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.

 

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.