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.

Community Highlight: The Ace Community Survey

Community of Interest: The Ace Community

What they do

Every year during Asexual Awareness Week, the Ace Community Survey team releases a new survey designed to gather data on the ace community. The 2014 census collected upwards of ten thousand responses, and the Ace Community Surveys are the largest existing data pools on asexuality. Please visit their website to learn more and to read past survey results.

Why they are awesome

Asexuality can be tricky to research. People identify as asexual for a variety of reasons, and there are plenty of related issues that can be very complex, such as romantic orientation, attitudes towards sex, etc. It is very difficult to gather concrete data about these topics in a way that does not alienate some aces.

We highly recommend that anyone working on any type of research project that is gathering data on aces (or aros!) closely study the survey questions and results. Paying special attention to what changed from year to year will help you gain an understanding of what works and doesn’t work when gathering data on our communities.

How you can support them

Take the 2018 Ace Community Survey! Anyone age 13 and up can take the survey — whether they are on the asexual spectrum or not. The survey will close on November 15th. In addition, you can subscribe to survey updates in order to be notified when new surveys and analyses of the results are available. If you are interested in more involvement, the survey team is currently looking for volunteers, particularly those skilled in data analysis, coding, and translation.

2017-2018 Year in Review

This past Monday marked one year since The Asexual Awareness Project was founded. Here are some things that we have accomplished in the past year:

Creating Change 2018

Creating Change is a conference organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force that helps participants gain skills that will help them to further their work in the LGBTQ+ advocacy movement.

Three members of TAAP joined the Creating Change 2018 Host Committee as volunteers with the hopes of promoting asexuality’s visibility within the conference. With their help, as well as the help from other ace advocates who have attended the conference in the past, we were able to publish an etiquette guide on asexuality and aromanticism in the program, as well as present four sessions at the conference itself. Read more about our work relating to Creating Change 2018 here.

Capital Pride 2018

TAAP marched in the 2018 Capital Pride Parade, making this year the first year that an asexual contingent has marched in the parade. We hope that this will be the first of many. Read more about this journey here.

In addition to marching, several members of TAAP attended the Capital Pride Festival the next day in order to network with other local organizations. We hope to announce several new collaborations in the coming months.

Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite at Creating Change 2019

One of the goals we had for Creating Change 2018 was to assist the conference in starting an officially recognized hospitality suite for asexual-spectrum individuals. We were not able to accomplish that last year; however, we organized a bit sooner this year and an official Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite is confirmed for Creating Change 2019. Read more about this project here.

Collaboration with Women in their Twenties and Thirties (WiTT)

WiTT is a discussion group for queer women in their twenties and thirties that meets every other week at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. A week ago, four members of TAAP attended and led a presentation and discussion on asexuality and aromanticism at the regular discussion group. TAAP and WiTT hope to host more collaborative events in the future.

Looking Forward

Here are some projects we are currently working on:

Incorporation

We are starting to look into incorporating and becoming recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It is our hope to accomplish this within the next year so that we will be better equipped to complete all the projects we have lined up.

Book on Asexuality and Aromanticism for Professionals

We are currently working on writing a book on asexuality and aromanticism that will be geared towards professionals such as doctors, therapists, counselors, educators, or LGBTQ+ center employees. It is our hope that this book could be used as a resource to help these professionals better help the aces and aros they come into contact with.

Creating Change 2019

Currently, 3-5 TAAP members are planning on attending Creating Change 2019 in Detroit, MI. We have submitted five session proposals, and hope that they all are accepted. We also are looking forward to seeing the Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite become a reality.

The Rainbow History Project

TAAP is currently working on a collaboration with the Rainbow History Project to create a documented history of the ace community in the DC area. Queer history (including ace history) is often not recorded and, as a result, forgotten. We hope that by participating in this project, we can help in building a history of the ace community that future generations will be able to look back on.

Pride Parades and Festivals

In addition to marching in the Capital Pride Parade in 2019 and in future years, we hope to expand to also marching in the Baltimore Pride Parade. In addition, we would like to set up booths at various pride festivals in the area, including Capital Pride, Baltimore Pride, and NOVA Pride. We also hope to participate in New York City’s WorldPride in 2019, which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and will be the largest celebration of Pride in the world.

Aro Inclusion

We initially began as an organization started by and focused towards asexual people. In our actual work, however, we have begun drifting towards including aro folks much more than our name and branding currently suggest. In this next year and beyond, we aim to be much more intentional about our inclusion of aro people, including those who are not also ace.

Thank You

We are extremely grateful to those who donated so we could march in pride, to organizations who we have worked with, and to those who have volunteered their time to work directly on our projects. Thank you for all you have done to help us this past year!

If you would like to find out ways that you can help us with any of our upcoming projects, please contact us.