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Ace Week

October 27th, 2021 An Interview with Raven Wilson for Disabled Ace Day

In this series, we interview a variety of Disabled Aces with diverse backgrounds in honor of #DisabledAceDay and in conjunction with Ace Week.

For our next interview in the series, we will hear from Raven Wilson, a Black, Blind, Aro-Ace from Southwest Illinois. I personally have had the privilege of volunteering with her on accessibility issues pertaining to Asexual events, so I can attest that not only is she a joy to be around, but she is also an asset to the community with many valuable insights. 

Please introduce yourself! How do you identify in terms of asexuality, disability, passions, professions, or anything else you’d like to share with us? 

Hi, I’m Raven (she/her). I’m a 25-year-old currently living on the border of Illinois and Missouri. I’m bi aromantic asexual and have been apart of the ace community specifically for almost six years. I have been blind since birth due to a degenerative birth defect in my eyes and brain. I also have a few mental health diagnoses and identify as Neurodivergent.

In my free time I enjoy consuming as much Marvel media as I can get my hands on, writing original and fanfiction, and experimenting with various other creative pursuits.

How do your asexual and disabled identities interact with one another and what unique challenges have you faced while living at this intersection? 

Being a disabled ace who is also aro, one of the challenges I face is dealing with people who try to use my disabilities to invalidate my orientation. Due to the de-sexualization of disabled people, we are stereotyped as not knowing the intricacies of sexual and/or romantic interactions. I’ve had my fair share of people suggest[ing] to me that my naivety about sex and others’ reluctance to engage with disabled people is the reason for my seeming lack of attraction. 

I’ve also had it suggested to me several times that my asexuality and aromanticism were symptoms of mental health conditions and it would get better in time. I think what ties my Ace and disability experiences together is this notion that there is a measure of normal and anything that falls outside of that needs to be dissected and cured if it’s existence is even acknowledged at all. People who pray for me to have 20/20 vision and those who say that therapy will allow me to be able to “love properly” operate off of the same basic flawed logic.

Have you personally experienced any ableism from within the asexual or other LGBTQ2IA+ communities?

I personally haven’t experienced direct ableism from either community, but I know others who have. I think my most prevalent experience has been with access barriers in digital spaces. The Ace community as a whole has been taking steps to make digital content more inclusive, but there are still platforms and media that I don’t have access to as a blind person, and therefore feel out of the loop at times.

Have you personally experienced any acephobia from the disability community?

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced a fair bit of acephobia. Within the blindness community, I’ve often been laughed at, invalidated, and pestered to “give it a try.” I’ve often been accused of making up terms or trying to be special. Because asexuality and aromanticism aren’t well known in the blindness community, it is very difficult to find other blind aces and/or aros to build connections with. 

In the greater disability community, most of the acephobia I’ve encountered has been erasure. Aces are often an afterthought if they’re a thought at all and I often am made to feel like a contradiction to disability activism when so much energy is going towards combatting de-sexualization.

What advice do you have for folks who wish to become better allies to disabled aces?

My two pieces of advice are to listen and don’t make assumptions. Listen to disabled ace voices and uplift us in community spaces. Listen to us when we say something is ableist or an access barrier. Realize that our disability and orientation are a part of us and it doesn’t matter how they both came to be, if there’s some kind of cause and effect or not, or where one ends and the other begins. Also, don’t assume that you know our stories or what’s best for our community. Knowing one story does not translate to knowing them all and it’s unfair to place the burden on a single person to be representative of an entire diverse group.

Shameless self-promotion time! Do you have a business, project, artwork, or other content we should know about? Give us those links!

As I mentioned in my intro, I love writing and doing other creative things. I have a website where I collect all my little fun experiments. There’s blog posts, original fiction, fan fiction, Garage Band music and so much more. You can check me out at

www.theravenssandbox.com

You can also check out some of my fanfiction on Archive of Our Own (AO3). I’m Mysterious Sunshine

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