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?”
From 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.