Here is a message I received from a keli on YouTube. At the time I received this comment, I had done five Letters to an Asexual videos in addition to my Top Ten series, and gotten over 70,000 views for my various videos—not to mention the hundreds of comments I’ve received over the years through articles, interviews, and essays I wrote, and the (A)sexual documentary hadn’t come out yet but I’d done my interview for it already. Today my YouTube has nearly 300,000 views and I have over 1,400 subscribers. Nevertheless, keli decided to pop in and tell me how unimportant my work is:
I watched your video entitled letters to an asexual and the points you bring up are just something that comes with being a minority… no i am not joking. If you are different from other people, especially in a way that people haven’t heard about or just don’t care looking up then you are going to get questioned by it. For example if you are a asexual and people find out then at first you’re likely to be bombarded with questions, almost always stupid questions like how you could do such a thing and then you’re probably going to hear about how they could never do such a thing. The best way to avoid this is to not speak of it unless it is brought up. You are never going to educate people on such a subject in a way that they can understand, so the question is just this, do you want to spend a lot of time trying to educate all with gatherings and videos or would you rather spend a little time occasionally explaining it to people who just so happened to ask?
The following responses are lengthy, so I am cutting. But rest assured it ended up with me getting a lecture on how rude I am to ask her not to decide for me which issues are important enough to warrant discussion. Please be advised that I briefly discuss depression, suicidal thoughts, extreme examples of asexual erasure, and non-graphic mentions of sexual assault and homophobia.
I know that asexuals are a minority. I also know that certain problems are common to all misunderstood minorities. But if you think the solution to being misunderstood is to just be quiet and let people misunderstand unless it matters personally to me, YOU have misunderstood my intent. I am making videos to spread awareness about asexuality so that our lesser-known orientation gets some attention and some understanding and some legitimacy. In case you aren’t aware, my efforts are working. I get mail and comments every day thanking me for my efforts, and I was interviewed as one of the spokespeople for an upcoming documentary on the subject.
You’ve also misunderstood my point if you think my intent is to “avoid questions.” In case you haven’t done your homework, I’ve been “out” about being asexual for over fifteen years, and being asked questions about it doesn’t bother me if they want to understand. (Disrespect, however, is never okay, no matter what they’re questioning me about.) Yes, I DO think I’m “going to educate people on this subject in a way they can understand,” because I HAVE ALREADY DONE SO and have been contacted several thousand times with messages to that effect. I’m not under the delusion that I can reach everyone, but helping no one just because you can’t help everyone makes you part of the problem and not part of the solution.
You ask whether I want to “spend time” making videos and educating people or whether I just want to explain when it comes up, but here again you’ve assumed all I want is a comfortable existence for myself. Spreading awareness is nothing to laugh at. Partly through my efforts, people are seeing asexuality for what it is, and it’s not up to people like you who think it doesn’t matter to tell me it’s not worth it. I decided it was worth it over a decade ago when I wrote my first article on the topic, and while of course I don’t intend to spend my whole life or the majority of my time trying to “spread the word,” it isn’t necessary that I do so as long as my writings and videos on the topic are well placed. Based on the response from the public as well as the asexual community, I think I’ve done a very good job. Your suggestion that I just quit talking about it sounds very ignorant to me and it is not appreciated.
It really isn’t…
Asexuality and it’s misunderstandings is not a big problem. I can see your point since i think that awareness about certain things is a necessity but asexuality is not on that list. Asexuality isn’t a problem. Do you feel like a lesser person because of you sexuality? I really don’t think so and i doubt that you could make an argument that would convince me that asexual awareness is on any level a necessity, it just isn’t. Asexuality bashing really doesn’t exist, at the most you get ignorant questions thrown in your face and that is still going to happen even if you “educate” some thousand people, as it would be foolish to say that you reached to a larger demographic, at least on youtube. I really hope that you don’t send me another message trying to make me look like a stupid asshole since i really didn’t look at my comment as a personal attack, but i did find your message to be just that.
Homosexuality, hiv, cancer, starvation… these are just the first things that pop into my mind where awareness can really help.
I really don’t see how asexual awareness is going to help someone as nobody is being persecuted.
Are you ready for the ride, folks? Because this wall of text is my reply.
You don’t get to decide what constitutes a big enough problem to warrant discussion. Yes, there are problems that are worse than being persecuted for your sexuality. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes ruin people’s lives even though for some of us it’s only an inconvenience or an annoyance.
“Asexuality bashing doesn’t really exist,” huh? Well, I haven’t personally heard of anyone getting beaten up because of it (unless it was directly related to misunderstanding the person as gay), but I have heard directly from people who wanted to kill themselves because of it. Shall I go on?
Yeah, I think I will.
I belong to a LiveJournal group devoted to discussion of asexuality, and some of the people who post introductory posts there are so profoundly relieved to find out they’re not alone that they become very emotional when telling their stories. They’ve thought all along that something terrible is wrong with them. They tried to make heterosexual and/or homosexual relationships work and only found disaster and discomfort. They were met with derision and mocking whenever they suggested maybe they just weren’t interested and maybe that’s okay. They didn’t know it was “okay to be asexual” until they found us (or me, or my articles, or AVEN, or my YouTube rants, etc.). And you’re telling me that my contribution to elevating understanding of and for this misunderstood minority just doesn’t matter and isn’t worth it? That’s a sad and ignorant thing to say, and it’s also kind of disappointing that you think it’s completely unimportant just because there’s “homosexuality, hiv, cancer, starvation” in the world.
Furthermore, do you think that people actually have to be killed over something before it matters? It doesn’t concern you at all that every asexual I know—including myself—has had to deal with close friends and family members telling them up front that they need counseling, that they “can’t” be this way and still be healthy, and that they aren’t qualified to describe their own feelings? Do you really think our situation can be summed up as “at the most you get ignorant questions thrown in your face”? Oh yes, please, speak for us. You must know what it’s like, eh? Actually, you’re belittling our problems by flippantly referring to our situation the way you do. But even though I’ve been fortunate enough to never doubt myself or define myself by other people’s opinions, not everyone is that lucky. Some people have to fight for years to overcome that core of self-doubt that was instilled in them when no one would accept their asexuality, and those so-called “ignorant questions” exacerbate the problem for these folks.
Your statement of “I doubt that you could make an argument that would convince me asexuality awareness [ … ] is a necessity” notwithstanding, I know a very large group of asexual folks (and their allies) who believe awareness is vital to the health and happiness of our people. It’s almost frightening to encounter someone like you who replies to my efforts with “your message is NOT important, and furthermore even if it WAS, you wouldn’t succeed anyway.” What do you expect would actually come about from such a defeatist attitude?
I don’t really care if you take my comment “personally” or not, but I am indeed attacking your attitude because I think it’s both insensitive and dangerous. Would you like someone to just crap all over something you find important because THEY don’t think it is? In any case I’ve already reached many people on my own, and the AVEN website (asexuality.org, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network) continues to provide a place for education and community for people like us. I don’t think I have over 300 subscribers because no one cares. I don’t think I’ve received thousands of comments and e-mails because no one cares. Before you go trying kick my mission in the nuts, how about educating yourself a little bit about what the people actually affected by it have to say?
In my opinion it is vital that more information is made available so honest dialogues, scientific research, and community can come about. People need support systems, discussion, and real understanding about this, and if we don’t talk about it, we just get to sit in the dark and be isolated and misunderstood. I don’t want that, and through the power of communication and technology, I have the power to contribute a small part to the collective understanding on this one topic that matters to me. Are you going to tell me that it shouldn’t matter, and tell me that there are limited, pre-approved issues of vast importance that I “should” be caring about instead? In fact, why have hobbies? Why have interests? Why are we allowed to watch TV or go to school when there are these massive ISSUES at hand? Well, because the importance of those issues doesn’t erase the legitimacy of any given chosen passion or cause. I’m having trouble even figuring out what you could have thought your point was there.
I already did a video on people just like you (Letters #5). An excerpt of this video and an interview with me are going to be featured on an upcoming documentary on the subject produced by a professional media group. I know of dozens of articles on the subject. There are at least twenty social networking, dating, and informative sites about asexuality out there. There have been television spots and televised interviews about it. Asexuality supporters even marched in a pride parade recently. All of this is evidence that plenty of people think it matters. Get your head out of the sand before you talk to me about this crap again, and maybe we can have an honest discussion. If you can’t do that, I don’t wanna hear it.
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