I was lucky enough to take part in the 2019 UK Asexuality Conference. I had such a wonderful time that I made plans to attend the 2020 conference in Reading. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic essentially put an end to any conventions. Thankfully, the organizers decided to put on a virtual conference. Not only did I get to attend, but I was able to do so much more. It was a wonderful experience. Despite not being in a physical space, I was able to meet a lot of new people. I also think the conference had a lot more to offer simply by being online. People who normally might not be able to attend due to travel issues were able to do so. There were people in attendance from nearly every continent, providing a rich diversity of experience that helped contribute to the conversation on A-spectrum issues as well as the atmosphere.
My day started off by hosting the “Aces in Fiction” panel. we had a wonderful discussion about where asexuality is in contemporary fiction and where it might be going in the future.
I then was a panelist on the Asexuality Research panel. This was really interesting to hear what contemporary research is being conducted in other fields. My area of study generally being localized around literature, I don’t often get to explore where other fields like sociology and psychology are on the matter. So this was a wonderful opportunity.
I also was asked to create the Gather space for the “Ace Creators” portion of the conference. The organizers used a very unique platform called Gather to host parts of the conference. One of the benefits of the platform is that you can create a simulated 2-D conference space. I was able to create the room where the “Ace Creators” met to discuss their work with various attendees. I had a really wonderful time playing with the platform and have started to use it regularly in my teaching.
It is really rather difficult to compare the 2019 and 2020 conference. But they each had their pros and cons. On the one hand, I really did like getting to participate in activities outside the conference in 2019. But, there was also the tremendous travel expense that I am certain acts as an obstacle for many people to overcome. I think future conferences might benefit from having both a physical and virtual presence. Regardless, I look forward to future opportunities to interact with my community.