When Asexual Outreach took on the organizational role in Asexual Awareness Week last year, we also made the decision to transition the name of this important advocacy event to Ace Week. There were a couple important reasons behind this.
Ten years ago, when Asexual Awareness Week was founded, the ace community was a fairly different place. At the time, awareness, visibility, and education were some of the most pressing needs facing our community. Unfortunately, awareness does not always lead to acceptance, and simply ensuring that people know about asexuality does not solve every issue that members of our community face.
Removing the word “awareness” from the name of this event is a reminder that there is so much more work to do after spreading awareness. Advocating for competent medical and mental health care, for policies that put an end to singlism, and for sex education that is inclusive of asexuality are just a few examples.
A Broader Umbrella
Not only have our community’s goals evolved, our language has as well. In 2010, when Asexual Awareness Week was founded, the word “ace” as a descriptor for anyone under the asexual umbrella was just starting to take off within the community, and certainly wasn’t recognizable to anyone outside the community.
Before “ace” was popularized, it was quite common to use the word “asexual” as an umbrella term, and that’s how it was meant in the name “Asexual Awareness Week.” However, over time, how these words are used have changed, and “asexual” is often seen as a specific identity whereas “ace,” “asexual umbrella,” and “asexual spectrum” refer to the broad range of identities that include asexual, gray-asexual, demisexual, and more.
Beyond that, our community’s awareness efforts have been effective. The term “ace” has become much more recognizable to folks outside the ace community. If you search “what does ace mean” on Google, the first result is about asexuality.
We have made amazing progress as a community, and with the new name “Ace Week” we’ll be able to achieve even more going into the future.