halfthoughts

A gender journey

Tag: carnival of aces

Hitting Bottom and Reaching Out

This post was written for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around the topic “Resiliency”   

 [CW suicidal thoughts, depression]

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May 2016 Carnival Of Aces Roundup

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.

Being a Muslim Ace | Nuri

Nuri writes about their experiences as a Pakistani Muslim ace and differences between religion and culture.

My Islam is Queer | Laura (ace-muslim)

Laura writes about her experience converting to Islam and how it is intricately intertwined with her asexuality and queerness.

Asexuality and Paganism | Only Fragments

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

Asexuality, Spirituality, and Queerness | Only Fragments

Elyssa writes about how her asexuality and spirituality intersect with her queerness, as someone who identifies as a queer asexual.

Parallels Between Being Pagan and Being Ace | A Heart Full of Love

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.

Rational ideals | Free Thought Blogs

Siggy discusses his experience leaving straightness as an atheist, and how for him, leaving straighteness was a more emotional process than leaving religion.

I am asexual, and I’m an atheist | girls-youvegotanotherone

@girls-youvegotanotherone  writes about her experience in Christianity as an asexual atheist.

Questioning Faith | A³

A³ discusses the experience of losing faith in literature after identifying as asexual.

Episode One: My Ace Ring | la pamplemouse

La Pamplemouse discusses buying an ace ring and how it’s a symbol of faith and asexuality.

3 Things to Remember When Questioning Your Identity |Flying While Falling Down

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.

Don’t Panic! It’s just a crisis of faith! | This Too Shall Eventually Pass

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.

Faith and Asexuality | Erkenfresh

Erkenfresh discusses growing up Catholic and how religion may mask asexuality behind chastity.

Questioning as a Process | (Purr)ple (L)ace

Laura writes about the parallels between gradually discovering her asexuality and gradually questioning her faith, changing from Catholicism to Buddhism.

Questioning My Faith| Rock of Aces

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.

Questioning My Religion: A Journey of Faith and Asexuality | Where the Cherry Blossoms Dance

Saki writes about her journey of faith and asexuality from a Christian perspective, specifically discussing experiences with Catholicism and being a non denominational Christian.

What Asexuality Taught Me About Faith | Halfthoughts

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.

Jesus, now we’ve got bad blood | Aros and Aces

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.

What Asexuality Taught Me About Faith

This is a late post for the May Carnival of Aces on Questioning Your Faith hosted by me.


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.

On Questioning

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.

On Faith

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.

On Validation

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.

Update

I have received a lot of great submissions for the May Carnival of Aces on Questioning Your Faith. Thanks for all your awesome posts! I’m taking some mental health days, so I won’t be able to publish the round-up right away. But it’s coming! Just wanted to give an update.

 

Guest Post for the May Carnival Of Aces: Questioning Your Faith

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?

-Nuri

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! MAY 2016 CARNIVAL OF ACES: QUESTIONING YOUR FAITH

Hi! I’m your host for this month’s Carnival of Aces.

The Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival run by  The Asexual Agenda. For more information check out the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.

Last month’s Carnival was hosted by A³, on the topic Be Yourself (But Stretch). Check out April’s roundup here.

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.

  • What does faith mean to you and how has your ace spectrum identity influenced your faith life?
  • How has  asexuality shaped your understanding of your own faith?
  • How has your faith tradition been affirming or unaffirming of your ace identity?
  • Did your faith tradition negatively or positively affect your self-discovery process  as it relates to your ace spectrum identity?
  • Did your faith tradition influence your choice to come out or not?
  • Has questioning your asexuality played a role in questioning your faith? How has it played a role in strengthening or weakening your faith? How has it played a role in reshaping your faith, theology, or world view?
  • Has questioning and discovering your ace spectrum identity led you to change faiths or give up your faith? If you changed faiths, why? What was that process like?
  • How has your faith changed, grown, or developed after discovering your ace identity?
  • How has your ace spectrum identity taught you to have faith in yourself or others?
  • In what ways does accepting  and validating ace identities and experiences require a leap of faith?
  • Anything else you can think of!

Submissions in any form are welcome (written, drawn, audio, video, etc.). To submit you can comment below with a link or email me at myhalfthoughts@gmail.com.

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!

Be Yourself (But Stretch): Why I Tell People I’m Not Getting Married

This post was written for the April 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around the topic “Be yourself (but stretch).”

Since I’m not originally from Korea, I want to preface that all the observations of Korean society commented on in this post are seen through the outsider’s lens of a hapa, Korean-American.


Living in Korea for the last several years has made me super aware of the graduate-get-a-job-get-a-partner-get-married-have-kids-track that many people live.

A handful of friends back in the states are getting married too, but their path is a bit more meandering, so it doesn’t feel quite so in my face as it does in Korea.

Perhaps, it is just my particular friend group, coupled with the fact that when working in a company, I’m surrounded mostly by people who are more likely than me or my friends to be at the age for getting married. Although, that assumes the existence of an ideal “target age” for marriage, in the first place.

Or perhaps, in a company, I’m just surrounded by people who are in a stable place in their lives who feel ready to settle down, and have the desire to do so. I currently lack both the stability and the desire to get married. Although those aren’t necessarily correlated feelings. I also have friends who do have a high desire for marriage, even if they currently lack the stability for it.

Regardless, observing this track to marriage and kids feels like watching a conveyer belt in a factory, kind of like the scene with the chocolates in I Love Lucy. The chocolates are just going by so fast I can’t keep up anymore. Plus, the problem is- I don’t even want to eat the chocolate in the first place. I wish I could just opt out of participating in the assembly line entirely.

I haven’t come out to many people about my asexuality. Some close friends and family know, but it’s not something I’ve announced to the world, especially not strangers or my former Korean co-workers.

There are several reasons for this. One being- it’s still new to me, so I’m not yet ready to share. Another being- it’s not necessarily a commonly known term even among native English speakers, so explaining it to someone whose first language is not English would require lots of effort that just feels daunting.

For me, telling people that I’m not planning to get married is my way of coming out publicly as asexual without actually coming out. It’s my way of owning my asexual and wtfromantic orientation by taking control of the narrative I live by.

For women in Korea, even if they don’t join the marriage fast track, they are constantly bombarded with the expectation to get married eventually. Family members pester them with questionnaires to fill out for prospective blind dates. As they get older, all their siblings, cousins, and friends start falling off the singlehood-wagon around them. Aunts, grandparents, and parents then focus all their attention on the singletons in the family, doubling their efforts at matchmaking, and increasing the frequency of inquires into not-yet-married statuses.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” and  “When are  you going to get married?” are very common small talk questions in Korea.

I have just begun saying, “I’m not.”

And the next response is usually, “Oh, don’t worry you’ll meet someone some day” or “You’ll change your mind when you meet the right person.”

I get this same response even from fellow single women who haven’t yet been matched up.  I just smile politely because they don’t realize I’m not even looking for the right person. And besides, their version of the right person definitely does not match mine.

When I was first coming to terms with my own asexuality, I began to question everything. I was confused about how to understand my romantic orientation, attractions, and gender identity and how those experiences all intersected with my asexuality.

I decided the first step in taking ownership over my own story, was to start actively rejecting the cisnormative/ heteronormative narrative that I’ve been mindlessly digesting all my life.

The one that says someday my prince charming will come, sweep me off my feet, and we will live happily ever after. The one that says my prince is of course going to be male, and that the living-happily-ever-after will include a romantic/sexual relationship, marriage, and kids.

What if I want my prince to be a princess? What if I don’t want to be saved but I want to save myself? What if I want my happily-ever-after to be a friendship or a QPR or two separate castle condos side by side so we can be neighbors rather than have a bed that we share?

I don’t know yet what my happily-ever-after is going to be. I am aware that I can’t predict the future, so it could be that I change my mind and decide to get married someday. Or even if I don’t get married, I might chose to enter a committed relationship of some other form. (Although, if I do follow through with either of those things, it will likely be with someone female or non-binary).

“I’m not going to get married” is simply my subversive way to say- I’m certainly not going to get married to who you think, and on top of that, I have no interest in what marriage traditionally represents.