As Asexual Awareness Week 2018 draws to a close, the Trust celebrates all the ways asexuality became more visible over the last seven days.
Asexual Awareness Week 2018 has come and gone. Being the first country after the international date line, New Zealand’s asexual community was the first in the world to welcome in this annual celebration of asexual spectrum individuals and their experiences.
The Asexuality New Zealand Trust has been excited to be able to highlight the gains made in ace representation and visibility across the globe this past year. We’re also excited we’ve been able to contribute to making our local community more aware of ace experiences by producing pamphlets and launching the educational resources on this website. We’re excited to see what the coming year holds for the world’s ace community, and continuing to promote inclusivity and understanding of individuals’ diverse experiences of sexuality.
Many others around the world have been taking similar steps this last week and over the past year. As featured on our blog this week, asexual film makers have been trying to increase the limited visibility of ace experiences in the media by telling stories drawing from their own experiences of coming out. The usefulness of “asexual” as a tool people can use to describe their experiences of sexuality has been bolstered by the Oxford English Dictionary’s including “asexuality” in its latest update. David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network – the world’s foremost ace awareness raising body – has been interviewed by major mainstream news sites, broadening the reach and visibility of asexuality.
Most excitingly of all perhaps, it appears that the 2021 England and Wales census might include asexuality as an option, hopefully confirming our belief that over 1% of people – some 75 million people globally at-least – are asexual. Closer to home, the ace community marched in the Auckland Pride Parade, distributing pamphlets introducing asexuality to over a thousand people and raising the community’s national profile.
As well as these larger stories, every day the Trust discovers ace stories from around the globe – too many for this blog to collate. To celebrate the conclusion of Asexual Awareness Week 2018, today we’ll collate a few of our favourites from the last 7 days.
Although most weeks we’ll find about half a dozen stories, Asexual Awareness Week this year turned up nearly three dozen articles. A number of these stories in local and community newspapers introducing asexuality to the person on the street for the first time. These are becoming increasingly common as time goes on, being found in places as diverse as Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Canberra. Even in distant Fargo, North Dakota – the community made the setting of a cult classic film and popular Netflix series that highlights its obscure remoteness – Asexual Awareness Week has been acknowledged and asexual experiences recognised.
University communities, which can be uniquely open and supportive environments, have attracted particular excitement around exploring asexuals’ experiences. Following up from similar events at Princeton earlier in the year, East Carolina University and Arizona State University held events aimed at ensuring people know the “A” in LGBTQIA+ stands for “asexuality”. In the wider community, a panel discussion at popular Canberra night life venue introduced asexuality to members of the Australian capital’s community, focusing on how asexuals experience our often hypersexualised society.
Discussion of asexuality has also continued to grow in the international online press. Less introductory articles posted this week – contributed by writers and editors confident that asexuality is not an alien subject – have discussed the need for asexuals to receive greater understanding from their medical professionals and for more respect to be paid to queerplatonic and asexual relationships. These stories show that ace advocates are finding a reception in more mainstream discourse, and that the more confronting questions of how asexuals can gain representation and respect in society are being addressed in public discussions.
On a lighter note, in social media circles the ever-growing popularity of online streaming and video has reached the ace-sphere. Curated lists of the “best” asexual YouTubers now circulating in Rainbow community media. These videos highlight a range of individuals’ experiences of asexuality, and come from people at all points on the asexual and aromantic spectrums.
The ongoing major storyline involving a teenage asexual character’s negotiation of dating and relationships in an allosexual society on popular UK soap opera Emmerdale has also prompted press coverage from numerous outlets. The storyline is expected to reach a climax (or not, as the case may very well be) sometime before Christmas.
Elsewhere the Netflix adult animated series Bojack Horseman‘s inclusion of an openly asexual character has been met with applause and has prompted collations of other asexual characters in the media. While not always perfect in their depiction of all aspects of asexuality individuals’ experiences, these works reach out to millions of people and show asexuality as a normal, healthy, part of human experience.
More than anything, the fact that such a large volume of ace news has come out during Asexual Awareness Week in non-ace-operated publications shows that Asexual Awareness Week is being taken seriously by the Rainbow Community and by increasingly large numbers of people in society at large. For what was not so long ago an “invisible orientation”, and as a community that lacked an agreed upon name until a decade ago, this is a massively exciting development.
Promoting awareness of asexuality allows for the millions of people around the world who can sometimes struggle to understand why they’re different from others in our allosexual and often hypersexual society to feel a sense of belonging and of not being “broken”. More generally, promoting awareness of the diversity of human experiences makes our society a more tolerant and inclusive place. Respecting asexuality and asexual individuals’ experiences is respect for every part of the richly varied human experience, and the Asexuality New Zealand Trust is excited to see that, in some small but definite way, our world is becoming a more inclusive place.
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