In this series, we interview a variety of Disabled Aces with diverse backgrounds in honor of #DisabledAceDay and in conjunction with Ace Week.
For this interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with Amanda Norvelli. Coming to us from Alaska, she gives us an open and honest view into her experience as a Disabled Ace by speaking about her complicated journey of self-discovery as well as the difficulties of openly disclosing her invisible disability. Keep your fingers crossed with me that she gets her literary agent soon, and meanwhile, please enjoy the interview!
Please introduce yourself! How do you identify in terms of asexuality, disability, passions, professions, or anything else you’d like to share with us?
Hello! My name is Amanda Norvelli, I am an aspiring author currently seeking an agent. I have lived in Alaska almost my entire life. I also identify as an asexual biromantic, which initially made the journey a bit challenging for me as I knew from a young age I was interested in all genders.
However, I also connected with the term asexual because I have always been sex adverse, and not interested in it at the least. It wasn't until recently I finally discovered that I could be both! Since coming to terms with that I have felt so much more comfortable in my skin.
How do your asexual and disabled identities interact with one another and what unique challenges have you faced while living at this intersection?
I am disabled by chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Which means I am both tired, and in pain more often than not. Whenever I've spoken to anyone, really, about being both aspects of my life they often say that the only reason I am asexual is because of my fibro—due to pain during sex and whatnot. But, I've been ace my entire life, even prior to my diagnosis.
The other thing is since my disability is invisible people often think that I am just trying or making the pain and discomfort up, which they then also apply to my asexuality. So, more often than not I'm dismissed and told that I just need to be better. It is so harmful for my self-esteem.
Have you personally experienced any ableism from within the asexual or other LGBTQ2IA+ communities?
I don't really disclose my disability to many people for fear of being judged or told that I am making it up. As I already experience that when I express my asexuality, I've learned to keep my cards close. Sure, I have it pasted all over my twitter profile. However, I don't really put myself out there in communities because I've been ousted and hurt in the past.
Have you personally experienced any acephobia from the disability community?
I don't go around to the disability community at large, to be honest. I fear the recoil I've already received from other communities so I tend to just stick to Fibromyalgia circles and the like. From my experience, the people in the fibromyalgia communities aren't typically acephobic, but that's mostly because we all are united under the fact that sex hurts.
What advice do you have for folks who wish to become better allies to disabled aces?
I have always been a strong proponent of acceptance. If someone confides enough to share their struggles with you, accept it. Don't question their feelings, don't belittle their opinions, empathize and believe them. We all want to be liked and find a community and place that feels like home. It's hard when we've been hurt already from this, that, or the other thing. Just accepting, caring, and getting to understand us is a life changer.
Shameless self-promotion time! Do you have a business, project, artwork, or other content we should know about? Give us those links!
I would regularly advertise my artwork here, but since my Fibromyalgia has been worsening, I can't do that either. So, instead, if you'd like to support me, follow me on Twitter whenever I do pitch contests (like #PitMad #DVpit or #LGBTpit) give me a retweet and I'll be grateful!