On the first day of Halifax Pride week, Ky Greyson arrives at a coffee shop sporting a huge smile, freshly dyed cotton candy hair with matching pink eyebrows, and black leggings that read “unavailable.” He’s bursting with enthusiasm when he asks me what gender pronouns I prefer.
Although some people don’t like labels, Greyson finds them validating.
“I like having a jewelry box of options, and being able to use words to define how I feel,” he says. “I find it very powerful.”
Greyson identifies as an aromantic, asexual trans dude. There’s a lot of stigma around these labels, both within and outside of the LGBTQIA community, he says. This Pride week, he wants to remind people that with sexual liberty also comes the freedom to abstain.
Greyson helped organize a panel that’s taking place this Tuesday at the Central Library, from 12-1pm, titled, “Along the Asexual & Aromantic spectrum: ACE&ARO Experiences,” as part of Halifax Pride. The speakers, including Greyson himself, will explore the impacts of stereotypes, and suggest how to make spaces within queer and trans communities welcoming for asexual and aromantic people.
“People think it is not natural, that likely you just haven’t found the right person yet,” he says. “There’s this idea that without this other person, romantically, you’re not living your life.”
Greyson says that many queer spaces, such as clubs and bars, can be hyper-sexualized, in his opinion. This makes him uncomfortable.
“To a certain degree, I think that is obviously understandable. Because for so long gay, lesbian, bi, [and] trans people were demonized for their sexuality, so wanting to reclaim that makes a lot of sense,” he says. “But that being said, for me at least, being in spaces where there may be hook-up culture, or expectation of sex or touching…things like that don’t necessarily translate to feeling safe. I think sex is expected from a lot of people, and consent is really hard to navigate with the way, or lack of way we’re educating people.”
Tuesday’s panel, among other events such as “Beyond Asexuality 101” and “Aromantic & Asexual Closed Space,” (both hosted by Rad Pride), are chances to discuss and teach about the intersections and diversities of the queer community.
A safe place for aro/asex folks within queer spaces is crucial, he says, and achieving that can only come with open and frank discussion, and active awareness of language.
The spectrum of LGBTQIA identities is so large, he says, that there's always more work to be done.