Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Asexuality Conference Wrap-Up [GIF]

Ugh, I was gonna post about this yesterday after I got home but I was just too tired. :)

So! I am back from Canada! I participated in a two-day conference on asexuality at the University of Toronto, organized by Asexual Outreach. I hosted one workshop--Handling Detractors--and I collected names for a drawing to win a copy of the hardcover or audio version of my book.

The highlight, as always, was getting to meet so many great people. I had some wonderful conversations with Brian, Sebastian, Ryan, Z, Sara, and a ton of other people who came to talk to me or hung out with me during workshops or at social events.

I flew in on Friday. Everything went really well actually. I was a little confused about who was going to help me get to the dorm room where I was staying, because it didn't really get established until the morning of my flight (when Brian called me to arrange it real quick), and then it changed after I thought it was settled. But it worked out fine, and actually I got confused because it was too easy. I had to take a bus and then a subway to get to the place where I was going to meet my people, and the subway confused me because there weren't multiple trains to pick from like in New York, so I worried that I was getting on the wrong one (when you literally can't because THERE'S ONLY ONE).

There was a new episode of Steven Universe that I had missed because I was on a plane. And I feel no shame at all admitting that I watched it on my phone on the freakin' bus. ^___^

Anyway, then I met up with Brian and Sara who walked me to the dorm. I checked in, got my weird key, and went over to the dorm with Sara who was staying across the hall in the same accommodations. She ended up being a bit of a lifesaver for me because even though she wasn't from the area either she let me tag along with her sometimes to go between social events and the conference space, and sometimes we shared a cab when we didn't want to walk places.

The dorm was comfortable and stopped smelling like feet when I turned off the A/C.

I had a Subway sandwich that night (which I found without getting lost, wow). After rearranging my stuff and chilling on the Internet, I went to bed. Then on Saturday morning I got up and got ready for the conference. I was supposed to meet someone to help me get to the conference space but it was one of the things that slipped through the planning cracks so I had to wait a little while until Sebastian was around. We actually ended up driving there because they were bringing in some supplies. And then after I got checked in, it was really chill for a while--just hanging around munching donuts, looking at the tables for ace zines and swag, and talking to each other. More and more people were coming in and some were going into the auditorium to find seats for the opening ceremonies while others were chatting in the main room.

The opening ceremony laid down some rules about the conference and gave some info, and then we hung out some more. (I think you can watch the opening messages here.) I set up my book table and let people come check the book out or enter a drawing. I even got some people coming up to me and asking me to sign their book--they'd brought their copies!--or telling me they were excited to meet me because my videos or other online materials helped them. That was really great.

There I am! Photo by Ace Space.
Next was the first workshop session of the day, and I got scheduled to lead one. Mine was called "Handling Detractors," and since I really hadn't wanted to make a huge deal out of it, I did pretty much no planning. My format was to collect index cards from the audience on which they'd write a statement or question that has been said to them regarding their ace-spectrum or aro-spectrum identity and then I just pulled the cards out of an envelope and talked about them. I said a lot of things but I also got the audience very engaged saying things too, sharing what they said to those statements or adding perspectives. I enjoyed it and it seemed like everyone else did too--it was very well attended. Nobody suggested any comments I'd never heard before--I've kind of heard them all--but there were some really nice perspectives offered on how these comments affect other aces. I tried where I could to throw in actual advice on how to handle the detractors, like the title of the workshop implied I would, but it seemed like mostly we were just all throwing out shared experiences and agreeing that our treatment and reception in society is kinda absurd. I think it was nice for some of these folks to see that others have dealt with the same things they have.

Photo by redbeardace! Note the ace hair bow. And asexual colors on my button-down.
And I am indeed wearing my Crystal Gems shirt again. Heee.

I was glad mine was first because my energy was really low that day and it was good to have it over with. We had lunch. Then we had another workshop; I went to one on explaining asexuality to non-aces. It was really cold in that room! Boo! And my phone was being a butt because I apparently used all my data because you shouldn't watch cartoons on your phone when your Wi-Fi isn't connected the whole time. I got it fixed though.

I'm a mess sometimes.

We had a cake break and another session. I wanted to go to the Older Aces panel but it seemed like that just kind of didn't happen; it was originally scheduled to happen on Sunday, but the person running it wasn't going to be there, so it was moved to a room that was initially supposed to be a "networking session" and still no one showed up so we just kind of sat around arranging stuff and talking and connecting with others in the room. I chatted with Sebastian and later Brian came to pull his hair out and arrange for the closing of the first day.

That all went fine and we made arrangements to all meet at a certain restaurant (for those who wanted to). Ryan and Sara and I took a cab back to Wilson (where I was staying) and I took a nap, which was nice. Then we took a cab to the restaurant and had an awesome time. I got spaghetti with meatless balls, but the balls were too spicy because I'm a wimp.

Sara and me at the pub
Our pub table--Bauer, Katah, Christi, me, Sara. The population shifted a bit here and there.
We had some really fun conversations about glitterbombing, special things about drinking in various places in Canada, weather conditions in various places, and the drinking habits of asexual people.

And Bauer totally learned to make GIFs so she could post one of her dancing with David Jay.
I had a front-row seat to this and it was lovely.
Sara and I took a cab back to the residence and not too much later we were out on the lawn because the damn fire alarm was going off. We had to stand outside and watch the fire trucks. Happily it seems the building was NOT on fire. But scrambling down the stairs in our pajamas wasn't so great. We sat around talking about cartoons for a while before we were allowed to go back up. Woohoo.


The next day, Sunday, we all wandered over to the conference and this time Katah came to get me and lead me to the space. I attended the morning stuff and set up my book table again.

More people entered the drawing too.
And I got my coffee.
I went to one of the planned conference sessions after that--ace-inclusive LGBT spaces--and sat next to Ryan. We both doodled anime things and exchanged webcomic addresses, haha. Later we had lunch and I got to have a nice conversation with him about his ace journey (and some of the bad things), and he told me my book had helped him so much. By the time lunch was over we decided he was adopting me as his ace big sister. Awwww.

Then the rest of the conference was in Unconference format. During the opening ceremonies we just had people suggest topics they wanted to lead and then we gave them rooms and people could go to whatever they wanted. I went to one on asexuality in social media, and then I went to one on asexuality and feminism. Both were lovely (though the social media one was just three people, hee). The guy who runs Asexuality Archive was there and I got a copy of his book. (He tends not to use his real name online so I won't say it just in case.) He took some cool pictures with his fancy camera.

After the conference I did an interview with Bauer which I guess will be on Aces Wild later after all the processing happens, and then I went to dinner with more friends. We ended up at a cool place called Insomnia where they had Adventure Time art on the walls. It would have been funny if I'd worn my Princess Bubblegum shirt that day, because I had it with me (and wore it on the way home). I was wearing an asexuality-related shirt though. :) I had some fantastic french fries and got to have a great conversation with Z and Sebastian about various ace things, and Ryan joined in later, and I got some cool conversations about my book again. It's still kind of a surprise when people tell me they've read it and how it's helped them. I was also occasionally hearing from people that they were intimidated by the idea of trying to talk to me because they knew me from all the work I've done and that's just so weird because I thought I was really approachable. Oh, and some of the people I talked to told me who they were online and I recognized some of them from Tumblr or ace spaces online.

And that night the fire alarm thing happened again. Hahaha. Well, not really so haha.

Sara and I shared a cab to the airport too. And that was it--my flight was fine and I managed to use my travel there and back to read all of Rubyfruit Jungle which I'd been meaning to read for a while. 

Now that all my globetrotting is over I can go back to my life and maybe write a book or something. I have more processing to do, like I want to make a video about the conference and I want to choose my winners. But that will have to wait until I have the energy to do it. My brain is a bit bald right now. I'll get over it.

No comments:

Post a Comment