January 20th – 24th marked the 29th annual Creating Change, a national conference for LGBTQ+ leaders, activists, and organizers across the United States. Of special note, this year was the first time Asexual Outreach staff were in attendance.
As a conference that brings together many of the LGBTQ+ organizations in the United States, it serves as an unparalleled opportunity for ace activists to build connections and partnerships with others in the LGBTQ+ movement, and to support more comprehensive ace inclusion within this movement. Although many LGBTQ+ organizations now recognize the asexual spectrum, few have meaningfully built ace inclusion into their services and programming; this is especially an issue for aces without specific ace community groups in their region – many of whom will seek support and acceptance from local LGBTQ+ service providers and organizations.
At Creating Change, Asexual Outreach connected with dozens of these LGBTQ+ organizations, and will be working with them to help them better support aces in their communities. We are also in the process of developing partnerships with a number of these organizations, both so that Asexual Outreach and our partner organizations can have a larger impact on the lives of countless aces, and so that Asexual Outreach can expand more meaningfully into the United States.
In addition to Asexual Outreach’s work at Creating Change, an entire group of ace community leaders worked to build ace-inclusive spaces within the conference itself. These spaces included a 101 workshop, an ace caucus, and an ace hospitality suite.
The 101 workshop was a huge success, with around 45 people in attendance. It included an introductory presentation and a Q&A panel. Attendees asked questions about the terminology used to discuss asexuality and about the experiences of the panelists. The caucus was met with similar success, with people breaking off into different sub-groups to discuss community issues, share tips on how to handle difficult situations, and simply to form new friendships.
We collaborated with people affiliated with Aces Wild, SF Aces, and AVEN to bring an unofficial ace hospitality suite to Creating Change. This suite was the location of discussions on gender, race, and disability among ace folks. It also served as a space where aces could come to relax in between sessions. Throughout the conference, we met many new people and bonded over snacks, card games, and experiences. We hope that the success of all these events will lead to acceptance of future workshops at Creating Change, as well as an officially recognized ace hospitality suite.
The conference itself taught Asexual Outreach organizers a lot about accountability and how we can better meet the needs of a diverse ace population. We observed a protests against a session hosted by a pro-Israel group, and a call for further steps to be taken to help LGBTQ+ migrants and undocumented people. We believe that making an explicit commitment to helping the most marginalized members of our community is of the utmost importance, and that Asexual Outreach should be held accountable should we fail to achieve this. As we continue to grow as an organization, we welcome your input and suggestions.