A Reflection on the Carnival of Aros

After reading the entries to February’s Carnival of Aros prompt and many of the discussions that followed, we would like to start this post by apologizing for choosing a topic that alienated some aros. Most of us here at TAAAP are aroaces, and we did not do enough to seek out the opinions of aros who are not part of or do not feel included in the ace community.

We want to do better in the future, and we are starting by reflecting on the Carnival of Aros. The following post contains our thoughts on the events leading up to the launch of the Carnival of Aros, the Carnival itself, and the discussions that have followed.

After rebranding as The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project late last year to reflect our focus on aro and ace inclusion and advocacy, we wanted to more fully participate in the ace and aro communities online. We decided to host a month of the Carnival of Aces, as several of our members had contributed to or hosted one previously. Since it was on our mind, we decided we wanted to talk about the relationship between the ace and aro communities. We knew this relationship was strained, and we wanted to get a wide variety of perspectives on why that was, particularly since our goal is to advocate for both identities equally. Several of our members were especially enthusiastic about this prompt for more personal reasons, and were interested in reading about others’ experiences.

We reached out to Siggy at the Asexual Agenda (the blog that runs the Carnival of Aces), who was interested in the prompt but wondered if the Carnival of Aces should be rebranded to include aros. We did not like that idea, since we didn’t think the carnival would equally prioritize ace and aro prompts due to the fact that it had been ace-focused for so long. He then suggested asking an aro blogger to start a separate Carnival of Aros that would only intersect with the Carnival of Aces on this first prompt, and would be completely independent. We felt this was a great idea.

We thought having the launch topic intersect with the Carnival of Aces would be a good way to publicize the new Carnival of Aros. We meant for the topic to be inclusive of anyone on the ace or aro spectrum, but we did not realize how allosexual aromantic folks might feel about the first prompt topic for Carnival of Aros be connected to asexuality. Since we were involved in the whole process of how the prompt and the carnival came to be, we were not able to see how it would look to those who were not involved and who only saw the end result. There may have been solutions, had we thought of them; for instance, making our idea a later prompt for the Carnival of Aros, so it could be established as an aro-focused event first.

This post is coming over a month and a half after the February Carnival ended. We took some time to process the comments we read and to talk to some of the people who were hurt. We understand how despite our intentions, there were people who felt alienated by the way the Carnival of Aros rolled out. We are very sorry for our lack of foresight and the hurt that it caused. We hope that the Carnival of Aros can move past the rough start it had, and that we can all continue working together towards more resources and communities for all aromantic people.

In that spirit, we are proactively working to understand ahead of time what the aro community needs by reading non-ace aro perspectives and inviting non-ace aros to join us in the work that we do. However, our organization does not currently have members who represent every way of being ace or aro. While this is something we certainly plan on working to improve, we also know we will never be perfect in this regard because there are as many ways of being ace and aro as there are ace and aro people. We may not be able to anticipate all of the potential pitfalls of our actions, and as a result we may make mistakes in the future. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you ever think of a way we can improve any of our projects, or—even better— if you would like to become involved yourself.

February 2019 Carnival Round-up: The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities

Thank you to everyone who participated in this joint blogging event between the Carnival of Aces and the newly-formed Carnival of Aros!

We hope that this event is just the beginning of the conversation on this topic, so we encourage everyone to read through other’s posts and respond with your thoughts. Even if you find this years down the line, if you have thoughts on the topic you should feel free to voice them!

We are looking forward to seeing the true start of the Carnival of Aros as a separate blogging event next month! Check out the March 2019 call for submissions on the Aromanticism Dreamwidth here, with the topic, “It’s Great to Be Aro!” The Carnival of Aces is also continuing separately in March, hosted by Controlled Abandon, with the topic, “Symbols of Identity.

Below are all the submissions we have received, along with a short summary of each. Please let us know if we missed anything!

The Differences Between ‘Asexual’ and ‘Aromantic’ Matters — Here’s Why by Keizick on Cuil Effect

This post offers a perspective on how aromanticism became its own identity, how aro people often desire different relationship models than non-aro people, why the differences between aros and aces matter, and more. — “For myself, my aromanticism has a much larger effect and deeper implications on the course of my life than my asexuality.”

Why We Need the Aspec Community: An Aro Perspective by ask-an-aro

This post discusses the importance of having both shared and separate resources for aces and aros. — “There’s far too much overlap in the ace and aro communities to separate them completely. In terms of shared language, history, and experiences, but especially in terms of people.”

Being grayromantic and not talking about it by Siggy on The Asexual Agenda

This post discusses the split attraction model, being an aro-spec person in a romantic relationship, “that one blogger” (a particularly alienating aromantic blogger from years ago), and more. — “Sometimes I think that I would have put more emphasis on gray-romanticism rather than gray-asexuality, if only there were more discussion on that topic a decade ago.”

A-Spec: Equality For Lack of a Romantic Orientation (and Gender) by demiandproud

demiandproud reflects on her past language usage and what she intends to do going forward. — “I cheerfully announced I considered aromanticism to fall under the asexuality umbrella two posts ago. […] So here’s me reflecting on my own language because that’s very, very healthy and also, I hope it will make me a more polite individual.”

A Carnival of Aros – The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities by Neir

Neir writes about eir specific experiences as an aro and ace person participating in both communities. — “I feel more comfortable in the aro community because I have honestly never met an aro person online or offline that hasn’t been kind and respectful. Members of the ace community, on the other hand, have been far more variable in their attitudes.”

Submission: The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities by anonymous

The anonymous blogger discusses feeling like aromantic people are too much of an afterthought in ace communities. — “I always felt some disconnection to the asexual community. My asexuality might be a part of who I am but my romantic orientation is what I keep thinking about.”

Aromantic. That’s a thing. Okay. by redbeardace

redbeardace discusses his personal relationship with his aro identity, and how his perspective on that has changed as the separate aro community has emerged. — “When I was on my Search™, I found all my answers with asexuality.  There was nothing left to look for. It was all there, everything explained.  It’s clear to me now that’s obviously not the case, but at the time it was enough.”

Aro Community, Ace Community by Sara K. at The Notes Which Do Not Fit

Sara discusses her desires to see more dedicated spaces for aros.  — “To some extent, I’ve felt like I get ‘enough’ of my need to associate with aro people just by being in the ace community. […] And yet, at the same time, I’ve wished that aromanticism could get more of its own dedicated space, rather than just being a sidenote to asexuality.”

My first steps in the asexual and aromantic communities by Isaac at Mundo Heterogéneo.

Isaac discusses his history and memories in both identities and communities, and shares thoughts of what the future might entail. — “I had my reservation with respect to being asexual, since I still hadn’t gotten the concept of sexual attraction, but the concept of aromanticism immediately made me identify with it, despite romantic attraction being a trickier concept than sexual attraction. For me, the split attraction model makes a lot of sense, even generalized to splitting also platonic attraction.”

The Relationship Between My (A)sexuality and (A)romanticism by Blue Ice-Tea at Ace Film Reviews

This post is a self reflection on Blue Ice-Tea’s feelings towards her demisexual and her platoniromantic identities, as well as a discussion of pros and cons of what each community has to offer. — “But maybe the fact that it took me so long to feel part of the asexual community proves it wasn’t the community I needed after all! …And haven’t I been saying that my romantic orientation has had a bigger impact on my life than my sexual orientation? Maybe what I need is less time in the asexual community and more time connecting with other non-alloromantic people.”

Carnival of Aros: February 2019 by aro-soulmate-project

This post is a commentary on how the Carnival of Aros was launched and hopes for its future. — “Alloaro friends of mine, upon hearing about the Carnival of Aros, expressed their apprehension at participating in an event that required them to describe their experiences in terms of the ace community. To them, as well as many aroaces I’ve spoken to, tying the first Carnival of Aros so heavily was tone-deaf and in some ways a reflection of the problem.”

We (TAAAP) wrote a response to this post giving further context to how this topic came about.

Ace Community? Don’t know her. by Tost on the Aromanticism Dreamwidth community

Tost discusses her (lack of a) relationship with the asexual community as a bisexual aromantic person, her thoughts on the value of both separate and joint communities, and her hopes for the Carnival of Aros going forward. — “Seeing as it’s starting as an initiative already connected to the asexual community I have hopes that it’ll end up inviting aros who mainly inhabit asexual spaces to discover, explore and be more active in aromantic spaces too!” … “I’m allosexual and don’t have any connection to or knowledge about the asexual communities beyond what someone tags with ‘asexual’ as well as ‘aromantic’ on tumblr. And that’s exactly the way I can participate in the event and be able to talk about my experiences.”  

How to improve and nurture the relationship between the asexual and aromantic communities by Ace of Arrows

Ace of Arrows suggests concrete actions that aces and aros can implement to be better allies to each other. — “As someone who is part of both communities, I experience how often they can harm each other, willingly or unwillingly. This post is both a reflection on this harm and a list of suggestions for things to do to improve the relationship. In general, I feel really positive towards our ability to achieve this in future, so it is ultimately quite a positive post.”

Musings of a (Chinese) dragon by Blaise

In this post, Blaise discusses their experiences finding a place in the aro and ace communities,  how they wish they could connect with more aros of color, and their hopes to learn more about how to purposefully include allosexual aros in aspec spaces. — “I feel that my presence as an aro ace, in the ace community, has been increasingly ignored. Especially in ace awareness events, where many aces say things like, ‘We’re ace but we can still feel romantic attraction!’ or some variation of that statement. While it’s great to let allosexuals know that not all aces are aro, can they just say it in a way to not erase aro and aro-spec aces at the same time?”

The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities: A Greyromantic Perspective by Laura at shades-of-grayro

Laura discusses their personal journey with their ace and aro identities, how the aro community can learn from the ace community to better support gray and romance-favorable aros, and their perspective on aro inclusion in ace communities. — “In my experience, the ace community does a better job including and discussing gray-ace and sex-favorable aces than the aro community does with including and discussing gray-aro and romance-favorable aros. I think we need to look towards the ace community in order to see how we can improve.”

Aro-ish: Permanent Questioning & the Aromantic Community by Elizabeth of Prismatic Entanglements

In this post, Elizabeth discusses her personal difficulty with identifying on the aromantic spectrum and how the nature of earlier online aromantic communities impacted her desire to participate in those communities — “I thought for a long time that I really didn’t need to engage with the aromantic community (once there actually was an aromantic community, that is), because I already had plenty of aromantic people around me in the ace community. […] But what if? What if there had been much more in-depth, nuanced discussion about what it means to be aro, and grayro, and aro-adjacent or aro-ish, all along?”

 

The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities by Iz N.

Iz N. discusses the relationship between their ace and aro identities, as well as how they would love to connect more with (in-person) aro communities. — “I’m much quicker to id as ace, if I say anything beyond just ‘queer’. I think that’s because it’s easier to know I don’t feel sexual attraction than romantic attraction. Sexual attraction, after all, feels like a physical reaction, which, while murky, is at least relatively simple to pin down.”

Under the influence of aromanticism by Scoop

Scoop starts out a multi-post series on the split attraction model analyzing the accuracy of Google search results on the topic. — “My research would be limited to the first page of Google. Ridiculous?? Yes! Perfect?? Absolutely! Listen if you don’t know what something is you Google it. You Google it and you never leave that first fucking page. I want to know what people will see when they Google ‘split attraction model’.”

Communication Breakdown: Why we feel hurt & how to mend the gap by aromagni

Magni gives zer thoughts on aro erasure by the ace community, why aros feel hurt and alienated, and how people can be better aro allies. — “Overall, I think a lot of why aros feel ostracized by aces is a lot like why aces feel ostracized by the overall queer community: we feel invisible and ignored, we feel excluded by the things they say, we feel like no one is listening, and it hurts because we feel we should belong but we don’t feel included.”

Carnival of Aros Submission by Alex

Alex discusses how they feel about the split attraction model, what they think is the best way to be an ally to aros, and their hopes for the aro and ace communities. — “In the future, I hope that aro-spec folks and ace-spec folks can create communities that help everyone feel welcome. Communities that don’t just recognize alloace experiences, or aroace experiences. Communities that welcome people who fall under the gray-ro and gray-ace umbrellas, and of course those who identify as alloaro.”

Aro Communities, Ace Communities: Eight Observations from an Aro Ace by Sennkestra on Next Step: Cake

Sennkestra gives a thorough breakdown of the current and historical overlap between the ace and aro communities, how prior commitments often impact aces’ ability to create parallel spaces, how people’s needs in the ace and aro communities are varied and often conflicting, and more. — “I see a lot of hope in the future, because what I’ve noticed in the last couple years is that we are now getting a new generation of aro bloggers and activists, who have no prior commitments to ace projects or symbols, and who have the time and ability to put 100% of their activism into aro communities, which already is leading to a lot of growth in aro blogging – and I have hope that in a couple years it will grow out into activism as well.”

Thoughts on the Start of the Carnival of Aros by eatingcroutons on the Aromanticism Dreamwidth community

eatingcroutons discusses their thoughts on the start of the Carnival of Aros and gives some constructive advice for forming aro-centric initiatives in the future. — “Many aros are already primed to expect to be treated as secondary to aces in aspec spaces. To counter that, an aro-centric initiative has to build trust before it can build bridges. To establish credibility as a space that will prioritise and lionise aro needs and issues in their own right, not just in the context of asexuality.”

Who Should Be Doing Aro Advocacy? by TAAAP

TAAAP discusses how aromanticism became a part of their mission, when joint ace and aro advocacy efforts are useful, and how there is a need for aromantic-only advocacy in order to truly equalize the resources available for both identities. — “We believe that a way aces can be good allies to aros is by helping them access opportunities that were very difficult for aces to obtain in the first place. […] In other situations, however, we recognize that joint advocacy efforts might not be as useful, and in fact might actually be detrimental.”

An Aroallo Perspective on the Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities: Solidarity Not Conflation by aromanticrey

aromanticrey details how the overlap between the two communities impacted their ability to discover their aromantic identity and gives suggestions for how aces can help support aros. — “When I was discovering aromanticism I could not find aro resources that weren’t primarily ace resources. Aro identities were always only talked about in the context of asexuality. I thought I had to be ace in order to be aro, and I did not know you could be aro and allosexual.”

I Don’t Want to Be Associated With the Community That Hurt Me by arokaladin

arokaladin writes about why he feels alienated by the ace community and how that has impacted his relationship with his ace identity. — “I don’t want to represent people who helped me feel like a monster. I don’t want to help them by explaining their words and their culture if I want to come out.”

Coming Out and Being AroAce, a two-part submission by Cas

Cas discusses experiences related to coming out and finding aro and ace community. — “I decided I was tired of questioning. I told myself I would be ‘asexual aromantic until proven otherwise’, which gave me the leeway I needed to come out and stop needing to question myself.”

Aromanticism and Me by Mara Jane on This Too Shall Eventually Pass

Mara Jane discusses her hesitations with identifying as grayromantic and how that is changing. — “It always felt as if the aro community, or the handful of bloggers which I perceived as making up the community, didn’t have a place for people who were okay with romantic relationships and romance in general. […] But that’s changing.”

Who Should Be Doing Aro Advocacy?

This post is TAAAP’s submission to the February 2019 Carnival of Aros/Carnival of Aces, which we are hosting. Read our call for submissions here.

The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project was founded about a year and a half ago as The Asexual Awareness Project. Our mission, which started as a simple desire to have aces march at pride and to help aces gain recognition at the Creating Change conference, expanded organically over time. One of the ways it expanded was to include aromanticism fully and equally alongside asexuality.

Currently, TAAAP mainly consists of a bunch of aces. Many of us are aro in addition to being ace, but we have also historically prioritized our ace identities over our aro ones. The fact that we started as a specifically asexual organization is perhaps the strongest evidence of that. We are still working to ensure that aromanticism is equally represented as asexuality in all of our outreach and projects, and we know we sometimes fall short. We hope to be able to include more allosexual aromantic people, as well as more aroaces who prioritize their aro identities.

The subject of how much aces—particularly those who are not aro, and those who prioritize their ace identity over their aro one—should do to further aro advocacy is a frequently discussed topic right now. There are people who feel that aces haven’t done enough for aros. On the other hand, there are others who have a deep mistrust of anything connected to the ace community, and don’t want aces to advocate for aros.

As an organization that frequently works on joint ace and aro advocacy projects, we would like to give our perspective on when these combined efforts are useful and feasible, and when they are not.

At TAAAP, we focus on helping people and organizations (particularly LGBTQ+ organizations) better include aces and aros in the work that they are already doing. In this context, we find that combining ace and aro advocacy goals can be extremely effective for boosting aro awareness. Many LGBTQ+ organizations are aware that asexuality is a thing, and will seek out training on the topic, but not a lot of them know about aromanticism. By making resources and trainings aimed at this audience equally prioritize information on aromanticism, we are able to spread aro awareness to people who didn’t even know they needed it.

Additionally, we believe that a way aces can be good allies to aros in terms of advocacy is by helping them access opportunities that were very difficult for aces to obtain in the first place. For example, aces have been working for years to be included in the Creating Change conference. We have finally been making some strides towards full inclusion of aces, and this year we decided to expand our sessions and spaces to fully include aromanticism—not just as a sidenote to asexuality, but as a separate and equally-important identity. For context, we proposed an aro-specific session as well our four combined sessions. All four combined sessions were accepted, but the aro one was not. Without combining ace and aro efforts at this conference, there would have likely been nothing for aros.

In other situations, however, we recognize that joint advocacy efforts might not be as useful, and in fact might actually be detrimental. In visibility in media, for example, if aromanticism is always tied to asexuality, then that only contributes to the misconception that aromanticism is simply a subset of asexuality.

While it is often helpful when aces assist in doing aro advocacy and in creating aro spaces, we also don’t think that aces should feel obligated to do so. There is a value in ace-only spaces, and many aces who aren’t aro might not feel like the right person to do that kind of work. That is all okay. As Sennkestra mentioned in her post, many aroaces who are already involved in ace advocacy might not have the time to also dedicate to aro-only advocacy, instead deciding to work on joint ace and aro projects. This is the case for many of us at TAAAP.

If this is all there is, however, the ace and aro communities will never have equal resources. We need people who prioritize their aro identity who are willing to put in the work to do aro advocacy and build aro communities—independently of ace efforts. Aces can support the aro advocacy movement by sharing experience and resources, but ultimately it is up to the aro community to make it happen. There seems to be the right momentum building for this to happen now, and we are excited to watch it unfold and to see aro-focused organizations and communities flourish alongside ace ones.

 

Submission #3: The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities

The following is a submission by Iz N. for the February 2019 Carinival of Aros/Carnival of Aces.

I’m asexual and aromantic, and have identified as such for about eight years now. I have mixed feelings about how I fit in with both identities. I’m much quicker to id as ace, if I say anything beyond just “queer”. I think that’s because it’s easier to know I don’t feel sexual attraction than romantic attraction. Sexual attraction, after all, feels like a physical reaction, which, while murky, is at least relatively simple to pin down. This is particularly true since I have a libido, so I know what sexual arousal feels like – it’s just not aimed at anyone.

On the other hand, I don’t get romantic attraction at all. I feel lots of intense and complicated emotional feelings for lots of people in my life, some of whom I love. I’m a naturally tactile person with friends, so I like to hug and hold hands and kiss cheeks and walk down the street with my arm around someone’s waist. I like to go out to dinner and movies with my friends. I have intense and meaningful conversations about our inner emotional lives, as well as discussions of the best young adult writers and who I would fancast as Squirrel Girl. I miss some of my friends deeply when I haven’t seen them in a while, and I like to check in on how they’re doing. All of those activities could be romantic, and on paper could even be read as dating, but they’re not romantic for me. My aro-ness is complicated further because I think I would like a queer-platonic relationship; I’d like to live with someone who is my primary person, and I’d like the relationship to be stable. I don’t care if this person is ace or aro, neither or both, as long as they’re committed to me as well. I know that aro people can want and have that kind of relationship, but it does make me more confused about romance generally – that kind of relationship could and often is seen as a romantic one.

I’m starting to feel like I want to be more involved in specifically aro communities. Being involved in ace communities helped me solidify my identity by letting me compare my experiences to those of other ace folks. I’d like to find an in-person aro community (I am very much a Luddite, and do not enjoy interacting on social media), but I feel like aces dominate most of those. My local ace community is actually mostly aroace, but ace topics dominate discussions, and aro conversations are usually an afterthought. I hope that one day I’ll be able to go to meetups that are for aros, where I can discuss these feelings and try to figure out who I am.

Submission #2: Musings of a (Chinese) dragon

This post is a submission by Blaise to the February 2019 Carnival of Aros/Carnival of Aces.

Sometimes I feel like the mythical Chinese dragon, in which I am Chinese, nonbinary, aromantic and asexual. Having all of these identities, it’s already hard for me to connect with others in the communities I can participate in. Especially the aro and ace communities.

Now, despite technically being an “asexual, period,” I’m one to emphasize my aromanticism when talking about my lived experiences and see the world under an aro-leaning lens. My time in the aro and ace communities haven’t been long, I’ll admit, but I think I’ve seen enough changes going on in the two communities to finally conclude that I don’t feel a sense of belonging in the ace community, despite being ace. (Not much with the aro and nonbinary communities either, but that’s besides the point I’m trying to make.)

Since the aro and ace communities have moved away from each other, in an attempt to create distinguishable communities, I feel that my presence as an aro ace, in the ace community, has been increasingly ignored. Especially in ace awareness events, where many aces say things like, “We’re ace but we can still feel romantic attraction!” or some variation of that statement. While it’s great to let allosexuals know that not all aces are aro, can they just say it in a way to not erase aro and aro-spec aces at the same time? I believe that by saying these statements frequently, the allosexuals will then have this expectation of aces, in how they all experience romantic attraction. And, well, for those who know a bit about asexuality and the romantic orientations, it’s going to be awkward breaking to them that.. at least for me, that I don’t experience romantic attraction either.

That reason is primarily why I’ve felt alienated from the ace community recently, and have felt slightly more at home with the aro community. The aro community has also made me realize that issues like amatonormativity is what personally affects me the most, more than compulsory sexuality. It’s to the point where I thought it could be called the alloromantic ace community, for the seemingly dominating narratives of alloro aces in the ace community. Not saying that I have gripes against alloro aces, but I guess this is what happens when the ace and aro communities try to make themselves distinctive to the rest of the LGBTQ+ community, and to cis straights. The shift in narratives dominant in these communities will inevitably erase the more marginalized members. It’s too bad; I wanted to connect with more aro people of colour, but I frankly find more aces of colour than aros of colour. For now, I suppose I gotta make do with who’s out there..

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I guess the ace community can help re-invite aro aces into their conversations by using statements, especially for ace awareness, to include aro aces. For example, instead of saying “We don’t experience sexual attraction but we can still love [romantically]!”, maybe saying something like, “Some aces can experience romantic attraction, and some aces don’t. It depends on the individual.” And then, as a Chinese aro ace, there’s the issue with the whiteness that’s prevalent in both communities.

As for the aro community, I can say that as an aro ace, I understand that voices like mine are the loudest, which can overpower the voices of aro-specs and especially aro allosexuals. I run an Asian ace and aro space online, and I would be interested in knowing how to open up the space to include aro allosexual voices, especially since there are many alloro aces and aro-spec aces in this closed space I moderate. It can be intimidating to share experiences and thoughts as an aro allosexual when there is probably no one who can relate. Breaking the ice here seems difficult, and I will try in any way I can to give them a chance with the mic.