2017-2018 Year in Review

This past Monday marked one year since The Asexual Awareness Project was founded. Here are some things that we have accomplished in the past year:

Creating Change 2018

Creating Change is a conference organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force that helps participants gain skills that will help them to further their work in the LGBTQ+ advocacy movement.

Three members of TAAP joined the Creating Change 2018 Host Committee as volunteers with the hopes of promoting asexuality’s visibility within the conference. With their help, as well as the help from other ace advocates who have attended the conference in the past, we were able to publish an etiquette guide on asexuality and aromanticism in the program, as well as present four sessions at the conference itself. Read more about our work relating to Creating Change 2018 here.

Capital Pride 2018

TAAP marched in the 2018 Capital Pride Parade, making this year the first year that an asexual contingent has marched in the parade. We hope that this will be the first of many. Read more about this journey here.

In addition to marching, several members of TAAP attended the Capital Pride Festival the next day in order to network with other local organizations. We hope to announce several new collaborations in the coming months.

Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite at Creating Change 2019

One of the goals we had for Creating Change 2018 was to assist the conference in starting an officially recognized hospitality suite for asexual-spectrum individuals. We were not able to accomplish that last year; however, we organized a bit sooner this year and an official Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite is confirmed for Creating Change 2019. Read more about this project here.

Collaboration with Women in their Twenties and Thirties (WiTT)

WiTT is a discussion group for queer women in their twenties and thirties that meets every other week at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. A week ago, four members of TAAP attended and led a presentation and discussion on asexuality and aromanticism at the regular discussion group. TAAP and WiTT hope to host more collaborative events in the future.

Looking Forward

Here are some projects we are currently working on:

Incorporation

We are starting to look into incorporating and becoming recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It is our hope to accomplish this within the next year so that we will be better equipped to complete all the projects we have lined up.

Book on Asexuality and Aromanticism for Professionals

We are currently working on writing a book on asexuality and aromanticism that will be geared towards professionals such as doctors, therapists, counselors, educators, or LGBTQ+ center employees. It is our hope that this book could be used as a resource to help these professionals better help the aces and aros they come into contact with.

Creating Change 2019

Currently, 3-5 TAAP members are planning on attending Creating Change 2019 in Detroit, MI. We have submitted five session proposals, and hope that they all are accepted. We also are looking forward to seeing the Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite become a reality.

The Rainbow History Project

TAAP is currently working on a collaboration with the Rainbow History Project to create a documented history of the ace community in the DC area. Queer history (including ace history) is often not recorded and, as a result, forgotten. We hope that by participating in this project, we can help in building a history of the ace community that future generations will be able to look back on.

Pride Parades and Festivals

In addition to marching in the Capital Pride Parade in 2019 and in future years, we hope to expand to also marching in the Baltimore Pride Parade. In addition, we would like to set up booths at various pride festivals in the area, including Capital Pride, Baltimore Pride, and NOVA Pride. We also hope to participate in New York City’s WorldPride in 2019, which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and will be the largest celebration of Pride in the world.

Aro Inclusion

We initially began as an organization started by and focused towards asexual people. In our actual work, however, we have begun drifting towards including aro folks much more than our name and branding currently suggest. In this next year and beyond, we aim to be much more intentional about our inclusion of aro people, including those who are not also ace.

Thank You

We are extremely grateful to those who donated so we could march in pride, to organizations who we have worked with, and to those who have volunteered their time to work directly on our projects. Thank you for all you have done to help us this past year!

If you would like to find out ways that you can help us with any of our upcoming projects, please contact us.

TAAP is writing a book… and we need your help!

We were approached by a publisher several months ago who would like to publish a book on asexuality and aromanticism.  This book would be geared towards people who work with asexual and/or aromantic people in a professional setting — i.e. mental health professionals, doctors, guidance counselors, volunteers/employees at LGBTQ+ centers, etc.

The goal of the book will be to review the various issues aces and aros face and present possible solutions and ways of approaching the issues. Our hope is that professionals can use the book to help improve the quality of care they provide to the asexual and aromantic spectrum people they work with.

We are aiming to make this book representative of a diverse range of experiences, and in order to do that, we need your help! We are looking for people who might be willing to share their experiences; either in the form of direct quotes or as a reference for our own writing.

If you are interested, there is a brief survey we would like you to take. The purpose of this survey is to ask which specific topics you would like to share your thoughts and experiences on, as well as to collect some demographic information. Once you fill out the form, you will receive an email in a week or so with the questionnaires themselves. The link is here — please take the survey and share with any other aces and aros you may know!

Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite is Official at Creating Change 2019

On May 25th, 2017, thirteen asexual activists sent an email petition to Andy Garcia, the Creating Change 2019 conference director, to include an asexual spectrum hospitality suite as an official part of the event in Detroit, Michigan this coming January.

Hospitality suites at Creating Change are places where people of similar identities can connect with one another, and they often offer resources and light refreshments. Last year, the conference had hospitality suites for elders, trans people, youth, disabled people, bisexual+ people, and people of color.

For the past few years, an “unofficial” asexual hospitality suite has been hosted by asexual activists who were attending the conference. This suite was often bursting at the seams with aces who were attending the conference — despite the fact that it was being hosted in a hotel room and it was not included in the conference program.

Last year, three TAAP members joined the volunteer committees for Creating Change 2018 in the hopes of increasing ace-inclusion at the conference. While they were successful in having an asexual and aromantic etiquette guide published in the program, it had already been too late in the planning process to have a suite added.

From this experience, we decided to contact the conference director much earlier to ensure that we did not repeat the same mistake. Initially, it seemed as though space constraints might prevent the official suite from becoming a reality, but in the end the host committee was able to make it work.

You can watch a video of the host committee co-chairs discussing the conference here, with a discussion of the asexuality suite and a mention of TAAP taking place around minute eight.

On Wednesday, August 8th, we asked if we could update the name and purpose of the Asexual Spectrum Hospitality Suite to now include Aromanticism as well, including allosexual aromanticism.

The new title “Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite” was proposed, explaining how more than a quarter of ace people identify as being somewhere on the aromantic (aro) spectrum. Also mentioned was how not all aro folks are ace, and that the suite would ideally be as inclusive to all aromantic people as possible, in addition to still being very inclusive of all asexuals, those aromantic or not.

Conference Director Andy Garcia replied, telling us this would not be a problem, and asked for an official suite description.

Here is how the suite will be officially described:

We would love to invite asexual and aromantic spectrum people to join us in the 2019 Ace and Aro Creating Change Hospitality Suite. If you have been exploring or contemplating a lack or lower sexual attraction or drive, this is the space for you. Similarly, if you have looking for a place to discuss a lack or lower romantic attraction or drive the aro contingent would love to welcome you.

This is also the place for 101 questions on asexuality and aromanticism, in the conference, if you would like to learn more about either community, but don’t identify with either.

Come join us for food, friends, and fun. Sponsored by the 2019 Creating Change Host Committee.

2018 Marks the First Year Asexuality is Officially Represented at Capital Pride

By Laura G.

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TAAP’s 2018 Capital Pride Parade Contingent before the parade started.

On June 9th, 2018, fifteen asexual people marched in the 2018 Capital Pride parade with The Asexual Awareness Project. This effort was made possible by donations from members of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic that covered the costs of the entry fee, a professionally printed banner (seen in the picture above), and stickers to pass out to viewers on the sidelines.

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TAAP’s contingent marching in the 2018 Capital Pride Parade

The TAAP members who marched were thrilled at the response they received. “This was so awesome, especially seeing all of the people excited by our presence!” said Isabel N. “There were some people who were happy asexuals had representation, and others who were ecstatic seeing themselves represented.”

Many people on the sidelines also saw and appreciated TAAP’s presence. One person tweeted:

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Tweet by @rockriled that reads: “I got an #asexualpride sticker with info about a group at DC’s #PRIDE and mcfreakin lost it, send help”

In 2016 and 2017, the Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic viewed the parade from the sidelines, and in 2017 a portion of the group also attended the Capital Pride Festival together. While there were some asexual people to be found among the crowds in these years, there were very few representations of asexuality in the parade and festival booths themselves.

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Isabel N. holding the ace flag and rainbow flag on the sidelines of the 2016 Capital Pride Parade.
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Members of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic at the sidelines of the 2017 Capital Pride Parade.

In addition to TAAP marching in the parade, there was a noticeable increase in asexual representation at Capital Pride 2018 in general. The word “asexual” was included in the graphic used to advertise the theme for the year, which was “Elements of Us.” Many more booths at the festival had ace flags this year than in 2017.

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A graphic for Capital Pride 2018’s theme of “Elements of Us” that includes the word asexual, which can be found underneath the word “gay.”
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An ace flag found on the Kaiser Permanente contingent’s parade float.

TAAP plans on marching again at the 2019 Capital Pride Parade, and hopes to see even more asexual representation at future pride celebrations. If you would like to donate to help us make this happen, please visit our donate page for instructions.

Five Sessions on Asexuality to be Included in Creating Change 2018

By Laura G. and Emily K.

The National LGBTQ Task Force is one of the leading organizations in the LGBTQ Social Justice Movement. On January 24th-28th, 2018, in Washington DC, the Task Force will be hosting their 30th annual Creating Change Conference. This conference trains attendees on how to incorporate intersecting social justice movements into the LGBTQIA+ community. In a win for asexuality, a total of five sessions on asexuality have been accepted, as well as an etiquette guide on ace inclusion that was included in the program.

The Sessions

Four sessions were proposed by members of the Asexuality Awareness Project and Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic. These sessions were as follows:

 

Ask an Asexual: An Introduction to the Ace Spectrum – Workshop Session 1, 9:00 AM Friday January 26th

Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual—the four core sexual orientations. Asexuality is the least understood of these, and this workshop will explore the nuance. After a brief presentation of common terminology, definitions, and examples of intersections with other identities, a panel of ace community activists will lead a discussion about asexuality and aromanticism. Remember, there’s no such thing as stupid questions! Panelists are ready to discuss quite varied personal experiences, current community issues on asexuality, and more.

Asexuality, Aromanticism, and Relationships – Caucus 1, 6:30 PM Friday January 26th

This workshop will help asexual and allosexual attendees explore relationship options, from friendship, to family, to romance. Speakers will discuss their own experience as asexuals with different levels of romantic attraction; one aromantic (no romantic attraction), one alloromantic (yes romantic attraction), and one gray-romantic (somewhere in between). Participants will develop tools to address differences in sexual and romantic attraction, as well as relationship boundaries, and will leave with a better understanding of their own needs and desires in relationships.

 

Ace Access: Asexuals and the Doctor’s Office – Caucus 2, 6:30 PM Saturday January 27th

The purpose of this caucus is to bring together various regional and community ace groups to get a clearer national and international view on the difficulties faced by asexuals in medical situations. Asexuality only recently was vaguely acknowledged in the DSM, with a stipulation that if the patient does not feel distress at their lack of sexual attraction then they cannot be diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. This is not a strong enough acknowledgement of asexuality as a valid orientation to prevent asexuals from experiencing difficulty receiving proper treatment when they seek out mental health care. Asexuality also affects interactions in primary care, since many asexuals experience disbelief about their lack of sexual activity and dismissiveness when their orientation is mentioned. With this caucus we hope to create plans of action both for creating material to prepare medical professionals for the needs of our community and to brainstorm tools for asexuals when they are searching for a new doctor or trying to deal with a difficult situation while seeking treatment. Participants will hopefully leave feeling more empowered in their interactions with healthcare professionals and a better set of tools than avoiding doctors altogether.

Asexual, Grey-Asexual, and Aromantic Spectrum Caucus – Caucus 2, 6:30 PM Saturday January 27th

This caucus is a space for people who identify under the asexual and/or aromantic umbrellas to come together and share experiences. Intersectionality of asexuality or aromanticism with attendees’ other marginalized identities will be given careful consideration as we brainstorm how to make our activism and support spaces more inclusive and respectful. Please note this is not for 101 questions, although curious allies are welcome to come listen, or chat with us in the ace suite.

An additional session on asexuality will be presented by an independent party:

Racing Ace: Asexuality, Race, and Social Justice – Workshop Session 4, 4:45 PM Friday January 26th

This workshop will help attendees become familiar with and improve existing knowledge of compulsory sexuality versus non-sexuality and asexuality. Session leaders will discuss how the aforementioned sexual identities and practices are affected by conceptions of race. We will discuss the role asexual identity movements can play in addressing the racialized (a)sexualization of communities. Participants will practice their advocacy for LGBTQI* communities to be aware and inclusive of the racialized beliefs shaping discourses on asexuality, sex positivity, and compulsory sexuality. Attendees will be able to ask questions and receive practical advice for helping others understand asexuality as it intersects with race.

2017 to 2018: The Numbers Compared

In 2017, the word “asexual” was included in the creating change program 7 times, and there were only two sessions on asexuality. In 2018, the word “asexual” was mentioned 79 times, in large part because there was an ace etiquette guide included in the program. But also five sessions were included on asexuality!

Looking to the Future

The proposal made by members of TAAP to have an officially recognized asexuality suite did not come to fruition for the 2018 conference, however, the “unofficial” ace suite will still be taking place. Hopefully, the January 2019 conference in Detroit, Michigan can make this change to full ace inclusion.