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.

Submission #1: 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.