Ace Pride, or If We Had a Parade, Who Would March in It?

This post was written for the March Carnival of Aces, which is about “Ace Pride” and is hosted by (Purr)ple (L)ace.


Last summer, my schoolmates and I attended the annual Pride parade. The night before, I was talking with one of them about the upcoming event. I expressed enthusiasm about going, but also confessed that in the past I’d found Pride an alienating experience.

“It was basically a bunch of people who weren’t like me celebrating how unlike me they were.”

Later that evening, I was conversing with a different schoolmate and explaining to him why I felt attending Pride was important even for non-queer people like… us?

I had to stop and think about that sentence.

Was I a non-queer person? I certainly didn’t consider myself part of some heterosexual norm. And yet I’ve never really identified with queerness, either. For me, being ace has always meant belonging to a third category that, while it may overlap with the other two, also has distinguishing features all its own.

Let me back up a bit. My first ever Pride was in Vancouver in 2008. I saw all kinds of people marching and all kinds of floats. There were feathers and leather, there were phalluses and condoms, and there were body parts on display. It was one big happy exuberant ebullient rainbow-coloured candy-coated celebration… of sex.

Like I said, not so much my scene.

It’s true that Pride is about more than sex, that asexuals frequently march in Pride parades, and that asexuality and queerness overlap in important ways. Yet the focus on sex that often accompanies Pride events can be an uncomfortable fit with asexuality. As a result, when I attend these events, I always feel like an ally showing support for someone else’s cause.

That got me thinking: what if, instead of trying to carve out space for ourselves within queer events, we made our own event, our own celebration of all things ace? What would it look like? More importantly, who would “we” be?

Just as queerness is about more than just being gay, “aceness” should be about more than just being asexual. The more expansive definition of queerness is anything that challenges heteronormativity. “Aceness”, by analogy, should be anything that challenges erotonormativity.

“Erotonormativity” is basically the ideological belief that all people want (and should want) lots of sex, that they have (and should have) lots of sex, and that sexual bonds are more valuable than any other kind. There are plenty of people for whom this ideology just doesn’t work. Who are they?

First, obviously, there’s asexuals, people who don’t want any sex. There’s also graysexuals and demisexuals, people who want sex, just not very much. But what about people who do want sex, but choose not to have it? There’s a strong argument to be made for alliance between the asexual community and the non-religious celibate community. For that matter, what about the religious celibate community. Is their celibacy any less valid because it is spiritually motivated? And what about people who are celibate involuntarily? Shouldn’t they also have their lifestyles validated, even if they didn’t choose those lifestyles?

There are also people who definitely should not have sex – at least not of their preferred kind. One such group is those who are sexually attracted to children. I don’t mean people who molest children, although those people do, unfortunately, exist. I mean people who experience the desire but never act on it, because they know that doing so would be wrong. For such people, sexual restraint isn’t unhealthy repression; it’s a positive choice they should feel good about.

Finally, there’s anyone with a non-normative take on romance. The aromantics, the lithromantics, the platoniromantics, and those in queerplatonic or asexual romantic relationships. And, of course, our allies, the allosexuals and alloromantics who recognise that too much importance has been placed on sex and romance and it’s time to take back the rest of human experience.

So… what would the parade actually look like? I have no idea! A parade might not even be the best way to go. But the idea of Pride, of a broad Ace Pride capable of taking in numerous currently marginalised groups, is one that I think has a lot of value. And whether it’s by marching together or by some completely different means, I’d like to see more solidarity between the different non-erotonormative communities.

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7 thoughts on “Ace Pride, or If We Had a Parade, Who Would March in It?

  1. luvtheheaven says:

    I think you make a lot of good points! I haven’t read enough on what trans people, especially trans men or anyone nonbinary… or even bi people married to a partner where they pass as straight, feel about Pride Parade’s focus on embracing and celebrating sex or even just the rest of what it is.

    I think The North American Asexuality Conference: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/category/north-american-asexuality-conference/ and events like that are closer to what a true Ace centric pride event could be. Something that brings together as many aces as possible, in a way that focuses more on our own needs and interests.

    I think a general party, with balloons and decorations in ace colors, with some alcohol for those of legal age in whatever country we’re in yet still a culture that acknowledges not drinking is actually a common part of the ace experience. Our maybe even more than a party, a festival, an event with a bunch of different sub-events.

    But being able to educate the public, health care providers, school sex ed programs, etc is a huge goal of ours still, and finding a way to do all that would be a huge step in the right direction.

    I could see puns relating to not having sex influencing some events, like no sex, no drugs, no rock n roll being a silly way to introduce a more platonic type of dancing like squaredancing or really there are alot of possibilities, and avoiding the music ever getting close to rock.

    I could see for aces looking for romantic or even platonic partners, some kind of speed dating event catered to them and their ace specific needs.

    I could see aromantic specific events working too, specifically focusing on crushing symbols of romance and uplifting friendship.

    An in-person store for selling books and films marked for how ace and/or aro friendly they are, or maybe for specifically promoting ace creators, authors, filmmakers, artists etc!

    It’d certainly be different than a parade that celebrates sex?

    Idk.

    I do wish we could find a good way to be really inclusive of aces who like sex and want sex, or who are in the middle, unsure, not as anti sex as the majority… demisexual or gray ace or sex favorable asexual or even people who have even more complicated relationships with it…

    I think specifically ace pride should be inclusive of everyone who identifies as ace…

    So don’t make an event all about sex, but don’t make one only about rejecting it either, perhaps.

    But yeah… I don’t know!! I just have a lot of thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rivers says:

      There are a lot of cool thoughts there! I definitely like the idea of a more ace-centric pride. I’m just a little confused about why you seem so against rock n roll. Is it because the dance styles or lyrics typically tend to trend towards allos, or do you just not like the genre as a personal thing? Or do you see it as just not creating a platonic enough atmosphere like something like squaredancing (which sounds pretty fun even though I always step all over my squish’s toes) would? This is just me being curious because I see other musical genres as having a lot more of that kind of thing, and I would prefer rock or alternative rock to a lot of other genres because what I’ve generally heard seems to focus less on those kinds of things. I think rock or metal would not lend themselves for the purpose of pride even though I do really like those genres personally, but I’m just a little confused as why rock got thrown under the bandwagon in your comment.

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      • luvtheheaven says:

        Oh that was a fairly silly, almost supposed to be throwaway comment was supposed to be theming a small event, perhaps one room/cordoned off area in a larger convention or festival around a twist on a trope or around a pun, so I was just kind of referencing “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-origin-of-the-phrase-sex-drugs-and-rock-n-roll

        I don’t particularly think rock does or doesn’t belong at my proposed type of event. I think any kind of music could be a powerful way to make a statement even, to convey emotions related to being ace, etc.

        Like

    • Blue Ice-Tea says:

      Thoughts are good! Thoughts are all I have, too, and I’m always happy when my thoughts inspire thoughts in other people.

      I like your party suggestions. I especially like the idea of reviving square dancing as a less heteronormative dance style, and of having a place to promote ace-friendly and ace-written books and movies.

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      • luvtheheaven says:

        The square dancing idea is actually not my own. Someone I met in my local ace meetup group has mentioned it a few times and there’s also another type of dance that is similarly not amatonormative, a dance that was mentioned more recently at a meetup but I can’t remember what it was called.

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      • Rivers says:

        Thank you for clarifying! I understand the stereotype and what rock and roll can mean for certain people (and what it can actually be). I’ve just always found other genres to be far worse, but I don’t listen to any mainstream stuff really. I definitely agree that any kind of music can be used in a powerful way. It also makes sense to use music more akin to square dancing in the type of space and atmosphere you are suggesting (which is one I am all for), and square dancing does sound like a really fun way to express ourselves of ace.

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