East Carolina University kicked off Asexuality Awareness Week with its third annual Understanding Asexuality presentation, held in Mendenhall room 221, which discussed myths around asexuality and explained the spectrum.
Zachary Dale, an ECU graduate student in American History, moderated the panel which occurred after an informational session. Dale is one of the graduate assistants in the ECU LGBT Resources Office and specializes in “queer history in America.”
“The number one thing we needed to accomplish was to simply get people a basic understanding of what the Ace community is,” Dale said.
Dale said the resource office forms student panels so that those in attendance can have the chance to ask people their questions in person.
Dale said the presentation is important because it helps with representation of asexuality, an orientation many people don’t know a lot about. Dale added the event brings the focus on to asexuality in a way that usually does not normally happen.
“The acronym (LGBTQIA) is really, like, fifty letters long,” Dale said. “I think that all those letters need representation in some way, shape or form.”
Dale said within the LGBT community, asexuality is not always put on the forefront of issues people might worry about and people who identify as asexual have the same right to visibility as the other members of the community.
Dale said this is the third year the event has occurred on ECU’s campus and the number of people who attend has grown each year.
“The first Asexual Awareness Week event we did on campus had eight people in attendance,” Dale said. “The second year we did it, when I moderated it the first time, we had 20 people in attendance. That’s an extremely high jump.”
Dale said the growing numbers meant there was a growing interest in understanding asexuality and this encouraged them to do things bigger, including getting asexual pride t-shirts for this year’s event, which were given out for free.
“This is going to be a really great opportunity to put this out there and get it on the main stage,” Dale said. “We have an event, and we have a t-shirt, which is awesome.”
Dale said the growing interest in understanding asexuality will hopefully lead to people being curious about other lesser-known groups within the LGBT community, such as pansexual and questioning.
Mark Rasdorf, director of the LGBT Resources Office, said asexuality falls under the umbrella of the LGBT Resources Office. He said orientations within the asexual spectrum have only recently gained a platform in society.
“These are conversations we are having now,” Rasdorf said. “Asexuality is something that we increasingly hear our students talking about, or needing more information about.”
Rasdorf said the event was created to serve those needs. He said this event is unique because it focuses specifically on asexuality, similar to the Bi and Proud event held in September.
Rasdorf said it was important they include the panel after, so people can get information and then interact with people who have experienced asexuality firsthand. He said it can help people to find out that others feel the same way as they do.
“When you see yourself reflected in the programming or events on campus, that can be a very meaningful and empowering experience for any marginalized or minoritized population,” Rasdorf said.
Katie Collins, a sophomore public relations and Russian studies double major, served on the panel for the event. She said asexuality is at a turning point in how it is recognized in the LGBT community.
“We’re getting to the point where voices within the asexual community are loud enough,” Collins said.
Collins said she has done some research on the asexual community in the past and if anyone wants more information, they can access the Asexual Visibility and Education Network online.
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