The Forgotten Orientation
Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It was a family trip, but not one I had a hand in planning, so it was either luck or fate, not foresight, that allowed me to be in Halifax the same day as their Pride Parade. I was delighted, and I steered my family into attending with me. Luckily, that wasn’t much of a struggle.
So we went, and it was wonderful.
The public’s involvement at every level was fantastic, and both the participants and the crowd were full of energy! Businesses, churches, college groups, volunteer organizations, military service members, city employees, and even the Prime Minister himself marched down the streets of Halifax. I was especially delighted to see a massive group from HalCon, most of whom were in full cosplay. The rainbow flag was flown with joy and, yes, pride, by hundreds of people, and I was mostly exuberant to be part of the experience.
You see, I don’t usually handle crowds well, so I’d never been to a Pride festival before. In preparation for the day, I’d picked out one of my favorite shirts—a long-sleeve gray shirt that says NAH along the front in all caps. Each letter is a color from the asexual flag. It’s adorable. I love it. Since this was my first Pride event, I intended to rep my orientation as much as possible. What I was even more excited about, though, was the possibility of seeing other people doing the same thing. I desperately hoped to meet people who understood and/or shared my experience.
Although I searched the parade for my colors in outfits or flags or floats, I only found it twice. Two flags, both of them on floats that included almost every recognizable set of colors I’ve ever seen. On one of those floats there was one girl who noticed my shirt and grinned at me, giving me a thumbs up. She wasn’t dressed in ace-spec colors, but we still had that moment of connection, that “Oh, hey! Look! Someone else is here!” moment. Then she was gone and I was left searching for something that never showed up. Even on signs and banners, the A in LGBTQIAP+ always got dropped. Most of the time, the letter list never made it past T.
So basically, two flags and a smile is all I got from a parade that took over an hour to pass me by.
It’s not nothing, but I couldn’t keep from feeling disappointed. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that this is exactly why the small but steadily growing asexual community is shouting so loud for representation. I couldn’t keep from remembering how many stories I’ve heard—or how many times I’ve seen for myself—how unwelcome ace-spec individuals are across the board, both in queer spaces and in cishet ones. I couldn’t stop wishing I’d seen a local group marching for awareness, and I couldn’t stop wondering why they hadn’t—because they didn’t think they needed to or because they didn’t think they’d be welcome?
Is this level of ace representation close to the norm for Prides? Maybe there’s usually more. Maybe there’s less. I don’t know for sure, but I know where I’m hoping “normal” falls.
What I do know is that I’m going to struggle against my own discomfort with crowds and events to be more involved in local Pride parades and events. I’ve also seen why it’s so important to keep talking about ace-spec issues online. There, I’m friends with dozens of fellow aces and can talk to people who understand, but that world doesn’t reflect reality yet. It’ll take a long while yet for that to happen, but I for one am definitely willing to put in the work to help get us there.