An asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. It is not a choice, like celibacy, but an innate quality that the person cannot change. Asexuality is a spectrum and includes orientations, both sexual and romantic, such as gray-asexual and demisexual. To celebrate and share knowledge about asexuality, this year’s Asexual Awareness Week is Oct. 21 to 27. In honor of this week, there is going to be an Asexual Panel, composed of Wheaton students, on Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Holman Room of Mary Lyon Hall. This is the third year the panel has been held.
Joshua Wolfe ’19, the founder of the event, said that he started the panel to “provide psychology students with more personal and scientifically accurate resources about asexuality. [He] had heard from students that people were interested in learning more about it, but that the lack of material made a productive dialogue pedagogically difficult. Hearing some of [his] trans friends talk about the AMA they did for the psychology department was what pushed [him] from complaining to contributing.”
Wolfe discussed his struggles with actualizing the panel, saying that, after finding panelists and a moderator, he was unable to get funding for an independent student event from SAIL. He attempted to reserve a space in the chapel for the panel, as it is known for hosting LGBTQIA+ events, but SAIL moved the event to Hindle. “Almost everything that was delegated didn’t happen or was executed poorly at the last minute,” Wolfe said. “It was all very disheartening, but at 7:30 p.m. on the day of the panel we put on a smile, took our seats at the table, and did our best. Considering everything that went wrong both before and during the event, it had a surprisingly good turnout and was a solid success.”
The first year of the panel focused on asexuality and relationships. A detailed lecture was added for the second year, and the panel focused on culture. This year, the panel and lecture are being offered as separate events, and the focus is intersectionality.
Because Wolfe is a senior, the panel needed to figure out the legacy of the event. Wolfe said that he is “very proud and honoured to announce QTPOC as the sponsor of [the] future Asexuality Awareness Week events. To facilitate a smoother transition, we have invited an exec. board member to participate in all of our meetings and emails, and will turn over all documents and works to them after this year.” The lecture will be sent to select professors and departments so that they may incorporate the information into future syllabi. Select resources are also being shared with the Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN).
Wolfe, in his final year with the panel, reflected that “the most rewarding part of these events are the conversations they inspire. This panel is relatable to people beyond asexuals. If you are sexually inexperienced, or stress has killed your libido, if your relationship struggles due to some sexual incompatibility, or you like sex but not the culture surrounding it, we are humans in the same room that can empathize.”