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  • Nele Janssens

Misha Verdonck

A sticky drop hit my thumb. Enchanted by Misha’s words – and their sweet voice – I had forgotten about the now melting peach flavored popsicle they’d offered me. Little did I know I was not only eating a stone fruit, I was talking to one too.

“I am aspec, on the spectrum of asexuality. In that context, I often call myself a ‘stone fruit’: ‘stone’ is another word for asexual, while fruit is slang for gay. Ironically, I don’t even like peaches!”

“My being aspec means that I’m rarely (and if it happens, barely) sexually attracted to other people. This attraction can occur without an emotional bond, but it happens seldom – like once every five year – and in order for me to feel it, I have to make an effort.

Sex isn’t really a driving force in my life. Sometimes I like to do it, sometimes I don’t. Receiving is especially hard for me. This is actually the origin of the word ‘stone’ for ‘aspec’: the word can be traced back to lesbian circles, where ‘stone butches’ are women who love giving sexual pleasure, but not receiving it. When I feel good, I like giving, but I can do without sex altogether. I don’t feel that urge. Sex is like any other act: sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not. This act doesn’t have a special status in my life, nor in my relationships.”

Here I was, thinking I knew every fruit in the basket: I thought I knew my community, that had uncovered alternatives to the heteronormative script we were all believed to follow. Had I really forgotten about the peaches?

“Our community is largely sex-oriented – maybe it had to be, as it unmasked the heterosexual norm as just one possibility of sex and relations – but that focus disregards vital community members. I like to think of the community in broad terms.”

“To me, activism is community care. Some activists focus on community healing, providing the framework to find our strengths. They turn ‘inward’, creating safe spaces where people are exempt from educating others outside. Other activists focus on community building, taking care that queer groups blossom, strengthen their roots and reach out their branches. This is an ‘outward’ activism, that connects with others, outside the guarded community. I love both kinds, but I’m energized by the second one.

To me, it often starts with a question: either others ask me questions, or I ask others to explain their thoughts, behavior, even hate. These questions keep our communities safe.

As Alok Vaid-Menon says: visibility does not guarantee safety, understanding does. Connections and care are key to understanding. When you enter a conversation and you care for your interlocutor – you provide aftercare, you check in – communities truly learn from each other and might even spread that knowledge. That is why I love to connect with people that touch our community in one way or another: neighbors, allies, even foes.”

Misha Verdonck is publisher by Birdbeakbeast Press, trans and aspec librarian, poet and zinester.

Instagram : @birdbeakbeast

Text by Nele Janssens

Photo by Marijn Achten


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