horrendous. With invisible disabilities, I know that there’s this idea they don’t believe you. Because they cannot see your disability, then they think, “Oh, you don’t have it as bad.” You do, but they don’t see it. What happens to me is they dehumanize me because of my notorious disability. And it’s… I just can’t handle. I am a very solitary person for most of the time, and I enjoy it that way. I think Asexuality was the most liberating thing in the world today. I am so grateful that I found this community and I wouldn’t change it for any other thing in the world.
Justin: Thank you so much, Dal. I noticed someone has raised their hand. Just want to remind folks that we’re going to be collecting Q&As for our panelists at the halfway mark, and then we’ll have about a half hour towards the end for audience Q&A. Courtney, did you want to chime in?
Courtney: Sure, yeah, I’ll round out this question. So, it was very early on that I learned, with my sort of amalgamation of both physical and mental health issues, that there are certain things that will actually hinder your goal of getting treatment or getting a diagnosis if you disclose too much to the wrong doctor. And that’s something that I discovered especially around the age of 14, because that was when I started actually actively seeing a therapist for some of my mental health issues.
Courtney: And for the longest time, I thought she was totally on my team and, like, got me. Because she knew about my physical issues that had been present my whole life. I mean, I was a two-year-old who was regularly dislocating elbows and just knew how to pop them back into place because I’d already been to the ER so many times for it. So she knew there was something physically wrong that was more than just, like, the “growing pains” that all my doctors were shrugging off. So in one of these sessions, she told me, “You know, Courtney, I think you have OCD. What you’re describing to me sounds like obsessive compulsive disorder.” And she said, “I’m just telling you this for your benefit. I am not going to put this in your charts. Because if you have that as a diagnosis on your charts, it is going to be harder for you to get a diagnosis for your physical health issues.” And I was like, “Oh man! Well, that’s kind of messed up, but thanks for knowing that and having my back.”
Courtney: But that exact same therapist then… At the age of 14, I knew I was Asexual. I knew I wasn’t having the desires other 14-year-olds were getting. But it was actually kind of goofy, because I started using the word “Asexual” in my head before I knew that there was an Asexual community or other people using that term.
Courtney: So I was like, “I’m just going to use this term for myself because it feels right.” So that was just a pleasant surprise to find out that there are others using the exact same word. We’re here.
Courtney: But that therapist, I told her at one point that there was this guy a couple of years older than me who was definitely pursuing me sexually, and I was like, “I am not comfortable with this. I don’t like it one bit.” And she sort of sat down and she said, “Now, Courtney. You’ve had to grow up really fast. You’ve had to be an adult. You’ve had to, you know, you watched your mother get sick. You have taken care of your mother. And you’re a kid, you’re a teenager, and you should start acting like a kid. And so I think you should explore this relationship with this boy, because that’s what teenagers do.” And I didn’t like it at all, but I was like, “Alright, this is my therapist who hasn’t steered me wrong yet.” So I tried going out on a couple of dates with this guy and ended up in a very, very dangerous situation. He and his friends actually threw me in the trunk of a car and kidnapped me. But I got out and never went back to that therapist again.
Courtney: So this same therapist who taught me that a mental health diagnosis can prevent treatment for my physical health issues and my aches and pains also, in so many words, told me that I can’t really disclose the fact that I don’t feel like other teenagers. Because then I get put in dangerous situations. So there were a number of years where I was very, very aware that I should not tell doctors this thing and that it might also steer them wrong. “Well, what if they think it’s a symptom?”
Courtney: And it was actually… I think a lot of the panelists and maybe some of the listeners here are probably familiar with the infamous episode of House where there was an Asexual couple where the man actually just had a tumor on… like, a pituitary tumor, I think, and his wife was just lying the whole time and saying, “Yeah, I’m totally Ace too, just like you, babe.” That came out while I was trying to figure out how to actually come out as Asexual to other people in my life. Because there had been years where I’d used this word to myself, and I was like, “Now’s the time. I think I’m going to start telling people I’m Asexual.” And then this episode hit, and I watched it live, because I was watching House at the time. So I was like,”Okay!
Courtney: Still definitely not going to tell doctors this side of me.”
Courtney: But I am proud to say that now, several years down the line yet. I’ve gotten really feisty with my healthcare, and I will let doctors know right away. And if they are not Ace-affirming, I will not see them. They do not get to treat me. They do not get my business. And that is a level of privilege I’ve been able to acquire with added financial means that I’ve gotten in my adulthood that I did not have as a younger adult and as a teenager. So I’m also very aware that not everyone’s able to be as selective about doctors, but I’ll straight up — when they are, like, health forms now with check boxes that ask about, like, you know, libido or sexual activity, I’ll just scratch them out vigorously. [laughs] And if they don’t ask, then we’ll just leave it at that.
Courtney: But more recently — literally, just this year, in February — I went for a checkup with my GP. And they, you know, they go through all the questions — “Are you sexually active?” — every single time. And I was there with my also Asexual spouse. And I just, like, laughed and I was like, “Ha ha, no.” But then I got my charts later, and they literally wrote in my charts: “Sexually active: Yes.” In parentheses: “Patient says no.” So, they aren’t going to be my doctor anymore either.
Justin: Wow. Thank you so much for that.
Dal: Yeah, wow!
Justin: Just, just wow. I think also, what you said kind of strikes that… The streak of misogyny that often comes out in the medical profession where women are just just not believed when you tell them, you know, “I have X. I have X symptoms. I believe I’m suffering from Y because I know all the things about my body.” And that’s a whole other discussion which… yeah. [laughs]
Justin: Before we move on, I just wanna say that a lot of what you said, Johnnie and Dal, really resonates with me. I grew up religious, as a person of faith, Catholic, so I know all the purity culture stuff, all of that, like… “You have to be this certain way. You can’t do this. You can’t do that.” And as a stuttering child, there was… I think what you said, Dal, really reminded me of how my parents really were aggressively, like, sheltering me, and cut me off from a lot of social opportunities just because they were afraid of my stuttering or they were afraid for me. Yeah.
Justin: Let’s move on to question 2. And I want to also remind our esteemed panel that, if you feel like you want to go to another question, if there are other questions in our set of 10 that really resonate, please feel free to just put them out there.
Justin: Onto question 2. Ace Week is often, unfortunately, not just a time where the community comes together and celebrates being Ace, but also, unfortunately, a time where we see a lot of aphobia, a lot of misinformation, a lot of unfortunate bigotry and exclusion directed our way. So, for question 2, how has your disability affected your experience of aphobia or queer gatekeeping?
Courtney: May I start?
Justin: Please, yeah!
Courtney: So to go back, actually, to Johnnie Jae’s previous answer talking about the pregnancy tests. That’s the thing where also, in a country where we do not have universal health care, you’re often paying out of pocket for that. And if you have to take a lot of them, it can get very expensive, and it can add up on top of already expensive medical bills.
Courtney: And this was something that I talked about very publicly. There’s a very talented Ace writer named Michele Kirichanskaya, who, in 2021, approached me about an article that they were writing, entitled, “It’s 2021. Why are doctors still trying to cure Asexuality?” And that article has since been adapted in Michele’s book, Ace Notes: Tips and Tricks on Existing in an Allo World. And I thought Michele really wanted to have a disabled Ace voice in this article because, who uses the medical system the most? It is disproportionately disabled people that are seeking these services and are more likely therefore to encounter bias and issues in the system. And one of the stories I told during this interview was exactly that, about unnecessary pregnancy tests.
Courtney: And it is obvious that there are Asexual people who do engage in sexual activity. It’s an entire spectrum. I think everyone here is aware of that. But in my personal experience, the way things have manifested is: I could have chronic lung issues and needing to get a chest x-ray to check for bronchitis or pneumonia, so literally, hardly able to breathe, sitting in the doctors’, going, like, “Oh gosh, please help me.” And they’re like, “Not till we get your pregnancy test back!” And I’m like, “There is no way that I’m pregnant. I promise you, there is no way I’m pregnant right now.” So not only am I going to have to wait in agony, unable to breathe, but now I’m going to have to pay for this. And if you have to do that six, seven times a year, that’s going to add up.
Courtney: So I mentioned that as one of the examples, because it often comes back to the fact that medical professionals don’t believe you, and that can be very humiliating in and of itself when you’re not believed by the person who is meant to provide you with healthcare. But in discussing this article — it came out during Pride Month; I had just read Ace by Angela Chen, which had a wonderful chapter about disability in it, and I was happy to see that, so I was feeling just so prideful and happy in my Asexuality.
Courtney: But the day after that article went live, I got dozens of DMs, just absolutely fuming, from Aces I have never spoken to before — I did not know their names, and they did not know me before this — saying, “How dare you say this? How dare you talk about this? You’re bad representation for the community. You clearly know nothing about Asexuality, and we don’t want you talking about this.”
Courtney: And I haven’t seen such a wave of hate like that from a whole lot of people that talk about other intersectional issues. So I was like, “Why is talking about my personal experience as a disabled Ace and the issues I face — why is it getting this level of hatred?” And there were some very large Ace Facebook accounts, Ace Twitters, that we’re sharing how terrible this person in particular was, this Courtney Lane in this article who was quoted. And I was so defeated that I almost completely stepped away from the
Courtney: Ace community. I was fully prepared to never talk about Asexuality again. Because clearly, as soon as you talk about being a disabled Ace, people do not want you. And I just, you know, cried for a couple of weeks and managed to muster the strength to come back.
Courtney: So, there very much is sort of gatekeeping of disabled Aces as well. Because for even the most able-bodied Ace person out there, there’s always going to be the lingering question of, “Is there something wrong?” So I think a lot of Aces, traditionally or over the years, have had this very knee-jerk reaction of, like, “Don’t confirm the stereotype for the allosexual people. We don’t want them to get the wrong idea.” So we’d rather sort of throw our own under the bus than risk anyone else getting the wrong idea about us. So, that’s certainly been an issue.
Courtney: And as far as aphobia or broader queer communities, I have been, in the past, a member of local queer communities. I performed at my local Hamburger Mary’s doing a drag singing competition for a number of months. And a lot of those spaces and venues are just not particularly accessible. Even going as a visitor, there was a time where I got turned away because they wouldn’t let me sit at a chair where my feet could touch the ground. They said, “No, if you’re a single person, you don’t get one of the low-rise tables. You have to sit at the bar.” And I was like, “I can’t do that for an entire night.” And they just turned me away instead of giving me a chair that I could use. But the queer community, locally speaking, is not very Ace. Some people are Ace-affirming, some people are not, so you sort of get it from a little of both sides. But I’ve found the accessibility of physical spaces to be a much bigger issue than actual aphobia.
Dal: I concur with what you’re saying about doctors. Because the place where I find the most aphobia is at the clinic. Depends on the country. I have lived in several places. And in Europe in general, I didn’t have that much problems. I said, “Listen, I am Asexual. I don’t do the things. You don’t have to test me for them.” And in Europe, they accepted it. Maybe because I’m blind — or not. I don’t know. I don’t care. In Europe, they were straightforward, and they accepted my explanations, and they didn’t push for further tests and whatever.
Dal: In Latin America, however, the doctor will ask you, “Are you sexually active?” And I say, “No, of course I’m not.” “Oh, why that is? Oh, poor you, poor thing! Haven’t you found a boy yet?” And I’m like, “No, man! I’m Asexual.” And oh, that is the biggest mistake. That is the worst you can do at a clinic in Latin America. ’Cause they are going to look at you and they are going to say things like, “You have to improve your self-esteem. Are you depressed?” I’m like, “Yeah I have chronic depression, but that has nothing to do with this.” “Oh no, but you have to find God.” Literal doctors begin to talk about, “You have to find God.”
Dal: And I was like — my response to those things is usually, “Excuse me, ma’am or sir, are you treating your LGBTQ patients like that? Or is it just because I said I’m Asexual? Do you also treat your homosexual patients this way? Do you also tell them that they have to find God? ’Cause I could sue you for that.” And ooh, wow, that… shut up, they never bother me and they will never be my doctor ever again.
Dal: But yes, what you’re saying about the medical treatment — it has happened to me, and it has happened to another Asexual woman that I know that lives in the States. And she also has a partner — a male partner — but they don’t do things because, you know, he respects her; it’s more like a roommate relationship by this point. And they also ask her. And she says, “No, we are not active. We are not doing the thing.” So, I just wanted to share this because it’s a tip. For all the women that might be listening to this: blame it on your man. Blame it on your man. He can’t. “Oh, are you not active?” “No, no, he can’t.” [laughs] I know that’s rough, but that’s one of the ways that she has managed for her doctors to leave her alone and not question her, like, “Why aren’t you active? This isn’t normal. Blah, blah, blah.” “Oh, no, it’s — he cannot. He cannot. He can’t.” [laughs] So, that works. Tip for the community right here. [laughs] I hope it works for you too.
Johnnie Jae: Yeah, I find the medical stuff to be the most — like, where I find more roadblocks, especially if somebody has lupus. So, lupus is a mimic. And there are so many other diseases that lupus kind of mirrors, right? So, whenever I go in for treatment, there’s a lot of diagnostics that are needed. And in order to access those diagnostic tests, you have to wait for your pregnancy test. You have to wait. And there were often times, especially when I was married, where, you know, there was a potential health issue where I may have needed to have, like, an emergency hysterectomy. And the first thing they want to do is get your husband’s permission. They want to speak to him first and see what his opinions are. And we’re like, “We’re not sexually active. You know, we’re not looking at having children.” But yet, that’s still the issue that has to be overcome first. It’s almost like even if you’re… It’s just like, as a woman, you’re just not given agency over your own body.
Johnnie Jae: But also with lupus, you know, a lot of the treatments are very harsh. Or, for me, one of my treatments, one I really needed — like, at the last resort treatment for me — is cytoxan, which is a chemotherapy. And every single time that it comes to me needing this treatment, you know, I’m in dire straits at that point. And it’s, you know, literally a life-saving measure for me to start that medication and that treatment, but yet, I will have to wait for pregnancy tests. I will have to wait for them to talk to my partner to see what his thoughts are on the fact that, you know, it may inhibit my ability to carry a baby. And it’s just ridiculous that you have to wait to be treated, when clearly you know your own body, when clearly you know where you stand on whether or not you want children. But yeah, you’re always having to go through having somebody else’s permission to get that treatment even though your life is at risk.
Johnnie Jae: And, you know, when you say that you’re Asexual, like Courtney was saying, they were like, “Says no, but haha.” It’s the thing that you constantly have to come up with, because they just can’t fathom that, you know, relationships are very complex. They’re very different. And especially in Asexual relationships. You know, I have a partner. I was married before, and you know, I was sexually active then, you know, because it was the normal thing to do. But there was a point when, you know, we stopped having sex because of my health issues, because it was very painful for me. And then when you mention that, you know, it always goes back to that Asexuality being a symptom. Like, celibacy is often completed with being Asexual.
Johnnie Jae: And it’s something for doctors to really need to untangle, but it’s also something for the larger, broader community [laughing] of humanity to start understanding as well. Because when we talk about our experiences as disabled Ace people within the medical healthcare system, you know, there is a lot of pushback, because we do have to contend with a lot of those stereotypes. And we do have to contend with that question of whether or not there is something physically wrong with us that is contributing to our Asexuality. Like, that’s just a fact that the medical health care — that they have to go through. And I think we have to be honest about that. Because it really does kind of shape our experiences as disabled Ace.
Johnnie Jae: And, you know, I find one of the hardest things to do is to explain that to the community. Like, when we’re trying to share our experiences and really trying to make them understand that, like, you know, we’re not saying that or trying to validate these stereotypes or these misconceptions about what it is to be Asexual. Like, we literally have to contend with this to get the medical care that we need. And being realistic that yes, sometimes, you know, an increased libido or a decreased libido — like, these are symptoms of health issues. And it’s really hard because we do come back with — like, we do face that pushback.
Johnnie Jae: And especially, you know, for me as an Indigenous woman, we are kind of making a comeback from genocide. And so there’s this added pressure of reproduction. And, you know, I understand the responsibility that is put on Native women especially, you know, to have children. And that’s where I see a lot of the gatekeeping coming in, is because my experience as an Indigenous woman, as an Asexual Indigenous woman, is vastly different. And, you know, it’s not me making a choice not to have children. It’s not me making a choice to not have sex. You know, this is just who I am and it would be detrimental for me to go against that just to… [laughing] please the crowd, I guess you could say, or to, you know, fill these roles that honestly were not meant for me. It may be meant for other women, and they may be ready to take on those responsibilities, but for me, you know, that’s not me and not something that I want to do.
Johnnie Jae: And there’s just so many different ways that we face backlash for just being Ace and for being disabled, you know? I mean, I’ve known since I was probably a teenager, early teens, that it was going to be more difficult for me to carry a pregnancy, if at all, because I don’t produce enough hormones to actually sustain a pregnancy. I’ve been pregnant and I’ve lost those pregnancies because of my lupus. And so, like, I’ve known that it was an impossibility — you know, like, it was going to be difficult. But yet, every single time that these conversations come up, I get treated as if I am kind of being a traitor, [laughs] as if I’m being traitorous for not wanting to have children, for not having children, for not being able to have children.
Johnnie Jae: So it’s not just the fact that I’m Asexual; it’s the fact that I am disabled, because the ableism is so prevalent as well. And there’s just so much gatekeeping with that that we just can’t really escape, no matter how nuanced we try to be in our conversations, no matter how mindful we are about the words that we choose or the stories that we share or how we share those stories, there’s no escape from that pushback.
Charlie: Wow, you guys touched on [laughing] so much of the things I was going to say. I agree with most of it. I guess I wanted to add to what you’re saying about stereotypes. Because I think it comes from both sides. There’s the stereotype that disabled people aren’t interested in sex. And so disabled people, a lot of times, stigmatize Asexual people as, like, “You can’t, you’re bad representation,” is what I’ve heard. Because I fit what people are saying, so it makes it hard to be out and proud as Ace.
Charlie: But I also… ’Cause I don’t want to contribute to that inaccurate stereotype myself, but on the other hand on the Asexual side, I personally am not sex-repulsed, and I’m romantic as fuck. [laughs] So, between those two things, it’s kind of hard for me to talk about in the Ace community, because that’s not usually the vibe that people are going for. So I end up, like, trying to justify myself in both communities. In the disabled community, I’m like, “Listen, I am not sexual, but I still am disabled like the rest of you, even though I have, like, a more invisible disability.” And then on the Asexual side, I find myself like, “Listen everyone, I love cake and cats more than sex. Like, I love everything more than sex, even though that is something that I do sometimes.”
Charlie: But yeah. And then I think also, I go through the sexualization process of being a trans person. And there’s not gatekeeping for me in the queer community, because people are usually like, “Trans people are queer.” Like, that’s not really a question. But being an Ace trans person is something that’s totally different. That’s not something that people talk about often. And it’s usually the opposite — that trans people are really, really sexualized. I mean, like, There’s a whole category of porn for just trans people. And it just makes it hard to be both. And I think just getting stigma and pushback from both of those communities puts me in a place where I’m like, “I’m not really sure where I can be totally myself.”
Courtney: That’s such a good point about how it is from both sides also. Because a lot of modern disability activism revolves around being seen as a lot of modern disability activism revolves around being seen as a sexual being. And that’s not inherently a bad thing, but it does often exclude those of us who are disabled and Ace. And even early on, years ago, in my sort of trying to step out into the community and say, “Hey, can we talk about the disabled intersection,” I always felt like I had to give a caveat and that the caveat had to be, you know… Usually disabled people are desexualized, and they aren’t seen as being capable of having sexual relationships. And I felt like I had to give that as just like a disclaimer every time I talked about this.
Courtney: But even that to a certain extent was minimizing my own experience as well. Because EDS makes you extraordinarily flexible. I can do a bunch of contortion tricks. And turns out, allosexual people really like that, like, a whole lot. And it also changes like certain body proportions of mine. My legs are way, way long, way too long for the torso that I should have. So I have these really long legs that are incredibly flexible.
Courtney: And I also… I haven’t talked much about my experience with race, but I’m a mixed heritage person. I’ve started to embrace the “racially ambiguous” title because that’s how people treat me. People will be like, “What are you?” But shortly after that, it’ll be like, “You look so exotic.” So I’ve got this, quote, “exotic” look, and I’m very flexible, and I have very long legs, all of which are traits that are normally very, very sexualized. So I found myself even giving the caveat of, like, “Disabled people are desexualized” was totally ignoring my own experience. But I felt like people weren’t ready to hear my own experience. They were ready to hear the talking point that’s a broad overgeneralization for an enormous group of diverse people.
Dal: Thank you so much for that! I don’t talk about my mixed heritage either, but I already mentioned Latin America, and people are familiar with the stereotype of the hot Latina. Oh no. And that does get me very uncomfortable, and it’s visible that I’m uncomfortable. And… yeah, it’s like, I don’t want your straight-passing privilege. I’m Asexual! I’m not interested in this!
Dal: And my cultural mixed heritage — because, like I said, I am adopted as well — my found family — part of my mixed heritage is also being Finnish. And we Finns, we like to have our own space. Don’t invade our space. We like our physical distances very much. And we like our privacy, and we like it peaceful and straightforward — which is a complete contradiction from the stereotype of the hot Latina, loud and spicy, dances salsa, eats tacos, et cetera. And it’s like, I am a complete contradiction, and then people don’t know what to do with me. Add to that Asexuality and blindness and I resonate so much with what you’re saying, was it Courtney, right? Yes, yeah, it was Courtney who said that.
Dal: That we get sexualized. Yeah. No. Please do not sexualize me. It gets me very uncomfortable. And please do not get in my space. I am a Finnish person, and I will defend myself, and you’re not going to like it. I’m joking, I’m joking! Try to bring some humor.
Justin: Thank you so much for the levity. I think there was a… Yeah, I think there was that famed Finnish sniper who was a woman, I believe, during the war, who was —
Dal: No, he was a man. He was a man.
Justin: Okay. Oh. Nevertheless.
Dal: Yeah, Simo Häyhä, the deadliest sniper in history and he killed… too many people. [laughing] Too many people. So yeah, that’s why I brought that joke. It’s a bit of humor, because, you know, we are talking about things that could also bring our panelists a little bit of… resonating from a… We know that our communities go through it as well. So if I try to light up the candle a little bit, that’s just… yeah.
Justin: Yeah. Love that. Yeah, I kind of wanted to say something to what Charlie and what Courtney have said, mentioning the book Ace by Angela Chen. And it really made me think about the “gold star Ace” image, the “gold star Ace” stereotype, where — being able-bodied is very much a large part of that gold star Ace image.
Justin: Yeah, we’re getting some great questions in the Q&A, including one really good one about sanism, a couple of ones asking about how allies can stand up for disabled Ace folk, what kind of structural regulations and laws you think would be best able to manage aphobia. Please keep them coming! We may have to pick and choose if we get a lot towards the end. But thank you so much for all of your awesome questions.
Justin: Alright! Yeah! So, moving on. Kind of going back on — kind of piggy-backing on what Dal and Courtney were mentioning earlier, question 3: how does your disabled Aspec experience intersect with your experience — sorry. Yeah, try that again. How does your disabled Aspec experience intersect with your experience with other marginalizations? So, for example, class or race. And I think that that’s a really big question given that the BIPOC experience, BIPOC voices, have been a really big topic in the Ace community this year and past years, so, kind of wanting to inject that into our discussion of being Ace and being disabled. And then after that, for Dal, we have a question about Ace/Aro joy and disabled joy. So. Yeah.
Johnnie: I think we’ve all kind of touched on how, you know, it kind of intersects with our other identities. [laughs] But especially as, like, an Indigenous Asexual, it’s really complicated. And it really does impact the way that I experience the world as an Indigenous person. Because there are times when I feel at odds with my own community in regards to the way that we talk about certain issues — like, especially when it comes to women’s issues. Because, you know, there are women like me who are Asexual. There are women who, for other various reasons, can’t have children. So oftentimes, we are kind of put at the fringe of our community, as not being seen as valuable, or, you know, as I said earlier, almost kind of like we’re treated as we’re traitorous.
Johnnie: And it’s just a really difficult space to be in and to really acknowledge that. Because one, you know, we don’t want to vilify our own communities, and we don’t want to… Really, like, we want to be honest about our experiences, but at the same time, we don’t want that to cloud the way that other people think about our communities, especially when they don’t necessarily have the same context that we have. You know, with Indigenous people experiencing genocide, that’s going to bring into a whole another element of the conversation about reproduction. And a lot of people who aren’t from our community may not understand that.
Johnnie: Because within the Indigenous community, the ability to have children is a privilege, still. It’s something that we have to fight for. Because we’ve had to deal with forced sterilization. We’ve had to deal with the theft of our children through various means. There was the Sixties Scoop, which affected mainly people in Canada, but even here in the US, you know, we’re only, I’d say, probably — I think, according to the last census, I think we are close to about 5 to 8% of the entire US population, but yet we represent more of the children in foster care than any other community. And there’s a very specific reason for that, and it is because of genocidal policies throughout the US
Johnnie: And so it’s hard to have these conversations about our experiences, like, as individuals when we know that people who don’t have the same context that we do or the same interaction with our communities or knowledge about our communities may take that through their own lens. And it projects a whole different… You know, it may seem like the entire Native community is aphobic, rather than not realizing, like, there are different little complexities and nuances that they have to consider.
Johnnie: And even as Indigenous people who are experiencing it, you know, we kind of have to keep things in perspective and understand where different people are coming from while also trying to get across the point that yes, we understand these are the issues, but at the same time, we can’t change who we are, and we shouldn’t be expected to. And we shouldn’t be facing the backlash that we do for speaking about our experiences. Because there’s never going to be just one Native experience, ’cause we’re not a monolith.
Johnnie: And I think that we have to keep saying that, you know? Like, “We’re not a monolith. We’re not a monolith.” And it’s not just as Indigenous people, it’s just as people in general, you know, we’re going to have very vast experiences that are different from each other. You know, we’re going to have different ideas. And we’re not always going to agree on certain topics then. You know, it’s kind of hard to have those conversations, but I think the hardest thing to deal with is making sure that we’re having the conversation, but not bringing harm back on our own communities in various ways, whether it was intentional or not, and trying to make sure that people have more context so that they can really understand our experiences.
Johnnie: ’Cause when I talk about, like, my experiences as an Asexual Native, you know, a lot of people… You know, yes, there is aphobia that we have to overcome, but there’s also this context of, you know, trying to survive that we often have to take into consideration. And it’s really hard to have those conversations without being vilified and without vilifying the community. And I think that’s one of the things, you know, when we’re dealing with all the backlash that we face for sharing our experiences as disabled Ace, you know, that’s one thing that always gets missed, is it’s not going to be a black and white issue. There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution, and our needs from community to community are going to be very differently. So while yes, you know, progress may benefit one community, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to benefit another community or in the same way.
Johnnie: And so I think, you know, being able to have some nuance, some context, and really just be able to kind of be honest, I think helps. But at the same time, like, we just… Like, we gotta find ways to really have these discussions in a way that isn’t so black and white, that isn’t just so binary. And I feel that that’s one of the hardest things to do. And the biggest impact when I’m talking about my experience is that it always feels like we’re at odds with each other.
Johnnie: And, you know, within the Native community, we have this saying that it feels like we have to walk in two worlds. We have to walk in the Native world and we have to walk in the modern world, and we’re constantly at contention with that. And one of the things that I try to do in the work that I do within the media and within Native representation is try to send that message that we don’t have to choose, that we don’t have to choose just to be modern or just to be contemporary. We can be a variety of things and it doesn’t negate our Indigeneity. It doesn’t negate our Asexuality. It doesn’t negate our disability. We don’t have to choose those binaries.
Charlie: I think for me… In general, no one expects a poor Black disabled person to be Asexual, especially someone who’s perceived as a Black man. So all of those different experiences kind of come together. Being poor and Black, I end up getting very sexualized by white supremists. It’s so persis— Ahh! You know what I’m saying [laughs] — in American society. And we end up being discarded when we don’t fit the mold. And I think that’s something that Johnnie was saying, too — that, like, if you don’t fit the mold, it’s hard to find a place for yourself. But like you said, we’re not a monolith.
Charlie: And the same is true for the Black community. It’s just a little bit harder, because even though we’re not a monolith, we are a community, and we have strong community culture. And It’s easy to have an odds between those two things: to, on one side, want to be an individual and to express myself as an Asexual person, and then on the other side, having to be separate to be a Black person.
Charlie: And I think one of the things that we’ve been working on, just in the community, is building more awareness. For disabled people, it’s a lot easier, because one in four Black people are disabled. So everyone kind of knows a disabled person. Even if they don’t quite know what that disability is, we all have that experience. But not everyone has an experience with an Asexual person. And so it really, for me, is about bringing awareness in my community of other ways of interacting with the world.
Charlie: Because I think that the Asexual community has so much to teach the allosexuals and even, like, able-bodied people. We just have so much that we know about building relationships that are specific. I know as an Asexual person, I have to tell people specifically, like, “These are the things I’m interested in.
Charlie: These are the things I’m not. This will, like, absolutely not happen. We’re here.” And… yeah. Basically, that.
Courtney: I think it’s hard for me to be able to separate out, at times, where the discrimination or the lack of care or the lack of social support is coming from. Because in some ways, when you have multiple marginalizations, they not only compound on one another, but they inform one another. If I’m not succeeding at getting the medical care I need, is it because I’m a woman? Is it because they’re side-eying me because I said I wasn’t sexually active? Is it…
Courtney: I recently got a shot at a doctor, and she just kept gushing about how gorgeous my skin tone was, and it was kind of odd, because I’m actually a lot more light-skinned as an adult than I was as a kid, so I’ve also noticed that, in many ways, I have gained privileges growing up, not only being mistaken for white or at least being perceived as white in more contexts than I used to be able to and having more financial means than I did growing up. I have gained those privileges. But it’s hard to know, sort of, when you grow up with so many different things, like, why am I not getting the proper care I need right in this moment, or why am I being discriminated against in this moment?
Courtney: It actually surprised me. Because this was just a couple months ago, but this doctor came and gave me a shot after gushing about my skin for, like, 20 minutes and talking about how gorgeous a color it is, and then she’s like, “Plus, skin like that’s great ’cause it’s so thick!” And I’m like, “Oh, gosh. I sincerely hope you do not have a Black patient.” Like, that’s a horrible medical stereotype. So in the medical system specifically, there are racial stereotypes that can lead to harm being done for racialized people.
Courtney: There are gender stereotypes. To feed into the gender stereotypes as well, even when it comes to mental health — because Asexuality often being perceived as a medical issue, sometimes a mental one as opposed to a physical one. The common one that the Ace community talks about is HSDD, which is — in the latest DSM they actually separated that out into two conditions, and it’s now a very binary by sex. It’s like, “Oh, male hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or female sexual interest and arousal disorder.” And they all stemmed from the same thing that used to just be for all genders. So it’s like, why did you have to do that in the first place? Let alone the fact that, based on a recent Ace Community Survey, a full
Courtney: 30% of our community are nonbinary. So binary diagnoses like that also do not serve us as a broader community.
Courtney: So in many cases, sometimes, you don’t really know. Is it the ableism? Is it the acephobia? Is it the racism? Because it’s all kind of… They’re all parts that make up all of us.
Dal: Everything that you have said, I resonate with. And I just want to say, just in your personal life, sometimes it is so hard to just make friends. It sounds a bit discouraging sometimes, because it’s like, you have to give them a whole explanation of your life for them to understand just who you are, just your everyday behavior. So, I have an easier time, perhaps, making friends within the Ace community, within the Latine community, within Finnish diaspora, such things, because at least they will understand a part of who I am. But not all of it.
Dal: So then there is a lot of disclosure. And there are some things that I am saying here on this panel because we are having this discussion that I do not necessarily want to say at a coffee shop. It’s not what I want to talk about. It feels like I have to disclose everything that I am for people to accept me. Meanwhile, they just have coffee and talk about football and music and whatever. And I am over here being this alien that they need to understand before they can — It does… After repeated occasions of this, it does begin to hurt. Maybe I am too sensitive. But it does begin to hurt after a while.
Dal: And it’s like, why do I have to explain everything that I am to make friends? That doesn’t seem fair. And it is just an aspect of interacting with other people as a very crowded intersection of a person. ’Cause, like, you ask me, I have them all. Well, no, I am a cisgender woman, is perhaps the only one I don’t have.
Dal: I am still a cisgender woman. But that’s, like, the only quote-unquote “status quo” that I possess. Nothing else that I am belongs in the “normal” world — quote-unquote “normal.” It’s a bit sad. I just wanted to say that everyday interactions seem a lot harder, the more intersectionality you possess as a person.
Justin: Thank you for that.
Johnnie: Yeah, thank you for saying that, Dal. [laughs] I think that’s one of the things we have to kind of skirt around and something we don’t really talk about, is how lonely it could get, especially as disabled Ace. Because sometimes, you know, I’m immunocompromised, so throughout the pandemic, I’ve been very isolated. Even now, while the rest of the world has moved on, you know, there are times when I still can’t leave my apartment. Like, I actually haven’t left my apartment in about a week now because of how immunocompromised I am. And so, you know, there are times when I do have to stay home.
Johnnie: And it makes maintaining friendships a lot harder, too, because also, I don’t like having to explain what’s going on with my health, or have to have a reason for not going to this event or not being able to do whatever. I don’t want to have to constantly make those excuses or have to feel like I have to validate the reason why I can’t do it, when at this point, I feel like those closest to me should just know, you know, because I have lupus, that there are just certain things that I can’t do, that I can’t always do what I would like to do, and that my situation changes from day to day. Like, lupus is not on a schedule. [laughs] So I never know when I’m going to have a flare-up or when it’s going to affect me. I never know when I’m going to feel well enough to do something. And it’s really excruciating, really, to have to constantly explain that.
Johnnie: And it’s so much easier, I feel, at the beginning of friendship when you’re just relating over Star Wars or a football game or you’re just talking about little things, you know. But then once you start getting to know that person more and getting more intimate and, you know, you start disclosing more about yourself, that’s where it starts to become isolating again. Because then they want you to explain, “Okay, why are you the way you are?” And instead of just accepting, like, “Hey, I’m an Asexual disabled person,” they want to know why. “What made you that way?” [laughs] And it’s like, you don’t want to have to, like, validate it and validate yourself or feel like you need to be validated by them to be a friend.
Johnnie: So, thank you for saying that, because I think it’s something that we don’t often talk about, is just how hard it is to not only make friends but maintain friendships that we’ve had throughout our lives, just because of our experiences as disabled Ace.
Justin: Yeah, thank you for that, Johnnie. And thank you — and thank you also for that, Dal. I just wanted to say that what you said, Johnnie, really resonates with me. My partner is also disabled. She’s queer as well. And we’re always going through that level of calculus. You know, like, analyzing the risk factors.
Justin: We still mask a lot. We don’t leave the house a lot. We isolate. And, yeah, it’s hard.
Justin: Yeah. Moving on, I did want to kind of move on to this one question, and then we’ll move on to the Q&A. You’ve talked a lot about hard stuff, a lot of difficult stuff, and moving on to something a little bit lighter, opening the door for a little more levity: Ace joy, queer joy, disabled joy. What are sources of Ace and Aro joy and disabled joy that you’ve found in your life?
Dal: Merida from Brave! I finally have my princess! And I was, like, 21 when Brave came out. And a lot of people maybe don’t like the movie. I don’t care. Merida is, like, my favorite princess. And I will never forget the first time I heard her say, like, “I don’t need to marry.” She didn’t say that directly, but she was very repulsed by the idea of being together with some rando just to follow tradition. And she was like, “No way. I’m going to fight for myself and for my own life.”
Dal: And I… I have to confess, I watched that movie on an airplane going somewhere else to live my own life. [laughs] And that is one of the silliest but also happiest memories that I had, is Merida just being Merida. Just, I don’t care she’s not confirmed to be Ace. The whole Ace community thinks she is, so — fan canon, or fanon, whatever you want to call it. I just love it.
Dal: Also, also, I forgot! Disabled joy, on the same line: Toph Beifong. I am Toph. Toph is me. We have too much in common. It seems like I could just call them, “Hey, I would like to report some identity theft. Thank you.” [laughs] Toph is everything I needed to see in a disabled character in my life, and I’m so happy she exists.
Dal: So, the little representation I’ve seen in media is an inspiration for me to create my own characters in my fiction. And even though my fiction tends to be a little sad — because, hello, Finnish personality — but even though my fiction could be a little bit sad, the happy moments I had from representation and the disabled joy and Ace joy, even though it’s not intersectional yet, it inspired me to create my own. And I hope that someday I can give that same source of hope, at least, to some readers, people in general out there.
Courtney: My Ace joy comes from the community. And when I say “the community,” I don’t mean all of the Aces that exist online and contribute to Ace discourse. Not that I don’t love all of you as well, but I’ve found that if you are able to actually make personal connections with other Aces, have real conversations, get close to them, and foster a legitimate, genuine, friendship — one that is built on support…
Courtney: And then, on top of that, talk about being lonely. I didn’t leave my house, literally, for the first two years of the pandemic, and the last year has been very sparingly and with a mask. So, yes, it can be very lonely and isolating. So not only finding true friendship, but friends that commit to dedicating the time to seeing each other and meeting on a regular basis.
Courtney: For well over a year now, my spouse and I have been co-DMing a D&D campaign for a group of all Aces, four of our Ace friends. So it’s just six Aces who get together every single Monday night to just play games together. And that has been so refreshing — not only to my immunocompromised self that can’t really go to large in-person events or see a lot of friends in person anymore, but also someone who just wants to connect with other Aces who just share experiences and kind of get it.
Charlie: Yeah, I’ve found that it does make a huge difference to have other Ace people in my life. I’m in an Ace-Ace relationship, and my partner is also disabled. So it ends up being all sorts of fun shenanigans. ’Cause I have auditory hallucinations and she is partially deaf, so we spend a lot of time being like, “Did you hear that? Like, is it real? What?” [laughs] So it just ends up being fun.
Charlie: I make a lot of jokes about my sexuality and being disabled, and it just ends up being a light thing in my life. I don’t want it to be something that brings me down so much, when they’re positive things. Like, I like being Asexual. I like being disabled. It’s brought so much to my life in terms of, like, thinking differently and how I treat people and… All of that is just so important to me. And so I’m happy to have those identities. And… yeah, they bring me joy.
Johnnie: I agree with just having, like, community around you and other people who are Ace — especially people who are Ace and in relationships, I find, is very comforting and brings me more joy. [laughs] Because sometimes I feel like we often will have to validate the reason we’re in relationships if we’re Ace. Constantly having to ask, “How does that work?” as if sex is the end-all be-all of existence. [laughs]
Johnnie: And you know, and it’s kind of funny because — so I got divorced and, you know, we were sexually active throughout my marriage until the latter part, the latter part. And, when I moved out here to LA, I met my partner now. And, you know, it was kind of funny because we did have sex. And it was really funny because you know, it was more validating. And it turns out he’s Ace, too, and that he was trying to do the normal relationship thing, right? So we kind of accidentally found each other. [laughs] And we’re both Ace. And so now, we could kind of be more honest, and there’s no pressure, like, to try and be normal. Like, this is what it is.
Johnnie: And, you know, it was kind of funny because at first it was, like, trying not to insult each other and be like, “Yeah, sex, it wasn’t that great. Like, not for me,” with each other but without saying, like, “I don’t enjoy your company. It’s not you, it’s me.” And it went on for, I’d say, probably about three months before we had an honest discussion about it. And we were like, “Okay, we’re good. [laughs] Like, this makes sense.” So now we’re able to be together and just enjoy each other’s company and know that we genuinely care for each other, genuinely love each other. And we’re in a partnership, just sex isn’t a part of it. And, you know, we like to joke that we have 99 problems, but sex ain’t one. [laughs] Like, that’s just something we don’t have to worry about. [laughs]
Johnnie: But, you know, like, that brings me a lot of joy, to have a partnership who’s somebody who understands me, and that I, for the first time in my entire life, as an Asexual person, I can just be, and I don’t feel I have to pretend or validate the person I’m with, or feel like I have to engage in certain activities that I’m not comfortable with or seem normal.
Johnnie: And even, you know, when we got together — and it’s kind of my coming out story with my mom — we were having a conversation, and she was making fun, she was trying to be sexually inappropriate, you know, as parents like to do sometimes. And my mom is one of those. When she met my sister’s partner, the first thing she asked him was, “What do you do, besides my daughter?” [laughs] She liked to — she would like to embarrass people. So she tried to do that with me, and I was just like, “Egg on face Mom, because we don’t do the sex.” And, you know, and it opened up the conversation. She was like, “Well, what do you mean?” Because she was, like, trying to embarrass my partner, because I was on speakerphone, and she was telling him, “You need to get some of that, you know?” And I was like, “Egg on face. We don’t do that.” And we opened up the conversation.
Johnnie: And, you know, I explained to her that I was Asexual. It was, like, the first time I announced it to my family. And I kind of expected her to have… I didn’t really know what to expect, really. I expected a negative reaction, because, you know, we grew up very religious, and you know, you just never really questioned your sexual identity in any way. And so for me to come out was a huge thing. And I was glad we were in a joking moment, because I thought maybe that would take the heat off the moment, at the time. And, you know, she was very accepting. And, to her, it was just like. “Yeah, you know, that kind of makes sense.” And I’m like, “Well, if it makes sense, why did you pressure me so much when I was younger?”
Johnnie: But then you also kind of realize, like, given the backlash that we experience as — not just Ace, but, you know, if you’re anywhere on the spectrum of queerness, we face a lot of discrimination. And, you know, my mom grew up in a time — because she also grew up religious, and also, in the Native community, where there is a lot of stigma attached to a lot of other identities, she was, in her way, trying to to make things easier for me to not be — so those are hardships I wouldn’t have to face. But, you know, I think she knew, just as I knew, that I was different, and she just didn’t know how to communicate at the time.
Johnnie: But, you know, given the way that we had opened the conversation up and I told her and I explained to her what Asexuality was and what that meant for me and my partner and what, you know, that meant for our relationship, she was very open and receptive. And I found a lot of joy in that. Because it honestly made my relationship with my family a lot easier. And also with my partner, because we weren’t having to put on a show when we were around our family, you know, [laughs] of trying to make it seem like we’re actual company, because if you’re not holding hands or being huggy-feely, “Oh, what did he do this time?” kind of thing, you know? [laughs] So we didn’t have to do that. It just opened up a lot for our relationship. And I found that there’s a lot of joy and freedom in being around people that you can just honestly be yourself with.And especially with the community that you find, just that openness, to me, brings me a lot of joy.
Johnnie: As far as disabled joy, you know, I’m just going to say, as somebody who’s lactose intolerant, I find a lot of joy in digging into Tillamook’s coffee almond fudge ice cream, even though I’m lactose intolerant. There’s something that just brings me joy of being that rebellious.
Justin: I love that. I love it. Just the joy in indulging in ice cream.
Johnnie: Yup, even though you know you’re going to pay for it. It’s just like, “Screw you, body. You are not taking away this coffee almond fudge ice cream.” [laughs]
Dal: Ice cream is the best!
Justin: Yeah, ice cream is the best! Yep, I have dairy issues as well — an allergy, I believe — and yeah, usually I pay for it later, but man, it’s just so good in the moment. Yeah. And I think, also, what I think resonates not just with me, but a lot of other folks I think in the audience and I think in the greater community as well, is just that need for connection. And the joy that comes with finding connection, finding people who resonate with you, who really get you, you don’t need to put the emotional labor in to explain what you are, why you are — that is so powerful, and to me that is an immense part of that joy equation as well.
Justin: Alright! Amazing! Just amazing. Just wonderful. Let’s go to the Q&A. And one question really stuck out.
Justin: So, from an anonymous attendee — I will try to copy… yeah. And the question is, “How does sanism in the intersection of being Ace and being disabled?”
Dal: I don’t know what this word is.
Justin: Yeah! Would anyone care to speak up on that?
Courtney: I would say it’s just a more specific type of ableism. It is ableism, but particularly against mental health issues, and particularly the mental health issues that are more stigmatized — things like personality disorders, things that folks in medical communities might call Cluster B. Those are really common.
Courtney: But, I mean, just to start the question off, the really simple easy answer is that there kind of is a stereotype that has been perpetuated by media that Asexual people are all psychopaths, or all psychopaths are Asexual. But then you sort of get the double-edged sword like we were talking about before, where Aces are going to be like, “What? No, no, no, that sounds bad. We’re not psychopaths! We’re not crazy!” And there’s this knee-jerk reaction to try to, you know, distance from that.
Courtney: I’ve also seen that with things like Autism. Because we know, in the Autistic community, that there is pride in being Autistic. It is not a bad thing. Same with any mental health diagnosis. Any of these things we’re talking about are not inherently bad. It doesn’t mean the person is going to be dangerous or harmful. But people use these things as an insult. People will throw out, “Oh, you’re a psychopath.” People will throw out, “Oh, you’re a narcissist,” whereas narcissistic personality disorder is a diagnosis that does not mean that that person is a bad person who’s going to hurt you. So, a lot of people don’t understand the specific type of ableism that is sanism. And they’ll be like, “Well, that sounds bad.”
Courtney: And I even — talking about Asexuality publicly, years ago — got one of the most vile hate comments I’ve ever received in my life. And it ran the gambit from, like, wishing me to be sexually assaulted, then telling me that I’m not Ace, then telling me that I am but it needs to be corrected. And then, “Oh, you’re not even Asexual. You’re just Autistic.” And, like, that was way before I ever started trying to learn about Autism and to see if I myself might be Autistic, but I knew in that instance, in that comment, that they were using “Autistic” as an insult. So, of course, the knee-jerk reaction is, like, “I’m not that insulting thing you’re calling me!” But then you’re sort of throwing all of those other people under the bus by saying, like, “Well, it is bad to be Autistic,” or “It is bad to be a psychopath. It is bad to be a narcissist.”
Courtney: And it’s really, I think… It’s just a broader perception of society, for one, and they’re just highly stigmatized diagnoses. But we see that a lot in TV shows. I mean, Dexter: serial killer very much portrayed as the worst stereotype of what a psychopath could be, and, you know, murdering people left and right. But he was, until later seasons, definitely — from episode 1 — was seen as being Asexual. He was even looking at people at a club, like, making out, and he’s like, “Ugh, that seems so undignified. I don’t understand why people do that. I have no interest.” And he was notably celibate and trying to dodge reasons to have sex with anyone he was, you know, pretending to have a relationship with and to trap into a relationship.
Courtney: So, that’s just one example in a line of many, but there’s definitely a media perception of, like, “If they don’t have an interest in sex, it’s probably because they have a personality disorder.” And so, it’s really a vicious cycle.
Charlie: So, as I mentioned before, I have schizoaffective disorder. And I actually came out when I was in a psychotic episode. Fun. So, of course everyone discarded everything I said, because… because I was delusional, they thought that everything I said was delusional and I couldn’t speak on, like, my own identity. And I think that’s kind of the ableism or sanism that I’ve seen, is that people don’t believe me about my Asexual identity because they just assume I’m always psychotic or I’m always delusional and don’t give me a chance to actually speak for myself.
Charlie: It’s interesting because, during that same psychotic episode is when I started my YouTube channel; Charlie the Prophet is the name, because I was on a whole, like, spiritual journey sent from the Lord, and people needed to hear about it. [laughs] Which ended up just being really funny, and I laugh about it now and, like, that’s still my name.
Charlie: But it’s funny because people think it’s going to be so violent, or people think that psychosis is crazier than it is. I think people really exaggerate what it looks like for the average psychotic person. Most of us see bugs and, like, I don’t know, random squiggles in the air. Random stuff like that. It’s not as wild, all the time, as people perceive it to be.
Charlie: And on my channel in particular, the things I focus on are what I call the Beloved Community, which is where everyone can be seen and known and loved and encouraged to be their most authentic self. And I just see people kind of trying to discard my whole message because I am sometimes psychotic. And, like you were saying in my comments, it can get really rough, so.
Johnnie: No, and I mentioned it before, too, you know, that if you’re in therapy, Asexuality becomes something that is a symptom. [laughs] It’s something that they feel they have to cure. You know, my last therapist was probably my best therapist. But right at the beginning, you know, when I mentioned that I was Asexual, it started the whole conversation: “Why? Like, what happened to you as a child?” Like, it was kind of funny the switch that happened, because it just is protocol, when you mention certain things, that they have to go back and they have to, you know, assess for trauma or they have to assess for abuse.
Johnnie: And it was kind of funny, the switch that happened from the way that our therapy sessions had been going previously, and just how he kind of switched it back to try and go back to trying to address childhood trauma, to bring up, you know, “Was there any sexual abuse? Why do I not have any attraction?” and asking, you know…
Johnnie: And at some point, you know, when he realized, like, “Oh, okay, like, there isn’t a clinical reason that she’s Asexual,” you know, there was a curiosity, because he had never met anybody who was Asexual before. And so, like, it opened up our conversations a little bit more, but it was really funny, because he constantly was like, “You know, I’d really like to talk to your partner,” to see what his perspective was on our relationship as an Asexual couple. Because, you know, in his point of view, men have more of a libido. And he couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that my partner was also Ace, and that there wasn’t a clinical reason for it. Like, there wasn’t a health issue or anything like that. Like, this is just who we are. But it was interesting that… I’d say for a good two or three sessions, my Asexuality was a symptom of something that needed to be cured.
Johnnie: And being Asexual, it’s almost like, “You’re crazy if you don’t like sex!” And, you know, like, I kind of joked back with him a little bit, you know? Like, because he was getting around to that. He was trying to say that in not so many word. And I was laughing. I was just, like, terrorizing him. I was like, “You know, I think you’re crazy if you like sex!” I was like, “Have you ever seen a penis or vagina? Yeah, not for me.” You know? And I was just kind of making jokes about it, trying to get him to realize, like, how… I guess you would say condescending. It was that he was trying to ask these questions in a way where his mindset was that, too, where there has to be something wrong if you don’t like sex, if you aren’t making that kind of connection with another person.
Johnnie: And it was kind of funny, because when I think he finally got the messages — the stupidest reason to. I sent him a little gif in our — because we were doing online therapy because of the pandemic. But I sent him the little gif of Sigourney Weaver from Family Guy with the Alien coming out of her mouth, and I was just like, “Yeah, see this is what I see when people talk about enjoying sex,” you know? [laughs] I was like, “I see a Xenomorph, you know? Not actual attraction.” [laughs]
Johnnie: Like, it kind of lightened the mood and everything, but he kind of got it away because I was being sarcastic, you know, and I was making more jokes than I normally would in our therapy sessions, just because the line of questioning — like, he wasn’t saying it outright, but I knew what he was getting around to, that, you know, there has to be something wrong psychologically for me to not like sex or to not have an attraction to a person.
Johnnie: But it shows up quite a bit, not just in therapy, but also just, like, when you’re accessing medical care. Like, we have to contend with our Asexuality and the misconceptions that people have, first and foremost, before they even think about treating what is actually wrong with us.
Dal: Deflecting discrimination, or, like, diminishment with jokes. Yes, please. I love that. I would do that any day.
Justin: Fantastic. Yeah! We’ve got about 8 minutes left. Hopefully, we can squeeze in one more question. And this actually is a question from the audience that was also covered in the set of questions that I prepared. McDrea asks, “How can allo disabled folks better show up for or better support our disabled Ace friends?”
Johnnie: I think just listening and understanding that their experience is not our experience, and that the human experience is going to be very vast, and we’re not always going to be coming from the same place. We’re not always going to be experiencing things through the same lens. But that doesn’t mean that we’re negating or invalidating any other experience or ideas. And I think that’s the best way for allosexual people to show up, is just to really listen to disabled Ace folks when they’re sharing their experience, and to not try and project their experience onto them.
Johnnie: Because I find that’s where a lot of misunderstandings happen, because we all view and come to our… like, you know, we create our worldview through the things that we experience. And so when disabled Ace are talking about their experience, sometimes it’s vastly different, or it kind of… is in contrast to what another Ace person may be experiencing who isn’t disabled. And so sometimes, you know, it’s hard for them to not project their experience onto what disabled Ace folks are experiencing, especially, like, with what Courtney was saying. Like, being honest means that we kinda have to bring up some of the misconceptions that happen in the medical field, like with it being a physical symptom of another disorder. So I think it’s just mainly just being able to listen and not project your own worldview or point of view onto another person’s experience, just because it’s not your own.
Justin: Thank you so much for — oh, yeah. Thank you so much for that, Johnnie. Yeah, just wanted to check in, ’cause we have one more question that I want to squeeze in. Are we okay with potentially going over time, if —
Dal: Yes, no problem with me!
Justin: Cool! Sounds great. And, yeah, so, we have time for one more question, and then we’re going to go into sharing around our social media handles, just to make sure that folks can get in touch with us and follow us and all that good stuff afterward. We have a lot of unanswered questions, and maybe, if the panelists are open, we could possibly send any unanswered questions, and those can be things that we could address or talk about on social media.
Justin: So yeah, last question from the audience that we’re going to get to is from Miktastic. Miktastic says, “Thank you for speaking on the Black disabled Ace experience. As a Black disabled Ace, I often feel separated from the standard Ace experience. Have you noticed white Aces are praised for feeling confident in their bodies, while BIPOC cases are often condemned for it?” Great question.
Charlie: I can speak on this one. I have definitely seen that. I know I don’t fit the standard Ace experience as it’s portrayed in… anywhere, the small bit of representation in media. Or just as people talk about Asexuality in general, or how people talk about disability, there’s this idea that something is wrong with you.
Charlie: And I found in the Black community in particular, there’s this — ”Choose your struggle,” is kind of what people say. And so you can be disabled, or you can be Ace, or you could just, you know, focus on being Black, but you basically have to choose one. And that’s what I think we’re fighting against: us try to be integrated people. That we’re more than just our sexuality. We’re more than just our race. We’re more than just our ability level. We are whole people, and want to be approached like that.
Charlie: And that’s something that, in general, people of color don’t get. We don’t get that acknowledgement that we’re whole people often in society. So, yeah, I think that is the biggest struggle that I’ve had out of all of this.
Dal: I have something to contribute to that, because I have seen that in real time unfolding online. Two words: Yasmin Benoit. Oh my god, the poor woman. She was so confident about being the beautiful person that she is, the beautiful Ace person of color that she is, and the hate wave that that grabbed her — it was so disgusting. I just can’t handle such hatred. I wouldn’t imagine being in her place, and still being so confident and so radiant as she was. It’s unbelievable. Yasmin is one of my heroes, just because… Like, the level of respect I have for that person. I have no words to describe it.
Dal: And the hate that people can feel towards queer people of color, especially Ace people of color. Apparently, something’s wrong with us, and we need to correct it, and to, like you said, choose a battle, pick your struggle. It’s like, why? We’re more than one thing. And we need the world to wake up and understand that. Humans are more than one label. This is too much a narrow scope. It’s too a narrow scope to still think this way in, already, way into the 21st century. I think it’s time to open up our minds to more possibilities.
Courtney: And I obviously can’t speak to this from personal experience, but another creator I want to spotlight and encourage all of you to look up is a creator who’s most often known by The Asexual Goddess. You can find them on Twitter, YouTube. Today — literally, just today — we released an episode of The Ace Couple podcast where I interviewed Asexual Goddess. And one of the things that came up was feeling like the token Black Asexual.
Courtney: And what Charlie said about picking your battles was something that reminded me very heavily of this conversation. Because what she articulated during this conversation was, “We’ve gotten to a point where people care about listening to Black Aces. But I am a lot more than just a Black Ace.” Asexual Goddess is a very talented comics artist, comic creator; also, an adoptee and wants to talk about things like adoption and the foster care system; is also a disabled Ace with mental health issues; and is very passionate about talking about all of these issues. And one of the frustrations that they expressed is the fact that, “If I don’t talk about the Black Ace experience, I don’t seem to have an audience anymore. People don’t seem to care, because there’s kind of only one intersection at a time that people have the attention to focus on.”
Justin: Yeah, and building on what you said, Courtney, and what you said, Dal, I think that I’ve never been able to get out of my head what happened during Ace Week 2021, when we really saw that wave of hatred against Yasmin Benoit. And that really, I think, ignited within me a lot of thinking and writing about misogynoir and the Ace community, misogynoir and the queer community, and it’s why I felt really excited and really passionate about Sherronda J. Brown’s book. Because Sherronda J. Brown in her book — sorry, in their book, really just powerfully tied together how white supremacy, queerphobia, aphobia, ableism, they all come from a common root, really. And so that’s why we have to be intersectional in how we think about Ace issues. We have to be intersectional in how we think about race and disability.
Justin: And in the greater community discourse that I keep seeing, we keep talking about representation and about, you know, “We need more Ace examples in the media.” And I fear that we talk about O from Sex Education, we talk about Isaac in Heartstopper, but we’re not talking about the silencing of disabled voices in the community. We’re not talking about the marginalization of BIPOC people in the community. And so that’s why I’m like, “Please, whatever you do, read Sherronda’s book.” [laughs] It’s so good! And what they say is just so important.
Justin: Yeah! So… Do we have any more thoughts on this question, or are we ready to go to sharing our social media goodness?
Courtney: I just want to say that this has been a fabulous conversation, and I feel like if we all actually had the time and energy and spoons for it, we could probably talk for hours more.
Justin: Fully agree. I guess that means I’ll see you all next year.
Justin: [laughs] Alright! So, I think Sarah will be soon posting all of our social media handles to the chat. Thank you, also, for posting Sherronda J. Brown’s book as well as Yasmin’s social media handles. And, yeah, I just want to say thanks to all of you. Thank you, Courtney, Charlie, Dal, and Johnnie for being here, for giving us your time, your energy, to talk about these things, and thank you for being so vulnerable in sharing your thoughts and and your feelings. Yeah. Do we have any closing thoughts before we head out?
Dal: I have one. Because I would like to share it just because I have to, it’s my job, and I’m an indie author, and we are talking about representing Aces that are not just like the golden Ace — that it’s like the white Ace that it’s only Ace. I write from my own personal experience as well as made-up stuff, because I write fiction, but there is a lot of personal in it. So, if people are interested in sci-fi and you wanna see a blind Ace. Yeah, my book! It comes out this Halloween. So yeah, I am very happy to be a part of this. And like I said before, because I really mean it, it’s not just self-promoting. I hope that in the future, I become a good writer that can bring some joy to people, even if it seems like a little bit of a sad story at first, but there will always be hope. And thank you so much for inviting me here today.
Justin: Well, thank you, Dal, for coming. I really — I deeply appreciate and I deeply value all of the insights and feelings you you’ve shared with us.
Justin: Yeah! For questions that we have not covered in the Q&A and other questions in the Q&A box, we will be sending them out to our panelists for us to potentially ruminate on and all potentially discuss in our own channels. Yeah, I’m not sure what else I have left to say! Any other final thoughts, before we finally —
Courtney: Let’s do this again sometime! [laughs] This was great! And we had so many questions not only that Justin wrote but that we got in the Q&A that I would love to answer. So, we will send those out to panelists, and they can choose to answer those on their own social media platforms if they would like. But yeah, thank you all so much for coming and watching.
Justin: Thanks to all of you. Yeah, thanks to all of you again. Thank you Courtney, especially for… And also, thank you — massive thank you to Sarah, as well, for working behind the scenes, helping to oil this whole conversation and keeping it going and and posting links and and and all of that.
Justin: So, also, for folks who are signed up for the ACAR Discord server, we do have our games tonight. Courtney, would you like to say more about more about that?
Courtney: Sure thing. So, for the remainder of Disabled Ace Day, there are a couple of other events going on. We’ve got a just fun, casual game night going on in the ACAR Discord server. It is, I’m afraid, only for disabled Aces, because we deserve it. So if you are a disabled Ace, you can pop on into that server if you’d like. We are going to be playing Jackbox games, which — no group video game is going to be perfect accessibility-wise, but Jackbox we at least found that they have a lot of accessibility tools like extended timers, motion sensitivity mode, different volume and CC options. So we hope that that can accommodate as many people as possible. And we’ll just be hanging out and having fun for a couple of hours.
Courtney: Later on this evening, on the Twitch channel Aces Playing At Attraction, my spouse and I will be joining them to play a game called One Night Stand, which was created by a disabled Ace game developer. There are a lot of disabled Ace game developers, so for all of you gamers out there, we’ll probably be sharing some of our favorite games from other disabled Ace, if you just want to pop in and have fun there.
Courtney: And I have nothing to do with the organization of this, but I think it’s great. I found on the Ace Week website: there is also a presentation today organized by an Aspec group run out of Ohio that is going to be talking about Ace issues with sort of a focused lens on medical and healthcare professionals. So you can find the information for that presentation, if you would like to watch it, on the Ace Week website, on the Ace Week calendar right on the homepage.
Courtney: But other than that, please join the conversation. You can search hashtag #DisabledAceDay on whatever social media platforms are your favorite, and hopefully you can find some cool stories there to read and learn from other experiences and to amplify these voices. Yeah! That’s all I got.
Justin: Great. Thank you so much, Courtney. And, yeah, to all of you, to all of our great panelists and to everyone else out there, have a great rest of your Disabled Ace Day. Have a great rest of your Ace Week. Stay tuned to all of our social media channels as we continue to put out posts on Twitter and social media to talk about Ace issues and disabled issues and BIPOC issues as well. So, yeah! Have a great evening, all of you, and we’ll see you all soon. Bye!
Courtney Lane: Thank you all so much for sticking through to the end of the panel. Please don’t forget to jump down to the shownotes where we have all of the info for our host, our panelists, and links for any specific resources that were mentioned during this panel. Please share this episode far and wide, follow all of our fabulous guests, and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program next week. Goodbye.