Why I Wear an Ace Ring

I saw someone complaining about aces rings the other day.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  “Really?” I thought.  “This is what they’re complaining about now?”

a black ringFrom what I can tell, some ostensibly-allosexual person walked into the tag to announce that they can’t take ace rings seriously, speaking under the assumption that aces wear ace rings to “show off” our orientation, to which they also added that wearing orientation symbols at pride events is okay but “to do it everyday is stupid, why does it have to be such a thing”, as if the choice to wear ace rings is a big, obtrusive annoyance that undercuts our credibility somehow.

Aces.  Y’know.  So in your face about their sexuality.  Man.  It’s possible to take them seriously, but not when they insist on wearing rings that hold a symbolic meaning for them.  That’s just going too far.

For one thing, I think it’s pretty hilarious that someone would claim something as small as wearing a ring every day is asking for too much attention, as if even a simple black band is too ostentatious for us.  It’s not like we wear big silly hats every day.  Although, to be clear, I 100% endorse the wearing of big silly ace pride hats.  Anyway, since it’s apparently possible for there to be confusion on the matter, this post will discuss one (of the many) possible reasons for choosing to wear an ace ring.

Note for the uninformed: an ace ring is a term for a black ring, usually worn on the right middle finger, that the wearer intends as a symbol of their ace identity.  There are no further requirements than that.  Any black ring will do.  I got a cheap one off Amazon.

Since most people in my general vicinity don’t know what asexuality is in the first place, I’m not counting on them to recognize my ring as an ace pride symbol.  Only two allosexual people have ever indicated that they’ve noticed it, and neither of them knew what it stood for.  It has not, as far as I know, ever been recognized an ace ring.  The tradition of ace rings is not well-known in the slightest, so trying to shove my orientation in everyone’s face by wearing an ace ring would not be very effective.  Hence that’s not why I do it.

When I first went into research overdrive mode on asexuality and started digging into the ace community, I was hungry for information; I was beginning to think I might be on the asexual spectrum and I wanted to know what the in-jokes were, what the terminology was, what the symbols were.  I had found a group of people like myself and I was pouncing on everything I could find that was related.

All of this took place through the internet.  I had no contact with any aces in real life, and my online contact with them was mostly passive — reading, not conversing.  As far as I knew, I was surrounded by allosexual people, and I had some pretty good reasons to believe that if some of them knew, they wouldn’t accept me.  Or rather, they wouldn’t accept the validity of my orientation; they already didn’t accept me, and this would just make matters worse.

So when I learned about ace rings, I knew I wanted to get one.  First, because they’re cool, but more importantly: I had just discovered a community of people who felt just as alienated by compulsory sexuality as I did, and who were engaged in the kinds of discussions I’d always wanted to have, and who already understood something about me that I’d never been able to explain to anyone else, or even in my head, to myself.  I wanted to latch onto it — the community, the discourse, the whole idea of asexuality, everything — and keep it close to myself.  I wanted to hold it against my skin and keep it with me.

Maybe you’ll never understand if you’ve never been through anything similar, in which case, don’t try to.

When I first bought that black ring off Amazon, I wasn’t expecting anyone recognize it for what it was.  That’s not what it’s for.  From the beginning, that ring wasn’t meant for anyone else but me.  I had just comes to terms with the fact that I’m not heterosexual, that the existence of my orientation is something that most people don’t even know about, and I wanted to wear an ace ring as a way remind myself that I’m not the only one.

So sure, you can hold out hope that one day someone will recognize the ring for what it is.  It’s happened to people before.  But that’s not why I wear it.  For me, and for lots of other aces, these rings are a token of our connection to one another, even when it feels like we’re spread thin across the world.  Regardless of whether anyone else sees it, it’s a personal consolation.

As usual, allowhiners, you’ve got it backwards.  It’s not about proclaiming we’re different.  It’s about carrying on our hands a reminder that there are others, somewhere, who are the same.

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42 responses to “Why I Wear an Ace Ring

  • Midori Skies

    I actually met someone at my college a few weeks ago who was wearing the black ring. I commented. He told me about the local ace meetups that I should go to. And probably will, at some point.

    I never really cared about the ring thing before, but now I’m kind of thinking of getting one. Not to “show off” my orientation, but because it will perhaps make it easier to connect with other people like me, or because maybe, if another ace sees it, they won’t feel like they’re the only one.

    • acetheist

      Ah man, I envy you there — my city doesn’t have any ace meetups. I’ve been to one before, but it was a three-hour drive from here.

      Both of those are good reasons. Maybe this is more the exception than the rule, but I know if I saw somebody else wearing a black ring on their middle finger, I’d get ridiculously excited.

  • Calum P Cameron

    Nice.
    I only heard that ace rings were a thing about a month or two ago, and until now I didn’t know what they actually were.
    I never really had much opportunity to speak with more experienced asexuals who could, uh, induct me into the society, as it were. I worked out what asexuality was from occasional mentions in literature and on the internet – pretty sure I first came across the concept in an article about Doctor Who, and later on I found the Tvtropes page for the concept – and it eventually became clear that I WAS one. I’ve been working the rest of it out as I go, so most of the in-jokes are pretty new to me.
    I may yet decide to get one of these rings, if only on the off-chance that it might be encouraging to other people.

    This does all remind me of a time, a year or two ago, when my mother straight-up told me that I shouldn’t tell people I was an asexual because being open about one’s sexuality was inappropriate.
    My only response was that the argument wasn’t very compelling when it came from a woman with a wedding band on her finger and “Mr and Mrs John Cameron” written on her tax returns.

  • Linn

    Seriously, these people?! And why?! Where do they get off being this bigoted, ignorant, and feeling full of privilege? Like, seriously. :/ It just boggles me. I don’t understand how wearing an ace ring is “showing off.” Heterosexuals/allosexuals get to show that they’re such, with even MORE overt symbolism. Case in point: An allosexual girl/guy can wear certain clothes to attract the opposite sex; couples can wear rings or pieces of jewelry to show to the world their relationship to the other person; crude t-shirts…well, you can fill in the blanks from there. Just…wow. Okay, so allosexuals are free to be open with their sexuality, but aces can’t.
    Yeah. I’m so glad you don’t let these people bog you down with such ridiculous trash. I’m glad that you stay as brilliant and as awesome as you are.

    • acetheist

      Heh, thanks, but it’s nothing new after a while. On tumblr, it’s impossible to browse the asexuality tag for very long without encountering something like “I don’t believe in asexuality” or “People who call themselves asexual just want to be special snowflakes” or whatever’s the order of the day. The ring complaint, though, is unusually silly, which is why it stood out to me.

      I’d argue that there are aces who’d do those things listed too, but yeah, given that it’s hard to express asexuality overtly on its own (whereas allos can indicate their orientation just by saying who they think is hot) the idea that we can’t have other means of indicating our orientation just comes off as an attempt to silence us and cover up any reminders that we exist.

      • Jaylah

        Okay, that made me laugh. I was surfing the net, looking for someplace to buy an ace ring that 1) didn’t cost several hundred dollars and 2) wouldn’t have the black scratch off in two weeks. And I came across this page. And now I don’t just want an ace-ring, but I also want my own custom-designed T-shirt that says, “Why yes, I AM a special snowflake.” :)

  • Liv

    So, I’m a newley identified asexual, and I’m thinking about starting to wear an ace ring. Thank you about the wonderful ace artical-I really appreciate it. Some people think being asexual is strange, but if married couples can wear wedding rings, why should asexuals not be able to wear an ace ring?

    • acetheist

      Thank you for reading it. I’m glad it’s proved useful to someone.

      Yeah, that’s a fair question — jewelry has a long history of being symbolic. What sense does it make to arbitrarily draw the line at sexual orientation?

  • Amy Pond

    I always think of the ace ring as like the secret handshake we use to identify each other in a giant crowd of non-aces. :)

  • locoluna77

    This is a wonderful post! I don’t wear rings, I play with them too much, so I compromised and got a black ear cuff that I wear on my right ear. I will say that I’ve never seen anyone wearing an ace ring, but I did get really excited when I saw one of my professors was wearing a plain dark band. It was on his left ring finger though, and he talks about his husband all the time so that was short lived. I really identified with your last few paragraphs, my number one thing I wish I could have is an ace friend, just so that I would have someone who thinks like me. Ah well.

    • acetheist

      Same! Thanks for commenting.

    • Frances

      In pretty much all cases “husband” or “wife” refers to someone involved in a sexual relationship. So the assumption that the ring does not refer to asexuality is probably valid. But I wonder. Does it have to be that way? Must the terms “husband” and “wife” be restricted to allosexuals? Some people assert that it is possible for two asexual people to have a romantic relationship. But even if it’s not, does that mean that asexual people are incapable of love? isn’t it possible to love someone and to want make a life together without either sex or romance?

      Think of the standard wedding vows. (For example, one very, very traditional one: “I, ________, take thee ________, to be my husband/wife,and before God and these witnesses I promise to be a faithful and true husband/wife.”) Nowadays (especially in Western culture), effective, easy to obtain birth control has rendered sexual fidelity, in many cases, largely an emotional issue. Aren’t there many reasons to marry someone other than to have a socially acceptable sexual (or even romantic) relationship? There are of course sometimes financial or political reasons; but setting those aside (along with the romantic one), wouldn’t it still be important for a committed, emotionally significant (loving?) relationship to be acknowledged, respected and honored–and worthy of support of all kinds–by those known to the couple?

      And, bottom line: isn’t the public acknowledgement of and respect for an important, committed, personal relationship the essence of our understanding of (and reason to use) the term marriage”

      Please note: I don’t think of these as rhetorical questions. I am honestly wondering. Or perhaps, thinking on it now, just putting a wish into question form… But even if I am, mightn’t these things be, at least theoretically possible?

  • icelily

    I never knew of their existence but just today I was reading something on AVEN and it led me to thinking there has to be a subtle way to ward off non-asexual people from hitting on you without making them them feel its personal. So (as a girl lol) I immediately thought of jewelry and thought a ring with an obvious ACE sign on it would be small enough to not be noticed unless you yourself make it noticed (like if you thought something might be up but your not sure and don’t wanna make things awkward just casually make the ring more visible to the person until they ask about or you bring it up yourself). At the same time I thought it’d be a great way to attract/notice other asexuals as well. So i searched google wondering if such a thing existed and was completely thrilled that it was already a thing!!!!!

    • acetheist

      Yep. Unfortunately, it’s not well known outside the ace community, so it won’t help you with your first problem, but it is handy for identifying the other asexuals in the room (aka figuring out whose table to go sit at when you’re attending an ace meetup).

  • Elijah

    Is the finger you put it on all that important, or is the hand what really matters? I wear an ace ring on my right hand, except it’s on my pinky because 1) it’s too small to fit on my middle finger. 2) that’s my writing hand and I imagine a middle finger ring would just get in the way. 3) there is already a tradition of pinky rings in the queer community.

  • #80 – wear an ace ring – Chibi Writes

    […] soon as I heard about the concept of an ace ring [1 and 2 – click for detailed explanations] I was fascinated. I found out I was asexual a few years […]

  • Kay

    I only recently decided to take up the label of asexual, and I was considering buying a black ring. However, shortly after this I was at a party and I noticed that my brother’s girlfriend was wearing the asexual ring. I told her that I was asexual and she confirmed that she was too. I feel like I have been able to help her to come out to my brother/her boyfriend. And that is a good feeling.we are not alone. Knowing at a glace that there are other asexual s round me has made my coming out easier, and allowed me to help them too.
    She gave me a black ring like hers. Now we’re both ok :)

  • aryan801chan

    can’t find the ‘right’ black ring yet so I just dump my fav white stainless steel ring in a can of black paint and fish it out _ _!

  • Anonymous

    I just started thinking I might belong to the ace community about five or six months ago. I’m twenty-two years old, graduating college, and am still a virgin. I thought something was wrong with me because despite having the opportunity, I just was never interested. I mentioned this to one of my friends and she told me about a blog that I should look into on asexuality and it was like finding my people. It was so affirming – like a checklist. Yes, I am all of these things, but so are other people. I’m not a freak! It was fantastic. I threw myself into researching the community because the more I learned, the more I felt like I was okay. I was in class one day and I saw a girl wearing an ace ring. I caught up to her after class and tried to be subtle in asking her where she had got it and if it meant anything to her and low and behold, she was also ace. She was so relieved, and I was so excited because we go to a private, Christian university where sexuality is not up for debate and lack of sexuality means you need a doctor. We got to talking and boom! Brand new friend. It was great. I ordered an ace ring off of ebay (I’m too broke even for amazon) a few days later. Because I completely agree with you. It’s not about being different, it’s about finding people who are the same. The relief we both felt was because we both needed validation in an environment that is so hostile to people who are different. The rings provided that.

  • Vince

    I am grey asexual and have just ordered the ring from Amazon that you linked to. :)

  • Mxtrmeike13

    So I just realized it’s normally written on the right middle finger. I always thought it was the left middle finger, kind of like an “eff you” ti the concept of heteronormativity and the instituion of marriage. My ring only fits my left middle finger. Guess I’ll continue to be a half-assed ace….

  • Anonymous

    I was glad to read this, I feel the same about wearing it. I’ve never drawn attention to it or even mentioned it to my friends (who do know I’m ace), but in a world obsessed with the idea that people aren’t complete unless they’re part of a pair, it’s a reassurance that I belong with a group of people who understand how I feel.

  • Anonymous

    That’s like saying “stop shoving your marriage in my face by wearing a wedding band”.

  • Crystal

    Where can you buy this ring?

  • Anonymous

    Ace rings are awesome. Thanks to this unobtrusive black and simple jewelry, I found out someone I know is ace. Asking about the sexuality is so much easier:
    “That ring… you wear it pretty often. Does it have any meaning?”
    “Uhm, yeah. You do too, right?”
    “Yeah, haha. So… do you like cake?”
    That’s when that person had to laugh.
    “Yeah, yeah I do!!! Man, never knew there was a chance… I thought you just wear it because it’s.. cool or something!”
    “Well, it IS cool.”

    So we never mentioned the word ace or asexual. We just knew. And that experience is really nice.

  • Viorel

    OK, so I had have sex, I still do… but it wont give me what I want, I feel like.. well its hard. All my life I thought there was nobody for me, but now I think like, what, if I’m not for anybody, what if, I only belong to my self?? what if I’m really asexual? I’m really new to this and I found a ring on wish, and its awesome but it only fits my thumb, is it OK to wear it in that finger?? also, I’m alone, I live in a small town in Costa Rica, and I don’t even know a trans in real life… this is hard…

  • Lady K

    I seriously cannot tell you how much of a comfort it is to realize that I’m not broken or damaged after all. In a world catered to the sexual, it is a huge relief to know that being asexual is not only okay, but also something that doesn’t need fixing. I also want to get the ring to remind myself that I’m not a freak. Or a tree.

  • Sally St John

    I wear an ace ring, and have for about 10 years. No one has ever noticed or asked about it and I lived in SF bay area! I recently relocated to a small northern Calif town, so I would be quite surprised if anyone would know it’s symbolism here! I too bought my original one on Amazon, but the black wore off within a couple of months. I then found a silicone (black) ringt on Amazon and have been wearing it for over nine years. And it is so comfortable! I am 65 years young and lucky that I have a dog for companionship because I doubt if I will ever find a cuddle buddy.

  • Anonymous

    My aceness has always been there but biology class thought me only certain living species could be asexual. The lack of integral sexual education was insane. They only tried to teach us how to put a condom. Not telling you thats useless but.. how about including sexual orientations, rape, genender or agender identifications,etc? I found not long ago about my asexuality and i can tell you i have never felt so relieved to know im not a plant and that a community with the same orientation like mine exists. I will always feel proud to wear my black ring :) cheers my ace fellows! Youre loved x

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