Around the world, Ace Week is recognized annually to build community and raise awareness around asexual identities. This year, the campaign was celebrated in the last week of October, with over 60 different events worldwide.
Three programs were hosted right here in Ohio by the Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio. Though this organization just celebrated their first “birthday” in September, they are already making an impact by providing resources and programs that have reached over 3,500 people.
“As a new organization, we’re proud we’ve been able to connect with so many people,” says Dorian Rhea Debussy (they/them), the executive director of Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio. “And we’re thankful folks are so interested in learning more about ace and aro identities.”
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Debussy about programming for Ace Week 2021, other planned ace and aro events, and future opportunities to support the work of the Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio.
Can you tell us more about Ace Week 2021?
This is the eleventh year for Ace Week, which is internationally and annually recognized during the last full week of October. As a part of Ace Week 2021, over 60 events took place across the world, and four of those events specifically occurred here in Ohio. The Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio organized three of those events, and the other event was hosted by Ace Space and Aro Place (ASAP) of Kenyon College.
We started with an asynchronous virtual workshop called “What’s in the Plus? Beyond the Basics of the LGBTQ+ Community.” That particular session was led by one of our co-sponsors, The Equitas Health Institute. We started this year’s program with that session, because lots of folks find have consistently shared that this foundational information is quite useful. That session allowed folks to learn more about asexual and aromantic identities, the intersex community, pansexual identities, and a few other identities in the “plus” of the LGBTQ+ community.
Additionally, Lyn Alexander (they/them), who is our new Deputy Director of Virtual Programs, and I also co-facilitated a workshop called “Complicating the Split Attraction Model,” which focused on different types of attraction. For that session, we had folks from Nationwide Children’s, OSU Wexner Medical Center, Equitas Health, and various educational institutions throughout Ohio in attendance. We also had some international attendees and folks from other parts of the U.S. who joined us for that virtual workshop too.
Finally, we hosted an “Asexual Social Hour,” which was a social event for folks who identify within the ace community or who are questioning whether or not they do. This particular event helped to make more intentional connections among ace folks throughout the Central Ohio region and beyond.
How was the turnout this year?
In 2020, we had about 120 people who engaged with our events for Ace Week, and we noticed that attendees shared a really strong level of interest in learning more about ace identities. Given that level of interest and the turnout for other events and programs throughout this first year, we hosted three events–rather than just one–for Ace Week 2021.
While this year’s Ace Week events remained virtual, we had almost 300 people engage, which was more than twice the number of attendees for last year’s events.
Do you have other events planned for the rest of the year?
We’re definitely going to be organizing plenty of additional events in the near future. We regularly partner with various community organizations outside of Ace Week and Aro Week (which is annually recognized during the first full week after Valentine’s Day in February).
For instance, we hosted a workshop about ace inclusive HIV and STI prevention programs at MBLGTACC 2021, which is the largest LGBTQ+ student conference in the Midwest. That session had a really strong level of interest among both students and health professionals, and we’re anticipating hosting a similar event in the future. We are also planning to host more social events, given the level of interest that has been expressed by ace and aro folks across the region.
How are things going with the Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio?
Things are going really well, and they’re very busy! We just celebrated our organization’s first “birthday” in early September, and prior to Ace Week, we had already reached over 3,500 people through our various programs, workshops, training sessions, and interactions at pride festivals across Central Ohio.
As a newer organization, we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to connect with so many people, and of course, we’re thankful that folks are so interested in learning more about ace and aro identities.
Is there a way people can get more involved?
We’re getting ready to announce some ways that people can help with supporting our organization. We’re also hoping to call for board members in early spring 2022. There’s certainly a lot of work to be done, and we’re excited to share some forthcoming opportunities for folks interested in sharing in the work that we do. 🔥