Marriage at Ferndale Pride Boosts Visibility of Asexual Community

On a warm, partly cloudy Saturday in Ferndale, thousands of people donned their best rainbow gear and gathered on W 9 Mile road to show their Ferndale pride June 2. But, instead of a casual T-shirt or colorful tube socks, Tia Wheeler and Jenny Larson attended Ferndale Pride with clothes several cuts above the norm; a tuxedo and wedding dress. The couple's marriage at the event's main stage fittingly kickstarted the 2018 festival with a message of love and support delivered by Deacon Angela Lippard, of Christ the Good Shephard Independent Catholic Community, who presided over the couple's wedding.
"I have a final blessing and wish for you both," she said. "May you always be in love and may all that is love always be in you. May you always see and encourage the best in each other, may the challenges that life brings your way make your marriage even stronger. May you always be each other's best friends and greatest love. Your lives are very special, may all things good touch your lives in many ways. May this blessing rest upon you and fill all your coming days."
After the couple's kiss and a cheer from the crowd, Larson took a stand at the microphone, making sure to emphasize another reason that the couple chose to get married at Ferndale Pride.
"Today we are spreading awareness of asexuality," Larson said. "To increase visibility, we will release balloons in the color of the asexual flag."
AVEN, or the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, says that, "Unlike celibacy, which is a choice, asexuality is a sexual orientation. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships."
When asked why the couple chose to highlight the asexual community in particular, Jenny Larson said that the balloon launch was a way to highlight a part of the LGBTQ community that doesn't often get the recognition it deserves. It's also where it made sense for the couple to tie the knot.
"Ferndale pride last year is where I started to come out as asexual," Larson said. "But also, I really feel comfortable at Ferndale Pride and this is also where I wanted to be and marry Tia."
Wheeler added that although she herself is not a member of the community, the increased visibility might shed more light on what it means to be asexual and to ward off myths about the asexual community.
"I also think there's a misconception that people believe that asexuals can't be sexual," Wheeler said. "Like in our case, they were surprised that we kissed as long as we did. For me, we've always kissed that long."
Michelle Gaddis, the director of the Ann Arbor Area Asexuals — the asexual meet-up group to which Larson belongs — agreed with Wheeler. This year is the first year there was an asexual booth at Ferndale Pride, and Gaddis said that its addition along with Wheeler and Larson's marriage is a great step to dispelling misconceptions about the asexual community and reaffirming that they have a place in the LGBTQ community.
"Some people think we're broken or frigid or that we haven't met the right person, and that's not true. Some people think that Aces are (only) straight, white people. We do have heteromantic, but there's also homoreomantic, aromantic and definitely many under orientations under the sun," Gaddis said. "There are gay aces and there are bi aces."
Gaddis said that when she came out six years ago in high school, she constantly had to reexplain what her sexuality meant, and reaffirm that she was in the process of discovering her identity within a real orientation and not a made up phase.
"It did take a couple of years for me to accept that that was who I was and that I should really start dating other asexuals. There are a lot of people who have mixed relationships, but for me personally, it worked for me to date another Ace. I've been dating my partner for about five years," Gaddis said. "But some people want to say it doesn't work, and just because for me it didn't work, it doesn't mean that it can't for others."
And Larson and Wheeler's marriage is a testament to that point. Larson said that part of the reason that she fell in love with Wheeler was Wheeler's ability to be learn about asexuality.
"Tia was very considerate, especially at the beginning. She said, 'I don't know anything about asexuality' (laughs). And (although) I usually say queer, if you wanted to define my sexuality I'd say panromantic asexual," Larson said. "I love a person for who they are, not for what's in their pants. That's what I tell people. I love Tia and if she wanted to transition or anything, I'd be totally fine with it. I love Tia."
More information about the Ann Arbor Asexuals group can be found online at or


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