Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Asexuals: Who are they and why should you care?

I facilitated a workshop at the 2011 Western Regional LGBTQIA Conference.  Excuse me while I rattle on about it, because I was pretty happy with the results.

Asexuals: Who are they, and why should you care?

PPT slides
PDF slides

(Update: More recent slides are hosted on Asexual Awareness Week.  Also e-mail me at skepticsplay at gmail dot com for even more recent stuff.)

The workshop is in lecture format, because I'm not going to have a bunch of non-asexuals have an open discussion of what asexuality means to them.  I've seen that happen and it doesn't work!  So instead, it was mostly information conveyed from me to the audience.  However, I did have Q&A, and I did allow them to discuss possible solutions to asexuals being excluded from the queer community.  And though I didn't assemble a panel, I did tell a few real-life experiences of other asexuals.


The workshop was wildly successful.  The room was packed with about 100 people.  People were asking questions, laughing at my jokes, and participating in discussion.  Somebody asked about demisexuality, which is just about the hardest question you can ask, but I think I handled it fine.  Several people came up to talk to me afterwards and said it was really awesome.  A couple wanted a similar presentation elsewhere.

I only found out later, but Maymay, one of the BDSM panelists attended my workshop, and was live-tweeting it like every five minutes.  He has over 1700 followers.  I got to meet Maymay later, and he's a cool sexual freedom advocate with a nerdy bent.  Suddenly I think I should educate myself more about the intersection of asexuality and kink.  No, that's not a joke, there are lots of kinky asexuals.

Another response I really liked actually came out of the practice presentation I did for Oscar Wilde House, an LGBT themed coop.  Someone designed flyers, and they included this comic strip.

Long-time readers know of my love for Dino Comics.

I also got interviewed for Hot Pieces of Ace, an asexual vlogging channel.  It's not up yet.

Why I’ve put this presentation online

Many people asked for the slides, and that is reason enough to put it online. But without me speaking in front of the powerpoint, and without the audience participation, there are probably better educational tools out there.

No, the primary reason to put this presentation online is for other asexual activists. I hope that this inspires others to give presentations or workshops, and gives them ideas on how to do it.

In particular, pay attention to the direction of my presentation. It covers Asexuality basics, yes, but rather than getting bogged down in further details, it moves on to how asexuals interact with society and the LGBTQ community in particular.

This image was taken from Queer Secrets and included in my presentation.

I wished to focus on the elephant in the room. There is a reason that the LGBTQ community needs Asexuality 101, and it’s not because they simply haven’t seen my workshop yet. It’s because asexuals do not participate in the larger queer community, do not feel comfortable there, or are made invisible. This is a problem that can be solved, and many activist-minded queers would be happy to help if only they knew what the deal was. As asexuals become more visible in the larger queer community, people will become better at educating themselves, and asexuality 101 will be needed less and less.


Larry, a.k.a. The Barefoot Bum said...

Tres chic! Wish I could've been there.

miller said...

The interview with me was posted. Starts at 5:25.

Argh, my voice sucks.

DivaLady said...

AVEN tweeted this and I'm so glad that you included this. I've actually had a minor issue in MY LGBT group at my university. I was discussing asexuality and one of the lesbians said that asexuals weren't being killed for their asexuality, so why should it matter. So thank you for bringing more light to this subject, because it IS hard to come out to the community because we asexual folk "aren't oppressed enough" to warrant attention in the eyes of many in the LGBT community.

miller said...

Yeah, it's not a competition about who is most oppressed. We can focus on many problems at once. Smaller problems also have easier solutions. In this case, what I want should be "easy" because it's about changing internal attitudes, not fighting external political groups.

Also, different individuals face different degrees of difficulty, even among gays, but this is not considered grounds for exclusion. In my particular position, I face more problems for being asexual than for being gay. I do not assume that this is the case for everyone else.