Interview with Author Sarah Whalen

Sarah Whalen is the author of This Doesn’t Mean Anything, the first of four interconnected books in the series. She writes ace-affirming love stories and grumpy girls who learn to let other people in. When she’s not writing or reading, she spends her time journaling and being an angry feminist killjoy.

I had the opportunity to interview Sarah, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi! I’m Sarah, a 23-year-old just trying her best. I graduated college in May 2022, and now I write kissing books.

What can you tell us about your debut book, This Doesn’t Mean Anything? What was the inspiration for this story?

 This Doesn’t Mean Anything basically functions as a rant/commentary on the things I experienced when I went on dating apps for the first time during my freshmen year of college and how I was treated as a person who wanted a romantic relationship with things like hand holding and cuddling, but just without sex. 

As an asexual author, what does it mean for you having written an ace romance?

I wrote the book I wanted to see in the world. We’re lucky now to have more ace representation, but back when I was first figuring out what asexuality was, there was almost nothing. I enjoyed Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, another ace author, and I’m so happy that other ace readers have variety and options for books that make them feel seen now. I also like being able to show people – both aspec and allo – that there is no monolithic asexual. You can be ace and still want a romantic relationship. You can be sex-repulsed and want a romantic relationship. You can be ace and want a sexual relationship. There’s no one “correct” way to be ace, and nothing about what you want relationship-wise invalidates your identity label if YOU think it fits. That’s all that matters, and you don’t have to prove or justify yourself to anyone.

I also desperately wanted to show other sex-repulsed aces that there ARE people in the world who will NOT make them compromise any boundaries, and you don’t have to settle just because you’re afraid of being alone. And that you don’t HAVE to worry about finding another asexual person – allo-ace relationships exist.

As a writer, what drew you to the art of storytelling, specifically romance and new adult fiction?

I’ve always been a big reader and I guess writing was just the next step. I used to carry around sheets of loose-leaf paper and write stories during recess. 

As far as new adult romance, I originally wrote and shelved a young adult project, but I think the story I wanted to tell with This Doesn’t Mean Anything just fit the new adult age range (keep in mind that I also wrote both these projects while I was in the age range, so that definitely is the major factor – I think I finished my shelved YA manuscript when I was around 17). 

I imagine that as I age, so will my characters and the genres that I write in, but I love the exploration and discovery that comes with new adult characters – they’ve grown up a little bit and kind of know themselves, but there’s always new things that teach us who we are. And there’s always stories to tell, representation to be seen.

How would you describe your writing process?

The majority of This Doesn’t Mean Anything was actually written during my senior year of college. I had a long commute, so in the morning, I would put on my book’s playlist and just think about scenes I wanted to write while stuck in traffic, and when I got to campus, I would just word-dump everything I came up with during the drive. I also write on my phone a lot at night when I can’t sleep or if my chronic pain is flaring up and I can’t be at my desktop.

These days, I light a candle, play music or typing ASMR or use the I miss my cafe website for some ambient noise, have my “Holy Trinity” of coffee/energy drink, water, juice/tea/soda on hand, and I just write what I want. I have a loose outline, but I’m very much a mood reader and a mood writer.

Many authors would say one of the most challenging parts of writing a book is finishing one. What strategies would you say helped you accomplish this??

Honestly, I would say that the hardest thing about writing for me personally is not letting the imposter syndrome get the best of me (which can hinder finishing or even editing in the first place). For me, I just have lots of different affirmations for myself, such as:

  • Whatever I’m writing is the worst the book will ever be, and it can only get better from there. 
  • SOMEONE out there needs my words, and no one else can tell this story like I can. This is going to be someone’s favorite/comfort story one day, but it won’t be if I never finish.
  • Past me would be so proud of how far I’ve already come.
  • You can’t edit a blank page.

When the imposter syndrome got really bad, I used to have the impulse to delete my whole manuscript, so I’d end up leaving my laptop in a different room if the urge got really strong.

Growing up, were there any stories in which you felt touched by/ or reflected in? Are there any like that now?

I don’t think I ever felt particularly seen in any stories until I was a young adult. There are two books I’ve read in the past five years that made me feel SO seen. One was A Pho Love Story by Loan Le. I’m Vietnamese American, and it was incredibly refreshing to see a story about Vietnamese American teenagers that were allowed to just be YA characters while also experiencing the things I have, and even more so because it wasn’t a story about the Vietnam War. I think we tend to be reduced to that a lot in the media, and I used to have to settle for what little representation this offered. 

The other book is Loveless by Alice Oseman – just to read about a sex-repulsed asexual character who desperately wanted to show that she DID experience love, just not in the way society prioritizes – I almost cried.

As a writer, who or what would you say are some of your greatest creative influences and/or sources of inspiration in general? 

A lot of my stories and characters stem from me wanting to see things in books and realizing sometimes that means I have to do it myself. 

What are some of your favorite elements of writing? What do you consider some of the most frustrating and/or challenging? 

I honestly love being able to fall in love with my characters and think about them reacting to different situations. Reader reactions are some of my favorite things – I love getting messages from readers about This Doesn’t Mean Anything, because they remind me of who exactly I’m doing all of this for. It’s extremely validating (and sometimes entertaining if I get an angry message or live tweet thread).

Related to that is that it can be hard fighting through the imposter syndrome – especially because I don’t actually read reviews. I don’t check This Doesn’t Mean Anything’s Goodreads page because I try really hard to keep that boundary as an author. It means I don’t know if people actually like my work unless they reach out to me, and that’s definitely a Me issue that I’m working through.

Another thing is that non-writers truly have no idea what it’s like – whether that be the nuances of traditional publishing, the struggles of independent publishing, or even just the craft. Writing IS hard. It’s even harder when the people in your life don’t actually respect your work or they have some warped notion about how “easy” or lucrative it is.

Aside from your work, what are some things you would want others to know about you?

I absolutely adore interacting with fellow readers and writers, but I’m shy and almost never make the first move of swiping up on a story or DM-ing, but I will definitely answer if someone just wants to randomly message me about a book or something. 

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but that you wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

I’ve always wanted someone to ask about which anime characters my characters are most like. Nick is DEFINITELY Loid Forger from Spy x Family – they’re both domestic overprotective mother hens and I love them. Christian has Aizawa from My Hero Academia energy – just Tired Dad figure.

What advice might you have to give for other aspiring writers?

Couple things – don’t “kill” your darlings, but “cryogenically freeze” them (stole that from Tumblr). Cut your words, but keep them in a separate document, because you never know what you can use in another project.

Write the self-indulgent fluffy love scenes even when you know it won’t see the light of day. It will help you remember why you love your story and your characters. (Plus – bonus content!)

If you’re stuck, the problem is probably about ten lines up.

And lastly…LEARN TO LET THINGS GO. You can’t always edit things. You have to learn to just stop editing and let things be. You’re gonna look back and think “why did I write it like that?” But you can’t let the desire to be “perfect” stop you from publishing in the first place. It’s how you grow as a writer.

Are there any other projects you are working on and at liberty to speak about?

I am CONSTANTLY working on a number of projects. There are three sequels to This Doesn’t Mean Anything (plus a novella!), a book I’ve been describing as The Illuminae Files x The Raven Cycle but with cryptids, a YA marching band book, another novella, and a supernatural story involving demon bargains.

Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

SO many! I loved Ace of Hearts by Lucy Mason, Loveless by Alice Oseman, Tears in the Water by Margherita Scialla, I Am Ace by Cody Daigle-Orians, Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: A Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex-Obsessed Culture by Sherronda J. Brown, Forward March by Skye Quinlan, How to be Ace by Rebecca Burgess, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, and How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters.

Interview with Author Rebecca Burgess

Rebecca Burgess is a comic artist and illustrator working in the UK, creating award winning published and small press work. Along with drawing comics for their day job, Rebecca also loves drawing webcomics in their free time. Being autistic, they are particularly passionate about bringing more autistic characters into comics and stories! Outside of drawing comics and cuddling their cat, Rebecca also loves playing RPGs with friends, going on deep dives into history and growing vegetables in their humble Bristol garden.

I had the opportunity to interview Rebecca, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me! I’m an illustrator and comic artist- I’m a little too obsessed with comics, I draw them both for a living and in my spare time too, and spend half my time reading other people’s comics haha

How did you find yourself getting into comics? What drew you to the medium?

I got into comics back when I was a kid in the late 90s/early 2000s- thanks to Pokemon blowing up, Japanese comics became really big over here in the UK and really drew me in more than any comics I had read before. In comparison to the UK comics of the time that were solely focused on gag strips or self contained sci-fi aimed at ‘boys’, manga had long running story lines, cinematic pacing and a wider range of genres/characters! When I was 14 I started selling small press comics and through that found the even wider range of art styles and genres that came out of indie and web comics! Back then these kind of comics appealed to me because they were telling stories and themes I hadn’t seen any where else, and I’d say this is why comics still inspire me the most today too.

How would you describe your creative background/ artistic education?

I have a Uni degree in ‘sequential illustration’ (basically comics lol), but to be honest the course was a bit of a mess for various reasons and I generally got more out of it socially than I did in terms of artistic development.

For me personally I would say I learned the most from the small press comic world. Way back before modern social media, all the small press/indie artists in the UK would use the same few forums to make friends and learn from each other. We would critique each other’s work, discuss/share published comics and give each other tips on new sources for printers or conventions. I learned how to develop my art through these friends, and as my older friends managed to get into the publishing world I then learned how to get into comics professionally too!

As an artist, who or what would you say are some of your greatest creative influences and/or sources of inspiration?

In terms of overall inspiration, I think it changes over time depending on what I’m interested in. My drive to create comics generally comes from wanting to explore various things going on in my life!

Artistically, I have a few favorite artists that have really stuck with me in how I do comics. I love how Osamu Tezuka applies very cartoony/exaggerated expressions to big, serious stories. It’s a style that many people don’t get on with lol And I know some people don’t ‘get it’ with my art either. But after reading Buddha I realized that when an expression is exaggerated it just adds to the emotion of a moment or the personality of a character in those very serious moments and makes you care more, so I’ve always kept that.

Kaoru Mori’s style of pacing also has a huge influence- she effectively uses panel layouts that create very cinematic pacing. They look deceptively simple but flow beautifully. I admire comics with inventive and elaborate page layouts hugely, but for me nothing beats a comic where the layout is clear, simple and easy to read. If someone was able to eat through my comics within a couple of hours and all in one go, then I know that I’ve executed it well!

My other big influence is Posy Simmonds- she started as a satirical cartoonist and moved that style into long form stories. This makes her artwork and characters incredibly observational. She captures the variety both in how people look and how they move and act. I like to try to keep that attention to differences in body language in my own work! Posy Simmonds is also very loose and free in how she tells stories, she changes the medium and style a lot even within a single comic depending on what is working for the story. This has taught me to be more free in my process too  (over the years, as I get braver doing that haha).

What inspired you to write about your own experiences in How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual? Was there any conflict in how personal you allowed yourself to be with this story, particularly in regards to asexuality or mental health?

When the subject of asexuality comes up, alot of people both in real life and online say things like ‘Why do you need to make this into a big thing when its literally doing nothing?’ or ‘Its a sign that there’s something wrong with you, you should go to a doctor to see how to fix it’. I thought if I put the topic into a memoir, it would help asexuality seem more ‘human’ to people who dont see it as human, and more ‘relatable’ to people who think its about people just being over the top.

There was a lot of conflict over how personal to be. It was quite scary bringing the mental health aspect more into reality via the comic, its something I find hard to talk about in general. I also worried about shaping too much how other people in the comic were viewed (theres always more than one side to each story after all!). In that case though I was very careful to keep it all about me, change names and ask permission if I could from those who were featured more prominently in the comic.

Regards asexuality I was scared that even after the story was published people would respond as they often do by saying I’m being over the top. Thankfully I’ve only had positive comments about the comic, mostly from other ace people saying how nice it was to find something they could relate to! I’ve also had a few really nice messages from non-ace people saying they understand the experience better now which is especially nice!

What are some of your favorite parts of the illustration/ creative writing process? What do you feel are some of the most challenging or frustrating?

I like the ‘thumbnail/planning’ stage best- for me that’s the part where I basically write the comic, as I don’t generally write a script. It involves scribbling down interactions between characters and coming up with fun plot ideas, and then stitching that together into tiny thumbnail sketches where you can see the entire comic in front of you before its made. I also really like the ‘inking/line art’ stage. It’s very relaxing because its almost like drawing but without having to think too hard as you’ve already done the hard part in the sketch stage.

For me the hardest part of a comic is perspective and interior backgrounds. I still haven’t mastered either of these things and I also find them a little boring compared to drawing outside scenery or drawing characters- but they are often essential to telling a story and setting a scene, sometimes you just have to trudge through the things you find boring even when you’re being creative!

Aside from your work, what are some things you would want people to know about you?

I’m super interested in everything, it changes on a regular basis and always with the same intensity haha. Right now I’ve joined a Show Choir where we are singing musical numbers, and as spring comes round my yearly obsession with growing vegetables and flowers will return (I especially have a natural knack for growing good tomatoes!!)

As of now, are you currently working on any ideas or projects that you are at liberty to speak about?

I’ve been doing a few comics that are more focused on autism, another personal topic to me as I’m autistic!

I’ve been working on a graphic novel that’s coming out in September called ‘Speak Up!’- this is a comic about an autistic kid who is leading a double life. At school she’s treated certain ways because of how people assume her to be. But online she is a singer/songwriter who is going viral, and there she’s able to express herself more easily. Also in terms of lgbtq themes, one of Speak Up’s main characters is non binary (and very fashion-minded, I had a lot of fun coming up with various outfits for them haha)

I’m also making a webcomic called ‘The Pauper’s Prince’ that you can read online for free! With this comic I was watching Bridgerton last year and thought about how I want to see a light hearted regency style fantasy romance that looks like my own relationship with my girlfriend- I love regency dramas but they’re always with straight couples haha. The two main characters form a gay-asexual relationship, and one of the main characters is autistic too, so it deals with how that kind of romance might look. Being a drama there are various relationships in it, most of them lgbtq in various ways to keep with the theme!

In comparison to How To Be Ace, both of these comics are pure fiction and really focused on making fun, light hearted stories with these themes rather than tackling the hardships that come in real life.

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives?

Learn to be okay with not being perfect, and to be okay with having ‘off days’. This is a very hard hurdle to get over, but once you do it helps in multiple ways- You improve more quickly because you learn to make mistakes and move on from them. If you’re looking to do art for a job, you will find it easier to maintain healthy boundaries and not overwork yourself/work long hours in order to make something ‘perfect’ (trust me the people paying you will not notice either way!) Most importantly, art becomes fun and a source of self expression, as opposed to a source of anxiety and pressure.

What is something you find enlightening or joyful about being asexual or being in the ace community?

Many people find this surprising, but I have found the asexual community to be extremely sex positive, and I’m really proud of that! I think this primarily comes from asexuality being so invisible, that asexuals have had to put quite a lot of work into researching sexuality in general in order to prove to themselves and other people that their experiences are ‘real’. We end up dissecting things like sexuality, kink, attraction, and libido a lot in order to better understand our under-researched experiences. So for me at least, I have found that I am often much more educated on sex in general than most non-asexual people I know!

I also think a lot of the concepts ace people are familiar with, such as the Split Attraction model or the different kinds of relationships you can have with partners, would really benefit everyone as a whole no matter what sexuality they are- so to me the asexual community has been contributing to sex positivity in a really meaningful way!

Finally, what LGBTQ books/comics (or comics in general) would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

My favorite asexual themed comic is ‘Shades of A’ (this is for 18+ only because of the themes). Its funny and cute, depicts perfectly the pressures of being ace and how you navigate relationships with someone who isn’t ace, and talks about the intersection between kink and asexuality- a topic that isn’t talked about enough or widely understood!

Buuza!! Is my current favourite lgbtq small press comic. Pretty much all of the characters are lgbtq in some way, and the creator is passionate about sharing their Central Asian/Middle Eastern culture within the comic, which gives it (for me, as a westerner) a fresh perspective in many ways in its story style and setting.

In terms of traditionally published comics I think my current favorite is ‘The Witch Boy’- beautiful artwork and so nicely paced, the themes are great and spun into a fantasy setting so that many different people will be able to relate to it in different ways.

Interview with YouTuber The Asexual Goddess

The Asexual Goddess is a YouTuber who makes content centered around Aromantic, Asexual and Agender topics as well as a wide range of other LGBTQIA+ topics.

I had the opportunity for an interview with The Asexual Goddess, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Kimberly Butler (she/they) also known as the Asexual Goddess on YouTube and Twitter. I create content and try to advocate for my identity as well as other Aromatic and Asexual identities. I especially speak on racial issues within the LGBTQIA+ community and I am currently working on a new channel called Bisexual Files where I unpack my own internal Biphobia in hopes that it can help others understand Internal Biphobia on a deeper level. I am 21, I live in Chicago and I love Anime and Comics and Damian Wayne is obviously the best Robin.

As a person on the aromantic-asexual spectrum, how did you find yourself discovering this part of your identity?

I found myself discovering this part of myself online like most Aces do. I remember seeing videos from Amelia Ace at the time and reading information on different identities (Like I still do for fun now) and thinking that the AroAce labels fit me to a T.

I also had to sit with myself and ask myself how I truly felt about a lot of things, how I reacted to certain things (being nonchalant with breakups, feeling like I was playing a ROLE in most relationships, etc) that led me to discover my identity.

How did you find yourself getting into asexual advocacy? Did anything or anyone in particular inspire you?

I found myself getting into Ace activism because I saw a lack of ace representation on sites like YouTube at the time. We didn’t have the greats like Yasmin Benoit with her pushing fashion boundaries for Aces and Women, Marshall with his activism and love of sweets, or Ace Dad and his sensational informational Tik Toks. 

Besides your work online, what do you like to do in your free time?

I love to draw and read comic books. You can probably find me in one of Chicago’s many comic book stores. I also love to read fictional YA books when I get the chance, play horror or superhero video games occasionally.

What are some things about asexuality you would want people to take away from this interview?

That Asexuality is wide and vast. Asexuals can be on either ends of the spectrum or right smack in the middle. I want to bring light to that so anyone outside of the Asexual  Spectrum will choose their words more carefully when they come across Aces who “don’t act Asexual” or what they think Asexuals are supposed to act like from what society has imposed on us. I am a very touchy feely person and people always assume it means I’m being sexual and that’s not true all the time but certain factors (being black and presenting myself as feminine sometimes) causes people to think everything I do implies I’m automatically attracted to someone (And that even confuses ME!)

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet, but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

What’s it like being Ace/Aroflux?

I would say it’s pretty odd because we have this ability to be on both ends of the spectrum and for people who can relate to me it feels like when you act on your alloromanticism or allosexuality you either aren’t Ace enough. I am currently dating someone, and I think the first thing I thought was ‘oh my gosh, does this mean I’m not Ace/Aro? But we as a community just need to speak about the different identities that include alloromanticism without being toxic when a person’s Aro/Ace identity doesn’t look how you think it should.

For someone new to the ace community, what resources would you recommend checking out?

TAAP does an amazing job with being diverse and getting as many Aro/Ace voices out there and it’s very enlightening to see. Asexual Outreach also is a great organization to check out for Aro/Ace support.

What are some ways you would recommend for someone hoping to celebrate or advocate for their own aceness?

To celebrate: I would say look at more media with celebrated Aro Ace characters, Hazbin Hotel’s Alastor (Vivenne Medrano aka Vivziepop)  is a fan favorite among the Hazbin Fandom which is a nice surprise seeing people are so convinced AroAce characters can’t hold a candle to Allo characters. Going off that seeing characters that are Demisexual like Quinn, and Asexual like Griff from Ashley Nichols upcoming show FarFetched really will amp you up seeing Quinn and Griff are main characters in the show.

To advocate: I would say spread the word on different Ace identities, help people understand that Ace/Aro people are LGBTQIA+ and deserve a spot at the table. Find local groups you can engage with. Find books from people of different backgrounds in the Ace community and listen to the differences between each Ace/Aro experience.

Who are some ace/queer activists you would recommend others to know about?

I would recommend them to check out Marshall Blount AKA GentleAceGiant, Yasmin Benoit is doing amazing things for the community, Sherronda  J Brown (gender negative on Twitter). Ace Dad has some great Tik Toks about Aro/Ace content, Queer as Cat has some great Youtube Videos you all should check out. I LOVE the Ace Couple for their advocacy they’re amazing on spreading the word and helping be vocal about topics of racism, sexism, and disabilities. Ashante the Artist has spoken a few times on Asexuality but her content is also great for unpacking daily life with various topics.

What LGBTQIA+ media (i.e. books/ television/etc.) would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

I would say look into Youtubers like the ones I listed throughout this article. There are some amazing books by Claire Kann about Aro/Ace LGBTQIA+ black women. Watch The Owl House by Dana Terrace (There’s a canon Aro possibly Ace character and the main lead is a Bisexual girl with a Lesbian girlfriend on Disney? I know!). Check out Jaiden Animations new video about their AroAce identity (and their other videos). We also have amazing Ace comic artists Aro and Aces, Aro Comics (aro_comics on Instagram).

International Asexuality Day 2022

Today marks the second International Asexuality Day. It’s a day to promote and highlight asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and other identities that fall under the ace umbrella. In order to help celebrate IAD, we’d like to highlight a number of Michele Kirichanskaya‘s interviews she’s conducted with ace authors and artists that are linked below.

Interview With Yasmin Benoit
Interview With Author Angela Chen
Interview With Maia Kobabe
Interview with the Gentle Giant Ace
Interview with Writer & Editor Kiara Valdez
Interview with Cartoonist Jarad Greene
Interview with Author Julie Sondra Decker
A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO ASEXUALITY Interview with Molly Muldoon & Will Hernandez
Interview with Author Amanda DeWitt
Interview with Courtney & Royce of The Ace Couple Podcast
Interview with Author Claire Kann
Interview With Cody Daigle-Orians
Interview with Author Alechia Dow
Interview with Author Rosiee Thor

Interview with Courtney & Royce of The Ace Couple Podcast

Courtney Lane (she/her) and Royce (no pronouns/he/they) are a married asexual couple of nearly 8 years who host The Ace Couple podcast where they talk about all things Asexuality. By discussing queer culture and history, they explore the topics of life, love, and sex through an Ace lens. Additionally, Courtney has a YouTube Channel discussing history, hair, disability and asexuality as well as a Patreon featuring video tutorials. You can also visit Courtney’s website, Never Forgotten, which Royce built and manages.

I had the opportunity to interview Courtney and Royce, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourselves?

C: I am an asexual woman of many hats and many maladies. My hats are both literal in the sense that I’m rarely seen without something atop my head (a purple tophat is my signature go-to) and figurative in the sense that I’ve had an exciting variety of odd jobs and hobbies throughout my life. I’ve run my own company, Never Forgotten, for seven years where I make bespoke contemporary hair art and jewelry. Some of my deepest passions include keeping the nearly lost art of hairwork alive, harnessing the sentiment of hair to help get in touch with our most complicated emotions, and exploring mortality as a means of learning how to live our best lives.

R: How do I do this? Hetero-romantic asexual. Agender. Professional programmer. I started learning programming with the intent of getting into the video game industry, but ended up going another route. I mostly work on the parts of software that people interact with, and spend quite a bit of time focusing on user experience and accessibility.

C: As a couple, we’ve been married for almost eight years and we go by “The Ace Couple” online. We live in Kansas City with our two large snakes (Sen and Chihiro), our grumpy rat dog (Quiggley) , our somehow even grumpier opossum (Lenny), and our 30-40 highly acrobatic mice (too fast and flippy to count or name). For fun we often play video games or board games and read books aloud to one another. Occasionally we collaborate on writing D&D adventures and co-DMing for our friends or when schedules don’t align for groups, we take turns DMing for each other. 

How would you describe your podcast, The Ace Couple? Could you tell us how this project came to be and how you came to work on it together?

R: Well, we’ve been involved in the public Ace community in varying capacities in recent years. We had also talked about doing so a bit more prominently. The idea about this podcast specifically came from some repeated conversations we’ve had about all of the unhealthy relationships we see presented in media, or unhealthy relationship behaviors we heard casually mentioned by acquaintances, combined with the general lack of representation of Ace relationships.

C: The reason why we thought our voices, specifically, would be valuable was precipitated by the fact that time and time again, we would see young, romantically oriented Aces on online forums who expressed feelings of anxiety or hopelessness. For years, we’ve observed these folks as they desperately seek some kind of confirmation that they can have a fulfilling romantic relationship someday if they so choose. Of course, being in a happy asexual marriage, I wanted to loudly proclaim for everyone searching that yes, this IS possible! Here we are! We are proof! 

However, Royce is quite an introvert and a lot less inclined to put themselves out there in a public capacity, so I never imagined that this would actually be something the two of us would do together. The conversation was something like, “wow, if there was another asexual couple like us who started a TikTok, YouTube channel, or a podcast, I bet a lot of people would find it really comforting.” To my surprise, Royce was actually interested in pursuing the idea!

R: We decided that a podcast was something we could both manage and that we would totally do it . . . someday. And then Natalie Wynn of Contrapoints blew up Ace Twitter and we jumped on a microphone with little to no prep and just went for it.

C: And we’ve been going strong ever since, releasing a new episode every week! We explore varying topics of life, love, and sex through an asexual lens with a goal of emphasizing intersectionality. We also try to keep a nice mix of heavy, difficult topics such as ableism and acephobia alongside light-hearted Ace joy like fun anecdotes from our own relationship or positive examples of asexual representation in the media. 

And for that matter, how did the two of you meet?

C: I don’t believe in fate…but it was fate. 

R: We met online. On a dating site. The full, in depth story is covered in our 3rd episode: Our Asexual Love Story. But the short answer is that it was a wild coincidence on OkCupid.

As a asexual person, how did you find yourself coming into realization of this part of your identity?

R: It happened a bit differently for each of us.

C: I was a teenager when I first thought of the word asexual for myself. I was quite convinced of and comfortable in this identity and never really questioned it, although I did not discuss it openly for a long time. This was mainly because I thought I created this term for my own singular experience and never expected that it was already an established sexual orientation that others around the world also identified as. It was really just a happy accident that the word I determined for myself ended up being the “correct” one afterall. 

Then, in adulthood, when I was finally considering coming out and exploring this identity publicly, I saw that despicable episode of House where they proved that anyone who is asexual is either “sick, dead, or lying” when it first premiered ten years ago. It was the first time I had ever heard asexuality being used to mean a human sexual orientation in media and at first I was elated…until I realized where they were headed. While it definitely did give me additional anxieties, I officially started the process of coming out just a few months later.

R: When I was younger, I either didn’t notice anything non-normative enough about myself to really consider anything like this, wasn’t really aware of what “normative” actually was, or attributed discrepancies to some other factor. Anxiety or whatever else. I’m hetero-romantic and am not sex-repusled, so I assumed I was within whatever the standard of hetero-normativity is. Until I actually started dating and trying things. It still took a few years for things to finally settle in. That I was asexual. And even longer than that to start to identify and separate allo-social habits and behaviors. 

(Courtney) In addition to having a podcast, you also work as a Victorian Hair Artist and Historian? Can you describe what that profession entails and you came to work in that field?

C: When I was 5 or 6 years old, my grandmother took me to the above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans. At the time, she never imagined that this would spark a life-long interest in the way humans have memorialized their deceased loved ones throughout history. I was already quite immersed in this world of mourning and sentiment when I first learned of Victorian Hairwork. This became my primary research focus, as it made perfect sense to me- not only is this a beautiful work of art to memorialize your loved one, but it is actually made using a literal part of them. 

I studied this history for many years before I ever learned how to make it. There was a time when I assumed it was merely a dead artform lost to time and even if it wasn’t, I had no patience to style the hair on my own head, so I probably wouldn’t be very good at it anyway…and how wrong I was!

Seven years ago, I owned a small insurance agency that I hated and I was looking for a change. I decided to take a gamble and sell my agency in order to open my new company Never Forgotten where I would be a full time Victorian Hair Artist (even though most people at the time had never even heard of this artform)!

Now, I make custom pieces of hairwork, both decorative art and wearable jewelry, for clients. I make a wide variety of pieces including mourning tokens, romantic gestures, family trees, baby’s first haircut, cancer survivor mementos with hair lost during treatments, even quite a few items made out of the hair and fur of beloved pets. There are a number of reasons why one might commission me, but the one thing all these pieces have in common is that they are inherently sentimental.

I also lecture about the history behind this artform and, pre-pandemic, I would teach classes on how to perform these once nearly-lost techniques. Since my illness requires an abundance of caution in these times, I am currently only teaching through video tutorials on Patreon, but I look forward to the day when I can resume traveling to teach at colleges and museums once again. 

(Courtney) As a disabled person who also identifies as asexual, one can assume you might encounter a number of people who struggle to reconcile the two identities, even people from within the disabled or asexual community. What are your thoughts on this and how would you describe your intersectional experiences?

C: The complications are really twofold. Not only is there a tremendous amount of ableism present in asexuality communities, but there is also a lot of acephobia that comes from disabled spaces. It’s really, well and truly, a double-edged sword. There are very important reasons why both of these communities are so quick to try to distance themselves from one another, but that leaves a lot of people, like myself, in the crossfire.

Disabled people have a long history of being desexualized and infantilized. At its worst, this goes as far as forced sterilization and other forms of eugenics aimed at the disabled population. Over time, this has resulted in a lot of modern disability activism centering around sex, specifically the desire to be recognized as sexual beings. 

On the other hand, asexuality as an orientation is widely medicalized and pathologized. There are still medical practitioners who see asexuality as a symptom or an illness that must be fixed. At its most sinister, this can lead Aces to medicinal and/or psychological conversion therapy.

These realities ultimately lead to a lot of harmful discourse such as “we’re disabled, but we’re not asexual” or “we’re asexual, but there’s nothing wrong with our bodies because we’re not sick or disabled” with both sides throwing the other under the bus in an attempt to humanize their respective experiences to an outside audience. This does real harm to people who are living at this intersection. 

In my own experience, I have received widespread hate and harassment from the asexual community in the past for speaking out about my experience as a Disabled, Asexual woman. From unfriendly DMs, to piling on in comment sections, and even seeing people in various online forums speculating about my medical history and wondering if the issues I face with my medical professionals are somehow entirely my fault. Time after time I’ve been told that I should not speak about asexuality because I am “Bad Ace Rep” and that by sharing my own lived experience, I am doing a disservice to the entire orientation.

It has only been within the last 6 months, after starting our podcast and doubling down on my intersectional disability and asexuality activism, that I’ve begun to see the tides turning. For the first time in a decade, I feel like my voice is starting to be heard and I sincerely hope that this is the start of a cultural shift for the better from within these communities. 

As a couple, both of you identify on the ace spectrum. How do you feel your own respective identities play off each other when talking about asexuality, or simply being together as a couple?

R: We are in different areas of the spectrum, but not in a troubling or incompatible way. Courtney is closer to the sex-repulsed or sex-averse side, and I’m closer to the sex-affirmitive or sex-neutral side.

Having a somewhat broader shared experience definitely helps talk through the various aspects of the whole community.

And for our relationship, yes, our differences have been close enough that it has been pretty easy for us to navigate. But I think the thing that had the single largest impact was having open and honest conversations about expectations, needs, limits, and boundaries.

What are some things for someone who is still new to asexuality/disability identity you would want people to take away from this interview?

C: Well hopefully you take away the opinion that we’re pretty neat along with the desire to check out our podcast sometime to learn more! 

Kidding! Mostly…but in all seriousness, take away whatever it is that you find useful. That is all I can hope for consumers of any of our content. 

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives or asexuals coming into their identity?

C: I try very hard not to be the advice-giving type, because when others give me advice, I often find that it is unwarranted or irrelevant and there is rarely a one-size-fits-all piece of advice that I think is truly worthwhile for a majority of people. However, since the question is one of identity, there is one thing I’ve learned above all else and it is this: what you do is not who you are.

I grew up dancing and it was such an entrenched passion that I defined my whole being around the idea that “I am a dancer”. I think it’s very natural for artists to do this, but this led to even more heartbreak than was necessary when my body began to further decline and I could not dance as often or in the same way as I used to. 

The way in which I built my personality around dancing caused an identity crisis which further complicated matters. Aging, illness, disability, even temporary injury or naturally fluctuating interests can drastically change the activities we’re able to do throughout our lives, and while it’s natural to grieve for the things that you may no longer be able to do, the whole process is much kinder to yourself if you realize early on that what really makes you you is worthy and valuable and it is completely separate from your physical or cognitive abilities and actions.

The same advice could be applied to asexuality for a different, yet improtant reason. All too often, I see questioning asexuals experiencing a sort of imposter syndrome and asking a lot of questions such as “am I still asexual if I (insert sexual act here)…” Asexuality is a matter of attraction, orientation, and your ability to feel at home in the label -nothing more- and no action you can take will be able to take that away. 

Aside from your work, what do you enjoy doing in your free time and what are some things you would want others to know about you?

C: Well, I know you said aside from work, but we also do a bit of accessibility consulting together for events and companies. With my lived experience as a disabled woman who has access needs and with Royce’s expertise in web-accessibility, we make a really good team!

R: I always have to have a project of some kind going on.

That includes programming, either for work or as a hobby. I tend to do the video or audio editing for things we work on. Lately, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time writing D&D 5e material. It’s been a nice creative endeavor, since I haven’t worked on video game designs in so long. I also like to have video games, anime, and manga on hand for when I need a break.

Then there’s the occasional spark of interest: making a spot for compost in the backyard and seeing what pops out of it, optimizing the purchase of a household necessity, trying to figure out how to make better coffee, etc.

C: One important aspect of me that isn’t always center-stage these days is that I love to perform in front of live audiences. At one point, I thought that professional dancing was going to be my career path. I have also done quite a bit of acting, sometimes professionally, but most often for fun and on a volunteer basis. Just before the pandemic, you could find me singing in a weekly show at our local Hamburger Mary’s! 

My disabilities can sometimes make certain types of performing difficult, but I’ve always found a way to incorporate the performing arts into my life. I was a dance teacher/choreographer for 15 years and I also created and taught a drama curriculum for the arts academy I worked at until I had to quit due to health concerns. 

Other professional and/or hobbyist hats I’ve worn throughout my life have been zookeeper, science educator, fencer, bass guitar player/vocals for a metal band and a punk band, stage combat trainer/choreographer, model, wild chicken tamer. I am very proud of my strange and versatile resume, but since I don’t typically like to define myself by the one thing I happen to be doing at that point in time, sometimes I think “Professional Weirdo” is the best title for me, and in fact, it says so on my business card! 

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet and wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

C: When was the last time I won a breakdance battle you ask? Thank you, that’s a great question, I would LOVE to tell you…

In 2019, a local entrepreneur friend and I decided that since we don’t get to have traditional company holiday parties, that WE should organize one for all the fellow entrepreneurs and self-employed folks in the KC metro. 

The event went off without a hitch and as the night was winding down, a dancer asked the DJ to pose a challenge: anyone who could beat him in a dance off would win $50. I’m sure nobody suspected the cane-using disabled woman who was wearing a heavy, historical ball gown with a full hoop skirt to step forward, but I still to this day wear spandex shorts under all my dresses for this exact scenario, so I kicked off my shoes, threw my hat aside, dropped my crinoline hoops, grabbed the hem of my floor-length gown, and tucked it into my spandex shorts. Sure, I couldn’t walk the next day, or the day after that…but that night? I walked (hobbled) away $50 richer. 

Can you tell us about any other projects you two might be working on and at liberty to discuss?

C: Last year, I founded Disabled Ace Day in conjunction with Ace Week as a way to boost the voices of fellow Disabled Aspecs and draw attention to the intersectional issues we face. Ace Week takes place during the last full week of October and as of 2021, Wednesday during Ace Week is our officially designated Disabled Ace Day. We hope to continue growing the event this year and in the future. 

Finally, what queer media would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

C: Goodness, what a big question! We’ve got a lot of queer faves, so for the sake of brevity, we’ll keep the list to queer media that we’ve consumed together as a couple and both loved.

Bojack Horseman has our all-time favorite example of asexual representation on TV in the character Todd Chavez. 

Nimona, the webcomic-turned-graphic novel, was the first book we ever read aloud together, so it’s definitely got a special place in our hearts even though most of its queerness falls back on coding. 

As for video games, we are really fond of the entire Life is Strange franchise. All protagonists at least have the option for a queer plotline, but the real, non-negotiable queer gold is in the prequel DLCs Wavelengths and Before the Storm (which is basically just lesbian punk simulator). 

Tell Me Why comes from the creators of Life is Strange where you alternate playing as a pair of identical twins, one of whom is a trans man, as they use their powers of twin telepathy to unpack childhood trauma. 

For some cozy, queer genre fiction video games, we love dispensing drinks on Coffee Talk and Va11-ha11a.

We also have a long-running hobby of playing as many strange or unconventional dating simulators as possible, and Dream Daddy was *chef’s kiss*.

Interview With Cody Daigle-Orians

Cody Daigle-Orians (he/they) is an asexual writer and educator living in Hartford, Connecticut. He is a member of The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project, a Washington, DC-based organization providing resources on asexuality and romanticism to the public. And he is the creator of “Ace Dad Advice,” an online project that aims to help young people and those questioning their sexuality find the courage and confidence to live their best ace life. An “Ace Dad Advice” book will be published in January 2023.

I had the opportunity to interview Cody, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an asexual writer, educator and content creator living in Hartford, Connecticut. Before I started this work in ace advocacy and education, I wore a lot of professional hats: I was a theatre artist for many years (playwriting and acting), I taught high school theatre, I was an arts writer, then an arts administrator and arts programmer. It all comes together in my ace-related work. I’m also a giant horror nerd (film and fiction) and a book hoarder. 

Online, are you known for Ace Dad Advice, a digital platform where you dispense advice and information about asexuality and the asexual community. Could you tell us how this project came to be and how you came up with the name?

It started with my barber telling me I had to download Tik Tok. I balked at first, because in my mind, Tik Tok was “for the kids.” But I did anyway, just for kicks. I made a video where I self-identified as asexual, and I got this flood of comments, mostly from younger ace folks, saying they’d never seen an older ace before, didn’t know we existed, that they never saw ace adults living their lives like that. It took me by surprise, and I thought, “Maybe there’s a space in this community I can fill.” 

I’ve always sort of had this “dad energy” about me, so I thought, “I’ll just be Ace Dad and give the kids advice like a dad would.” And it’s taken off. “Ace Dad Advice” is one part ace education, one part ace advice column, and one part ace pep talk from a mentor. 

As a queer person, how did you find yourself coming into realization of this part of your identity?

I didn’t come out as asexual until I was 42, and I discovered asexuality on Tumblr. I always knew asexuals existed, but (like most people in and out of the queer community) I had a skewed idea of what asexuality was. Tumblr introduced me to the nuance of asexuality and the stories of ace people. And in those stories, I saw myself clearly for the first time. 

I’d always thought of myself as a gay man, since that was the label that fit the best. But it wasn’t exactly right. So I saw myself as a broken gay man, a not-quite-right gay man. Finding asexuality helped me see that I wasn’t a “broken” anything. I was ace. And that was whole and valid. really thankful for Tumblr. 

Within the queer community, there’s almost a dearth of queer elders thanks to the HIV+ epidemic and other factors. How does it feel being seen as an “elder” in terms of being a queer ace educator and Ace Dad?

It’s amazing. When I first came out as gay when I was 18, I had some really incredible older men who helped me navigate queerness. So mentors were incredibly important for me growing up, particularly growing up as a queer person in the Deep South. (I’m originally from Louisiana.) I wouldn’t have made it through some of the tough stuff in my twenties had it not been for the elders in the community. 

So I feel like this is an opportunity for me to pay back the elders that helped me when I was younger. It’s my opportunity to assume that role and help younger ace folks where and when I can. 

As of now, you are currently working on a book inspired by Ace Dad Advice. Could you tell us how the book came to be and what readers can expect from it?

An editor from the publishing company reached out and told me they really liked what I was doing with the “Ace Dad” content and asked if I’d ever thought about turning it into a book. I jumped at the opportunity. 

The “Ace Dad Advice” book is going to feel a lot like the online video content: ace education, ace advice, ace pep talks. The goal is for it to be a resource readers can go back to for encouragement and empowerment whenever they need it. So they feel they always have someone in their corner helping them live their best ace life. 

Ace Dad Advice on YouTube

What are some basic truths asexuality and queerness you would want people to take away from this interview?

The most important thing I try to communicate in all of my content is: we are not broken. Ace folks aren’t missing something. We aren’t a damaged version of something. We aren’t a liability. We are fully valid, fully whole people living an ace experience. Our aceness doesn’t limit us. It’s just one facet of who we are and what we bring to the world. 

For someone new to the asexual community, what resources would you recommend checking out?

The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) is a terrific resource, as is The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project (TAAAP). I work with the folks at TAAAP, and they’re amazing. 

If you’re book-inclined, I’d recommend The Invisible Orientation by Julie Sondra Decker and Ace by Angela Chen. Both books are wonderful resources to learn about asexuality. 

Who are some other ace activists you would recommend others to know about?

If you’re not following Yasmin Benoit (@theyasminbenoit on Instagram), you should be. Her work is really important and her voice is essential. 

I love the folks at the Sounds Fake But Okay podcast, Elle Rose (@scretladyspider on Twitter), Asexual Memes (@asexualmemes on Tik Tok), and Gentle Giant Ace (@AceGentle on Twitter). 

The ace creator on Tik Tok that deserves a ton more followers is @visibly_ace. Her content is so thoughtful. I think she’s amazing. 

There are so many other folks doing great work. This is just a handful. 

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet and wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

Ask me about my favorite horror books of 2021! They’re not ace related, but if you want to read some of the best horror of the year, check out My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones and Cackle by Rachel Harrison. Very different books, but I loved them both. 

Can you tell us about any other projects you are working on and at liberty to discuss?

Just have to finish the book! Then I can focus on some new stuff. But I’ve got some ideas. 

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ media (i.e books/ comics/ podcasts/etc.) you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

I want to shout out an amazing anthology called Fat and Queer edited by Bruce Owen Grimm, Miguel M. Morales and Tiff Joshua TJ Ferentini. I loved the pieces in it. Really moved me. I also loved the YA novel The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath, which has some wonderful ace representation. 

And while it’s not necessarily queer, it’s close enough to count: If you haven’t listened to the podcast Out For Blood, which lovingly documents the entire incredible story of the Broadway production of Carrie the Musical, you are missing out. It’s brilliant. It’s got tons of interviews with the original cast. And it’s got so much dirt on an infamous Broadway flop. It’s unmissable. 

Interview with Author Julie Sondra Decker

Julie Sondra Decker is an author from Tampa, Florida. She writes science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories for adults and children, and is known as a prominent voice for the asexual community. Her nonfiction title The Invisible Orientation (Skyhorse/Carrel), a Lambda Award finalist, was published in September 2014. In the past she contributed blogs for Psychology Today and Good Vibrations, has published multiple articles on the topic, and has been interviewed in the mainstream media as an asexuality spokesperson on multiple occasions. Julie’s non-writing interests include baking, drawing, singing, cartoon fandom, drinking coffee, and engaging through social media. She has run a weekly fantasy webcomic, Negative One, since 2005, and a monthly joke comic for writers, So You Write, since 2012. Her work can be found online at her author site, personal blog, or complete list of published works.

I had the opportunity to interview Julie, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Julie Sondra Decker and I’m an author, educator, and activist from Florida. I’m aromantic, non-partner-seeking, and asexual. I’ve always loved writing—most of my fiction is fantasy, speculative fiction, or science fiction, but whenever I’m passionate about something I love to write about that too, so I’m always writing articles, essays, rants, and sometimes even longer works. I’m a hobbyist musician and artist who also loves cartoons, baking, karaoke, reading, and spending quality time with friends. I do support work at an engineering firm as my main day job, and my side work has involved my writing and sometimes freelance editing. I live by myself in a big house with no kids and no pets, and though I socialize frequently, I really value my solitude. I’m always working on some new project.

As a person who identifies on the aromantic-asexual spectrum, how did you find yourself discovering this part of your identity?

I was a teenager in the 1990s before internet communities existed, so my access to similar people was limited when I was growing up. Dating other people was never my idea, and when I was propositioned, relationships I consented to never came with any spark of interest, neither romantic nor sexual. I didn’t realize those two attractions might even be separate because I wasn’t interested in either romance or sex, and since everyone else seemed to want both, I thought it was a single experience that just didn’t happen to me. I only understood them as distinct attractions once I met people who experienced one and not the other. 

As I was first realizing this was pretty different from others’ experience in my school, I began to refer to myself as “nonsexual” and didn’t worry too much about it. I assumed that eventually I would like someone that way, but wasn’t in any hurry for it to happen, and none of the romantic or physical interaction I experimented with was inspired by intrinsic desires from me, nor was any of it satisfying or interesting. On a good day it was just boring, but most of the time it was actively unpleasant. Eventually I decided if I was going to have another relationship, it was going to be my idea, and I would wait for some indication from MY body or mind that I wanted this before I tried anything else. But I never did feel any kind of sexual or romantic attraction to anyone else, so I felt comfortable using my “nonsexual” term until the broader community grew up under “asexual” and gave me more widely used language for it.

How did you find yourself getting into this type of advocacy? Did anything in particular inspire you?

Since I always turn to writing as a means of expression, working out my annoyances in text seemed like a natural step. I had a rudimentary website in the late 1990s and one of its sections contained a page of rants. Most were on topics like “my roommate is annoying” or “I hate running out of toilet paper,” but one of the rants was essentially a top-ten list about responses I hated hearing when people found out I was not interested in sex. I listed the most common knee-jerk reactions, from “you just got out of a bad relationship” to “you’ll change your mind when you’re more mature”; from “you’re secretly gay” to “you’re too ugly to get a man”; from “you’re just trying to be special” to “you just haven’t tried ME yet.” (And of course, everyone’s favorite Bingo Free Space: “Have you gotten your hormones checked?”) 

That essay got far more attention than the other complaints on the page, and suddenly I was hearing from other people who felt the same way I did. And what really struck me was how many of those emails were so desperate, sad, and grateful to find out they weren’t alone. I hadn’t ever been particularly concerned about my asexuality even though I was frequently irritated by ignorant comments, so hearing how lost these people had felt for so long was as eye-opening as it was heartbreaking. From that point on I worked to make content for various media and made myself available to be interviewed when there was interest, and when I realized many “gatekeepers” against asexuality cited a lack of published material on the subject as evidence that asexuality wasn’t a legitimate orientation, I decided a book needed to exist and that I was well placed to write it.

Your book, The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, is considered one of the first non-fiction books on the subject. What inspired you to write this book and did the fact that it was one of the first published texts on the subject put any particular pressures on you? 

Other books did exist but they were either textbooks (written by a non-asexual person) or self-published books (great but less mainstream reach). In an ideal world, I think people who want to learn about a subject should be willing to consider less traditional media coming straight from underrepresented voices with lived experience, but in the real world we have many people with traditional understandings of legitimacy, and unfortunately those people might be controlling our lives. Having a book out there to find makes it easier to order it to a library, cite it for a school report, bring it to your therapist, or lend it to a parent or partner to ease your coming out. And getting the message out there is easier with a mainstream publisher with its ability to reach markets that are less accessible to self-published authors or niche publishers.

I do say in the introduction to the book that it is not meant to be a comprehensive look at the topic, nor should it be upheld as some kind of ultimate word on everything asexual. But I knew that it would probably be The Asexual Book for quite some time and that made me hyper aware that a) I didn’t want to get anything wrong and b) I didn’t want to leave anyone/anything out. So I requested volunteer readers from dozens of specific demographics—I put out a call for test readers on my social media and got over one hundred responses (with more than half of them actually coming through with feedback). Every section in the book that represents an experience or identity has been read by someone who matches it and gave thoughts and feedback. (That’s why the acknowledgments section is so long!) In some cases I was simply told that I had already covered everything they could want, while in other cases I received enthusiastic suggestions for more points and topics to include, or occasionally critique and concerns. Non-asexual volunteers also read the parts for non-asexual people. And multiple bloggers whose work was significant in the asexual online world agreed to let me include quotes from them so we could at least have some distinct, diverse voices breaking up the general narration. 

Despite the work I put in, there are obviously some things I would change today, and I have seen some parts of it get misunderstood or taken out of context for disappointing reasons. I’ve also seen legitimate criticism, and after discussing that early commentary with its authors, in two cases I was able to incorporate revisions that addressed the issues in the next edition of the book.

How have you seen the field of asexual media/literature change since the publication of your book?

There are more mainstream-published books on the topic, first of all. It’s nice to have other books out there that cover different ground and provide a different look at the experience of asexuality. I’ve also seen a veritable explosion of asexual characters entering fictional landscapes—in sitcoms, in cartoons, in comics, in literature—and more media personalities identifying publicly as asexual. We’re moving away from the simple need for awareness and more toward advocacy; the world knows we’re here, so what do we do about it?

As a writer who has been in the Aro-Ace (or Aspec) community for over twenty years, how have you seen the community evolve since your entry into it? How have you seen the world’s perception of aspec identities change (or not change) since then? What would you like to see change?

Within the communities, there was a question of core identity and microculture signifiers—what did WE count as asexual or aromantic, what language did WE want to use for ourselves, do we want to “reclaim” insulting commentary or reject it, what do we want our flag to look like? Are we queer? How do we fit in, and how do we not? Is it appropriate to name the majority, the non-asexual population, and is it possible to tease out what disadvantages being asexual or aromantic has as a marginalized identity? We talked about all these things, and sometimes argued about them, and sometimes invented new language to help describe more specific experiences within ace or aro identity, and sometimes dealt with waves of gatekeeping or harassment or bad media examples that set us up as targets. We’ve seen this movement evolve from internet communities just looking for someone to see us and hear us to a collection of organizations, individuals, and concepts that has political importance, allyship, pride, visibility, and resources. We’ve lobbied to have our orientation recognized in Federal non-discrimination legislation. We’ve successfully communicated to have definitions revised in major mental health resources to reflect the legitimacy of asexuality. And many of us have been able to support each other through forming or leaving relationships and talking to our loved ones about who we are.

I’ve definitely seen a shift in recognition of the orientations over the years—it used to be almost inevitable that coming out as asexual would then lead to a twenty-minute Q&A with someone who still walked away thinking “eh, it’s a phase, they’ll grow out of it.” Conversely, now almost everyone I talk to about asexuality has heard of it before their conversation with me. I’d like to see authentic understanding of asexuality and aromanticism grow in the future, and other developments I’d love to see would be a) more asexual and aromantic characters in popular stories; b) a revision of the DSM-5’s definition of asexuality and treatment of sex aversion since it’s currently still pretty problematic, as well as more information for and resources for mental and physical health providers; and c) the establishment and growth of physical organizations dedicated to asexuality and aromanticism.

For someone who is new to the ace community, what resources would you recommend checking out? 

I generally tell new aces to figure out their preferred way of absorbing information and jump right in. If they want a written resource, I’m partial to recommending my own but also like to recommend ACE by Angela Chen, reading blogs and articles from my resource list, and reading through scientific research and/or posts on AVEN. If they like podcasts or interactive interviews, I have some of those in my resources list too. If they get something out of interacting, I recommend they start a blog and interact with other ace content, or post on and read/comment on posts in AVEN or ace/aro Facebook groups. If they want to go to ace meetups, I have resources for those (though they can be sparse). And if they want to watch visual media, there are a few news stories and a documentary to recommend, plus YouTube is full of vlogging aces who make everything from educational videos to fun debunks of popular misconceptions. 

What are some things you wish you had known when you first came out as aspec?

I regret very little and can’t think of anything I’d change about how it all went down. But I think at the very beginning since I developed my identity in isolation, I was predisposed to believe MY experiences and definitions could be generalized, and I think it would have been good to know that some of them were not. I didn’t realize, for instance, that detractors who assigned me traumatic sexual experiences in my past to “explain” my orientation shouldn’t be countered with statements like “no, aces aren’t traumatized” since, well, some aces do have experiences like that and denying that it’s true for ME could accidentally throw them under the bus depending on how it’s phrased. But for so long I thought I was mostly just talking about myself and couldn’t see the harm that could do.

Aside from your writing and advocacy work, what are some things you would want others to know about you?

I can serve as a good example of an asexual, aromantic, unpartnered person who legitimately wants to be this way and isn’t sad or lonely. I generally don’t have trouble convincing other ace or aro people that this is true, but some of them have trouble seeing how they can be happy in their own lives when they’re surrounded by negative messages about their futures and lack positive examples of fulfilled aro and ace people. I’d love people to understand that asexuality and aromanticism has never been experienced as a hole or a missing piece for me and I formed whole without that part, and if someone out there feels broken or incomplete because everyone ELSE keeps telling them this piece is supposed to be there and is vital to a satisfying adult life, they don’t have to internalize that or live that way. We just don’t have omnipresent examples in our lives of how fulfilled ace/aro/unpartnered life might look, so we have to do more work to invent it and step into it ourselves. If we do that, I assure you we will be much happier.

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet that you wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

I’ve seen other aces sometimes ask this question but I don’t think I’ve ever been asked it: “If you could take a pill to change you so you could experience sexual attraction, would you take it?” Or maybe, “Do you wish you were not asexual/aromantic?”

For me, it’s a very confident no. I’ve never had the envy some people talk about with regard to wishing I fit in more in this regard, nor do I have a particular curiosity about what it would be like to be like someone else. I’ve heard some people say that sounds impossible because why wouldn’t someone be curious, why wouldn’t we want to get involved with something that everyone talks about like it’s the best thing ever, but interestingly most of those people have at least one aspect of their identity that they’d never consider changing even if it were possible (e.g., a straight person who thinks it’s reasonable to insist aces must be awfully curious about what it would be like to be straight, but has never wondered what it might be like to be ace, and also wouldn’t take THAT pill). 

But on top of that, I honestly get pretty fed up with hypotheticals like this. I haven’t been asked this specific question but I was once asked whether I would have sex “if I had to to save the world,” and what gender I would choose to have sex with if my sex acts could somehow save humanity. When I said I’d probably choose another woman, the person laughed and concluded I was a “hypothetical lesbian,” and brought it up several more times in other contexts insisting he had “proved” I was a lesbian. When people ask these questions they are often expressing that they don’t actually accept your REAL answer and want you to pick a box to sort you into that they find more comfortable, so they can then invalidate you and treat you like a hypothetical answer offered under duress reveals more about you than the answer that has applied in your non-hypothetical, real life all this time.

Sexual orientation isn’t a switch to flip, nor can it be controlled by a drug we can take, so entertaining the hypotheticals is not very practical. If something fundamental could be replaced with a different reality at the touch of a button, I’m essentially being asked what I might want if I were a different person. They want to hear that aces desperately want to be like them, or they want to hear that if we would choose to stay as we are then we’re accepting that our orientation “is a choice.” But everyone who asks leading questions to trap someone into admitting that REALLY their orientation constitutes close-mindedness or fear is projecting their own values onto someone who isn’t them. It’s peculiar, but it’s unfortunately pretty common. 

Are there any projects you are currently working on and at liberty to speak about?

Not that it’s necessarily anything to get excited about because I have no guarantee that these projects will see the light of day, but I do have two YA novels in progress that have asexual characters—one protagonist in a realistic YA and one supporting character in a science fiction YA. If I am able to prioritize finishing one of them, get it through editing and into my agent’s hands, maybe it will get more exciting, but as such it barely counts as news. I’ve also written a science fiction short story with asexual protagonists (well, one asexual aromantic character and one graysexual demiromantic gender fluid character), but my submission attempts haven’t landed it a home yet.

I also continue to produce my Letters to an Asexual series on YouTube once a month. 

What asexual or general LGBTQIA+ media (i.e. books/ television/etc.) would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

Asexuality-nonfiction-wise, I did really like Angela Chen’s book ACE, and a book I recently read with a positive representation of an asexual and aromantic supporting character was The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home (a Welcome to Night Vale novel). Some of the more well-known representations of asexuality in visual media like Bojack Horseman I still haven’t seen, but I did really enjoy the supporting asexual characters in Shortland Street and Huge. In broader LGBTQIA+ media, I’m really enjoying The Owl House right now (a cartoon with canonically bisexual, lesbian, and nonbinary characters). And I think everyone already knows how much of a raging Steven Universe fan I am, so recommending that is always a given—one of the characters was identified as asexual by one of the storyboard artists, even! 

Interview with Sounds Fake But Okay

Sounds Fake But Okay is a casual, occasionally chaotic podcast by best friends Sarah and Kayla. Each week, this aromantic/asexual girl and demisexual girl discuss relationships, sexuality, queer issues, and society from an asexual and aromantic lens. Started in 2017, Sounds Fake But Okay releases new episodes every Sunday. I had the opportunity to interview Sarah and Kayla, which you can read below.

First of all, how did you come to know each other and what do you think of the chances of both of you discovering you were on the asexual spectrum and creating a podcast revolving around that topic?

We were randomly placed as roommates at the University of Michigan and hit it off incredibly fast — during our first few weeks of college people would constantly ask if we had been friends in high school because we seemed to know each other so well. It’s kind of scary to think about how many little things had to go right in order for us to end up where we are. If I (Kayla) had never met Sarah, I’m not sure that I would have ever discovered my sexuality, and we obviously would have never made the podcast. It makes you want to believe in fate a bit when you think about how low the chances of all of this are.

How did you come up with the title Sounds Fake But Okay?

Once I (Sarah) came out, I found myself asking Kayla a lot of questions about romance, dating, and sex — the sorts of things that people were just expected to intuitively know, but as an aro ace person, I didn’t. When Kayla attempted to give me answers to questions like “what’s the appeal of dick pics?” and “how long is sex supposed to last?”, her responses often sounded fake to me, like they were just things that society was making up and people pretended to understand. Hence, Sounds Fake But Okay was born. 

You two have featured a number of asexual writers and activists on your show before, including Yasmin Benoit, Angela Chen, Gentle Giant Ace, and more. In a way, I feel this helps to illustrate the diversity of the ace community, showing that asexual comes in many shapes and sizes? Was this your intention?

We definitely try to make the show and our guests as diverse as possible. We always say that our experiences are only our own and that they don’t necessarily map onto the community as a whole or speak to every asexual or aromantic person’s experience — we are two cis white women, and it would be harmful to pretend that we understand or represent the experience of all aspecs. Having guests of different sexualities, genders, races, ages, professions, etc. helps us get a broader look at the community.

As an asexual person myself, it often feels like the A is pretty silent in LGBTQIA+. What are your thoughts on the erasure/ gatekeeping of asexual people within the queer community? How do you think the overall queer community can do better?

As aspecs, we’re unfortunately used to getting a lot of criticism or “hate” because of our identities. A lot of the time it comes from straight people or internet trolls. While of course it hurts to see comments from people in those groups, it’s even harder to get hate from fellow queer folks. The queer community is supposed to be about coming together to fight against the norm — it shouldn’t be a contest about who’s the most oppressed or struggles the most. 

We need people of other identities and people who are more “accepted” by the queer community to stand up for us. If we have to keep battling for our place in the community alone, it will take a lot longer.

Both of you occupy different identities within the ace spectrum, with you (Sarah) as a person who identifies as asexual and aromantic and you (Kayla) as a self-described demisexual straight girl. How do you feel your own respective identities play off each other when talking about asexuality?

When we first started the podcast it was supposed to be a straight girl explaining love and sex to an aro ace girl. After I (Kayla) discovered I was demi, the dynamic of the show changed a bit. While I do still explain what dating is like or talk from the perspective of someone who’s had sex, been in love, etc, I also talk from the perspective of an aspec person. I’m in kind of a weird situation where I have one foot in the allo or straight work and one in the aspec or queer world. Since Sarah happens to be an aro ace person who doesn’t date and have sex, I’m kind of able to provide the information she is missing and she is able to do the same for many aro and ace issues.

What are some basic truths for someone who is still new to asexuality you would want people to take away from this interview?

It’s okay if you’re not that happy with your identity or if you’re feeling a bit freaked out. We grow up being told it’s normal to have sex, that everyone does it, everyone wants it, etc. When you eventually find out that this isn’t true or that you just don’t feel the same attraction that others do, it can be a bit of a shock. Take your time and don’t feel bad if you don’t love being ace for a while.

What advice would you have to give for people who are interested in creating and promoting their own podcast?

Don’t start a podcast if you’re just in it to get famous or make money, because the vast majority of podcasts don’t reach that level. Pick a topic that you’re passionate about, that you could see yourself recording hundreds of episodes about. 

We also always tell people to find their niche. Honestly, one of the main reasons our podcast has become successful is because there were no other shows consistently talking about our topic. This won’t be the case for every topic, so you really have to work to make sure you’re talking about a subject in a new or personal way.

And finally, listeners come for your content but they stay for you. How much of yourself you share on any given podcast is your decision (as it should be!), but once you’ve gained your listeners’ trust, they’ll probably be a bit more accepting if you want to go off topic sometimes or experiment with new things.

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet or wish you were asked more?

I (Kayla) wish we were asked about the joys of asexuality and aromanticism more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly important to focus on the struggles we face and to help each other through that, but there are some amazing things that come with being aspec as well. As aspec people, we have good experiences and bad experiences and I wish they were shown more equally.

For me (Sarah), it isn’t even a question but just a topic: I wish people talked about aromanticism more. As a person who is both aro and ace, I often feel as though my aromanticism impacts my life more than my aceness does — people don’t necessarily know if you’re not having sex, but they will ask questions if you’re not dating and have no intention to be. However, so much of the focus both inside aspec spaces and out is on asexuality specifically. Part of this is because the vast majority of the population doesn’t have a grasp on the split model of attraction (the idea that romantic attraction, sexual attraction, etc. are not necessarily the same thing), but it’s also just because there seem to be fewer aros than aces. That said, I think more discussion of aromanticism and how the aro lens can help you reframe and prioritize relationships of all types can benefit everyone, and I wish it were more prevalent. 

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ media (i.e books/ comics/ podcasts/etc.) you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

Interview With Author Angela Chen

Angela Chen is a journalist and the author of Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. Her reporting and essays have also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Paris Review, and more. I had the opportunity to interview Angela, which you can read below.

Where did the impetus for Ace come from? Has this project been something you’ve been ruminating on for a while?

The short answer is that I wanted to write about asexuality because I am ace and didn’t realize it until I was 24. More specifically, it was frustrating to me that the existence of asexuality and the ace lens felt so hidden—like something that I had to go searching for in order to find, instead of a perspective integrated into the way that we already think about sexuality and relationships. There were other books about asexuality out there, like The Invisible Orientation, but not many. I really wanted to write a reported book that included detailed narratives from people’s lives and, because I am a professional journalist, thought that I’d be able to do that. 

In previous interviews, such as the one with the podcasters of Sounds Fake But Okay, you noted a difference between talking to ace interviewers versus non-ace interviewers. Could you elaborate on this?

Absolutely. When talking to non-ace interviewers, or for publications that primarily have a non-ace audience, I receive a lot of questions asking me to define asexuality or to debunk misconceptions. It’s very ace 101. I really appreciate all the interest from non-aces and think it’s so important that we show that the ace lens can be valuable for everyone, but the questions necessarily are more basic.

When talking to ace interviewers, we can skip all the questions about what asexuality is and isn’t, and talk more about what it means and explore more nuances instead of focusing on definition. I also feel like I can be more critical of the ace community when speaking with ace interviewers. The community isn’t perfect—no community is—but when speaking to allos, I feel more pressure to emphasize the best parts of the community and that people are ace and happy. 

When talking to ace interviewers or an ace audience, I feel more okay talking about what I think the ace community could be doing better, or saying that sometimes I don’t feel great about being ace, and that should be okay too. 

In the book you provide a parallel between the term “Gold Star Lesbian” with the inspired term “Gold Star Asexual,” and the ways in which the asexual identity is being gatekept by this unattainable ideal. Could you expand on these qualifications and how in your words the “Gold Star Asexual” is a “fantasy and a false promise” (p.99)?

There’s still so much questioning about whether asexuality is valid. Doubters really want to explain asexuality away by saying that someone isn’t asexual, they’re just shy, or haven’t found the right person, or maybe it’s because of childhood trauma, or repression, or whatnot. Basically every ace person that I know has questioned whether they’re “really” ace, which can be exhausting and drain energy that could be better used elsewhere. 

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s good to ask questions and explore and of course there’s nothing wrong with deciding that you’re not ace. But it’s telling that people really want aces to question until they discover they’re allo, whereas allos are not really encouraged to question whether they’re ace. It’s a double standard, because it’s okay to be allo but many people think it’s not okay to be ace. Instead of exploration being a valuable and good thing that you do to understand yourself, aces feel like we have to keep questioning ourselves because we might be deluded. 

Allos aren’t the only people who gatekeep either. Because aces are doubted by others, which is painful, it can be tempting to become gatekeepers ourselves. Especially in the early years of the community, there was talk about how people couldn’t be truly ace if they were disabled or if they were victims of sexual trauma, because that would “delegitimize” asexuality.

To my mind, that view is wrong. Very few people are gold-star aces, and we shouldn’t focus on that anyway. The purpose of the ace community is to be accepting and inclusive and help people find each other and share resources. Playing into ace respectability politics will make us turn on each other and exclude those who must be included and it doesn’t help us help each other and organize to change society. The way I see it, you can be ace for whatever reason and that’s fine, and it’s also fine if later you decide you’re not ace. (In general, I think it’s good to think of sexualities as fluid.) I think it’s important that aces fight compulsory sexuality and make it clear that you can have a happy life if you’re asexual, no matter why you’re asexual or for how long—and none of that relies on someone being a gold-star ace. 

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex is one the first asexual non-fiction books to be published by a “mainstream” publisher. Was there a lot of pressure riding on this book? What challenges did you experience in trying to publish it?

I think a lot of publishers thought that the book would be too niche—essentially, that because the ace population isn’t huge, there wouldn’t be a big audience for the book and it wouldn’t sell. Others thought that maybe it’d be too academic. I disagree with both assumptions. The book is a bit academic, but it’s also reported and has a lot of stories of people’s lives. And even if the ace population isn’t huge, it’s still valuable to have this book exist. Not to mention that, as I keep saying, the ace lens is valuable for allos too. 

I did feel like there was a lot of pressure riding on it, though I felt that from myself, rather than from my publisher. There’s such a void of ace representation and discussion in mainstream nonfiction books, which means that any new book on the topic is going to be expected to do so much and capture every sub-experience, even though that’s never possible for any book. I tried hard to make the book diverse in a lot of ways and cover topics like race, disability, and gender, as well as different types of ace and aro experience. But of course no book could cover all of ace experience. I said that right at the beginning, in the authors’ note. I tried to say what my limitations were, because I think that’s far more honest than not showing the limitations and pretending one book is representative. It’s not. There is so much more to say. There needs to be a rich ace canon. 

Considering one book can’t cover everything about asexuality, are their subjects you wish you to expand upon? Would you be open to writing a follow-up to Ace?

At least right now, I don’t think I’ll be writing a follow-up to Ace. I’m primarily a science and technology journalist and think my work in the immediate future will go back to focusing on that. But there are so many other subjects that I wish other aces would write books about. There should be books just about sex-repulsed aces, and books focusing only on aros, books about aroallos (who often get overlooked), more books about demisexuality and queerplatonic relationships. I feel like every chapter of my book could have been its own book! Plus, there definitely need to be books about aces outside of the Western world—there’s so much to say about the aspec experience and many who are more qualified than I to write about these experiences. 

While much of the book discusses the challenges and prejudices facing the asexual community, you also highlight some of the positive elements about this identity. Could you talk about that here?

Absolutely. Being ace can give you such a rich and valuable perspective on the world. Sometimes, it can feel like a superpower, like it makes you see things that other people don’t, like it makes you more perceptive. It can make you question so much about relationships (of all kinds) and sexuality that people take for granted. I think that, often, it can help you have richer and closer and more intimate relationships. Ace are some of the most emotionally and socially intelligent people I know. Like many other experiences that deviate from the norm, it makes you see the norm for what it is—and then it can bring more freedom by having you question it. 

What asexual resources/pop culture references would you recommend for the readers of Geeks OUT?

In terms of general ace resources, I would recommend Julie Sondra Decker’s book The Invisible Orientation, as well as The Asexual Agenda, which is a wonderful group blog. 

To be honest, I have never been the best at pop culture references—there’s a reason I’m primarily a science and tech journalist! (And writing the pop culture parts of the book was difficult for me.) There’s a lot of wonderful ace YA out there, which I think is super important. Alice Oseman’s Loveless comes to mind, for example, as does Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love. This Goodreads list might be useful too

And finally, are there any projects you are currently working on or project ideas you are currently developing and are at liberty to speak about?

Not right now! Still trying to recover from 2020.

You can follow Angela Chen on Twitter @chengla

Interview With Yasmin Benoit

An alternative fashion model of Caribbean descent (Trinidadian, Jamaican, and Barbadian descent) Yasmin Benoit is a proud Black Aro-Ace model/activist from the UK. Creator of #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike Benoit revels in breaking stereotypes about what asexuals/aromantics are perceived and look like. I had the pleasure of interviewing her, which you can read below.

How did you get into modeling? What made you decide to stay on this path and how did you come to incorporate your identity as an asexual aromantic person with it?

I just started reaching out to local photographers, building a portfolio, and then I started getting the attention of brands who wanted models with my look. I try to use my work to increase representation for alternative people of colour, that was why I was motivated to do it in the first place, and break down the misconceptions about how black people in particular are supposed to dress. I stay on that path because I’m pretty good at it, I get to be creative, work with cool people, get free clothes and use it to amplify the other messages I want to put out there – like raising awareness for asexuality and aromanticism. That’s how I incorporate it. Now that I’m out, my modelling work inevitably connects to my modelling too and helps to dispel misconceptions about being aspec.

Because of your identity, you stand at both the fronts of hypersexualization as a model of color and desexualization as an asexual person. Do you ever experience these contrasting forces, and if so, how do you resolve that tension?

They can be amusingly contrasting sometimes, like completely contradicting. It’s fine for me, I’m just doing my thing and expressing myself how I want to, but it’s pretty funny when I’ve got some people calling me a “slut” and a “whore” and others calling me a “virgin loser” at the same time. It’s other people who can’t decide which stereotype they want to go for and both can’t exist at once.

David Jay, American Asexual activist and creator of AVEN, is often held up as the “Model Asexual” for his visibility and non-threatening position as a white, cisgender, able-bodied, neurotypical man? Why do you think that is and how can we change this to broaden people’s understanding of what it means to be asexual?

Within the community, I think he’s mainly known for having founded one of our biggest asexuality organisations and most popular forums. I don’t know how many relate to his experiences as a white, cisgender, able-bodied, neurotypical man but he’s palatable and inoffensive, which is always helpful. I think that for those outside of the community, his ‘normality’ was part of the appeal. They made the point of being like, “Look at this guy, can you believe he’s asexual?” but that was a different time. There’s a lot more activists out there now so we aren’t only represented by David Jay. Sure, most of the activists are white, our representation is predominantly white and the community does tend to find them easier to process, but I’ve had a lot of support and I’m pretty much the opposite of David Jay in terms of our demographic.

There are those who might say that Aro-Aces do not belong in the LGBTQ+ community. What would you say to this?

I’d say that I don’t really care because we’re already there and it isn’t a point of debate. It doesn’t make a difference if Jane from Nebraska thinks we aren’t part of the community, that shouldn’t impact what we can and can’t do. A large amount of my work is within the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve never encountered real-life exclusion from anyone in the community and I’ve felt like part of the community since I saw my first asexual flag at a pride festival when I was fourteen. That’s the first place where I met other asexual people and I felt embraced by the queer community quickly. It’s a shame that assholes on the internet make aro-ace people feel like they can’t have that experience, because we really can. We are queer.

What resources/ pop culture references would you recommend for the asexual/aromantic readers of Geeks OUT?

There’s quite a few books out there with aro-ace characters or covering that topic. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, Loveless by Alice Oseman, I’ve heard that Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria, Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland, Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, Last 8 by Laura Pohl and Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim have characters on that spectrum somewhere. Also, Ace by Angela Chen is a non-fiction example that I actually wrote a piece for. As a writer, I come out with new articles on asexuality and aromanticism quite regularly. I have the #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike series that I write for Qwear Fashion and I hope to realise a book someday. There’s also Todd from Bojack Horseman, he’s ace.

What changes do you personally want to see within the mainstream visibility of the LGBTQ+ community?

I’d like to see a more diverse representation, not just in terms of casting, but in terms of the kind of stories that are focused on. I’d like to see more asexual and aromantic representation, more intersex representation, just more than just the usual stuff and the same old narratives and love stories. We’ve got enough LGBTQ+ representation that we’re starting to have cliches. The media needs to be more adventurous and represent what the world actually needs to see.

Lastly, what advice would you give to other asexual/aromantics out there?

Just do you. As far as we know, you’ve only got one life, so don’t waste it trying to be someone you’re not or trying to impress people who don’t deserve it.