Submission: The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities

The following post is an anonymous submission to this month’s joint Carnival of Aros and Carnival of Aces event.

As someone who is both asexual and on the aromantic spectrum, 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.

My asexuality is simple to me, I don’t feel sexual attraction and I’m sex-indifferent and sometimes sex-positive. My romantic orientation is complicated, I don’t know the circumstances that cause me to be romantically attracted to someone, I don’t know what genders I’m attracted to, sometimes I’m repulsed by romance but most of the time just bored by it. I’ve known I’m ace since I heard the term for the first time while I’ve been using more labels for my romantic orientation than I can remember.

Well, I guess everyone got what I mean by now.

At the moment I identify as grey-polyromantic which leaves enough space to redefine what it means to me very often. It states what I know: that I need specific circumstances and that I’m attracted to multiple genders. I don’t know the circumstances and I don’t know what genders exactly and I’m not sure if I have preferences.

But that’s not really important. This should be about how I feel about the asexual community, aro/ace activism and how aces can help aros being more visible instead of erasing them.

The thing is: there is ace activism and aroace activism but no aro activism.

There is alloromantic ace visibility or rather attempts to increase it and aroace visibility but no allosexual aro visibility.

And it has to change.

The last few days I actually had some tweets only about aros in my timeline but I’ve learnt not to trust changes too fast since it changes back once I acknowledge it way too often.

I’ve been talking with my queerplatonic partner about aro and ace activism and if it makes sense to treat asexuality and aromantic as separate topics and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

Aros and Aces face different stigmas, are treated differently. For example an allosexual aro, especially one perceived as female, will get slutshamed while this probably won’t happen to most aces. And I’m quite sure aces, especially alloromantic ones, are more likely to experience sexual violence than aros.

But this intersects when we’re talking about aroaces. And some things are way too similar to be treated as separate topics, like aros just like aces being afraid to come out to medical professionals.

And of course the concept of asexuality and aromantism. What lack of attraction means. The split attraction model (even though it can be used for any other orientations, too). And the spectrum identities.

And it is important to treat those topics as aro AND ace topics.

I remember when AVEN asked on twitter what aces knew about the aromantic spectrum. The answers were “nothing” or “I heard of demiromantic/gray-romantic but don’t know about anything else”.

I’ve seen so many posts showing the asexual flag, the demisexual flag, the grey-sexual flag and the aromamtic flag.

I remember a post explaining asexual spectrum identities without even mentioning the aromantic spectrum is basically the same. A simple “sexual/romantic attraction” instead of “sexual attraction” in the definitions would increase aro visibility so much.

Aromantism often is an afterthought if mentioned at all. People often talk about different orientations and mention aromantism but still use sexuality. Some posts use “aros and aces” but then continue to only mention aces.

And it hurts. Especially since the erasure is coming from a part of the queer community that knows exactly how it feels like.

But it’s not just being forgotten. I don’t know how often I read “I’m asexual but I still have romantic feelings” on Twitter, and while there’s nothing wrong with being an alloromantic ace I’m always afraid it’s not just “I’m alloromantic” but “I’m normal”. Trying to prove you’re just as human as allosexuals is a completely understandable reaction to being told not wanting sex is something that makes you less human (even though being ace isn’t about wanting or not wanting sex but about not feeling sexual attraction). But it’s still aromisic.

And trying to be a good “normal” queer to make people treat you better never worked out. You’re just throwing your aro siblings under the bus.

We have so many similar struggles. Being afraid to end up alone because of our lack of attraction. Not being understood. People wanting to fix us.

I wish we could at least fight what both aros and aces face together. And be allies to each other when it comes to struggles only one of us knows.

But I can’t blame my aro siblings for starting to build up their own community. When aces have their own activism, education networks, etc, we need that, too, so we aren’t left behind, so we can gain as much visibility as aces have. And perhaps start working together once we have equal visibility.

And I can’t blame them for being angry at at aces. A few days ago I tweeted “a person who is biromantic and heterosexual is queer because they’re bi. A person who is aromantic and heterosexual is queer because they’re aro. Works the same way. Aro and ace are queer identities. Someone who is one of those or both is queer.”

I basically did what aces do with us all the time. Making the main posts about them and adding us in the last sentence. The tweet was both to prove my point that aros and aces are queer and to criticize the way aces treat us. The criticism wasn’t understood, since someone quoted my tweet with “a person who is asexual and heteroromantic is queer because they’re ace. Asexuality is a queer identity.” Well, thanks for proving my point aces don’t care about aro visibility.

Another tweet, not mine this time, was about aros AND aces. Some of the comments actually mentioned both but some were only about aces even though what they said was true for aces as well as aros.

I don’t get what’s so hard about saying “aces/aros”, “aces and aros”, “acespec and arospec”, “sexual/romantic attraction”. It is one goddamn word. One.

And somehow this makes me identify with the asexual community less and less. I’m tired of being an afterthought. And I wish I wouldn’t feel about the ace community that way. Especially since I’m ace myself.

I wish aros and aces, arospecs and acespecs would work together where it makes sense, give each other visibility. For example I really like the idea of having education networks sharing what we have in common and networks specifically for allosexual aros, for ace alloromantics, for aroaces. And the all spectrum identities, not just grey and demi. But I guess that won’t happen anytime soon.

 

The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities – Call for Submissions

We would like to invite any and all people who identify on the aromantic spectrum, asexual spectrum, or both to write a blog post on the topic, “The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities.” This will be a joint blogging event between the Carnival of Aros and the Carnival of Aces, and all posts are due by the end of February. Please read on to learn more.

What is the Carnival of Aces?

The “Carnival of Aces” has been around since 2011. For those who don’t know, this is a monthly event where different bloggers come together to all post about a single topic. Each month, a new blog hosts the carnival, or in other words, they pick the topic, post a call for submissions, and post a round-up of all the different posts published on the topic during the month. To read more about the Carnival of Aces and read past carnivals, click here.

What is the Carnival of Aros?

This is the first month of the Carnival of Aros. The goal is for this to become a sibling event to the Carnival of Aces that seeks to encourage blogging on aromanticism. As this is just the first month, specific details on how the Carnival of Aros will proceed are still being worked out. Please read here for more information on the Carnival of Aros and what you can do to support it.

Why did we choose this topic?

The aro and ace communities are inextricably linked by their shared history and by the fact that many people identify as both aro and ace. Recently, however, the aro community has begun building its own separate structure, and there have been resulting growing pains in both communities.

We hope that by having an open and constructive discussion on the relationship between our communities, we can learn new ways to better support each other.

Prompts

The following are meant to give you ideas for what you can write about, but posts are not limited to these prompts! The topic is meant to be broad, so feel free to write about whatever you are inspired to write about. Additionally, other mediums (such as vlogging) are always welcome!

  • The similarities and differences between aro and ace communities or identities
  • The history of aro and ace communities and terminology
  • Experiences relating to being either aro or ace, but not both
  • Experiences relating to being both aro and ace
  • How you feel about the split attraction model (that is, the separation of romantic and sexual attraction)
  • What it means to be an ally to aros as an ace person, or vice versa
  • Your hopes on the future of the relationship between the two communities
  • The disparity of resources and in-person communities between the aro and ace communities, and what we can do about it
  • How the general public confuses and conflates aromanticism and asexuality
  • Thoughts on the start of the Carnival of Aros
  • The relationship between the aro or ace community and another LGBTQ+ community

Who can submit?

Anyone who identifies on the asexual spectrum, the aromantic spectrum, or both. We would like to specifically welcome aros who are not also ace to post as well.

How to submit:

Option one: Post your submission to your own blog and send us the link as a comment on our WordPress blog or by email to advocacy@taaap.org.

Option two: If you would like to remain anonymous or you do not have your own blog, we will host guest submissions on our blog if you email us at advocacy@taaap.org.

All posts must be submitted by the end of the day on February 28th in order to be included in the round-up post for the month, which will be posted on March 1st.

Introducing: The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project

We have changed our name to reflect our evolving mission, and we appreciate your patience as we make our transition.

The Asexual Awareness Project was founded a little over a year ago by a handful of members of the Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic. We wanted to do more to further ace advocacy goals by marching in Capital Pride and increasing the visibility of asexuality at Creating Change 2018. At the time, we weren’t quite able to predict how our mission would grow beyond those two goals.

Over the past year, our efforts have organically expanded to include aromanticism — and not just as a component of many aces’ identities. There are people who identify on the aromantic spectrum who are not also ace, as well as aces who find their aromanticism to be a more significant part of their identity than their asexuality. Ace-focused advocacy tends to leave these people behind. We want to explore aromanticism as the independent orientation it is, and eventually we realized that our old name was inadequate in representing this goal.

As we were contemplating changing our name to accommodate this shift in our advocacy efforts, we also realized that the word “awareness” is simply not broad enough to capture all that we do. While educating people on the basics of asexuality is still an important part of our goals, we also aim to ensure that asexuality and aromanticism are integrated into queer communities and that our experiences are not forgotten or ignored.

In order to reflect this evolution of our mission, we are happy to announce that we have decided to change our name to The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project, or TAAAP.

There are quite a few steps we need to take before this change is applied to every aspect of what we do. With that in mind, we appreciate your patience as we work towards modifying our online presence to accurately reflect our new name and mission.

Some changes that we are planning to make, but that might take some time to implement, include:

  • Updating our email address
  • Changing our logo and domain name
  • Creating new 101 materials that feature asexuality and aromanticism equally

If you have any suggestions for ways we can be more inclusive, please feel free to contact us.

2018 Marks the First Year Asexuality is Officially Represented at Capital Pride

By Laura G.

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TAAP’s 2018 Capital Pride Parade Contingent before the parade started.

On June 9th, 2018, fifteen asexual people marched in the 2018 Capital Pride parade with The Asexual Awareness Project. This effort was made possible by donations from members of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic that covered the costs of the entry fee, a professionally printed banner (seen in the picture above), and stickers to pass out to viewers on the sidelines.

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TAAP’s contingent marching in the 2018 Capital Pride Parade

The TAAP members who marched were thrilled at the response they received. “This was so awesome, especially seeing all of the people excited by our presence!” said Isabel N. “There were some people who were happy asexuals had representation, and others who were ecstatic seeing themselves represented.”

Many people on the sidelines also saw and appreciated TAAP’s presence. One person tweeted:

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Tweet by @rockriled that reads: “I got an #asexualpride sticker with info about a group at DC’s #PRIDE and mcfreakin lost it, send help”

In 2016 and 2017, the Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic viewed the parade from the sidelines, and in 2017 a portion of the group also attended the Capital Pride Festival together. While there were some asexual people to be found among the crowds in these years, there were very few representations of asexuality in the parade and festival booths themselves.

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Isabel N. holding the ace flag and rainbow flag on the sidelines of the 2016 Capital Pride Parade.
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Members of Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic at the sidelines of the 2017 Capital Pride Parade.

In addition to TAAP marching in the parade, there was a noticeable increase in asexual representation at Capital Pride 2018 in general. The word “asexual” was included in the graphic used to advertise the theme for the year, which was “Elements of Us.” Many more booths at the festival had ace flags this year than in 2017.

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A graphic for Capital Pride 2018’s theme of “Elements of Us” that includes the word asexual, which can be found underneath the word “gay.”
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An ace flag found on the Kaiser Permanente contingent’s parade float.

TAAP plans on marching again at the 2019 Capital Pride Parade, and hopes to see even more asexual representation at future pride celebrations. If you would like to donate to help us make this happen, please visit our donate page for instructions.

Five Sessions on Asexuality to be Included in Creating Change 2018

By Laura G. and Emily K.

The National LGBTQ Task Force is one of the leading organizations in the LGBTQ Social Justice Movement. On January 24th-28th, 2018, in Washington DC, the Task Force will be hosting their 30th annual Creating Change Conference. This conference trains attendees on how to incorporate intersecting social justice movements into the LGBTQIA+ community. In a win for asexuality, a total of five sessions on asexuality have been accepted, as well as an etiquette guide on ace inclusion that was included in the program.

The Sessions

Four sessions were proposed by members of the Asexuality Awareness Project and Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic. These sessions were as follows:

 

Ask an Asexual: An Introduction to the Ace Spectrum – Workshop Session 1, 9:00 AM Friday January 26th

Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual—the four core sexual orientations. Asexuality is the least understood of these, and this workshop will explore the nuance. After a brief presentation of common terminology, definitions, and examples of intersections with other identities, a panel of ace community activists will lead a discussion about asexuality and aromanticism. Remember, there’s no such thing as stupid questions! Panelists are ready to discuss quite varied personal experiences, current community issues on asexuality, and more.

Asexuality, Aromanticism, and Relationships – Caucus 1, 6:30 PM Friday January 26th

This workshop will help asexual and allosexual attendees explore relationship options, from friendship, to family, to romance. Speakers will discuss their own experience as asexuals with different levels of romantic attraction; one aromantic (no romantic attraction), one alloromantic (yes romantic attraction), and one gray-romantic (somewhere in between). Participants will develop tools to address differences in sexual and romantic attraction, as well as relationship boundaries, and will leave with a better understanding of their own needs and desires in relationships.

 

Ace Access: Asexuals and the Doctor’s Office – Caucus 2, 6:30 PM Saturday January 27th

The purpose of this caucus is to bring together various regional and community ace groups to get a clearer national and international view on the difficulties faced by asexuals in medical situations. Asexuality only recently was vaguely acknowledged in the DSM, with a stipulation that if the patient does not feel distress at their lack of sexual attraction then they cannot be diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. This is not a strong enough acknowledgement of asexuality as a valid orientation to prevent asexuals from experiencing difficulty receiving proper treatment when they seek out mental health care. Asexuality also affects interactions in primary care, since many asexuals experience disbelief about their lack of sexual activity and dismissiveness when their orientation is mentioned. With this caucus we hope to create plans of action both for creating material to prepare medical professionals for the needs of our community and to brainstorm tools for asexuals when they are searching for a new doctor or trying to deal with a difficult situation while seeking treatment. Participants will hopefully leave feeling more empowered in their interactions with healthcare professionals and a better set of tools than avoiding doctors altogether.

Asexual, Grey-Asexual, and Aromantic Spectrum Caucus – Caucus 2, 6:30 PM Saturday January 27th

This caucus is a space for people who identify under the asexual and/or aromantic umbrellas to come together and share experiences. Intersectionality of asexuality or aromanticism with attendees’ other marginalized identities will be given careful consideration as we brainstorm how to make our activism and support spaces more inclusive and respectful. Please note this is not for 101 questions, although curious allies are welcome to come listen, or chat with us in the ace suite.

An additional session on asexuality will be presented by an independent party:

Racing Ace: Asexuality, Race, and Social Justice – Workshop Session 4, 4:45 PM Friday January 26th

This workshop will help attendees become familiar with and improve existing knowledge of compulsory sexuality versus non-sexuality and asexuality. Session leaders will discuss how the aforementioned sexual identities and practices are affected by conceptions of race. We will discuss the role asexual identity movements can play in addressing the racialized (a)sexualization of communities. Participants will practice their advocacy for LGBTQI* communities to be aware and inclusive of the racialized beliefs shaping discourses on asexuality, sex positivity, and compulsory sexuality. Attendees will be able to ask questions and receive practical advice for helping others understand asexuality as it intersects with race.

2017 to 2018: The Numbers Compared

In 2017, the word “asexual” was included in the creating change program 7 times, and there were only two sessions on asexuality. In 2018, the word “asexual” was mentioned 79 times, in large part because there was an ace etiquette guide included in the program. But also five sessions were included on asexuality!

Looking to the Future

The proposal made by members of TAAP to have an officially recognized asexuality suite did not come to fruition for the 2018 conference, however, the “unofficial” ace suite will still be taking place. Hopefully, the January 2019 conference in Detroit, Michigan can make this change to full ace inclusion.