Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Speaking at IvyQ

Hi people! So I thought I'd talk a little bit about what my speaking engagement at IvyQ was like.

I was invited to speak at the IvyQ Conference--a pan-ivy queer conference--on the subject of asexuality. I was given complete freedom as to what I wanted to make my workshop about, too, and since this was a queer meeting of the minds I figured I should cover something relating to that. Asexuality 101 is tiring and probably unnecessary for a crowd like this, so I focused my presentation on the relationship between the asexual community and the queer community. Here is the summary of the workshop that appeared in the program:

So Princeton paid to fly my chilly bum up to New Jersey, where they put me up in a really nice hotel and even sent me shuttles for all my transportation. (I got off the plane and there was a guy standing there with a sign bearing my name, just like in the movies!) There was snow everywhere--not exactly this Floridian's idea of a good time--but it didn't actually snow while I was there, so I was lucky.

My cool hotel!
More or less as soon as I got to my room, I got a call from Ryan, whom I met during Pitch Wars. (He was my first alternate!) He lives in the area and thought it would be cool to take me out for hoagies, so that is what we did. It was pretty awesome to meet one of my writing pals--albeit a very new writing pal--and I must say my hoagie at Hoagie Haven was quite good. (I had an omelet one!)

The next day I had to do my talk. I got up and hopped on a shuttle to Princeton with some other presenters, and was able to make it there in time to go to another person's workshop. It was about transgressing gender, and though it was quite low-key it was pretty cool. Then I got to take a break and go over to Princeton's LGBT center! And I tell you what, their space is super cute! They had a whole queer library and nice people to talk to, and I even met someone who said she was familiar with my work because she uses my videos for education. ::faints:: Someone else who wandered through the area pointed me out and asked me if I make Internet videos. I was like, huh. Wow.

I got to have super awesome avocado sushi in their café, and then I went back over to the classrooms so I could give my talk. There were slight technical difficulties because their projector uses a serial port and my computer did not have a serial port, so I borrowed one of the volunteers' computers and transfered my presentation onto it. Unfortunately we also didn't get to record it; I'd asked whether we could have the event recorded so I could use it for education later, but that didn't come through. And I'm kicking myself because since my laptop wasn't being used for the presentation, I could have just set it somewhere and used it to make a low-quality recording of my talk. But I didn't think of it because we were late starting due to the technical difficulties.

The presentation itself went fabulously. I don't normally get nervous for public speaking or singing or anything like that, but at the last conference I felt a little anxious doing my presentation. This time I had zero nervousness . . . it was informal, low-key, friendly. I had thought a worst-case scenario for this could have included some hostility because I was covering some sensitive subjects about poor treatment by the queer community against the asexual community (though I made it clear that I have personally felt welcomed in queer spaces and believe these voices to be a minority), but still, reading out some of the harsh and harassing comments could have triggered some anger in the wrong setting. I'm grateful that it didn't happen.

There were no real speed bumps and I got a little audience participation like I'd hoped. My presentation ran EXACTLY the right amount of time (which was good because I was afraid of going over). I brought just enough handouts. I got to meet a couple other asexual people and one person who actually ran the Princeton asexuality group. Two folks asked me to send them a copy of my PowerPoint slides. It was pretty great.

After that I went to a presentation on consent under capitalism, and then I had to go catch my shuttle back to my hotel. I was sad that I couldn't stay for the keynote speaker, because it was Janet Mock. I love her! And if I may say it, I was super impressed that of over 25 speakers, a minority of us were white (only about maybe five). This is something I've been hoping to see for a long time--queer people of color getting the credit and billing they deserve as leaders of our community. The asexuality awareness movement is still pretty white. For a lot of reasons that I can't begin to tackle in this blog post unless I wanna be here all day.

Then, as if that day wasn't awesome enough, I got to spend the evening eating IHOP food with my long-time critique partner and friend Jay! We've both read and beat the crap out of each other's work over the years, and we connect on so many great levels and have so much in common, but I'd never so much as heard his voice or seen him on video. We hung out all night eating our pancakes and rambling, but I was pretty tired and sadly had to go to bed pretty early. I hope to see him again soon--maybe at a conference or something. I went to bed, left for Tampa in the morning, and met someone on the plane who had good taste in books and had actually seen me in the asexuality documentary. Haha! (She liked my Facebook author page and I guess we'll be in touch, maybe.)

Now that all that traveling is over, I guess I get to buckle down and work on my book. I have a deadline to turn the manuscript in . . . in less than a month. Hoo boy.

See you when I come out of the editing cave. . . .

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