grzanka: A graphic with the aromantic flag as the background and a yellow daffodil in the center (Daffodil filled)
[personal profile] grzanka posting in [community profile] aromanticism
Well I have to admit that I've been sitting on this for a while, waiting to post until this community was up and now it is!! :D This is my February entry for the fresh fresh Carnival of Aros on the topic of The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities.


Ace community? Don’t know her

There’s a new aromantic event and I’m always looking for a way to connect with the community and learn what other people are thinking about different issues! 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! So I’m eager to see it succeed, add to the community and start interesting discussions!

Still I have to say, in the beginning I thought I may not be able to contribute as I was among the people who looked at the topic and didn’t really know what to say, because it didn’t look like a topic I know a lot on firsthand. There was also a fear that it would turn out to be too negative, but another person already wrote about what I wanted to say and more, so I can focus on another perspective, which is that 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.

So, first a few things about my journey - I knew of the existence of asexual identity before I found aromanticism, but I never even considered questioning being asexual or felt connected to the label or had any interest in interacting with that community. This stayed true after I started identifying as aromantic. I came upon the term where it was explained removed from asexuality and though I saw the connection in the lack of attraction that most people have, I didn’t see it as all that significant. Back then (over 2 years ago) I started describing myself as aromantic in addition to bisexual and that was it.

I was made aware of the closer relationship between the two probably when I started engaging in aromantic spaces and when I began to see the so-called ace discourse with “exclusionists” that other aromantics often took part in, where the common talking points were that A was for asexual (and aromantic) and where those aromantics were talking to people for whom the distinction between aro and ace didn’t matter sometimes. It was only later that I found out about the shared history of the communities. Now when I think about the relationship between those two communities, I think that I’m mostly grateful for the conception of asexual and then aromantic as terms in the first place and giving us all a way of description to be able to understand ourselves better and be able to connect with people with similar experiences through them. It's not surprising that aromanticism as a label came to existence in asexual discussions, where people already were talking about lack of sexual attraction, something that often co-exists alongside romantic attraction in allos.

But to me that’s where that relationship ends. It is strange when you compare the aspecs (that is, aces and aros) to other sexual identities as most of them don’t feel the need to separate into an orientation about sexuality and another about romantic attraction and you see how that’s happening with aspecs and the existence of both asexual and aromantic spaces. But for those people who don't feel the need to separate, the two orientations usually align and it’s not the case for a great number of asexuals and aromantics. For example I’m bisexual and aromantic - not using the split attraction model was never even an option that I considered as both parts of my identity are important to me and if I was using only one of them as descriptions of my interpersonal relationships, bisexuality alone would communicate to people romantic attraction as well as sexual, which I don't want and is simply not true and aromanticism alone would probably communicate asexual as well. I know there are aspecs for whom the split attraction model doesn’t work as a concept they can apply to themselves - using it is definitely not mandatory, but for people like me it’s necessary.

So I’m grateful that at that moment when I started discovering my aromantic identity, it was already distinct and distanced from asexuality some and definitely not treated as a subset of it in the communities I was in. Since I’m allosexual I could not function under the asexual identity, I never felt connection to asexual communities - it’s not even that I felt I was unwelcome in a hostile way exactly, but I didn’t want to intrude on spaces where people came to talk about the lack of sexual attraction when I do experience it, it'd be just weird. It would be as weird as if I was trying to get into a lesbian community while not being a lesbian and talk about my aromanticism there. Allosexual aromantics, despite being aspec, don’t feel like asexual communities are a place they can turn to to talk about their experiences. If we were to write into the tradition of sexualities describing sexual and romantic attraction both (like with homosexual), we would feel uncomfortable to describe ourselves as asexual when we’re not ace. I know I can’t do this.

So the separation of the identities is needed, majorly so for the aromantics (though there are alloromantic aces who don't like being automatically thought of as of aromantic either). If aromanticism continued to be seen as a branch of asexuality and only talked about in asexual spaces, I’m sure some allosexual aros would never figure out their identity for it would not occur to them to look for help in a place where asexuality is the main topic. With this more of a separation aromantics make their own spaces and communities where aromanticism is the clear focus and which hopefully helps to get more visibility. To me that’s a good thing - it certainly is meant to serve those needs for focus and visibility, so we’re seeing the further separation of those two identities at the moment.

However I don't think a full separation is needed (or maybe even possible with the shared history). With our unique experience with interpersonal relationships I think that it's worth to team up to tackle universal to our communities issues such as the prioritization of one relationship model which includes romance and sex both or bring attention to the variety of expression of human sexuality and companionship.

This can't be done under the label of asexuality alone without alienating aromantics, especially those that aren't asexual - they're just going to think this isn't a place for them or a discussion in which they should be able to participate on the same level of importance as asexual people. I think that the label aspec for when both aromantic and asexual communities are involved would be more fitting or when it can't be used, both labels (aro and ace) should be used.

In the end however the trend to see aromantics and asexuals build separate communities, at least online, and spaces better suited for their unique needs is a reflection of the fact those are two separate identities for a lot of people or that they prioritize them differently. I don't think it's advisable or desirable to try and fully join the two now, but we can maintain dialogue and be allies to each other’s causes. And we yet have to see how this develops offline too.

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Here be aromantics

March 2019

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