The Evolution of AceSpace: Two Years On – by Robin Tamblyn, BiSpace Asexual Rep

I’m Robin and I am currently the Asexual Lead for the Civil Service LGBT+ Network’s BiSpace group, a position I volunteered for after experiencing aphobia outside the workplace. I self-identify as a heteroromantic asexual woman, as I am attracted romantically but not sexually to men.

October 2020 was the tenth anniversary of Asexual Awareness Week (now called Ace Week), an annual event held in the last week of October that puts asexuality in the spotlight. Part celebration of the progress we’ve made as a community, and part campaign for greater understanding and acceptance of asexual-spectrum identities such as graysexual and demisexual, Ace Week is a time to focus on all things ace! October 2020 was also the date of the inaugural (virtual) meeting of AceSpace.

AceSpace is a social event for civil servants on the ace and aro spectrums, including asexual, graysexual, demisexual and aromantic people. These groups are often underrepresented within the LGBT+ community with few visible role models, so this event was created to give aces and aros a space to meet and chat.

The first meeting, hosted by the Civil Service LGBT+ Network’s Bi+ Inclusion Team, included a panel discussion around asexuality and the asexual spectrum, and what it’s like to be an ace civil servant. It also provided an opportunity for ace civil servants and allies who wanted to know more about asexuality to ask questions and discuss asexuality and ace inclusion in the Civil Service.

This event was held over Zoom and I was initially unsure about how many participants we would have, given that this was the first event of its kind held by the Civil Service LGBT+ Network. It turned out to be one of the best-attended events of the year with over 50 participants at one stage! From a personal point of view it was great to “see” so many attendees and to hear all their stories. Before this event I had met maybe 3 ace people and now I had met over 30! Other attendees commented that it was the first time they had ever “met” another openly-ace person and the first time they had really felt included as part of the LGBT+ community.

Since our first event that October, several more AceSpaces have been held virtually over Teams or Zoom, approximately every 2 months, with formal “themed” events alternating with more casual socials. Now the COVID restrictions have eased I am hoping that we may be able to arrange some in-person meetups and I am also keen to encourage more aromantic participation in these events too.