A History of Aces at Creating Change: An Interview with Bauer

Creating Change 2019 was the first time an official Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite was included as part of the conference program. This victory was built upon the presence ace activists have been forging at Creating Change for years, organizing and hosting suites that brought people together when the conference programming did not. Bauer of Aces NYC talks with TAAAP social media committee member Aria about the gradual, uphill battle of cementing an ace, and eventually aro, presence at Creating Change.

Aria: When did you start attending the conference?

Bauer: I had heard about Creating Change from David Jay and Mary Kame Ginoza, who had both been before. For Creating Change 2015 in Denver, I had submitted a proposal to do a presentation on asexuality research that got accepted. Mary and I ended up connecting with a few other ace people, and we really just didn’t have anywhere to hang out. We would find hallways or sit on the floor for hours. It felt very much like there wasn’t really a space for us to go somewhere, but that being able to spend time with each other was so special and important in comparison to what we generally had access to in our lives outside of the conference.

A: Creating Change lasts several days and has a super packed schedule. Did it just feel instinctive to keep meeting up throughout the conference whenever there was free time?

B: I think what happened was we all ended up meeting and going to dinner, and then kept hanging out afterwards. One person would be like, “I have this other friend who’s going to come hang out with us!” And then someone would leave but then come back and find us. We sort of would not move from the spot where we had gathered to make sure people would come back to us. We exchanged numbers and Facebook info so we could find each other at different points in time.

A: When did an ace presence start to gain momentum at Creating Change?

B: David Jay screened his documentary at Creating Change 2012 in Baltimore. He had submitted the proposal multiple times and it finally got accepted. After playing the documentary he said, “I don’t think we have enough time in the session to continue, but I will be out in the hallway to answer questions for anybody who wants to keep talking about this.” He said there was a group of people standing in the hallway for about an hour or hour and a half. That crowd signaled to Creating Change that asexuality is actually something people are interested in, and we do not have enough space to be able to talk about it.

A: After the documentary screening in 2012, what was the process of increasing ace visibility at the conference like?

B: It has definitely been our experience that at each stage, we have to try for several years before we can work towards the next step. For example there were a lot of rejected proposals before we eventually got a workshop session. After Mary and I attended CC 2015 in Denver, she suggested we send them a letter requesting asexuality as a topic you can submit workshops to when they have the topic listings in the program, as well as having an inclusion guide similar to the bi and trans etiquette guides in the conference program. Mary drafted the letter and I helped edit it, and then we got as many asexual organizers as we could to sign off on it. We submitted it to Creating Change and never heard back. We also tried it the next year and never heard back. But after Denver 2015, I was determined to make sure we had a space where we could invite the people we would connect with to come hang out. So for Creating Change 2016 in Chicago I rented an extra room—which very luckily got upgraded to a king suite—and let people use it as an unofficial suite. I even let people stay in the room to help subsidize the cost. At one point the people at Creating Change who were in charge of organizing the suites came to visit and we were just like, “Oh hello, hi! Don’t mind us!” I thought we might get in trouble, but they were like “No, this is great!” That year, there was someone on the host committee who was ace. I think that played a role in the host committee finding out about our unofficial ace suite and beginning to talk to us. That was the year we semi-officially started networking. I think when there’s an ace person in the organization it makes it much harder for them to ignore what we’re saying because people on their team in the room with them are representing a similar message.

A: Were there other people at the conference who supported your efforts to create spaces for ace people?

B: The bi suite has always been the most engaged and helpful and has served as a community resource. I can’t speak highly enough of the bi suite. I think part of why they reached out was because they have experienced similar things where they were unsure about whether they were invited or whether they should be there. So they wanted to help and make sure we did not experience those same things.

A: In 2016 when you all had the first unofficial suite and some host committee members found out…how do you think that situation came about?

B: We had been advertising and tweeting, we had been telling everybody at every session, and I had made little programs about all the ace-related things happening at the conference so people had a way to come find us. People who had taken those pamphlets attended other suites and asked if they could be included in their distribution pamphlet table. The people at the other suites had a reaction of, “Sure! That’s fine…who are you? What are you doing?” So we were making ourselves known, and I think it trickled up to the host committee who decided to come check out what we were doing.

A: So were they mainly just curious?

B: Yeah, they were kind of just like, “Oh! What’s happening, what’s going on?” and we were like, “Oh hi! There’s a bunch of people in here, we’re just hanging out.” Some of us were talking, playing cards, etc. They were just like, “Oh okay! This is cool.” I had been really nervous, but their reaction was more neutral and curious. Their response was not to give us a suite next year, but they also did not accuse us of usurping their conference resources or tell us to not create our own space.

A: That reaction is interesting because in online spaces you see the extreme sides of the spectrum: people who advocate for ace inclusion and those who are against it. But it seems like your experience at the conference with how people reacted reflects more of a grey area.

B: For sure. When you would walk into the first unofficial ace suite, it certainly didn’t look like a bunch of straight people. Not that straight people look a particular way, but we definitely were holding a very queer space. I think people in the LGBTQIA community are concerned about the idea of giving space to “straight” people. My response to that is A) first of all, you are not giving us space, and B) beyond that, we found a lot of people who wanted to come hang out with us because they were already going to Creating Change. I do not think that there were any people who came to the conference specifically for the asexuality aspect. They were just already there. So people who are coming to the conference are already self-selected, and there just happen to be a whole bunch of people who identify with asexuality that attend Creating Change. They are going to be the ones who are excited about the workshops and the suite. When it comes to who can be in LGBTQIA spaces, I have more of an issue with giant corporation floats marching in pride rather than the 25 of us walking down the street with an ace banner. Yes, we are asking for space: we are asking for space for 25-35 people in your pride march of thousands. The people who show up to those spaces are people who have generally found that their sexual orientation does not mesh with the societal norm. And so the places to talk about sexual orientation, and now romantic orientation, are often in queer spaces. It makes a lot of sense to me that those spaces are where people would be drawn to. It seems that spaces that are trans friendly and spaces that have younger constituents are more open to asexuality, and now aromanticism, being included.

A: It seems like the amount of people who would show up for anything ace-related at CC served as proof that there needs to be more space.

B: Yeah. We are never going to be massive, but we deserve more than one session. I think one of the other things about a suite in particular is that a lot of the activities are not the general evening activities that are promoted by the conference. They have parties, they have alcohol-based events and things like that. A quieter space to hang out, play some games, maybe have some discussions is not what everyone is looking for, but does seem particularly popular among the ace and aro people who show up. This past year, the bi suite was closed for the afternoon and evening on Saturday, so we invited the entirety of the bi suite into the ace and aro suite and it was a really big hit.

A: Do you think the ace and aro suite will be a recurring part of Creating Change program?

B: I hope so. It certainly helps when there is [an asexual meetup] group in the city that the conference is going to be at. We are excited about next year’s conference in Dallas because there’s a somewhat active ace group there who can join the host committee. This year they did let a few of us who were not local be on the subcommittee for the ace and aro suite and we were included in some the planning process. I think as time goes on we will have more organizing in a variety of places.

A: Do you envision the ace and aro suite as eventually becoming two separate suites: one for aces and one for aros?

B: I think they work well together and that it would continue to work as a joint suite. I am not aro, so I did not feel comfortable making the commitment to having a suite be an aro suite without aro people committing to representing it. Now that we have more of that commitment, it seems like a good thing to have eventually. Over time, I think aromanticism is going to be more popular than asexuality. I think aromanticism is actually more prevalent, and it has a large potential to grow. Particularly at an LGBTQ+ conference, I think there might be more people who do not identify as ace who would identify as aro. I am interested to see how that takes shape over the years when aromanticism becomes more well-known. I am glad that so far there hasn’t been too much pushback about us doing a disservice to the aromantic community by having the suite be linked to asexuality, because that is definitely something I have heard in general: please do not put “aro” in the name when you do not have the programming to back it up. For the Ace and Aro Conference we are doing in June for WorldPride, we are making a really concerted effort to make sure there is aro-specific representation, as well as representation for people who are aro and not ace. I look forward to having aro organizations we can partner with for future events, as well as to support aro work being done by aro people.

A: I look forward to that, too. Final question to wrap up: what would you like to see happen with asexuality at future Creating Change conferences?

B: I think the first thing I would really like is to have more 201 or 301 conversations about asexuality in the workshops. That would be awesome. There’s a lot of 101-level sessions that center more around what asexuality is, and I would love to move beyond that. I am so excited to pass any torches I can to anyone willing to take it up. Having representatives from TAAAP and the Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic meetup group has been great, and just continuing to have more volunteers in the conference cities that are interested in participating. I am really excited for the year I can go to Creating Change and just be a participant, to be able to come full circle and say, “If you need help with something I can help, but I am actually just here as an attendee rather than as someone in charge of something.”

TAAAP at Pride 2019

We are thrilled to announce that The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project will be representing asexuality and aromanticism at Pride events throughout the DC and Mid-Atlantic region! Below are a list of events and dates. If you are in the area and would like to join us, just send us a message at advocacy@taaap.org. The more, the merrier!

  • Saturday, June 8: We will be marching in the Capital Pride Parade for the second year in a row, as the first ace and aro organization to march in DC Pride.
  • Saturday, June 15: We will be marching in the Baltimore Pride Parade for the first time.
  • Saturday, June 22: We will be attending Frederick Pride in Frederick, MD.
  • Saturday, June 22: We will be attending the first annual Upper Chesapeake Bay Pride in Havre de Grace, MD.
  • Monday, June 24-25: We will be hosting, moderating, and speaking on a panel at the Human Rights Conference as part of WorldPride NYC for the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall. This panel will focus on the underrepresented and overlooked identities in the queer community, including ace, aro, bi+, genderqueer, and intersex speakers.
  • Saturday, June 29: We will be attending the Ace & Aro Conference 2019 for WorldPride.

We hope to see you there!

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.