These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of September 9th, 2017. These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.
Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.
There was a couch in the meeting space today. This is perhaps the most exciting furniture related thing to happen to us since the introduction of the Cookie Chair.
Over half the room seemed like they joined us for the first time today! Welcome, we hope you enjoyed the discussion, and hope to see you again in the coming months! (Although, if you’re visiting from California, we’d understand if you don’t come back in October…)
We’re Famous! Sort Of. Well Okay, Not Really…
Apparently the book “All the Wrong Places” in the Bluewater Bay series has the characters attend an asexual meetup group in Seattle! Except… It’s not us. They meet in a hipster coffee shop in the U District, while we meet in a hipster coffee shop in Capitol Hill. Totally different. They also apparently mention an ace group in Port Angeles. I think we need to plan a roadtrip to investigate.
There’s another book, Cracked: A Magic iPhone Story, that involves an ace in Seattle, but this one does not feature a meetup group.
Other ace-related books mentioned today:
The Interface Series (which I can’t find a clear link to), although apparently only one book in this series has been published, and that book doesn’t mention asexuality explicitly.
Mr. March Names The Stars, which involves some dating ace pagans.
And then, in the non-fiction category:
Asexual Perspectives: 47 Ace Stories, which is a collection of interviews with ace people.
“A Sexual What…?”
There was a big hubbub about the latest season of BoJack Horseman. In it, a main character comes out as asexual. Reaction from ace-land has been largely positive as the portrayal is seen as positive and accurate. This is probably in large part due to the assistance of members of Ace LA, who worked with show staff to make sure it was handled correctly.
Unconference and Parade
In June, I attended the Berkeley Unconference and the San Francisco Pride Parade, organized by members of Asexuality SF. They were both valuable experiences and things we should look at doing here at some point.
The Unconference was an all-day event. About 50 aces, graces, and demis attended. For an unconference, attendees bring topics they want to talk about, and the day’s schedule is organized on the spot. People then break off into groups to have 45 minutes to an hour of discussion on the topic, and people are free to switch between them, if they like. Some of the topics included “Asexuality and Dating”, “Aces in the Media”, “Religion”, “Pathologization of Asexuality”, “Ace POC”, and “Planning for the Future While Aro”. Many of the sessions are “open”, meaning that anyone is free to join in, but some of the sessions are “closed”, which means they’re limited to those covered by the topic, in order to create a safe space to the conversation. It’s a great way to connect with other aces in a more in-depth way than we get to in our normal monthly meetups.
The Pride Parade was amazing. We all got together and marched down Market Street, some of us waving flags, some of us in ace costumes, some of us holding signs. We handed out stickers and flyers. The power of marching is in the visibility. We were there, we showed that we exist. I saw people in the crowd, screaming with excitement as we passed. We proved to them that they were real. Afterwards, I found people mentioning us on Twitter and Tumblr. And I’ve heard that seeing the aces march in past parades has led some people to discover that they were asexual, has led some therapists to realize that asexuality was a real thing that they needed to learn about.
We should do both of these things here. The Pride Parade is in June. There’s apparently a steep registration fee, which is what has turned us off from doing it in the past. I don’t care about that. Whatever it is, I’ll cover it. We are marching in 2018. I’ll pay the bills, but I’ll need as many of you as possible to show up and march.
An unconference would also be something we can organize here. We’d just need to book some space (a few separate rooms, if possible), and encourage people to show up with things they want to talk about.
Both of these would also be a great opportunity to reach out to other aces in the greater Northwest. We’re centrally located between Portland and Vancouver, both of which have established ace meetup groups. There are bound to be other aces here and there who won’t want to make the effort to get to Seattle for just the ordinary meetups, but who will for the larger events. Let’s invite them all to town and ace this place up!
My notes from the Unconference are here: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/category/san-francisco-unconference/
And some thoughts on the parade are here: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/thoughts-on-a-parade/
I’ve covered ace dating conversations in previous posts, and a lot of what was covered today was similar to what was mentioned in the past. So I’ll skip the repeats and head straight to the new stuff.
There was a recommendation that you not only mark yourself as Asexual in OKCupid, but that you also cover the subject several times in your profile. Talk about what it means to you, lay out where some of your boundaries lie. It’s still no guarantee that people will read and understand, but it’s a start.
There is a new ace dating app called “AceApp“. It’s new, so there might not be many people there, but there won’t be anyone there at all if there aren’t any intrepid pioneers who decide to take the first step.
Therapists and Doctors
Someone brought up whether or not it’s appropriate to come out to a doctor or a therapist, particularly if they start bringing up sex or relationships in connection to the care they are providing. In some cases, it may be useful to explain your lack of sexual activity or lack of relationships, as it may allow them to rule out certain things (for instance, you’re not likely to be pregnant if you’ve never had sex, so maybe they can skip that pregnancy test if you’re concerned about a missed period).
However, not all health care providers understand or even accept asexuality. It may be difficult to know ahead of time how they’ll react. But know this: You can demand that they believe you and respect you, and if they don’t, you may want to consider finding a doctor who will, if that’s possible. Resources for Ace Survivors has an info sheet you can print out and bring into your visit.
The lack of awareness of asexuality in the medical profession was a topic that came up at the unconference. We discussed possible ways to start to fix that, such as reaching out to local doctors and clinics and offering to provide information, offering to present an Asexuality 101 seminar to a local group of providers, or giving a talk at a convention. However, I am unaware of anyone who is actively taking on a project to work on building bridges with the healthcare world.
After the conference, I found two counselors in the Seattle area who mention working with ace patients on their websites. One sounded like they might have a decent understanding of asexuality, while the other sounded like they were more interested in prescribing you a pill that is likely to cause spontaneous loss of consciousness. At some point, I plan to reach out to both of them, in order to find out how they work with ace patients, and whether or not they would like any assistance or resources from any of us.
The Huffington Post series on asexuality. And the exploration of all the negative comments on those articles (and how to respond when you encounter them in the wild).