An update from David Jay on Ace visibility in 2012.
A friend asked for a transcript of the video for those who find written descriptions easier than an aural/ visual ones. Please find it below.
Hey, it’s DJ. I wanted to give you all an update about some of the really, really cool visibility work that’s been happening here in the U.S. over the course of 2012. So, a lot of you probably know that 2012 has been a big year for the ace community. We had our first World Pride, thanks in large part to Michael Dore from the U.K. who is awesome, awesome, awesome. And it’s been a year where more than ever before, here in the U.S., we’ve been really integrating with the LGBTQ movement, which is a really active, really powerful political force. This is largely thanks to the work of Asexual Awareness Week, which started last year, and which really kind of raised our profile. And also thanks to Angela Tucker and the incredible documentary that she put out.
Over the past year, here’s what’s happened. Last, I think early February, we went to a conference called the Creating Change Conference. This is the big get together that LGBTQ organizers have in the U.S. And all of kind of the biggest names were there - people fighting for marriage equality, people fighting to help give better services to trans youth. And we aired our documentary. And they didn’t expect that many people to show up. Most sessions at Creating Change get about 15 people to them. We got 150. We filled the room; there was no more capacity. Because it turns out that there are tons and tons of organizations out there that have aces in them, that have had aces come to them asking for help - asking for a safe space - and they haven’t known how to create a safe space for asexual people, grey-As, and demisexuals. And so, tons of people showed up, and afterward we had a whole big meeting: two big caucuses where all the aces at the conference came together and talked about how we could impact the way that asexuality and people who are ace - asexuals, grey-As, and demis - are seen within the LGBTQ community. It was really awesome! And this year, over the course of this year, we’ve seen the effect of all of that.
So, it started with this group called the Trevor Project that some of you may, or may not, be aware of. The Trevor Project decided - they’re a kind of like a crisis line. They do counseling services for LGBTQ youth, especially youth that are contemplating suicide. And they have a whole - they have phone banks. They also have a whole online forum. And they decided that they were really going to prioritize including asexual experience in the training that they were giving their phone operators, and to extend the mission to say that they were including services for aces. And they got a lot of push back from it. A lot of people who hadn’t heard of the ace community, didn’t really understand what we were about, wrote the Trevor Project and said, “This isn’t what you’re supposed - you’re supposed to be focused on LGBTQ youth, on queer youth, and this is outside of your scope.” But the Trevor Project said, “No, the asexual community is part of who we’re representing. These are kids who are struggling, who feel isolated and alone, and we want to be of service to them too.” And so I went and gave a talk at one of their national offices, and there was an incredible, incredible response. They are just the first of a whole lot of organizations, that are providing services to people, that really want to understand asexuality and include it in what they’re doing. There’s a big need for people who can reach out to these organizations and help them understand how to serve our community - especially a big need for people who identify as grey-A and demi who can do this kind of education work. Because a lot of the people doing it right now, like me, identify as asexual.
So, that’s the first big thing that’s happened. The second big thing that happened, which is like mind-blowingly, monumentally huge, is that we got a call from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce. This is one of the biggest groups that really does political organizing in the U.S. And the Taskforce said that they were putting together a document, which is a piece of sample non-discrimination legislation, that they were going to hand out to every city and every county government in the United States. And in this sample legislation, they define sexual orientation. They define it as heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual; meaning that you are not allowed to discriminate against someone based on whether or not they are heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. And they called us saying, “Would you like us to add asexual to the list.” Because they’d seen us at their conference being really active. Because they’d begun to see these other organizations caring about us, they wanted to take the step to being inclusive. And it’s first of all a huge, huge victory. We already have the state of New York which protects against discrimination to people who identify as asexual. If other states and other cities can begin to adopt similar measures, thennot only is it a great legal groundwork for us, but it’s just a great statement of validity. We can point to that in doing other kinds of work as a sign of our legitimacy in the world. It’s huge. And not only is it huge because of the legal ramifications, but it’s huge, because it’s a sign of these non-profit organization that are fighting really, really hard to give services to queer people, to change and reform the healthcare system, to reform the legal system, these services all want to be inclusive of asexual people now. This is really one of the first years when, broadly, we’re on their radar and we’re people they want to be including.
So, now is the time to be reaching out to these organizations, letting them know how that can understand us, and partner with us, and work with us to make change happen. And I’m telling you this hopefully to get you fired up to begin to look around for organization you can partner with. Also to let you know that that conference, Creating Change, is coming up again. It’s coming up at the end of January, and we’re already submitting several workshops. We’re hoping that this year we’ll really be able to have a strong presence at the conference, because this is a year when people are going to be really looking to integrate asexuality into their work. So, I know I’m going to be going. Sara Beth Brooks from Asexuality Awareness Week is going to be going. People from the project team are going to be going. There’s going to be a number of activists from all over the country heading to Atlanta for this conference, and it should be a lot of fun. So, if you’d like to get plugged in, if you’d like to reach out to organizations in your area, or if you are interested perhaps in attending the conference, then you should contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I’ll try to get you plugged in.
I hope you’re doing well. Take care.
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