As an asexual woman, finding my place in the queer community wasn't as simple as it sounds

Nervously, I reached into my purse and pulled out my ID, flashing it to the bouncer. It was 6 p.m. and I'd just come from work. My roommates were supposed to meet me, but they were always late, and tonight was no exception. So, it was with a pounding heart that I faced the crowd alone, trying to find the least threatening person to approach.

It was my first Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) meeting, specifically for those in the LGBT community, and I thought I'd found my people. Queer and political, sign me up. But as I took a closer look at those milling around, I realized that the space didn't look that different from what I was used to. I was still in the minority, because of both my race and gender. I was still being talked at by men who thought they knew more than me. I was still around people who seemed to assume that everyone wanted sex.

One of the only other women in the group came up to me and said "It's good to see another one of us here." "Another what?" I asked, a bit confused. "Another lesbian," she replied easily, as if it were obvious.


But that was not true. I'm not a lesbian. I'm asexual. And I had thought that coming to a group geared toward LGBT individuals—the full acronym being LGBTQIA+, where the A stands for asexual (also known as "ace")—would have allowed me the opportunity to meet others who identified similarly.

After figuring out that I was asexual, I thought finding community would be easier

I'd done all the hard work of figuring out that I was ace—I thought that finding a community would be easier. After years of internalizing heteronormativity, of consuming various movies and books where sex and relationships were presented as the ultimate goals, it was no wonder that it took me such a long time to realize that I didn't want that. And even longer still to accept and embrace that part of my identity, to realize that there were others who felt the same way. There was a whole community out there if I could just find them.

With the DSA LGBT event, I finally thought that I had. It turned out that it wouldn't be that simple. I kept attending events with queer and LGBT+ labels attached to them, hoping that I'd find someone who would understand. But I was realizing that just because we shared the queer label did not mean that we shared experiences. Many understood being different, sure, but not the difference that I felt. They still experienced sexual attraction, just not of the heteronormative variety. Sometimes, these spaces were even more sexualized as people felt comfortable expressing themselves in ways they couldn't in everyday life.

To find other ace people, I had to look elsewhere

When I was unable to find the community I was searching for by going to in-person events, I turned to the internet. Once I knew the terminology, I was able to search on various social media sites. I started following a blog on Tumblr that posted about ace topics. I began to see others post about experiences that mirrored my own.

It was on Instagram that I found a community of ace individuals in New York, where I live. They posted various resources for asexuals and even hosted monthly events. What I'd so desperately wanted earlier, an in-person community, was suddenly within my grasp. The page posted about a new support group for asexuals, and I decided to go.

What struck me first was that the room was diverse—there were a lot of non-cis men and a lot of POC folks. The organizers were women of color. As people began to share their stories, I felt a sense of calm envelop my body—I had found people who understood me. They had been uncomfortable in high school because they didn't understand everyone's desire to have sex. They had faced challenges navigating dating when sexual intimacy was something that may not even be on the table. They were older and wiser and made me feel like it was all going to be alright.

I may not feel like I belong in all queer spaces, but I've found a queer space that fits me. This space, and the people in it, provide me with the confidence to live my life authentically, to embrace the ace part of my identity. And when I inevitably encounter those who don't understand me, I know I've got a place to go for support.

Here we are, six months into the coronavirus pandemic, and people are tired. We're tired of social distancing, wearing masks, the economic uncertainty, the constant debates and denials, all of it.

But no one is more tired than the healthcare workers on the frontline. Those whom we celebrated and hailed as heroes months ago have largely been forgotten as news cycles shift and increased illness and death become "normal." But they're still there. They're still risking themselves to save others. And they've been at it for a long time.

Mary Katherine Backstrom shared her experience as the wife of an ER doctor in Florida, explaining the impact this pandemic is having on the people treating its victims and reminding us that healthcare workers are still showing up, despite all of the obstacles that make their jobs harder.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

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Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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Kids say the darnedest things and, if you're a parent, you know that can make for some embarrassing situations. Every parent has had a moment when their child has said something unintentionally inappropriate to a stranger and they prayed they wouldn't take it the wrong way.

Cassie, the mother of 4-year-old Camryn, had one of the those moments when her child yelled, "Black lives matter" to a Black woman at a Colorado Home Depot.

But the awkward interaction quickly turned sweet when the Black woman, Sherri Gonzales, appreciated the comment and thanked the young girl.

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