Speaking at the 2015 North American Asexuality Conference

I attended the 2015 North American Asexuality Conference in Toronto this year and gave a workshop called “Handling Detractors.”

detractorsMy workshop was very low-key; I just passed out index cards, got people to write down a comment that had been said to them about their asexual-spectrum or aromantic-spectrum identity, and collected them in an envelope, then pulled them out one by one to talk about them with the attendees. I had a pretty big audience and everyone was very responsive; I was only talking maybe half the time. I enjoyed hearing everyone’s perspectives and trying to give some advice on how to handle these comments. It went very well.

Besides my workshop, I had a table for my book.

booksignI collected names to give away two hardcovers and two audio copies of the book. Quite a few people already owned the book and had brought it with them, and they got me to sign it. It was pretty amazing.

Besides those two things, I went to several other workshops: Explaining Asexuality to Non-Aces, Ace-Friendly LGBTQ Organizations, Asexuality and Social Media, and Asexuality and Feminism. Plus I got to make some new friends, hang out at restaurants, collect some great items from other aces, and have some wonderful conversations. Asexual Outreach did a great thing here and I hope they continue to get the message out there.

Speaking at Pride Week: Ace/Aro Inclusion

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities flew me up to the chilly north to participate in their Pride Week on April 13, 2015. I was invited by the asexuality group, fACES—a division of the Queer Student Cultural Center—to do a one-hour talk on asexual, aromantic, and demi/gray inclusion in LGBTQ spaces.


The presentation went very well and everyone was really nice! They were super receptive to my message and my visit, and very friendly during the hangout times we had before the event. I also got to go to a trans inclusivity presentation that I enjoyed as well.

I made a recording of my presentation:

I even got to pick the audience’s brains at the end to discuss one thing I want to revise in the next edition of my book, so that was great too! And while I’m honestly not that big on going around personally making appearances because I prefer content creation, this certainly felt worthwhile. (And I didn’t get lost even though I had to ride the train.)

For the record, the presentation was primarily about the objections some people have to including asexual, aromantic, demisexual/demiromantic, and/or graysexual/grayromantic people in their larger LGBTQ groups; there are some folks who feel that ace/aro-spectrum people don’t belong except as allies. My presentation discussed why I do not believe this is an appropriate way to approach ace/aro issues, and it highlighted both what LGBTQ and ace/aro folks have in common and discussed what we can each learn from each other.

And it didn’t hurt that they had a welcoming and attractive cultural center room. 🙂


Interview: Yorokobu

A Spanish magazine called Yorokobu interviewed me for an article called “Los asexuales reivindican su hueco” (“The Asexuals Claim Their Space”).

Jaled Abdelrahim sent me a list of interview questions in English, which I also answered in English, and then the translated version was published on the site.

You can read it here.

My friend Claudia took a crack at a more accurate translation than Google Translate can provide, which you can read below the cut.

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Interview: Maclean’s

I have a short interview in the December 22, 2014 issue of Maclean’s, a Canadian national weekly news magazine. The article about me is on page 75 of the issue, under “Help,” and its title is “No sex please—it’s boring.” (Not sure who titles these things! I wouldn’t know if sex is boring, though I guess conflating “boring” with “not interesting to me” isn’t that far off.)


The limited preview on the Maclean’s site

The interview is in the print magazine–which is only sold in Canada–and you can buy the digital edition through the newsstand online here. An online version was later posted here.

The article is pretty super basic with one page of content. It has some nice little tidbits and didn’t sensationalize asexuality or make fun of me or anything. But as is almost always the case with media articles that do not let me check them before they print/post, there are little things I would have preferred to be presented differently, most notably the sentence “Just as some people are born gay, straight or bisexual, Decker says she was born without the desire to have sex.” I do not in fact say that. Because I hate the “born this way” narrative for many reasons, so I’m not keen on being represented as making that claim as if those are the words I’d use or the sentiment I’d express.

There’s also a place where it quotes me as saying some asexual people do decide to have sex and then they finish the sentence for me by claiming it’s “to please a partner,” and I think that is misleading, though of course it’s sometimes true. It also kinda oversimplifies the whole “asexuality is not trauma, it’s not hormones,” etc., but that’s not surprising given the space allotted.

They also made reference to the Apositive site and a post on it, but misspelled its URL as “appositive.org.” It’s supposed to have one P, not two. Maybe spellcheck decided to hit it and no one caught it. The print version has this issue but the online version does not.

My own book is secretly in the photograph, sitting on my desk in the background under some papers. That’s kind of meta.

Interview: Marie Claire UK

Marie Claire UK did an interview with me and a few other asexual people for its December 2014 issue. You can choose your platform and download it for a small fee here (make sure to get December 2014).

theasexualsBecause it is a for-sale magazine and there is no online companion, I can’t show you the whole thing, but here is my quote:

marieclaireukI was interviewed through e-mail, so I was surprised that several of my quotes didn’t get what I said correct.

Their version:

Describing herself as aromantic, Julie was 15 when she realized she was asexual. ‘There was no asexual community at the time, but I knew sex was interesting to everyone but me. When AVEN was established, I began using the term asexual instead to connect myself to a community.’

This quote implies that I used to call myself “aromantic” BUT HAVE NOW “switched” to using “asexual” because of AVEN. That’s incredibly misleading because I use both terms NOW and did not claim to use “aromantic” as a teen. Asexuality and aromanticism are not necessarily related. When I described using the word  “asexual” instead, was describing my switch from the word “nonsexual,” which I always used before there was a community that preferred “asexual.”

Here is my original statement:

I identify as an asexual aromantic woman—”aromantic” meaning I also don’t feel romantic attraction. Romantic orientation is separate from sexual orientation for a great many asexual people, and some do want romantic relationships even if sexual attraction doesn’t develop for them.

This is the only place I mention “aromantic” in my set of answers, so how it got conflated for the term I switched to “instead” is beyond me.

My original response, on using “nonsexual” as a term:

I was about fifteen years old when I started calling myself “nonsexual.” There was no asexual community at the time, but I knew sex was very interesting to everyone but me, and it seemed like enough of a difference to have to call it something. When the Asexual Visibility and Education Network was established by David Jay in the early 2000s, I began using the term “asexual” instead to connect myself to the community and visibility efforts.

So you see how that really was not unclear. I don’t know how it became so in the article.

Also, they tweaked my words at one point. The interviewer asked me about dating and dating sites for asexual people. I discussed mixed-orientation dating a bit after explaining why it’s rare for asexual people to be able to date other asexual people. I wrote this:

There are resources for these mixed-orientation relationships, but every partnership is different. Even in non-asexual couples, there’s usually a difference of desire and opinion on how often and in what ways to have sex, so asexual people aren’t honestly that different, and some may be okay with having sex even if they don’t have the usual accompanying sexual attraction. Some relationships that include an asexual person have special arrangements in which they emphasize other forms of intimacy, or they may have a non-monogamous relationship, like an open marriage or a polyamorous group situation.

That was rewritten to this in the magazine:

As Julie explains, ‘Every partnership is different. Even among sexual couples, there’s usually a difference of desire, and some asexuals can be OK with having sex, even if they don’t desire to. Other relationships that include an asexual person have special arrangements in which there are other forms of intimacy, or they may choose to have a non-monogamous relationship.’

I don’t think this is necessarily a poor choice for simplifying, shortening, and summing up my response (though it lacks some nuance), but for the record, I didn’t call any couples “sexual couples.”

This is not incredibly egregious, considering how wrong many journalists have gotten it over the years, but it does really irk me that “aromantic” is represented as something I used to call myself before I found the word “asexual.” Many aromantic people are very much NOT fans of having our romantic and sexual orientations conflated. I was also assigned words I never said a couple times wherein I referred to asexual people as “asexuals,” and while I don’t object to this language, I prefer not to use it as a noun form, though I do use “aces.”

Still, I appreciated that in a popular, mainstream magazine, the article didn’t drag in some “sexpert” for “balance” to ramble about how we’re probably just refusing to face our sicknesses and trying to make an orientation out of our fear.

Note: There are also some statements in the article that could be taken as sex-shaming or promiscuity-shaming.