This episode is not about James Somerton: It's about Community
The response to our James Somerton episode has been overwhelming and we want to take a minute to talk about the response, answer some questions, and refocus on community before returning to our regularly scheduled programming.
- Ace Date
- Ace by Angela Chen
- Refusing Compulsory Sexuality by Sherronda J Brown
- F.D Signifier Tweet
- F.D Signifier Video
- Lost Futures Video
- Joshua Hoffine
- Aces in Comics
- Emily K. Art
- u/ServingwithTG Meme
- The MarketplACE
- MarketplACE Form
Courtney: Hello everyone and welcome back. My name is Courtney. I am here with my spouse Royce, and together we are The Ace Couple. And today’s episode is not about James Somerton. I mentioned at the end of our James Somerton episode that I am all snarked out for the year. That is enough snark for Courtney and, to my surprise, the number, the number of you who reached out to us saying no, we need the snark.
Royce: So the last episode of the year will not have snark, but the one after that will? Is that how this works?
Courtney: The snark can return after the first of the year. But I think I learned from saying that line that we’ve got a lot of shady bitches in our audience and honestly, I love you all for it. We can have our moments of shade. We can, we can. We deserve it as a nice little holiday treat. But although today we will mention a few elements pertaining to the James Somerton debacle, I do not want this episode to be about him. I want this episode to be about community and sort of the response that we have gotten, which was far larger than we ever anticipated and, to be quite honest, it was far more positive in many ways than we anticipated. So I want to talk about a lot of those and, plus, we just have a whole bunch of new followers now, subscribers on podcast platforms, subscribers on YouTube. Lots of folks that we have seen already start to go through our backlog after listening to that one and finding us for the first time. Could the microphone just catch that beeping?
Royce: I assume. So yes, that is our pressure cooker. I’m making seitan.
Courtney: Royce, why are you pressure cooking seitan when we’re trying to record a podcast? I hope it turns out better this time. It wasn’t, it wasn’t perfected the first time.
Royce: Well, the first time I tried boiling it and it absorbed too much water, so now I’m trying to steam it.
Courtney: Hopefully it turns out well. We’ll report back to all of our listeners if we have at long last figured out how to make good seitan from home.
Royce: At long last? This is attempt number two.
Courtney: At long last. It’s been a while since the first attempt though. Ace Couple hobbies. So for those of you who did either find us through the James Somerton debacle, or for those of you who have followed us for a long time but did not know about all of this up until this point, I do want to just, in factual terms, relay what the developments have been on that front. But I really really want to stress that, unless you’re speaking about your own hurt and concern because I want to make space for that, I know there are folks in our audience, new and old, who have felt very betrayed as a result of this. If you have your own personal concerns to share, I do want to make space for that. I know in our last episode there were several aces who also saw the queer erasure of asexuality video and they were talking about their concerns and some even going so far as to say that they thought their own comments got deleted from the comment section. So I don’t want to silence any and all conversation about it, but I do want to try to temper the sort of drama and gossipy elements of this, because the development has been that James Somerton released an apology video that nobody was having. Very unpopular apology video, but it did open with the direct insinuation that James has made an attempt to take his own life as a result of sort of everything that’s transpired the last couple of weeks, and I know that as someone who has lost nearly every ounce of trust that this community has had for him. There are folks out there that are speculating about whether or not that’s true and we don’t want to play that game. It is a serious enough statement and a serious enough situation that you know, for better or worse, we do want to take him at face value, that this is the experience he has been having. And on that front we wish him nothing but healing and to find some level of happiness in the future. I am someone who dealt with mental health struggles nearly my entire life, until probably pretty shortly before I met you, Royce. I managed to get to a healthy and happy place in my life, but my severe depression and suicidal ideation started as a pretty young child and was consistent all throughout my teenage years, earlier adulthood, etc. So I do have empathy for that.
Courtney: There is definitely a point to be made and others have made it, so I don’t want to sort of beat the dead horse about it, that that was not an appropriate way to start an apology video. If you are really really curious about how people responded to it. It has since been deleted, so you cannot watch that video from his channel. I’m sure others have done reactions to it or re-uploaded it and whatnot, so I’m sure the information is out there if you’re very, very curious about it. But naturally, several people have asked us what our opinion was of it and, quite honestly, at this point I do not have anything new or fresh or interesting to say about it. I know you’re sort of seeking that from us because we are voices who contributed new, additional information to this, but I do want to try to reel everyone back into what really matters, and we have read so many of your comments and emails talking about how, you know, finding our podcast was like the silver lining in all of this, that you would have never found us if it wasn’t for that, and we love that and we welcome all of you in. So we want to talk about what is important, and what is important is this community, this community that we have already fostered, the new folks coming in, the allosexual people, the non-aces among us who have found us and are now here to learn. We welcome you all too, but at this point James is going to do what he is going to do.
Courtney: As of the time of recording, we have not gotten any sort of email updates about Telos or anything of that nature. Perhaps we will in coming days, but after this episode, unless there is something super revelatory that happens, something really wonderful and positive, that’s happened as a good update, or if things go completely downhill in a completely new, new and exciting and different way, we are very unlikely to talk about James or this whole situation ever again after today. And as we do go through some of the responses and reactions, I do want to focus more on the community and the facts. There are, in fact, a couple of facts that I think I’m going to walk back when we get here in a moment, because a couple of your comments as they were coming in, I’d read that and be like “oh yeah!” that was an element I completely forgot about, so sort of like memory unlocked after I read some of these comments. So I’ll elaborate on those and those situations.
Courtney: But as for all of you who are asking us like: “what’s your opinion on James Somerton’s apology?” Honestly, we saw it. We saw it a half hour after it got posted. We watched it all. So those of you who picked out like, oh, he was talking about this here, he clearly watched your episode. We’ve seen all of that buzz, we are aware of that situation and we appreciate those of you who tried to point it out to us in case we hadn’t seen it yet.
Courtney: Lots of people also asking us like “do you forgive Nick? What’s your opinion on Nick” Since Nick has been sort of a mysterious figure amongst this, of how much did he know, how much do we trust him? And, quite frankly, we do not know enough. We don’t know enough about Nick, nor his involvement in the situation, to actually have a super strong opinion on things. So, for the most part, we’re going to leave it alone and try to, try to move onward and upward.
Courtney: So I am going to get into some of the YouTube comments we got. I think I want to respond to some of those directly, because we got some questions, we got some interesting insights, we got some real life Canadians chiming in with Canadian facts to learn us ignorant Americans. Much appreciated, we’ll go over those. But just a general note of the overall positivity. Like, I truly cannot thank you all enough. We are sitting at, as of the time of recording, like 80,000 views on just our YouTube upload of this podcast alone, let alone the Spotify, the Apple, all the other places where you can get our podcast, reading the transcript on our website. So this is clearly so much more than any of our individual episodes have ever received before for attention.
Royce: And the fact that it was so much more, really starting like 12 to 24 hours, I think, after episode release. We were kind of like uh-oh, brace for impact, like what’s going to happen here. But I think the fact that we released our episode a week or so after the two big videos that started all of this. You’ve maybe deleted, you deleted one comment out of-
Courtney: One. I have deleted one comment that was a little Ace erasurey. So the amount of love we have gotten has been phenomenal and we really, really appreciate you. And I don’t think I have ever seen something asexual get this much attention with so little acephobia. I really cannot think of a single instance. So amazing. This is progress.
Royce: One comment out of over 750 is not bad. I was reading some things earlier today and I saw one comment somewhere where someone said oh, it looks like something else I commented earlier got deleted. And sometimes we see that in our analytics, where YouTube will just toss a comment into the shadow realm without notifying us and we can’t even see what it is.
Courtney: That is a weird thing, because that happened probably over a year ago. There is a regular listener of ours, who we are mutuals with on Twitter. We occasionally see them, you know, comment on Twitter or comment on our YouTube video, so we know who this person is. We like them very much. One time they reached out to us and they were like I tried making a comment on your YouTube video and it’s just gone. And we went into our YouTube, like YouTube Studio, our creator dashboard, like maybe sometimes things get flagged for review, but it wasn’t in flag for review, it was just gone. We tried tweeting at YouTube to be like what is up with this? Why?
Royce: There are some things that get picked up by YouTube’s automatic moderation tools and just vanish.
Courtney: Yeah, which is very odd that we as the creators can’t even see that, and we don’t normally get a whole heck of a lot of YouTube comments anyway. So that’s the only direct instance where it’s like, yeah, this listener of ours that we know of is coming to us with this and we couldn’t figure it out at all. And, as we said in our last episode on the topic, we are not YouTubers, we are low effort podcasters who cross post our audio to YouTube. So, yeah, if that happened to anyone, we are sorry. As of the time of recording, we have deleted a single comment. And that single comment, what was it in response to?
Courtney: Someone made a comment, sort of paraphrasing, like oh, James Somerton’s whole thesis for this video was Ace people need to be recognized as long as they acknowledge their place below gay men in the hierarchy of oppression. And someone responded to that and said “I mean, it’s kind of true,” which, we’re already not playing that game? And then they said, plus the, something along the lines of like, the folks in this podcast are “heteroasexual.” How did they say it? It was like a word that is not a word that anyone in our community actually uses. I think it was like, yeah, “heteroasexual,” but it was like one word, it was odd and clunky and not the common community vernacular, but don’t know where they got that from, because we’re not. Hey, surprise, but also like, yeah, we’ve been called so much worse. It’s not that we were so horribly personally offended by that comment. Believe me, we have had real genuine hatred and uh and aphobia in our lives, especially me. I think, Royce, you’ve been, you’ve been fairly okay.
Royce: I’m not out to a lot of people in a personal capacity.
Courtney: You see a heck of a lot fewer doctors than.
Royce: That too. That as well.
Courtney: That as well. So, um, but when we see that stuff, we don’t need our predominantly Ace audience seeing those comments. We don’t. So that, that is the only comment, as of now, that we have deleted, but in a sea of over, like 700 comments, that is honestly pretty mild, also for being the only one we deleted. So, yeah, I just, I do really really want to thank all of you. This has been very heartwarming. On that front, I know a lot of you have said we really hope you get your money back. We appreciate those well wishes.
Courtney: As I said, as of now, we have not heard anything personally from James or Telos Indiegogo, nothing of that sort. However, since we are a couple of tens of thousands of viewers in at this point, we’re starting to get AdSense that’s more than just a couple of dollars. Last time I checked, we were projected to get like a whole $160 from ads, which we have since already donated to a member of our community. A disabled Ace, who is on a fixed income with disability and lives in a very cold region where heating bills are extraordinary right now, and it threw their budget all out of whack and needed to be able to pay rent and also eat at the same time. So we donated everything so far that we’ve gotten an AdSense from it to that member of our community. So thank you for all of our listeners.
Courtney: We have also, on top of our AdSense, we have gotten several very kind, very generous donations through Ko-fi. That was unexpected. That is so nice. That is, I can’t thank you enough. With our Ko-fi donations, that we have gotten directly off the heels of that episode, we have made back the amount of money that we donated to Telos, and like a little bit more. So even if we never hear anything from Telos again, even if refunds aren’t getting offered, we have been taken care of by you listening. Like, thank you, so, so much.
Courtney: This is amazing and I promise we will put it to good use, reinvesting it back into our community in a way that feels right. So a thousand times thank you. But aside from that one little comment that we saw and flagged and deleted, really the only people that have been mean, there have been a couple people here and there, either in our comment sections or another forum somewhere, that are either like talking about how we’re just getting on the bandwagon. It’s like, yeah, we had new information. If we didn’t have new information or our own personal story, we wouldn’t have said anything publicly.
Royce: We got pulled onto the wagon a year or two ago.
Courtney: We got pulled onto the wagon before the Nebula creators did. Yeah, and those of you who are closest to us in our community, those of you who are in, say, our ACAR Discord server, I shared this story with people in our private Discord space many, many, many months ago. Because I think someone out of the blue posted a video of James Somerton in that Discord, and I just had to be like, oh, that guy. Can’t say that I’m a fan. And so of course everyone’s like why, what happened? What’s wrong with James Somerton? So we did share that privately in certain aspects of our community. So it’s really not my fault if you’re not already in our community and you think that this hasn’t already been knowledge to some of us. So that’s not my fault. I’m not going to be fussed about that. But there were a few nasty people who were like, oh my gosh, they’re so stupid for donating that much money. They should have known better, they should have done their research more. And it’s like sorry, we talked to a guy and we took him at face value. Like that’s never happened before. But like, even those people being a little bit nasty about us, they weren’t being overtly acephobic. So I’m going to call this a win. But I do want to make this very clear because, as I’m sort of and we have so many comments that I’m sure there are some that I have already missed I’m sure there are some we aren’t going to get to today, but we haven’t outright deleted any of these yet, and we’ve seen it both in our comment section and on Twitter, Reddit, all over the place.
Courtney: Of course, lots of people have been talking about this. One thing that I want to make very clear for you, if you are a new listener who is joining us in our community we aren’t going to tolerate this sort of hybrid of armchair diagnosing, ableist, sanist sort of views. We have seen a fair number of people try to say like “oh, James Somerton is a narcissist, he’s a psychopath. This is sociopathic behavior.” I know, since we’ve gotten a lot of new people, that this is going to be news to some of you, so we’ll cut you a little slack if you didn’t already know this, but I want to make it abundantly clear that using words like that in this way is quite ableist. And ableism and disability justice is something we care about very deeply. We have talked a lot about in the history of our channel, in the history of our Ace activism outside of this channel has very often had a heavy disability focus.
Courtney: And there are folks who have diagnoses like narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), BPD, borderline personality disorder. There are folks with, those are what, clinically speaking, you might hear referred to as like Cluster B, the sort of personality disorders. And colloquially, people use these as an insult for others, like you’ll say “oh, you’re just a narcissist” as an insult. And it kind of doesn’t help that we’ve had this big surge of sort of therapy speak come out in popular vernacular, where in some ways it’s good because folks are having more access to learning about what is and is not healthy and what is and is not abuse. So the added awareness of mental health issues is very, very much a good thing. But then you start hearing things like this is narcissistic abuse. And then you talk to someone and say, well, you’re a narcissist, whether or not they are, whether or not they have that diagnosis.
Courtney: But it does sort of create a further stigma for folks who do have those diagnoses. There are folks with narcissistic personality disorder who are not abusive and do not hurt people. So I’d like everyone to think about that a little bit, sit with it, consider how someone with a diagnosis like that might think if we’re talking about this figure who has harmed so many different communities, this figure that’s been sort of the villain of the day on Twitter, the big main character of YouTube drama and, as our comments have often pointed out, like wow, the more and more I learn about this guy, the worse he gets. Like, we’ve seen lots of people say things like that. So think about what someone with one of these diagnoses would think, if they’re like, all right, here’s a guy who has hurt a lot of people, entire communities worth of people, and they’re comparing him to me. And think if that someone is someone who isn’t abusive and hasn’t hurt people in that way. It does create a very, very ugly stigma and we don’t want to do that here. That is not something we do in our community. So I’m always in favor of people learning and doing better. So I’m not going to sit here and say “how dare you!” if you’ve never been presented with the concept at this angle before, but I do hope that we can sort of collectively use that as a learning experience.
Courtney: So let’s start with Canada why don’t we. We got a comment talking about how Nova Scotia actually does have an active film industry, quote “thanks to generous tax credits and there’s a tight knit collaborative community of professional filmmakers there, including a subculture of queer filmmakers.” That’s honestly not something I knew. There were several people chiming in, corroborating that. I don’t know much about filmmaking in Canada. But that comment did get me thinking like, wait a minute, I just read Elliot Page’s memoir: Page Boy, not too long ago. And I was like, isn’t Elliot Page from Nova Scotia? And then it occurred to me from there that Halifax specifically was mentioned, as Elliot Page being from Halifax, and that stuck out to me because on the Indiegogo page, Halifax was: this is where it’s based out of, this is where we are, this is where we live. So I don’t know. That was just fascinating to me.
Royce: And that got brought up in response to the justification for raising funds being a need to move to Toronto for casting.
Courtney: I don’t think that was ever mentioned as a need to raise funds. I think it was just-.
Royce: It was mentioned as an expense at least.
Courtney: It was like we did this and it was very expensive but we needed to do it for casting sort of a thing. But another comment said something like “oh, the move wasn’t across the country.” I said something to the effect of they had to move across the country. But the comments section, the back and forth there, said like-
Royce: Well, the original comment was: “as a Canadian, unless I remember incorrectly, he did not move across the country, he barely moved across the province? Like seriously, he went from the country’s capital city to the province’s capital. Which is a bigger city, but they’re only five hours apart, hardly across the country.” And then the immediate comment under that is “if I recall correctly, the move was Halifax to Ottawa, then Ottawa to Toronto.”
Courtney: Yeah, that one was interesting because I did not know about Ottawa. That very well may have been part of the timeline here, but to my knowledge, I knew Halifax, and then I knew moving to Toronto. And at the time, you know, it was being talked about as a big move. I have to fly to get the keys, all these things, and it’s very expensive. Yeah, if Ottawa was in the mix there, I did not know. He may have been in Ottawa when he was saying that, but I was under the impression it was still Halifax. But I will chalk that up to-
Royce: Lack of updates?
Courtney: No updates. So you could be right. I think I recall at the time like Googling Halifax to Toronto just to see, like time-wise, what we were talking. And I mean, I know obviously Canada’s a huge country, we’re in the US, which is obviously a huge country. So I also always have in the back of my mind, I have a lot of international friends from much smaller countries. So when we talk about like, oh, the Midwest, like so many of us are just willing to go on a road trip of eight, ten hours, and people are like “that’s my entire country” and we’re like, no, that’s practically neighbors for us, if it’s just now eight hours away.
Royce: Yeah, a six hour drive was common for us to do once or twice a year to go back to South Dakota.
Courtney: Easy, easy trip. And we’d take longer ones if we’d have to. So I always kind of have in the back of my mind that my concept of what’s basically a short trip is wildly skewed by how much land we have in this country, but also, I think, roughly time-wise, of a drive from point A to point B. I think it occurred to me that like that’s about the amount of time it would take us to drive to like, from the Kansas City Metro to like, the Philadelphia Metro, so like it’s not coast to coast across the country, but that is like, that’s across the country. So you are probably right, I believe, the Canadians amongst us. But yeah, that’s just an example of new details that our commenters helped sort out, like Ottawa. That’s news to us. So thank you for filling in the gaps.
Courtney: There was another comment as well that I do want to address. This, because it was a light bulb moment, it was a memory, and I instantly felt very bad for saying what I had said on that previous video. Royce, I don’t know if you’re able to find the comment itself, but it was talking about the life insurance money from James’ mother.
Royce: Yeah, I see a couple of people chiming in here about the life insurance money. A shorter one says “well, he claimed that he was denied the life insurance money from his mom dying because she didn’t report a history of depression.” And another one says “oh, on the note about the inheritance, I was a regular Somerton viewer and I’d get notifications about this. The story he tells there is that his mother died from cancer something like 18 months ago, but they refused to pay out the life insurance to him and his father because she’d had depression. Everything I read said that he could cope with this, but his father couldn’t.”
Courtney: Sure. So when I saw, the first shorter one you mentioned was actually the only one that I have read. I didn’t know that second one came in, but I appreciate it. As soon as I read that, and this is the thing too, we are unscripted, we are relatively informal, we are just, you know, we’re a married couple who are chatting and, yes, we have done a lot of research and we can point to specific sources when we need to as a result of that research.
Royce: We do try, when we’re trying to quote something, have resources pulled up. So this was also a case of James going scorched earth. The Discord was gone, a lot of YouTube videos were gone.
Courtney: We couldn’t fact check things. We couldn’t go back and check, so some of it was like to the best of our memory. And just bringing up the mother and the inheritance was something that, after we were done recording- And Royce’s edits all our podcast episodes because I cannot listen to the sound of my own voice. That cannot happen. It did occur to me that I wished I didn’t say anything about that because even though my memory was you know little incorrectly telling me that he got like a payout from his mother’s death, I felt bad instantly when we were done recording because I was like I shouldn’t have said that, like I don’t want to bring that into the equation. That’s kind of a low blow. I’ve done a lot of, you know, advocacy around laws and legislation pertaining to the funeral industry. I didn’t mention this in our last episode because I didn’t know how many new folks we’d have, but I did mention being a small business owner and like knowing what the cost of shipping things are, especially internationally, but I don’t think I said what I do. So this might be really confusing and surprising for some of you folks who are new, but I make artwork and jewelry out of hair. Usually human hair, but I can also use animal hair horse hair or small animal like dogs and cats and it was a very common tradition in the Victorian era, although it does predate the Victorian era quite a bit. And most people today either have never heard of it or they have the impression that it was exclusively for, like mourning and memorials, to use the hair of a deceased loved one to have a sentimental token of them. And so I am a historian of this art form, the history behind it, but I also do it. And I do custom orders for folks who send in the hair of their loved ones to me to make something sentimental for them. So, as perhaps you can well imagine, I have a lot of friends who are morticians. I have a lot of friends who you know deal with grief, grief therapy, general death history, mourning practice, history. I have a lot of friends in a big community like that. So I have been very involved at points in my life in the death community. I used to run like death cafes for people to just get together, or I’d run workshops on filling out like an advanced directive for folks locally to put like their end of life wishes on documentation, especially for queer folks, especially for queer folks who may be estranged from their blood family members. Folks who may be trans but haven’t legally been able to legally change their names or get paperwork in order for that. Just so, it’s so important to be able to say this is who is in charge after I’m gone, if anything were to happen. This is the person I trust because otherwise, legally speaking, it will go to your next of kin. So we would do things like that.
Courtney: So there was a moment before I even saw these comments that I was regretting saying anything about that at all, because I really didn’t want to bring that in. But once I read that first comment saying he claimed he didn’t get the insurance money from that, that clicked. I remember seeing a tweet about that. I do very specifically remember that that is true, that was said at some point. I didn’t know all the detail of the second one. I don’t recall reading anything specifically about the father’s reaction to it, but that actually in retrospect, I was like that is another thing to add on the pile about what I feel really bad about and why we didn’t ask for a refund on Telos money earlier, because I was like, well, first his mom dies and he doesn’t get the insurance money from it, which I believe absolutely could happen because insurance- As someone who used to own an insurance agency, uh-
Royce: It’s a racket.
Courtney: It’s a racket. Also, hello, yes, new viewers, I have had a very eclectic life. I will say things that surprise you frequently. I’ve had many jobs. I’ve worn many hats, both literal and metaphorical. Yeah, so insurance is a racket.
Courtney: So I was like first he’s dealing with grief and doesn’t get this health insurance, and that riled me all up. That got me feeling really unhappy. And then, oh, there’s this great, big, huge move that I thought was further away than it sounds like it maybe was. There were comments about like, I had to pay rent a year in advance to get this place and add that with the video that was saying like we might have to quit making videos. I was like I can’t do this to this guy, like I am so angry and upset with the way he treated us, with the way he’s treated asexuality, but on a human to human level, the not getting insurance money in the wake of grief was just another thing where I was like I absolutely cannot do this. That is very unfair of me. So if, I really hope you’re not James, but James, if you are listening I am genuinely sorry for ever even bringing that up. That was my bad. I shouldn’t have said it in the first place, but I also misremembered it and these comments helped me put my memories back in perspective there.
Courtney: Oh, actually, now we’re going through. I don’t know if I want to delete this or not, because it’s actually kind of funny, but I wanted to see if someone got an answer, because someone asked a question in a reply on a previous comment and said “what the hell are ‘aces’ or ‘purse puppies?’ I am intrigued but lost.” and when I read that comment I laughed out loud. That was very good. I think someone did explain aces mean short for asexual, but someone, I just saw this comment now. “So these people are a quote ‘couple’ but have no interest in sex? That seems different.” Why, yes, thank you, it is different. That is why we call it queer.
Royce: I think that in a lot of comments that will sort of catch you off guard like that, you have to stare at them for a moment and say, is this person being ignorant and curious or malicious? And I feel like, of what you just read, I’m okay with putting that in the ignorant but curious bucket.
Courtney: Just that, that seems different. Like I know there’s something about that, that seems like a little bit precious. Like that seems different because we have had I mentioned in our last episode, because it was some of the resources that we linked to James that we did like a four-part series on like religious political discrimination against asexuality in the US. We’ve kind of always gotten it, but especially after we made those episodes, the amount of like Christian conservatives in this country who were sending us just the most vile shit, like I’ll take a “that seems different.”
Royce: Several people caught your “ace bomber guy” slip up.
Courtney: Oh no!
Royce: Just saying the word Ace frequently throughout this video. Just a phonetic slip up.
Courtney: I’m amazed that you didn’t like catch me in the moment and correct me while we were chatting.
Royce: You were speaking quickly enough that I either didn’t catch it or didn’t think about it.
Courtney: You were like this will be a fun Easter egg for the audience that made it this far.
Royce: It didn’t, it didn’t occur to me while we were recording or when I was editing. Although I usually edit it two and a half times pace, so I wouldn’t have even caught it, I think.
Courtney: I did see someone who made a very lengthy kind comment. I won’t read the entirety here, but “I was horrified seeing this at the top of my recommended this morning. You see, I recommended your podcast to him several times. I was one of those commenters on the Ace video who faced acephobia after sharing my own experience. I also distinctly remember recommending your podcast during his stream, where he blatantly ignored or dismissed every suggestion until Rowan Ellis was brought up.” So that’s actually news, because when I told that story that was top secret alleged information that I was getting from someone in James’s Discord. So I didn’t know that that was also happening on the stream, because this is not the person who brought this information to me from the Discord. So apparently this has happened multiple times. But don’t feel bad for that, because there are also so many aces in our community who have, since that happened, recommended James content to us and we’ve just, for the most part, bit our tongue and just you know yep, we saw it or don’t respond at all.
Royce: Chronologically, this would have been after the initial Telos investment as well.
Courtney: Mm-hmm. Yes, but I mean that that happened so often to creators and some creators are in community with one another and do talk, either have a professional relationship or a friendly one. Some just aren’t. They just use the same platform.
Courtney: But one thing I was going to extrapolate on further in our last episode I mentioned FD Signifier as a video essayist that I’ve seen, who I’ve seen several videos from, who’s very good at his job. I brought him up, I think, first in the context of, you know, Nebula is so white, but also I meant to talk about the Attack on Titan takes because, you know, after all of this happened and we had already established our opinion on James as a result of how we were treated, we were big Attack on Titan fans for a period of time. It became clearer and clearer as the manga/anime were on that it had heavily fascist tropes and FD Signifier has made a couple of videos mentioning this, talking about it. Who he himself was also a big fan of Attack on Titan in the earlier days, to the point of like dressing as the scouts for Halloween with his entire family. I remember seeing that in a video and thinking like, that group costume as a family is absolutely precious, very good costumes, 10 out of 10. I love it. But also very sad that now, you know, we know how fascist the themes are. And like this, this is what creators who love what they do and they love the medium and they love seeking out information from other creators.
Courtney: FD Signifier posted, or pointed out, another video by Lost Futures talking about the fascist themes of Attack on Titan, but specifically talking about what fascism looks like in a Japanese context, since so many of us, as casual viewers, have a very sort of specific this is what we think of as fascism, but there are different cultural nuances that are easy to miss if you don’t know the history behind it. So, as a result of watching FD Signifier’s video, I was able to go watch Lost Futures video. I felt like I learned a lot watching sort of both of them side by side. But, but then there was a video on James’s about sort of defending Attack on Titan and saying if you thought that this was fascist, I think the thesis was basically like you don’t have media literacy if you think this is fascist.
Royce: That was the title. I believe it was something like Attack on Titan and media literacy.
Courtney: Yeah, and when we know James didn’t cite his sources but, like FD Signifier, was not only citing sources but also sharing other creators and encouraging other people to learn more from those videos. But I saw so often on things like Twitter or comment sections on those videos, people going to FD Signifier and being like, you know, I love your content, but you’re wrong on this here. Watch this video-
Royce: From James Somerton.
Courtney: From James Somerton. And every time I saw that, I was just like aww. So yeah, I was gonna mention that, but I got off on a completely different thought. So that was just a little. A little extra nugget there.
Royce: Well, one thing you, I think you mentioned this on Twitter was-
Courtney: Yeah, I mean, after you know the James Somerton news broke, FD Signifier did tweet, like “me knowing nobody will ever tell me to watch that weak ass Attack on Titan defense video from James Somerton anymore” with with just a very happy, joyful, like dancing gif, like walking down the street, just absolutely feeling life. But yeah, and then I retweeted that and I mentioned you know, not only does FD Signifier have a great take on this, but as a result of a recommendation, I also learned about this Lost Futures video and Lost Futures mentioned- Well here, I’ll link tweets and things and I’ll link these videos in the show notes as well If you want to check them out. But Lost Futures retweeted us and said I’ve received comments that shocked me. In them people told me my video genuinely hurt them, that it felt way, way too mean. In response I told them that I could have made a fun video dragging Eren and get a good laugh, but I didn’t because I take Japanese fascism seriously. Like how I could research Japanese war crimes and antisemitism and not take Attack on Titan and Isayama seriously and went on to essentially conclude people who have recommended James Somerton and have used Somerton to attack and harass me for a good year. The tone of the video directly contrasts Somerton as he brushes the fascism off and calls people who see it as fascist quote media illiterate. So I stand by my videos. Let’s, let’s also not use illiterate as an insult. I know media literacy is a phrase that people often break out, but I don’t like using illiterate as an insult. I really don’t. So, hey, the final, the final episode of the anime got released not too long ago. So if there’s anyone else out there who aren’t feeling super comfy about it, you got a couple videos you can watch.
Courtney: We got a very nice comment, someone saying I spent years in the Ace community before realizing I was not asexual but actually aromantic and gay. So this hit a sore spot for me. An entire community, people who treated me well and taught me a lot of insightful things, who are now my sister community getting hurt. And that also, hopefully this will also inspire people to talk about A-specs and recognize all of us more and learn enough to recognize the misinformation. Yes, first of all, like any aros out there, absolutely welcome. You belong here too. We’re glad to have you. I myself- I got weird, I got weird feelings about the split attraction model lately. That series I promise is coming, but if we’re getting very technical, demi romantic is probably what I am as well.
Royce: My romantic attraction is complicated and I’m not really sure how to describe it, but I think we’ll save that for the upcoming episode series.
Courtney: Yeah, what is romance really? But yeah, phrase A-specs for any brand new viewers. I know there have been several very kind comments about people saying like I’m subscribing because I don’t know much about the asexual community. So if you see the phrase A-spec, that tends to get used to mean both asexual and aromantic spectrums, and we love and celebrate all areas of those spectrums.
Courtney: We have a comment here by talistheintrovert, saying “I made a video called Barbie is asexual and why that matters, back when Barbie came out, and it’s my best performing video to date, enough that James probably saw it and enough that some of my subscribers asked me to check in case he plagiarized me. Luckily I don’t think he did.” But just wanted to say to you, if you’re listening, I pulled that up and bookmarked it as of the time of recording. I haven’t listened to it yet, but it looks like that came shortly after we did an informal video about Barbie or a podcast. We don’t really do video. We did a podcast about Barbie being asexual, but I also saw in your thumbnail Jessica Rabbit and Marilyn Monroe were in there. We have also done episodes on those. So I try to avoid media about what we are talking about because I want it to be my own opinions and my own takeaways, but since we have already done episodes talking about all three of the people in your thumbnail, I’m probably safe to watch that at some point, so look forward to it.
Courtney: We’ve also had comments from folks who are Ace, who watched the Ace video, some saying “I’m one of those folks who was just happy to have the representation.” There are some folks who said that they felt very bad and off about it and didn’t know anyone else who was talking about it, or people who felt bad and off, but also we’re just happy for it so they shrugged it off. And a lot of people who sound- it sounds like a lot of folks were upset and felt wrong, some going so far as to even comment, thanking for the video, while still feeling wrong and weird about it, just because we are so underrepresented, which is something we definitely talked about in the last video.
Courtney: But I hope that for all of us, that we can seek out the quality we deserve in this media representation and I hope that there are other creators who are going to learn to be open and welcoming of constructive criticism and feedback when they receive it, because, honestly, had James responded perfectly to our thread sending resources, if a dialogue was opened, if an acknowledgement of what was wrong and an intention to do better and then seeing that doing better, that would not have been a gripe of ours. I am very much in favor of giving people in the community more chances of allowing people to see growth. So I would advise if, for everyone in the community. If you see someone who makes a mistake, try to approach with kindness and generosity and giving them the benefit of the doubt, but don’t give it a clear pass. Point out constructively what can be done better and see what the reaction is. It might be very forthcoming and it might lead to something productive and better, but we do not have to, as a community, accept the bare minimum. We do not.
Courtney: We had a comment who said I found out I was asexual from James’s video. I’d been questioning my sexuality for quite a long time. I knew I wasn’t necessarily straight, but I also wasn’t bi or gay either. Seeing the damage did make me so mad because part of my own personal journey is tied to that. I’m so glad I found this channel. Please don’t feel bad for that and anybody out there.
Courtney: There were elements of that video that were real and genuine. Most of it was when Nick was talking from their own personal experience. I know that that is a valid Ace experience. I know aces in my own personal community that have shared similar stories and feelings. It was very far away from where I personally am on the Ace spectrum, so there were definitely elements of Nick’s story that I could not personally relate to. But I know that it is an iteration of an Ace experience. So for anyone out there who did hear those elements and resonated with it, that is not a bad thing. There is nothing to feel shame about that at all. Your journey is your journey. It is not tainted. I don’t want anyone to feel that way. Although the follow up comment that was: “Dude! I’m so sorry. If it makes you feel any better, my Ace journey is tied to the first two seasons of Big Mouth.”
Royce: Which is funny, because we watched Big Mouth recently and was that just like, there wasn’t anything Ace in the first two seasons, were there? So that must have been: “how do all of the people around me like the show?”
Courtney: It could have been.
Courtney: So we watched the episode that the Ace character realized he was asexual quite a while back. And we were thinking of doing an episode on it, but there were just enough quirks about this show that we thought we better actually watch it from the beginning, because I’m confused about parts of this. So we watched the entire thing, beginning to end, new season and all and actually that’s going to be an episode in the very near future is an episode of Big Mouth. So look out for that, especially for folks of you who have come in who are particularly interested in media analysis or, more more so, on our channel, viewing media through an Ace lens. We’re going to be talking about Big Mouth real, real soon, and I don’t want anyone to feel bad about your Ace journey being tied to Big Mouth, because we also have Ace friends who did, for the most part, already know that they were Ace, but we’ve had Ace friends that are like man, I have a friend who loves Big Mouth and tried to get me to watch it, and I could not.
Royce: I mean beyond that, we know plenty of people who’s first introduction to asexuality was that House episode.
Courtney: And we did a whole episode on “that House episode.” So I suppose I should also say, since there are so many of you folks who are new and lots of you have already started going through our backlog, we appreciate it. We are going to go ahead and make some YouTube playlists that are a little more specific, since we are well over 100 episodes at this point and we do have some episodes in certain genres. So we can have, like, this is our asexuality and media playlist, this is our you know, Ace politics, Ace legislation, sort of. So we will put those out if that will help you sort of pick and choose the topics that you’re most interested in.
Royce: Also for all the people that feel the need to start from the beginning. One, you don’t need to do that. Two, sorry about the audio in the ContraPoints video episode. [Courtney laughs]
Courtney: Sorry, what can we say? We’re just, we’re just two goofs with a microphone.
Royce: Well, were sitting around a cardioid pattern microphone that was not suitable for two people podcasting and I came in really quiet and there were also some background noises due to the setup.
Courtney: We had an elderly Chihuahua just tip tapping around in the background. But as far as media is concerned, we actually did get a couple of comments: I saw someone asking if we’ve ever heard of Parvati Holcomb from The Outer Worlds. Yes, we did an entire episode about it actually. We had someone ask us recommend Koisenu Futari, a Japanese series about two aromantic asexuals. We loved it so much. We did two episodes on Koisenu Futari. So, yes, we do have a lot of asexuality in media episodes already out.
Courtney: We had a couple of folks who are comics creators who commented. Actually, was this the one that YouTube was maybe doing something weird? There’s a user here, KalinTheZola or KalinTheZola, mentioning a webcomic that has an Ace autistic character as a main character. I actually want to read that. They seem to be saying here that the comments either trying to link it or say the name are getting deleted. I don’t know what’s up with that. If you’re listening, go ahead and email us a link. Maybe we can share it on Twitter. I want to read it. But for any comics creators out there since I did see a few in here there is a great community project called Aces in Comics. You can find them on Twitter. They just absolutely hype up a ton of comics with Aces, Aces in Comics. You could absolutely try to connect with them, send them your stuff to get maybe a little more exposure. We’d love to see that. Another who commented actually thanked us and said that we purchased a bunch of their comics in the past, which we have.
Courtney: I believe if this is the person I’m thinking of, this is Emily K. You can find the website at emilyk.art, because we did purchase several comics from that shop. There are some shorter ones, there are some longer ones. A lot of them are- have very heavy Jewish themes. I specifically remember one I really liked about the author’s relationship to Kaddish. Very good stuff, great artwork. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes, which actually brings up as well.
Courtney: This is a project that we’ve worked on. We call it the MarketplACE for Asexual and Aromantic small business owners. It is on our website. You can all go to it right now and shop from nearly 150 A-spec owned shops. They have all kinds of things. There are books, there are stickers, clothes, artwork, handmade, there are video games, pride merchandise, there’s all kinds of stuff on here. If you yourself are an asexual and/or aromantic small business owner, you can also apply to get on here. We have a form, I’ll put that in the show notes as well, where you just have to send us your shop information and we can get you added to the database.
Royce: And the link to the form is also at the top of the page where you view all of this. And it is something that we tend to promote around Ace specific days, weeks, things like that.
Courtney: Oh yeah, or general pride ones. I mean, we have Ace Week is the last full week in October. We have IAD, International Asexuality Day, which is April 6th. Then I mean in the US, we have June is Pride Month. We also have different sort of identity markers on there if you’re interested in submitting them, like are you also trans, are you also non-binary, are you disabled, are you BIPOC? So sometimes, if it’s like you know, it’s Intersex Awareness Day, we’ll go into our marketplace and say, okay, what do we have for A-spec and Intersex-owned? And we’ll promote that for those days, or on trans days or trans weeks. We’ve also shopped from a good number of these already. We were kind of going through them one at a time and there are some really, really talented people in here. And the way that came about honestly was, you know, early on there were some folks saying like, how are you ever going to sell podcast merch? Are you going to give merchandise to us? And I didn’t really want to. I don’t really want to profit from this podcast.
Royce: We’ve also done merch like things in other avenues and it’s kind of a pain.
Courtney: We’ve done merch with my small business which, even though so much of it is either giving you know historical lectures or classes at museums or colleges and then doing the custom orders where folks will send hair and I will make something and send it back to them. We have just done general merchandise for my store before and sometimes it’s been very popular. Sometimes they’ve sold very well. But then the issue quickly became if too many people are buying my merch, then I’m spending all day long packaging the merch to mail out and not actually doing the artwork I want to do. So there have been like severe drawbacks to doing too much merch with my own business, so I definitely didn’t want to do this for just this small advocacy project that we do on this side.
Royce: Yeah, and we’ve also. We’ve done a little bit of dropshipping as well to try to take the load off of us, but it just. It’s not really why we’re here.
Courtney: Mm. Hmm. Well, and I even I reached out to AVEN at one point because we were looking to get an Ace Pride flag. And of course you can get pretty cheap Pride flags all over the place and especially during Pride Month there are all these like just pay shipping and get the Pride flag things. But I thought if there’s an actual like asexual small business out there that sounds that sells Pride flags, that’s who I want to shop from. So I reached out to AVEN and I said do you know anybody in the community that sells Ace flags? And they couldn’t tell me and I thought that seemed very, very strange. And there are a couple of databases out there that say like, well, here are all of the Ace characters that we’ve encountered in fiction novels or here are Ace characters in TV shows. So there are some databases that exist like that. But we were struggling to find like, where are the Ace and Aro business owners? And sometimes people might do like a tweet around some Pride events like, say, promote yourself in the comments. But with anything on social media there’s a certain amount of life that each post gets before no one’s ever going to see it again. And so we really thought, well, if people are wanting Ace merchandise or people are wanting to support Ace creators. Let’s just do that. Let’s just put that on our website. Instead of having our own shop, let’s support everybody else’s shops who are already doing this. And it’s been so cool to see. I’ve loved everything we’ve purchased off of the marketplace and we have so many more shops that I haven’t even had time to look at yet, but I no doubt will in the future and we’ve even had some of our marketplace vendors reach out to us and say, hey, after I put your shop or I put my shop on here, I did get a little boost in sales. I got more people buying from me, so that’s super cool. I love that. We love supporting small Ace-spec creators around here, so keep that in mind. I guess the bulk of the holidays are past us at this point, if you are the gift giving type, but yeah, keep it in mind, birthdays, holidays, pride month. If you want your own merchandise, check it out.
Courtney: We had a couple of comments in our Twitter thread. We mentioned someone who was very publicly murdered, who was Ace and whose family accused the Ace community of quote “pushing our agenda.” There were comments saying like let the family grieve, leave it alone. There were some people saying like the family didn’t actually respect her orientation. So, you know, forget them. We had a comment who said that the mention of that hurt and said, as an Ace person who personally knew her, the whole situation hurts so bad when it happened, especially the discourse shit around it. If you are someone who knew her personally and you are Ace, please feel free to reach out and email us. Our email is on our website, probably in the show notes also. Yeah, we’re here if you want to talk about that, for real.
Courtney: It’s been a weird one to tiptoe around. I don’t know if we’re ever going to actually talk about it in explicit detail on the podcast or not. Is that still something- There is the argument to be made that we should let it rest and we should give the family space and time to grieve, and I generally agree with those arguments. But then there’s also the argument of this is how she herself identified, and if her family and if media outlets are ignoring this, then the community should honor her memory by discussing how she identified and who she was, and I also generally agree with those. So it’s a very difficult topic for us.
Courtney: So we had a lot of autistic aces in the comments saying hey, fellow autistic Ace, welcome, we love you, join us. We have several episodes where we talk about autism in various facets, whether it’s media or personal experiences Probably also going to come up again when we talk about Big Mouth. We also had we had another marketplace vendor reach out to us on Twitter also as this happened and just said I can’t believe that this happened to you too. You’ve always been so supportive of even the smallest of us and I’m so sorry you went through this, thanking us for creating the infrastructure for people to do that, and that’s Parziivale, and that that is someone we have also shopped from.
Courtney: I hope I said your name right, Parziivale. I’m sorry if I don’t, but we love your work. Fabulous artist. I got like a knife that says spite, like a sticker of a spite knife, which I absolutely just loved. There’s some queer merchandise. There’s some disabled merchandise. There’s commission artwork. Actually, we were talking about commissioning artwork from you, so it’s not going to happen tomorrow or anything, but you’ll probably hear from us in the near future.
Courtney: So it was just- I want to emphasize that community is what we want and this is what we care about, and we want to lift up other small creators. We want to lift up other artists because so many people, even in the comment section of this, were saying like I didn’t know there was an Ace community, or I didn’t know there were other aces on Twitter, or I didn’t know there was an Ace podcast.
Royce: And that sentiment came up in a prior episode. I don’t remember the context, but for so many people our view of the Ace community is so small that we don’t always realize how many bubbles there are.
Courtney: There are a lot. There are little pocket Ace communities all over the place, if you know where to look.
Royce: And a part of this discourse, a part of this big reaction ever since the hbomberguy video has been going on to Reddit and seeing a lot of Ace people mentioning their own identities in the comments there or in various Discord servers and things of that. We’re seeing a broader community of aces that has been disconnected.
Courtney: Mm-hmm, but I mean yes, truly. If you’re someone who has never connected with a broader Ace community, just know that we are out there and there are some very good, very supportive Ace communities. There are also toxic ones and I really hope if you find a toxic bubble, that that doesn’t turn you off of all community for the rest of forever. It almost happened to me. I’ve shared that story in past episodes. It might come up again in the future, but that’s not for now.
Courtney: But there have been some very toxic pockets of the community. It is not representative of everyone. There are a ton of Ace game developers that we’ve talked about and we’ve talked to in interviews on this. There are Ace streamers. There is a Cloud Cabin stream team of Ace and aro streamers out there. There are a bunch of Ace authors. Like there are, there are pocket communities for everyone and we try to expose people to those niches as often as we can. Even like the Aces and Comics projects, for example, like if you’re an Ace and you like comics, that exists. That is out there. So and if you ever find an Ace pocket community that is very exclusionist, if they ever try any nonsense, trying to exclude aromantic people or trying to exclude sex repulsed people or if they’re trying to exclude Aces who have kinks, like any of these things, send them to us. We’ll deal with that. [Courtney laughs] No, we won’t, but we don’t do that here, so welcome here. We had a comment by Kat Blaque, who I believe- is she also on Nebula? I feel like she might also be on Nebula.
Courtney: Yeah, she’s a black woman, she’s a trans creator, so I guess there’s another queer content creator on Nebula, for that matter. She said “thanks for sharing this perspective. I don’t know anything about him and have never seen any of his content, and it’s fascinating to me how willing people were to give this guy money, especially with the degree of which he lied and stole. I know some of what he did takes work, so I won’t dismiss that, but, like I don’t know, that’s fascinating. He complains about not getting opportunities, but I had to be a creator for over a decade to get a smaller budget from YouTube then he got as a very small creator earlier in his career. That’s so wild to me.”
Courtney: Yeah, I mean there’s no denying that there is white privilege at play for how big that channel was able to get, and maybe that’s also a good jumping off point to all the folks that were really upset and riled up that I said are we really about to give this much money to a cis white guy? Man, lots of people did not like it. Do you have any of those comments up, Royce?
Royce: There were a few. I mean you say lots, in the grand scheme of things. It wasn’t that many. I don’t think- I think I saw five go by. I mean one comment was “it’s so weird of you guys to focus on the fact that Somerton is a cis white guy when THE person who brought him down, hbomberguy, is also that.” Another piece of a larger comment said “he stole your money because he’s immoral, not white or gay.”
Courtney: Which I didn’t even say gay.
Royce: Searching through here. One just quoted that comment that you made and just with a very long, all caps, laugh. [Courtney laughs]
Courtney: So that person gets it.
Royce: Yeah, when I first started seeing some of those comments roll in, I went to our transcript and I just searched the word “white” to see how many times it came up, because it was a what? Two hours and 15 minute podcast-ish, something like that?
Courtney: Yeah, the word focus seems like a strong word.
Royce: That’s what I thought. I wanted, I wanted to double check. I didn’t think it came up that many times, but the word white was used nine times in the entire transcript and it was always in context of bias. Or for a bit there was, the word white was used a few times when we were speaking about Nebula and how James himself specifically brought up race.
Courtney: Right and like I don’t know, some people were making the assumption that- I don’t know, like the reverse racism argument was being made, like you’re being racist against white people now because you don’t trust white people. Did they miss the whole part where we did actually give him that money? Did they somehow listen to this episode and miss that part?
Royce: I mean my knee-jerk reaction to seeing those comments, and this may be a little harsh, but my immediate thought was I wonder what these commenters’ opinions are on the men’s rights movement or the All Lives Matter counter-protests, because it seemed like you’re missing the discussion of privilege going on here, like that’s why it was brought up in the first place.
Courtney: Yes, and that’s coming from the whiter of the two of us. Why, dare I say, some people in fact perceive you as a white guy on occasion, except for waitresses at restaurant who tend to call us ladies. But, yeah, no, it wasn’t that to assuage anyone’s concerns. I am not saying that I never trust white guys. I am not saying that I am racist against white people. I am saying that, yes, there is a tremendous amount of privilege in being a cis white guy, even if you are gay. There is privilege there and that was a good chunk of change to give someone who has a lot more privileges than I do, as someone who is mixed race disabled, grew up very, very poor, is a woman, asterisk, maybe more complicated than that. But also, if your knee-jerk reaction to hearing me say, are we really about to give this much money to a cis white guy is “why are you focusing on his race?” Um, this podcast is probably not for you. [Courtney laughs] And that’s okay. We don’t have to be for everybody. But if you are interested in the intersections of race and disability as it pertains to the A-spec community, we have several wonderful interviews. We have, we have a panel that we did live just back in October. You can find our BIPOC Disabled Aces panel, several wonderful folks on that panel and in fact, the only episode on our entire YouTube channel where you can actually see faces, because that was via Zoom so you can see- Actually watch a video for that if you’re interested.
Courtney: There were also some people who were like, oh, stop making generalizations like aces of color. Someone was like just say non-white. I’m not gonna say non-white because white is not the default and I can forgive you a smidge if you aren’t deep enough into the Ace community to know this. But there has been a precedence of considering asexuality to be “a white thing.” That has been from in and out of the Ace community. It is inarguable that white aces get so much more amplified exposure than BIPOC aces do, and I’ve even seen other areas of the queer community say things like “ooh, asexuals are the white people of the queer community” and it’s like don’t say that because it’s terrible. That is not a thing. Asexuality is not a white thing and that is something we’re passionate about railing against. And if you’re concerned that there isn’t enough white representation, Royce is 100% white.
Royce: There’s also, the aces are the white people of the queer community is implying privilege, which sounds like you’re arguing Aces don’t face discrimination.
Courtney: Which debunked. Next. So this comment’s a bit longer, but it’s stuck out to me for a couple of reasons. Hey, I know you may get comments like this a lot, but I just discovered your podcast and some of the things you just mentioned in passing blew my freaking mind. I am aromantic asexual and hell, even I didn’t know about the conversion therapy stuff and how bad the discrimination against the fellow members of the community are. It makes me grateful for how supportive and lucky I have been and have such support of an accepting doctors and therapists.
Courtney: I have faced being erased and insulted to my face in real life, but I’ve always found myself reminding myself that quote “it’s not that bad. I face worse with the transphobia I get. It’s fine, I can’t be too upset about it. People just aren’t educated on asexual issues.” Unquote. I would never take the hate I get if I was- if it was targeted at me for being a trans man, but when I am insulted and mocked for my asexuality and aromanticism, I always kind of dot, dot, dot, gaslight myself into thinking that it wasn’t that bad and I’m just making it up or I shouldn’t talk about it. This was a little personal, so I apologize, eh, don’t apologize, et cetera, et cetera, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.
Courtney: They ended I don’t know your pronouns, but as trans man I assume he. So he ended by saying tusen takk. It’s not spelled the Swedish way, but he translated in parentheses “a thousand thanks.” I actually have been learning Swedish for the last several years for research purposes, for the historical work that I do. There’s a very fascinating history of hair work in Sweden, so I’ve been learning Swedish. I don’t know if this is Norwegian or Dutch, but it’s close enough that I knew exactly what that meant. So hello.
Courtney: But even before that, the things that stood out to me about this, are the admission that, despite being a part of this community not knowing things about conversion therapy, that is pretty common you can have these identities and still not know what some of the discriminations with some of the systemic issues are. And if you haven’t faced them yourself, truly, how could you know? Because people do not report these things as heavily as they do other things with, for example, trans conversion therapy. Or lately there’s been a big political outcry about trans issues, bathroom bills, bills attacking trans, healthcare for minors, things of that nature. Those things get reported on a bigger scale, at the very least in queer-centric media outlets. So even folks who haven’t been subjected to those things themselves can still learn about it. We’re getting a little bit better we’re always getting a little bit better with these A-spec issues, but they aren’t taken as seriously by the wider queer community and they aren’t reported in media as often.
Courtney: So truly, the reason why we know what we do know is mostly from A-spec folks being able to get together, share experiences, cross-reference, understand when there are systemic issues by talking to enough of us that we know hey, this is kind of a widespread issue that a lot of us in the community do face, and then having as activists out here trying to push to get the studies done, to try to educate folks in medical positions about asexuality and the issues we face. So if you aren’t knee-deep in Ace politics, like we are, it’s very easy to miss. So that is a common experience. It’s nothing to feel bad about if you haven’t been exposed to it yet. But the other thing that really stuck out to me is the comment about gaslighting myself into thinking that the mockery and insults I’ve gotten to my face about asexuality aren’t that bad. That’s also a very common Ace experience. That is something so many aces we’ve spoken to have felt that society does just as a whole, broadly speaking, say like aces don’t have it, that bad aces don’t face oppression, and if we ever do try to talk about the oppression, we’re so often minimized or compared in like a hierarchical way to other identities, like stop pulling focus away from trans issues or stop pulling focus away from gay issues, like these are things that we hear time and time and time again that it’s natural that a certain percentage of our community is going to internalize that.
Courtney: So I truly do think that as more Ace research comes out, we’re going to learn more systemic issues and get more solid numbers on these things. And these studies do need to happen and they have happened. Very recently, a report got published by Stonewall in partnership with Yasmin Benoit, who’s a very well known Ace activist out of the UK. So progress is being made and although this study has been referenced, scientific American recently put out an article that had references to that study. I’m not seeing it in as large of outlets as I hear about issues of transphobia, homophobia, other things like that. So small, incremental progress. But if this resonates with any other aces out there, we’re done minimizing our own experiences. We are allowed to take up space and in fact we need to. We got several individual comments thanking us for our very good CC on YouTube. All the thanks goes to our very fabulous volunteer transcribers. We love them so much. They are angels.
Royce: Yeah, that was something that was brought up in the video when we were talking about costs, because I mean obviously having a website, self hosting the podcast. There is a minor cost to that. We try to keep it low. Our biggest software infrastructure cost was brought up in the video and that is trying to get better automated transcripts, but still automated transcripts are not good enough. There really needs to be a human looking at them, checking over the computer’s work, and we have had two volunteers who have worked with us for a long time now getting our transcripts.
Courtney: And they’re amazing. And I’d also just take this moment to point out that the full transcripts for all of our episodes are right on our website too, so you can always find those there. You can even listen along on our website, if you want, while reading the transcript, or if you just don’t even want the audio, if it’s faster for you to read. Whatever the case is, those transcripts are out there as well. Accessibility is really really important to us. We did have someone at one point asking about what other projects we have, you know, backed and supported. We mentioned that this is something that we have done a lot in the past and haven’t been burned to this level before. I don’t have a comprehensive list, but I do definitely have some off the top of my head.
Courtney: There was a short film that we backed called Ace Date by a creator named Kali Thomas, and that was actually on a crowdfunding site that I had never heard of until I found this project. It was called Seed and Spark. If memory serves, it’s been a bit since our initial donation to it, but I think it kind of was specifically for like short films. I think it was a little more niche than things like Indiegogo or Kickstarter, that kind of span a whole bunch of different things. And I just thought the pitch was really cool. The pitch was an asexual person going on a blind date that they didn’t really want to go on. And we backed that in and just- I mean, there’s no point in reading through all of these, but just by contrast, when I go to our email inbox and just search like Seed and Spark Ace Date, we have 30 project updates. And the project it looks like we funded it, almost exactly two years ago in December.
Royce: So that would have been around the same time as Telos. Was that right?
Courtney: Pretty close. I think Telos was early 2022. Like, I want to say February, so pretty close. But we backed that one. We got a ton of updates. We got, you know, we reached our goal. Campaign is greenlit. We got behind the scenes. We got like a zoom video of the table read with the script before they started official filming.
Courtney: Obviously, with things like COVID, there were a lot of additional safety considerations, so we got every step of the way what they were doing to make sure the set was safe. When things needed to get pushed back, we got trailers. I think at one point they even had backers like help vote on a movie poster for this short film. Like here are a few options that we’ve, you know, photographed. Which do you like? But then it was so fun. I mean, Kali is a very talented budding filmmaker. Seems like a great person. We’ll drop links if you want to follow her. But it was so exciting because once it was finished, we got the recording so we were able to watch the final project. Kali herself is a black woman. The lead of this short film was a black woman, which again is so important because, as we said earlier, there is and has been a stigma that asexuality is a white thing. So we not only need aces of color in media, but we need aces of color directing, writing. It’s so important. But it was so exciting because even after watching this short film then we started getting all these updates about we’ve been accepted into this film festival, we were getting awards at this film festival and we were getting all these notifications every time they got a new screening, every time they got a new award and they did get several awards from several different film festivals. So that was that was just fabulous and so exciting.
Courtney: Some other ones we’ve backed that haven’t quite come out yet. There is BIFL, season two, B-I-F-L, which we were actually planning on talking about pretty soon. We want to talk about more short indie projects and we sort of started that journey by talking about Rabbit a couple of weeks ago, if you’re interested in that episode. But we watched season one of this show. Very queer cast, had an Ace character in it. We enjoyed it. So once we saw that they were funding to do a second season of the short series, we were like, yes, absolutely, let’s sign on to that.
Courtney: We have backed a film, I believe Australian based, called Dear Luke, Love Me, which I believe is essentially being billed as an Ace romcom and we’ve gotten several responses about that. And actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I think I think they sent us a survey like a long time ago that we never filled out. So, oops, we should probably go back and see if we still have time to do that. We backed it like a high enough tier that they they’re like we’ll give you a bunch of these extra things, and I don’t think we ever responded to their request for information, oh no. But put that on the to do list but like those are some things that are coming out.
Courtney: It’s not always films or short series either. We’ve backed, like video games that report to have an Ace character. There’s a game that seems very aro that’s called like I Just Want to be Single. There’s a dating simulation called Date Knight. Knight with a K, like knights of the round table, which I don’t believe they’re- that it’s Ace game developers, but I know that at least one of the nights is asexual and I think we were able to pick it out just by some of the things they were teasing.
Royce: I can’t remember. We played an early demo version one night, but it’s been long enough that I don’t remember much about it.
Courtney: I remember there being like a chef night that was wearing like an apron that said like “do not kiss the cook,” and I was like that’s the Ace one! Which our regular listeners will know that we love strange, campy, bizarre, weird dating simulators. We also love very earnest dating simulators that have like good quality representation in them, so that seemed right up our alley, that we’ve gotten a lot of updates about it too. So like those are just a few off the top of my head that we’ve actually like crowdfunded in that way. But on top of the actual crowdfunding we have our marketplace. We mentioned that we not only shopped on our own, but we advertise for others whenever we can, so hope that answers that question.
Courtney:I did like this comment. I’m just here for the drama, but OMG, thank you so much for opening my eyes to the persecution of Ace people.
Courtney: I feel like there were a few comments that basically said, like whoa, I actually learned new things while listening to this, and cool, bonus. This one absolutely had me cackling. “Ah, yes, my new favorite asexual vampire podcast. Very good, very good.” [Courtney laughs] Yes, why, hello, that’s us. That actually reminded me. I just saw this one before we started recording. This was like the last big comment I saw tonight. Someone just said “I have one question who are these two gorgeous vampires on my screen?” That’s us. That’s Courtney and Royce. Those are the only professional photos we have ever had taken of us. Because we’ve talked about, like our asexual marriage or our common law marriage was an episode we did.
Courtney: We didn’t have a formal wedding, so we don’t have wedding photos, but we do have vampire portraits taken by world famous, highly acclaimed horror photographer, Joshua Hoffine. Fabulous work, look it up if you are at all into horror. He’s wonderful. We’d met him around town in the Kansas City metro area on a number of occasions, just sort of running in similar circles. So when we had the opportunity to pose as vampires and have him photograph it, we absolutely could not say no. And we actually had a really funny story of those portraits being taken, because I’m no stranger to historical clothing or costumes. Royce is a little bit. You don’t really dress up for things. But he took us to this fabulous little costume rental shop called Have Guns Will Rent, which is just the best name for a costume rental shop, and the owner was just amazing. We loved him. He came in after we were already starting to try on things and he was like covered in grease. Was he working at like literally a mechanic shop across the street?
Royce: Literally next door.
Courtney: Like literally next door, he comes and, covered in grief- in grease, walks in with the box of fruit. Just I’d never met the guy in my life up to this point. And he comes up and just offers me a fruit out of this box and I was like “what is that?” And he was like “poison fruit! Eat it!” He’s like eat the poison fruit. So I was like, okay, I take the fruit from this greasy hand and I took a bite of it and there was this huge seed in my mouth.
Courtney: I did not know what fruit. A huge seed. And he just like holds his hand up to me and is like “I’ll take it, spit it out.” So I spit out the seed into his hand. Again, did not know this guy at all. Turns out they were paw paws. He had just been paw paw huntin’, which I know a lot more about paw paws now, but they are native in Kansas. They were not native in South Dakota where I grew up. So I did not know about paw paw season or paw paw hunting or anything, or the fact that they’re poison fruit.
Royce: Neither did I.
Courtney: And you’ve been in Kansas your whole life. But what an eccentric character. They were like literal bodies in the basement. It was like, oh no, we dumped someone’s ashes out. Oh no, the skeleton fell out of the box.
Courtney: Like it was, it was a wild adventure just to get these costumes to pose for our vampire portraits. You probably can’t tell in the photo of the two of us that we use for our podcast, but I actually fitted Royce with a pocket watch fob made out of human hair that is actually from the Victorian era. So, and my necklace it was was an antique also, Victorian. But, yes, only professional photos we’ve ever taken. Wild ride to get there. Look up, Joshua Hoffine. We have those portraits like in our dining room, like we have them framed and hanging up. I love them. But also, yes, vampire podcast. We have several episodes on The Vampire Chronicles.
Courtney: So if you are actually interested in vampires, we have talked about the books. We talked about the, the new TV series adaptation from an Ace lens, and the, the book series from an Ace lens, especially because the vampires are far more important to a lot of aces than I think the broader queer community understands. And sometimes there are arguments of like oh well, these books would be better if the vampires actually had sex. Or some people forget the books and actually think that the vampires did have sex. But they did not, at least not in the early books, and there were actually, like lore, reasons why they didn’t.
Courtney: So there are aces, myself included, other aces who have been like wow, look at these very obviously queer, ethereal beings who still had, you know, some sometimes fucked up, but some levels of partnership and some other areas of the queer community have completely glossed over what that canon does mean to aces and have even minimized it for not being queer enough, because there isn’t, like gay vampire sex happening all the time. So if you’re into that kind of thing, we have rants on them. My threat has sort of been- how far have we gotten? Did we? Did we get to Tail of the Body Thief and stop there so far?
Royce: The Tail of the Body Thief was the last one, yeah.
Courtney: Okay. So I don’t know if we’re going to progress on from that point, but let’s see, Memnock is next. We could talk about Memnock. My threat has sort of been everyone who complains about us talking about The Vampire Chronicles through an Ace lens, we’re just going to put out another episode, because every time we put out an episode on Interview with the Vampire, people hate it! We get people in fandom who are so angry at us for talking about it from an Ace lens. That’s our new thing. Next time someone complains, we’re just going to make another episode about the next installment. You can’t stop us.
Courtney: Okay, who wants to explain that “and they were roommates” meme to me. I have seen so many comments about like “and they were roommates.” I don’t know what that’s referencing. Am I too old for this? Was this from an area of the internet I’ve never been on? There have been a couple of like jokes and memes to come out of this that I have not understood. Someone on Reddit. I don’t know if I can even convey to you all how completely weird this has been for us like, to not even have a Reddit account and to be told like oh, people are talking about you on the hbmoberguy subreddit, or people are talking about you on the YouTube drama subreddit. We found a meme that someone made that we were in. That was a movie reference I’ve never seen. It was Reddit user ServingwithTG. It says, like you can’t defeat me and James Somerton’s victim saying, I know, but they can, with like a big photo of hbomberguy surrounded by littler photos of, like Todd in the Shadows, Dan Olson, and then us.
Courtney: I was like how did we get in there? Someone sent this to us and was like you’ve been memed. And I was like I’m sure this is from a movie. I couldn’t tell you which one. We had to, we actually had to ask our Ace group chat. We’ve got a fabulous group of Ace friends that we DM for them every week. We’ve got an Ace D&D group all aces, all fabulous people, some of our favorite people ever. And I had to like DM this and be like. This was sent to me. What movie is this from? Someone tell me. So apparently it was Thor, Thor Ragnarok. I guess we’re gonna have to watch that movie now because we’ve been memed in it. So thank you for the love weird Reddit people.
Courtney: And last one we have here someone asked, specifying that they are allo, for books to read more about the Ace experience. My favorite one, assuming we’re talking about non-fiction my favorite is Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: a Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex Obsessed Culture by Sherronda J. Brown. A slightly older than that one, that’s also a little bit more generalized, which I also found to be very good, is Ace: What Asexuality Reveals about Desire, Society and the Meaning of Sex, by Angela Chen. There are, of course, a lot more than that. There are also some books that are a little more focused towards people who are themselves Ace but it sounds like this particular asker isn’t looking for that. And there are also if you’re more of a fiction reader. There are plenty of fiction books out there. Some of them we’ve talked about on this podcast, which, if you do go through, just sort of scroll our backlog and see, there are multiple fiction books we’ve either talked about just on our own or even brought the authors on to interview. So there are tons out there. They may not always be super easy to find because some of them are still a little bit obscure, but those are some ones to get you started. I guess I say a ton, but by comparison to many other identities, there are not a ton. But it is also true that there is more out there than many of you are probably aware of, and that’s something we’ve talked about a lot where, if you are actively seeking out Ace rep whether it be in TV, video games, books, it is out there. It might not always be mainstream, it might be more indie projects or smaller projects that don’t get as much attention, but that’s obviously where the best representation starts with the small community focused works out there. We’ve even had a couple episodes recently about asexuality in manga, if that’s the kind of fiction you like to consume, so you can check those out.
Courtney: So anyway, I know this was even less formal than we normally do, just going through some comments addressing some questions. We have not yet gotten into the habit of actually responding to YouTube comments and I don’t know if we’re going to yet. I definitely consider myself to be an internet introvert. I’m very extroverted in real life, in-person situations, but on the internet sometimes I struggle to correspond with people.
Courtney: So that also extends- I know we’ve gotten a ton of DMs, we’ve gotten a ton of emails lately, and we may or may not be able to get to some of those. Truth be told, I was very backed up on correspondence even before this episode came out. So if we don’t respond or if we’re very late to respond, please know that it is nothing personal. We’re just a little overwhelmed with the amount of attention going on right now.
Courtney: But we also don’t always respond to Twitter DMs, but we very recently set up a Tumblr account. I can’t promise we’ll stay around there or be super duper active, but we have found the “ask feature” to ask a question on that, to be a little bit interesting. So if you are also on Tumblr and you’re interested in sending in some asks, if you have any questions about like media recommendations or things like that, feel free to give it a try, and when we’re a little less flooded and a little less overwhelmed with correspondence, we might just be able to answer that for you over there.
Courtney: But in the near future, expect that episode on Big Mouth, expect some very intense episodes about the split attraction model: the good, the bad, the weird, the ugly, and whatever else comes on our radar. But until then, thank you all so much for being here, thank you for all the support during this very, very weird couple of weeks that we’ve had. And we will talk to you all, same time, same places next week. Goodbye.