Here is the roundup of posts for the May 2016 Carnival of Aces, on the topic of Questioning Your Faith. I received a lot of great submissions and I loved reading about everyone’s various faith journeys. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories!
June’s Carnival of Aces is hosted by Rock Of Aces.
Nuri writes about their experiences as a Pakistani Muslim ace and differences between religion and culture.
Laura writes about her experience converting to Islam and how it is intricately intertwined with her asexuality and queerness.
Elyssa discusses her journey to accept and embrace her own asexuality as a follower of Bast, and how to navigate relationships with traditionally sexualized deities
Elyssa writes about how her asexuality and spirituality intersect with her queerness, as someone who identifies as a queer asexual.
Libris writes about the parallels of being pagan and being ace, and her process of denial rather than questioning that led to converting to Celtic paganism and discovering her asexual identity.
Siggy discusses his experience leaving straightness as an atheist, and how for him, leaving straighteness was a more emotional process than leaving religion.
@girls-youvegotanotherone writes about her experience in Christianity as an asexual atheist.
A³ discusses the experience of losing faith in literature after identifying as asexual.
La Pamplemouse discusses buying an ace ring and how it’s a symbol of faith and asexuality.
Sara writes about what to remember when questioning your orientation and how to find faith that who you decide you are is who you’re meant to be.
Mara Jane writes about her experiences discovering her asexual and aromantic identity and how questioning her sexuality has led her to question her faith in other things such as her life plan.
Erkenfresh discusses growing up Catholic and how religion may mask asexuality behind chastity.
Laura writes about the parallels between gradually discovering her asexuality and gradually questioning her faith, changing from Catholicism to Buddhism.
Roxa writes about their perspective on faith as a nonbinary, aro ace, Christian and how they are constantly questioning their faith, but always find faith in their own story.
Saki writes about her journey of faith and asexuality from a Christian perspective, specifically discussing experiences with Catholicism and being a non denominational Christian.
Halfthoughts writes about how questioning their asexual/queer identity led them to question their faith, specifically in the Catholic, Christian, and Yoga traditions, and what they have learned about faith from being asexual.
Roses, an ex-Catholic, discusses their relationship with asexuality and lack of faith (in a religious sense) and how for them, deconversion and asexuality are very directly linked.
I have a lot of feels on this topic. I probably won’t be able to get them all into one post, so I may expand later. For today’s post I want to talk about how being asexual has not only led me to question and change my faith, but also taught me about what faith really is.
My faith has radically transformed since I first discovered my asexual/ queer identity a little over a year ago. I’ve quit two “religions” in the last year and how I would self-identify my faith affiliation is still constantly shifting. It’s hard to say if it was being asexual, specifically, that motivated me to change faith traditions. Regardless, it was questioning my identity which allowed me to even think about questioning my faith.
I never would have questioned my faith had I not started questioning my asexual/queer identity. Ultimately, it was being immersed in queer discourse that really strengthened my faith in questioning my own faith.
For a little background, I grew up Catholic and was actively practicing for 28 years of my life. I spent my middle and high school years immersed in a presbyterian youth group community, and have spent time amongst protestant and non-denominational Christian circles for much of my college and post college life. I’ve spent 7 years actively practicing and training to be a yoga teacher, although I recently ended that immersion experience. I’ve spent 8 years practicing meditation in various forms; currently I actively practice mindfulness meditation in the Zen Buddhist tradition, although I wouldn’t say I’m a Buddhist. As I write this I realize I’ve been mixing and matching my faiths longer than I realized. I just never really gave myself permission to actually admit it before.
I like that queer circles re-enforce the idea that not only is it OK to question your identity, but it’s also OK to change your mind later. If one label doesn’t work for you after all, and you decide to change it later, there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I even worry that maybe I’m not really ace after all. Maybe I’m demisexual. Or maybe I’m just a repressed lesbian. It’s hard to tell. But the thing is it doesn’t matter. Today I identify as asexual and that is enough. If I change how I chose to label my identity at a later time, that doesn’t invalidate my identity as I perceive it to be now.
The same can be applied to my faith. Today I might identify as Buddhist, and 2 months ago I might have identified as a Yogi, and a year ago I might have identified as Catholic. The fact that I don’t identify with those faith traditions now doesn’t invalidate the fact that I identified with them then. And if I chose to reclaim any of those labels at a future date, I’m totally allowed to do that, too.
Being asexual has taught me more about faith than anything I ever learned in a religious text, church, or temple.
Like faith, asexuality is invisible and a lot of people don’t believe it exists, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is there. I often question myself trying to figure out if I really am asexual or not. It’s hard to have complete trust in something that’s not there and that I can’t see. I have days where I’m 100% positive it’s legit. And other days where I doubt myself.
Also I’ve learned to be more tolerant of other people’s faiths. Another person’s identity doesn’t invalidate my own ace identity, just as my own ace identity doesn’t invalidate another’s identity that is different than mine. We can co-exist with different identities and trust each other that both our experiences are valid. So if someone has a different faith than me I’m learning how to co-exist with them as well.
Let’s look at one of the definitions of faith: strong belief or trust in someone or something. The idea that people should just accept whatever identity you identify with solely because you said so, is rooted in the idea of faith. That idea is like saying, let’s all have faith in each other- that we are what we say we are.
It requires a blind trust in people. I say blind, because no one can experience what another person is experiencing. So we have to blindly trust that what they say is true about themselves, is indeed true.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from the queer community is the importance of validation. There are so many posts on tumblr on youtube, online that reiterate the message over and over that You are Valid. You are loved. Your identity is valid. Only you have the right to choose how to identify. And most importantly, you also have the right to change your mind.
These messages can be applied to so many things. They can be applied to my sexuality, my gender identity, my mental health, my faith journey. I am allowed to question. I’m allowed to identify as one way one day and then another way the next day. There are no gatekeepers to my identity. And I am allowed to change my mind.
I’m allowed to change from being Catholic, to being a yogi, to being a buddhist, to being whatever. Whatever spiritual practice I try is valid because it’s right for me. And if one doesn’t work for me, my higher power doesn’t love me any less.
I used to feel like I wasn’t a good enough Catholic because I did yoga and I like to chant in sanskrit. I used to feel like I wasn’t a good enough Christian because I didn’t really believe in the Jesus as Savior story. I used to feel like I wasn’t a good enough yogi because I couldn’t stand on my head.
There’s no such thing as being good enough. I’m Catholic if I chose to be. I’m Christian if I chose to be. I’m a yogi if I choose to be. Priests, pastors, and yoga teachers do not get to gatekeep my religious identity in the same way that members of the LGBTQ+ community do not get to gatekeep my ace identity, my queer identity, or my gender identity.
I remember having a half-thought a while back that the queer community has become my church in a way. It’s a place where I’m constantly shown unconditional love by complete strangers. It’s a place where I’m validated, supported, encouraged, and loved. As it should be.
I know there are a lot of posts these days reiterating to aces that they are valid, no matter where they fall on the spectrum. I appreciate these posts a lot. When you are someone at the bottom of your rope and you literally feel like you are not valid- to hear someone say that you are, is so incredibly life giving. Imagine if every bible-thumping, ex-gay camp leader and church goer were to replace their toxic messages towards the queer community with, “You are valid.” THAT is real faith. THAT is real unconditional love.
I know that being queer has completely reshaped the lens through which I view and understand theology. Even though these days I don’t affiliate with a specific “religion,” I know that my Higher Power sees me, loves me, and believes that I am enough exactly as I am. Even if what I think I am changes from day to day.
This guest post was written by Nuri for the May Carnival of Aces on the theme Questioning Your Faith.
Being a Muslim ace is like, “Well, it might be okay, but at the same time, it could ruin my life.” Some people in your community will accept you because they’re beautiful human beings, and others won’t because they’ve been brought up in a culture which they’re taught is synonymous with their religion, when it actually isn’t.
Do you know what the purpose of a Pakistani Muslim woman is? It’s to get married and cook and clean for your husband, who is obviously too high above you to do anything to help. I am so lucky that my parents don’t expect that of me. As an aroace nonbinary lazy ass who doesn’t want to do chores, I would disappoint them in so very many respects.
But religion is not the same as culture. And while many Muslim aces probably live in padlocked closets like me because of a toxic culture, religion, at its core, is about your relationship with God. That’s why I think that no matter what your gender or sexuality, it’s easy to have faith in God not despite it, but because of it. It’s a Muslim belief that life is a test, and being ace is just a part of that for me.
Having faith in other people is what’s really difficult. Coming out isn’t ideal for me right now, because I only just got my parents off my back about how I want to be a writer instead of a doctor and study English instead of medicine (any Asian kids can probably relate). Now I have to convince them that not getting married and/or not having sex does not equate to total unhappiness without accidentally coming out.
For me, religion never needed to be a weapon to exclude people, because it is for everyone. I wish that other people could see the merits of that way of thinking. But if there’s a message to this, it’s that you shouldn’t let other people tell you whether you can have faith in God or not. Those people are disgusting gatekeepers. And nearly all of us aces know how damaging gatekeeping is, don’t we…
So being a Muslim ace is a bit like being an ace of any other religion or non-religion, actually. It might be okay, but at the same time, it could ruin your life. I hope that all my ace siblings have a good day and don’t lose faith, okay?
Hi! I’m your host for this month’s Carnival of Aces.
For this month, I’ve chosen the theme Questioning Your Faith. Previously there was a Carnival of Aces on the topic of religion (or atheism) and asexuality. I’m interested in hearing more perspectives on the interplay between questioning one’s asexuality and questioning one’s faith.
In LGBTQA+ discourse there is a lot of validation of questioning your identity. Often questioning one aspect of your identity leads to questioning another. Exploration and experimentation is encouraged. I’m curious about how often that questioning carries over to questioning one’s faith and how that plays out, especially among the ace community.
Here are some dictionary definitions of faith:
: strong belief or trust in someone or something
: belief in the existence of God
: strong religious feelings or beliefs
: a system of religious beliefs
For the purposes of this topic, the definition of faith is quite open. For example, in addition to religious faith, one could have faith in an ideology, a political movement, or a person. Feel free to interpret faith however you want when writing your response.
Below are some possible ideas to get you started. Of course, feel free to write about anything else that comes to mind when thinking about this topic.
Submissions in any form are welcome (written, drawn, audio, video, etc.). To submit you can comment below with a link or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest posts are also welcome! If you would like to post anonymously, let me know and I will copy and paste text from an email into a guest post on my blog.
I look forward to reading your thoughts!