Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My experience at Creating Change

This was cross-posted on The Asexual Agenda.

Creating Change is the big annual conference held by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  Creating Change 2013 was held last weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.  I had the opportunity to attend and be on a panel called “Asexual Voices”.  The hosts of the panel were David Jay, founder of AVEN, and Sara Beth Brooks, founder of Asexual Awareness Week.  The panelists were Rin, Ivy, M., and me.

[Left to right: Hannah, Sara, M., David, me, Ivy, and Rin.  Hannah was also an important part of our contingent, though not on the panel.]

The panel was simple in structure: half an hour of introductions, and an hour of Q&A.  This was followed by a caucus, a place to discuss things like media representation and campus inclusivity, and a place to network and eat cake.

The panel was all the usual basics, but conveyed through a personal lens.  Here we had a wide range of experiences.  An aromantic, two panromantics, and a gay gray-A (me).  A man, a woman, and two agender people (each with their own individual expression).  One mono relationship, one poly schrodinger’s relationship.  We found asexuality through AVEN, Tumblr, and through our own invention.  And each our own person besides that.

The highlight of Creating Change, for me, was simply meeting these people.

The second highlight was watching David Jay and Sara Beth Brooks do their organizational magic.  While there were hundreds of workshops to go to, I discovered that all the big names in LGBT activism would not attend workshops.  Instead, they’d camp by the couches and have nonstop meetings with other leaders.  David Jay and Sara were among these people.  At the end of each day, they’d share their stack of business cards, and share a few of their stories.

Many orgs wanted to talk about making more ace-inclusive materials.  For example I met someone who wanted to get asexuality into the Unitarian Universalist Sex Ed curriculum, which is currently being redesigned.  There was also much talk about whether it would be beneficial to fight for an ace-inclusive ENDA.  This is a huge deal, which I will discuss more later.

But for the most part, I did not do sit in on these meetings, and did not do networking myself.  After all, I do not run an organization, I just run a blog, and one that I don’t intend to advertise to the wider LGBT community.  Instead, I attended a few workshops, and tried to catch up with sleep (I had the misfortune of having my flight cancelled and rescheduled to a red eye).

To be honest, I’m a bit of a pessimist and cynic when it comes to the usefulness of workshops.  I feel like everything is either too general or abstract to be applicable, or too specific to have relevance to me.  Or I’m too sleepy to tell what’s going on.  Therefore I may not be the best person to ask about them.  However I did very much enjoy  a workshop on creating community-based surveys, because I have done work in this area, and am likely to do more.  I found out about all the things we did wrong with the 2011 AAW community census, and how to do it better next time.

Al in all, it was a great experience.  Thanks to our sponsors for making it all possible!  A link roundup is coming soon [ie it will appear on The Asexual Agenda, not here].