Links & Alliances Conference Workshop

Seattle Aces & Aros will be presenting a workshop at the Links & Alliances Conference at Everett Community College, Saturday November 9th, 2019.

The Links & Alliances Conference is for and about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Ally, Asexual, Pansexual, 2-Spirit+ Youth. Their theme this year is “Unique & United.”

Our workshop will be “Asexuality 101” (and will also cover Aromanticism 101).
“A discussion and group activity that will center on the Asexual and Aromantic Identities. Participants will learn about topics such as the wide array of identities that fall under the AroAce Umbrella, the difference between attraction and action, and how to be an AroAce advocate for yourself or as an ally.”

Tickets are free for ages 14-20, and for 21+, there’s a recommended $25 donation (limited scholarships are available).

The Conference is an all day event. We’ll be presenting twice in the afternoon.

Seattle Pride 2019!

The Seattle Aces & Aros will again be marching in the Seattle Pride Parade!  We had such a blast last year that we’re doing it again!  Come march with us!  (It’s free and there’s no time commitment outside of the parade itself.)

The parade is on Sunday, June 30th, 2019, and runs through downtown along the mostly flat 4th Ave, from just south of Westlake Center up to Seattle Center.

We’re contingent #123, and our staging area is between Marion and Columbia on 4th Ave in Downtown Seattle. Our staging time is between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM. Here’s a map of the block with who is around us:

There will be a spectator group for those who want to watch the parade, but won’t be marching. Look for the flags somewhere between Pike and Bell along 4th.

Also, for the first time, we’re going to have a booth at the Capitol Hill PrideFest on June 29th. Stop by, say hi, grab some swag! We’re in the Purple zone, on Broadway between Mercer and Roy, booth P21.

Check out Facebook or Meetup for the latest updates or if you’d like to be involved.

Seattle Aces Store!

We’ve started a fundraising experiment!  We’re now selling some designs on Zazzle and proceeds will go toward paying for the Seattle Aces’ Meetup costs, parade fees, printing costs, that sort of thing.  (The best part is that if this is successful, we’ll have people all around the world helping to fund our group!)

Need a “Totally Ace!” bumper sticker?  We have one of those!

How about a magnet that lets people know it’s okay to “Be Who You Are“?

Or maybe you need a shirt that proclaims you’re “Strictly Netflix, No Chill“?

(Heck, we even have a pack of 12 cake flavored ace flag tubes of lip balm!  Because, I don’t know, maybe someone has really really chapped lips?)

Those items and more can be found here!

Marching in Seattle Pride 2018!

The Seattle Aces will be marching in the 2018 Seattle Pride Parade!  This will be the first time there has been a dedicated ace/aro group marching in Seattle.  Come march with us!  (It’s free and there’s no time commitment outside of the parade itself.)

The parade is on Sunday, June 24th, 2018, and runs through downtown along the mostly flat 4th Ave, from just south of Westlake Center up to Seattle Center.

We are contingent #148, and our staging area is located about halfway between Cherry and James along 4th Ave, below City Hall.  We are located between the Cascadia Now and Kimpton Hotels groups and are next to the Fred Meyer Group.  Our staging time starts at 1:00 PM.

Here is the map of our staging location:

RSVP on Facebook or Meetup, or stay tuned here for more details.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/579306545763860/

Meetup Event: https://www.meetup.com/Seattle-and-Surrounding-Area-Asexuals-Seattle-Aces/events/247077790/

Discussion Group Notes 9/9/17

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.

Couch!

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.

Newcomers!

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.

Ace Inclusion Guide For High Schools, which is a guide for high school staff on how to be more inclusive of asexual people.  This one is also available as a free PDF download.

“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/

Asexual Dating

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.

Assorted Mentions

Ash Hardell video series on “Everything Asexual and Aromantic“.

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).

The Unassailable Asexual:  The Carnival of Aces and SwankIvy’s videos.

Discussion Group Notes 2/11/17

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of February 11th, 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.

Missing Months

I’ve neglected to make summary posts for a couple of months now.  We did have meetings in both December and January, I just never got around to writing about it.  Sorry!

I Forgot The Swag Today

I didn’t bring my fabled Bag o’ Ace Swag today.  I had it all packed and ready to go and was halfway to the freeway when I realized it wasn’t in the car.  Sorry!

Anyway, enough with the apologies and on with the show!

Pressure and Doubt

Much of the discussion today was a conversation about pressure and doubt.  The external pressure to date, the internal pressure to be who people expect you to be, and the doubt that you’re really ace, that it’s actually something else.

As the conversations were personal in nature, I will not summarize them here.  Instead, I’ll share some other resources on the subject.

There is a three part series on “Possible Signs of Asexuality“.  It’s not a checklist or a diagnostic tool, but it can be an extremely helpful tool for thinking about how you feel, as well as understanding that others feel the same way.  There’s also “Am I Asexual?

There was a recent blog carnival on “The Many Ways To Be Ace“.  There was an older blog carnival on relationship expectations.

Julie Decker has written about being asexual, aromantic, and single, and how people react to that, several times:  Asexual, Aromantic, Partnerless, Childless …  And Happy, as well as Enjoy Your Houseful of Cats.

Here is a discussion about the symptoms of Low Hormone Levels, beyond just a lack of interest in sex.

Bottom line:  It’s okay to “try on” the asexual label.  If you’re not into sex, that’s all right.  You don’t have to be into it, and you don’t have to change yourself to meet the expectations other people have imposed on you.  And most importantly, you are not broken and you are not alone.

Resources

(Many of these are on this site’s Resources page!)

WhatIsAsexuality.com and AsexualityArchive.com are two sites about asexuality that I run.  WhatIsAsexuality.com has a bunch of resources like pamplets and postcards and slideshows, and AsexualityArchive.com has a free downloadable book.

Speaking of books, the book mentioned was Julie Sondra Decker’s The Invisible Orientation.  I believe someone said that this book was in the Gay City library.

Another book on the subject is Understanding Asexuality, by Anthony Bogaert.  It’s more academic, and I felt that it veered waaay off course, turning from a book about asexuality, to a series of essays on sexuality on culture where asexuality was barely a footnote.  At its lowest points, it wildly speculates about things that could easily have been explored in a more concrete manner by simply talking to some ace people, which he stopped doing about halfway through the book.  (Did he forget we exist?  Did he get kicked off of AVEN?  Was he crunched for time?  Was that the week we all left the planet?)

Dr. Bogaert is known for the paper that introduced the “1% Statistic”, which says that around 1% of people are ace.  The paper is “Asexuality: Prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample“, from 2004.  Bogaert has acknowledged some issues regarding that 1% number and its source.  He spends a chapter on the topic in his book, ultimately coming to the conclusion:  “The original estimate of 1 percent may not be a bad one, all things considered, and it is possible that it may underestimate the true number of asexual people.”

There is a recently started asexuality research bibliography, if you’re interested in the academic side of things.  (The goal of this project is to replace the Asexual Explorations website, which recently disappeared.)

For the fiction side of things, Agent Aletha is keeping a list.

If you’re going to tell your parents that you’re ace, try sending them this:  A Parent’s Guide To Asexuality.

And finally, here’s this week’s Savage Love post, the summary of which I totally mangled during the meeting.  It’s about a man who has identified as gay, but now believes he’s ace and is worried about how to explain that and where he fits.  (…and I’m mangling the summary again, so just read the original.)

Discussion Group Notes 10/22/16

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of October 22rd, 2016. 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.

Asexual Awareness Week!

Asexual Awareness Week runs from October 23rd through 29th, 2016!

Spread the awareness!

There will be a lot of good resources posted in the #asexual or #asexualawarenessweek tags on Twitter and Tumblr, so stop by them for interesting finds.  If you come across something good, please share it with the Meetup or Facebook groups!

Additionally, What is Asexuality has pamphlets and things that I bring to the meeting, and you can get a PDF of the books that I have at Asexuality Archive.

Sensual Attraction And How It Fits In

We talked briefly about sensual attraction and where it fits in with asexuality and other types of attraction.

Sensual attraction is something you can feel regardless of your sexual or romantic attraction.  You don’t have to feel romantic attraction to want to kiss someone, and you don’t have to feel sexual attraction to want to cuddle.

(BTW:  The glossary can be found here.)

Alphabet Soup

The LGBT acron-, I mean, LGBTQ, um LGBTQIA, er LGBTQQIAA2PPD…  LGBTQ+ acronym was mentioned, in relation to workplace or campus groups.  It was brought up adding a letter is inherently not inclusive, because no matter how many letters you add, you’ve still left someone out.  (Not to mention that the ordering implies importance.)  Alternatives like MOGAI or GSRM were brought up, but they don’t have the same recognition.  Vague terms like “Rainbow” or “Pride” might work well for group names.  “Queer” is a term that is divisive.  Some people love it for its inherent inclusiveness and instant recognition, while other people loathe it for its history.

Ace Relationship Tips

There were suggestions for putting it clearly in your dating profile (if you have one) and for being forthcoming early on so people have a clear idea of where things stand.  Another suggestion was to be casually open among your friend group (using ace puns wherever appropriate, for example), so that if you meet someone that way, there’s a good chance they’ll know you’re asexual.

Does anyone else have any tips for starting a relationship when you’re ace?

Asexuals At A Sex Club?

No, really, this is not a joke.

We’ve talked about the Center for Sex Positive Culture before, with several group members who’ve attended ace-friendly events there.  This month, we had someone who runs those events come to the meeting, looking for ideas for future events (When the CSPC finds a new space).

Currently, they run three asexual/no sex/underwear-stays-on events:

  • Blanket Fort:  A blanket fort with optional cuddles.
  • Aces Wild:  Kink without sex.
  • Mind Fuck: Fuck with your mind, not your body.  Hypnosis, mental bondage, etc.

While these events are not strictly aces-only, there is an enforced expectation that there will be no sex in the room.  People who want to get it on are asked to head to a different room.

(And if you want to involve your genitals, just not involve them with other people, the CSPC also holds masturbation parties, where it’s watch or be watched, but keep your hands to yourself.)

At any rate, they’re looking for new ideas for ways to cater to asexual people.  (For the record, a basket of kittens or puppies was suggested, but apparently they’re not able to do that.  Unless it’s people dressed up as kittens or puppies, in which case they can make that happen.)

Asexual Outreach

Shameless plug time!

I’m a member of the Board of Directors for Asexual Outreach, a 501(c)(3) non-profit for ace and aro advocacy.  We are looking to help form connections between local ace and aro community groups, and to help those groups grow.  We are also reaching out to schools and LGBTQ groups to help them become more ace inclusive.

Asexual Outreach organized the 2015 North American Asexuality Conference in Toronto, Ontario.  Over a hundred asexual activists and organizers attended to share what they do and how they do it.  AO has also reached out to over two hundred schools with its Ace Inclusion Guide.  Within the next year, we will continue this mission by launching a platform and resources for ace and aro community groups, hosting a conference where ace group leaders and other activists can get together and collaborate, and we’ll reach out to more LGBTQ groups and schools (Including at the 2017 Creating Change conference.)

I was 31 when I found out that I was asexual, and before that I felt broken and confused.  The work Asexual Outreach is doing will help to ensure that no one else will have to feel lost and alone for as long as I did.

If you want to help out, you can volunteer to get involved, you can work with a local school to incorporate the ace inclusion guide, you can attend the conference next year, and, if you can spare a bit, you can donate to help support the work being done.  AO is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, meaning that donations can be tax-deductible and that it is probably eligible for a corporate matching program, if you have one at work.

Other Notes:

Ignition Zero: Webcomic with an ace character.

Asexual Activities: Exploring your sexuality as an asexual.

Seattle Aces Facebook Group

Consent and Tea

How I Discovered I Am Asexual