The first conference for German speaking asexuals took place last weekend in Stuttgart, Germany. (German summary here.) It was organized by AktivistA – a German association for asexual visibility. Te conference targeted asexuals as an audience, in order to provide 201/301 exchange and further offline networking.
The event started out at Friday night with a meet-up in a restaurant, the actual conference took place on Saturday, and on Sunday we had the option of breakfast with or without a hiking tour or city tour. Mostly of interest is Saturday, so I will keep to that.
The weather was hot, like most days this summer here, that is, around 35°C or 95°F. We lucked out with the place – a café and meeting space for queer people – because even without air conditioning, it was actually comparably cool inside.
We had thirty plus guests – not everyone was there for every event, but most people attended the talks. People hailed from all over the country and even from Switzerland, and their ways of finding us had been also quite diverse. Most had read about the conference in the AVEN forums or on facebook, but there were a small number who’d heard about the conference via queer uni groups or elsewhere in the interwebs.
The timetable didn’t quite allow for the distance between the conference center and the café where we had reservations for breakfast and dinner. It was also not as easy as planned to provide the vegan guests with decent food.
In the morning – half an hour later than hoped – we offered a short guided city walk and, at the same time, a kind of unconference discussion group. This turned out to be a not so good choice, because the people on the walk were missing out on getting to know the others.
Our two hour midday break was also too long – four planned talks/workshops plus a short film were a lot of information to take in within only four hours in the afternoon, so some people were asleep for my slot of time.
The talks themselves were quite above reproach, though.
First, Fiammetta offered insights into the ace activities in some European countries, namely France, Italy and Spain, though most people on the Spanish AVEN forums actually hail from Mexico and Argentina. Visibility-wise, Italians know how to use connections to pride organisations, while the French made April 26th the day for asexuality. As a side note, France has no regional meet-ups like Germany, but usually tries for a nation-wide meet-up in rotating places.
Second, there was a workshop/discussion about asexuality and queerness, because any anouncement of AktivistA attending a pride event tends to garner pages of heated discussion on the German AVEN forums. „Too many naked males, too much about sex.“ „I don’t feel queer.“ etc. If you know some German, Mandelbroetchen has a slightly biased summary of the results.
Also, to note: We’ve yet to encounter significant opposition by LGBT* groups or online individuals, which means that we actually have the opposite problem to the English speaking ’net.
A guest from Freiburg, Annika Spahn, gave an insightful talk about the out-of-date diagnosis „frigidity“ and its almost zombie-like re-emergence as HSDD, among others. Obviously, sexologists have quite the interest in creating norms for female sexual desire. They (dare to) describe „too much“ as well as „not enough“. At the same time, medical professionals and the pharmaceutical industry work at optimizing humans, sometimes by declaring things illnesses that are actually caused by society.
Lastly, I provided some information about demisexuality and gray-As, given the dearth of decent material about the subjects in German.
Less attention was needed to watch a 30 minute documentary by three BAs from Bremen. (More later, including link.) Information wise, the film is decent, and also manages to provide a little insight into ace diversity by acknowledging aromantics as well as the sex favorable-indifferent-averse spectrum.
Andrzej recorded two of the talks. We’re going give a heads-up once the films are available on YouTube.
Both AktivistA as an association and the guests were quite pleased with the overall results, so we’re planning another event for 2016.