THIS is a guest post by Amy, Gary and Katherine, members of Open Table at St Bride’s Liverpool, about being asexual and raising awareness this month:
Today (Saturday 29th October) is the final day of Asexual Awareness Week (AAW).
Now in its seventh year, AAW was created to celebrate asexual, aromantic, demisexual and grey-sexual pride and also to promote awareness. AAW is important because asexuality is one of the minority sexualities in the LGBTQIA spectrum – lots of people don’t know much, if anything, about us. During Asexual Awareness Week asexual people work within the LGBTQIA community, both locally and on social media, to educate, inform and raise issues pertaining to the asexual spectrum.
You may not be aware that we have a little band of asexual-spectrum people (also known in the LGBTQIA+ community as ‘aces’) here at St Brides. Dubbed ‘the Ace Crew’ by our LGBTQIA+ ministry leader Kieran, we (Amy, Gary & Katherine) were extremely pleased to put together two services on Sunday 16th of October. One of these was our regular monthly Sunday evening Open Table service for LGBTQIA+ people and their friends/allies, which this month was given over to Asexual Awareness Week, and the other was the Sunday morning service which we were happy to put together as part of St Brides’ October theme of inclusion.
Over a series of meetings things gradually took shape. We were given, full control over the content of our services. Kieran, as always, was on hand to offer support and guidance and also to liaise with Warren, Open Table’s other ministry leader, regarding matters of liturgy and protocol. Readings were chosen, testimonies honed, hymns picked, an asexuality information leaflet (produced entirely by Katherine) printed and before we knew it the 16th had arrived. Asexual Awareness Week had started a week early for us – no backing out now!
The morning service had the distinction of being the first ever (to our knowledge)church service dedicated to the theme of asexuality and Ace Awareness Week. Our friend and ally, the Reverend Jonathan Clatworthy, did his usual amazing job of presiding over the Eucharist, but otherwise was happy to take a back seat whilst we did our thing. The congregation were really receptive to us and some said it had been the first time they’d been exposed to the concept of asexuality. This fired us up for our Open Table takeover a few hours later.
The Open Table service also featured a great bonus: the Right Reverend Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, was in Liverpool preparing to give a marriage equality lecture at St Bride’s the next day. It was our pleasure and privilege to have Bishop Alan join the Ace Crew (as an honorary non-asexual member of the gang) and take the service with us. The Bishop later confided to us that his knowledge of asexuality was extremely limited so it had been an educational service for him. Bishop Alan is one of the most vocal and forthright fighters for equality in the Church of England so we were pleased to get him on-side! However the best part of the service was undoubtedly the cake (in the colours of the ace pride flag) baked for us by Scarlett, an OT regular who is a whiz with the sugar and icing.
Ace Awareness Week at St Bride’s went without a hitch, however it couldn’t have been done without the help of our allies. We directed things but couldn’t do it all ourselves: Kieran and Warren oversaw things, Vin and Richard provided their musical talents, PJ helped keep us organised, Cate and Gerry did readings and Scarlett baked cake. None of the comrades mentioned are asexual but all share the same Open Table/St Bride’s values of friendship and working together. We’re all at different places under the LGBTQIA rainbow but the important thing is we’re under the same rainbow! Our unity is our strength and that’s why OT continues to thrive.