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.

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.