Pride! I survived! And I'm experiencing ace withdrawal already. This year, I was prepared to feel a bit down after Pride ended, so hopefully I won't be having a replay of "Post-Pride depression". I need some other project to work on now, though...
I realized while trying to explain why asexuals would be in Pride that there are two distinct components to it. One is visibility/education, and the other is asexual community-building. Let's start with vis/ed, shall we? Merciless and possibly excruciating detail to follow...
As one marcher commented, it's really hard to come up with catchy slogans that actually explain what asexuality is to people who have never heard of it. We can get the word "asexual" out there, but we can't really explain who we are very well in a parade context. I'm sure at least a few people looked seriously at the flyers we handed out. And since we know asexuals are 1 in 100 people at the least, there must have been a handful of folks in the crowd who had been looking for the word "asexual" to describe themselves. However, I wouldn't have been surprised if a lot of people thought we were a bakers' union or something. Responses ran from a few obscene gestures from spectators (really, people?) to a woman telling me she loved my "Asexuals Party Hardest" shirt. One really nice response came from an employee of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who told some of us that his sister just came out to him as asexual.
Although we weren't actually shown on TV (not sure how that mistake happened), the commentators did talk about us, and actually gave accurate information this time. They said that "even though asexuals aren't in LGBT, they're still part of the community", which I thought was a cool thing to say. It's worth mentioning that while the Pride Committee claims to plan the parade order with great care, I have my doubts. We were between representatives from Jerry Springer: The Musical and some anti-circumcision activists sporting a "Foreskin is Fabulous" banner. The parade was moving so quickly that we had a hard time staying clumped together, and our cheers, which weren't that loud to begin with, were probably drowned out by the louder chants of "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" Sigh.
(A brief note about the guys: Last year, the AVEN contingent was described as "a group of women" by The Chronicle. This year, it was fairly accurate, as our group of 20-something people only included two men (Hey DJ and my dad!). Someone did come up to our group when we were in the assembly area and asked us if asexuals were all women. I heard someone explaining that AVEN does most of its organizing online, and that online forums tend to be more popular with women. Usually, we have more women than men at meetups, however, the ratio is not usually quite this skewed. Do women just like parades more than men? I have no idea.)
As for the asexual community-building aspect, that was awesome. It was, as usual, great to meet all the aces who had traveled from near, far, and very far. It always makes me really happy to hear people say, "I've never seen so many asexuals in one place before!" At meetups, people often say, "This is my first time meeting other asexuals" and I think that's a really powerful experience. Honestly, if we just had some sort of big, special asexual meetup without the parade, I might even enjoy that more. The parade is a cool experience, sure (as well as a hot, crowded and tiring one), but it's not a good place to really talk to people and get to know them. That's not the point of a parade, I know, but it's just so rare that this many asexuals get together...I wish we could get even more mileage out of it, somehow.
I want to thank everyone who participated, as well as everyone who was there in spirit! I was very proud to march (and skip and dance and whistle incessantly!) with all of you.