Many a-specs have a tendency to regard gains in general aromantic inclusion as sufficient for allo-aros, and it’s true to say that decreased antagonism or amatonormativity benefits all aromantics.
Yet allo-aros endure the a-spec and aromantic communities’ ignorance of allo-aro erasure. We endure the unspoken assumption that there’s a clean division between our sexual attraction and our aromanticism, that our allosexuality is best pushed to the side. We endure the belief that there isn’t a problem in how the a-spec community centres asexuality or contextualises allo-aros as either a shape of asexuality or adjacent to it.
When we are told in ways implicit and explicit that our allosexuality doesn’t belong in a-spec spaces, our first fight is to be. How do we create a culture that allows allo-aros to exist without fear of erasure? How do we gain acceptance enough that we too can see our shared home as a shelter and a sanctuary?
Consider this my attempt to create the safety we need with a list of ways any a-spec or aromantic community can become more inclusive of and welcoming to allosexual aromantics.
Sexual Attraction and Sexuality
- Create a-spec spaces that allow for detailed conversations about sexual attraction and related experiences as it is shaped by aromanticism.
- Recognise that allo-aros are afraid to speak of allosexual-shaped aromanticism in alloromantic-and-allosexual communities. It is difficult to find inclusion there if we are unwilling to be subjected to assumptions of romantic attraction and amatonormativity.
Please keep in mind that allo-aros need spaces where we can talk amongst ourselves and spaces where we can address, educate and interact with general a-spec audiences on the subject of allosexual aromanticism.
- Recognise that due to stereotypes around aromanticism and society’s rampant amatonormativity, allo-aros are often denied the chance to explore and discuss casual sexual relationships and experiences. Many allo-aros don’t have safe access to one night stands, hook-up apps and bar culture as ways to express our allosexuality. That makes discussions in a-spec spaces vital for our survival.
- Consider creating adult, NSFW-friendly spaces where allo-aros can speak freely and frankly about sexual attraction, sexual relationships and sexual experiences. Many sex-favourable allo-aros find comfort in the ways kink communities subvert or avoid amatonormative norms and romantic assumptions. We need to feel safe in sharing creative media and personal narratives in discussions about sex and kink.
Ideally, spaces exist for both NSFW and general/worksafe conversations, so that allo-aros of all ages and relationships to sex can find community. Yes, it is reasonable to think that allo-aros can and even should make these ourselves. Including them as a natural part of the broader aromantic and a-spec community, however, counters the message that allo-aros should only refer to sex and sexual attraction where asexuals don’t know about it–and makes these resources easier for new or questioning allo-aros to find.
- Consider how you use content advisories and warnings in demarcating spaces welcoming of sexual attraction and/or sexual experience discussions. It is important that allo-aros have spaces where we don’t warn for worksafe references to sexual attraction and/or sexual experience.
- Provide clear and explicit rules of what can and can’t be discussed within any given community space.
- Recognise the difference between sexual attraction, sexual relationships and sexual experiences. The former two are not explicit by default and often result in worksafe conversations. Only explicit content should be advised for with tags or warnings using sexualising terms.
Any a-spec or aromantic community will need to work on how to indicate spaces that do and don’t allow conversations about sexual content, sexual attraction and sexual relationships … just as any a-spec community or project should be doing the same for romantic content, romantic attraction and romantic relationships.
Many conversations about sexual attraction will not contain more than casual sex references at most. To treat these as explicit oversexualises a population already vulnerable to this. Avoid tags with any variation on “sex” unless the conversation is about sex itself, not sexual attraction.
Allo-Aros and Asexuality
- Never use “asexual” or “ace” alone to refer to aromanticism or asexuality and aromanticism together. Most allo-aros are not also asexual and even those who are don’t wish our allosexuality to be identified or contextualised as asexual.
- Never use “aro-ace” as a synonym for “a-spec”. Aro-ace is an identity term describing people on both the aromantic and asexual spectra. It does not describe the combined aromantic and asexual communities.
- Never use “ace” as a synonym for “a-spec”. Phrases like “a-specs and aromantics” should be avoided, as they erase aromantics from our broader identity term by treating it as another word for “asexual”.
- Recognise and respect the alienation allo-aros feel when it is presumed content relating to asexuality and asexual experiences should be applicable to the whole a-spec and aromantic communities.
Don’t refer to all aromantics as asexual, treat all aromantics as asexual or assume that aromantics are likely to be asexual or find asexual experiences relevant to our aromanticism.
- Recognise the alienation many allo-aros feel when sex repulsion is treated as an unquestioned community norm as opposed to an experience had by some a-specs (allo-aros included). Don’t assume all a-specs are or are likely to be sex repulsed.
- Respect and enable the ability for allo-aros to avoid asexual-focused conversations, spaces and media through use of tags and advisories.
Many allo-aros do not feel able to discuss our alienation from asexual content from fear of angering the majority of a-specs in our shared communities. We cannot feel safe and included while we fear rejection for voicing a common allo-aro experience. Tagging or categorising asexual or aro-ace content, in the same way it’s reasonable for allo-aros to do the same, allows all a-specs to better navigate a shared blog or website.
- Don’t assume that community spaces focused on sex-favourable asexuals will suit allo-aros. Spaces shared by any sex-favourable a-spec should exist, but allo-aros need spaces and content for discussions of sex as an aspect of our allosexuality.
Well-meaning sex-favourable asexuals often respond to allo-aros by suggesting we join their conversations and communities. This again treats allosexual aromanticism as though it can be subsumed under an aspect of the asexual umbrella. Shared asexual and allo-aro spaces should exist, but please be sensitive to the ways allo-aros are pressured to find identity in asexuality as an alternative to allosexual expression.
- Question your community’s acceptance of sex-negative and sex-antagonistic language. Is it possible to discuss sex repulsion without referring to sex as “disgusting” or “gross”? At minimum, use of this language in a space shared with allo-aros requires advisory tags or warnings.
Remember that allo-aros are taught to feel “disgusting” and “gross” for experiencing non-alloromantic sexual attraction.
- Reject and challenge any suggestion that allo-aros are predatory for experiencing non-alloromantic sexual attraction. Reject and challenge any suggestion that we will be looking to prey or hit on on asexuals at a-spec community events.
I know of circumstances where allo-aros weren’t invited to a-spec events for fear we’d hit on asexual attendees. Not only is this prejudice unacceptable and inexcusable, allo-aros must see this antagonism publicly acknowledged, corrected and responded to by community leaders.
- Recognise that aro-ace discussions of aromantic experiences, including antagonism and erasure, won’t and can’t describe all those had by allo-aros.
- Avoid contextualising allo-aro inclusion and participation in the a-spec and aromantic communities as a benefit to asexuals.
Well-meaning allies like to present allo-aro creativity or activism as useful to asexuals and therefore important or relevant. All this does is present asexuals as the gatekeepers of a-spec and aromantic spaces, arbiters to whom allo-aros must prove our worth. It does nothing to treat allo-aros as natural, fundamental members of the a-spec and aromantic communities with the same unquestioned right to belong.
Networking and Leadership
- As much as is possible, have allo-aro spaces, conversations and meet-up opportunities run by an allo-aro moderator or group leader. Let allo-aros connect, share and learn from each other without the burden of needing to educate or accommodate asexual a-specs.
It’s important that our communities make a distinction between events where allo-aros educate other a-specs and events focused on allo-aro connection, friendship and community.
- Sponsor and promote events celebrating allo-aro education and outreach to the broader aromantic and a-spec communities.
- Ensure that you have allo-aros occupying broader community and project leadership roles alongside aro-aces, allo-aces, a-specs who don’t fit either binary, and aces/aros who don’t use the SAM.
It is not enough to have your group or project’s aromanticism shaped and delivered by aro-aces. (Some aro-aces unfamiliar with the aromantic community still perpetuate aromantic erasure!) If you are starting a group or project and you wish to be welcoming to all aromantics, seek out an allo-aro to take on a leadership role. Try posting to #alloaro on Tumblr!
- Ensure that your community leaders are familiar with aromantic erasure, aromantic antagonism, allo-aro erasure, allo-aro antagonism and amatonormativity so they can protect and support allo-aros in community events and conversations.
- Ensure that your asexual community leaders understand and honour their obligation to challenge and correct expressions of allosexual aromantic erasure and antagonism, particularly when perpetrated by other asexuals.
Asexuals shouldn’t speak over allo-aros on our own experiences, but your asexual leaders and community members must consider it their responsibility to protect us from allo-aro antagonism. One allo-aro in a room of asexuals may not feel safe enough to speak up; allied community leaders need to take the initiative.
Language and Terminology
- Reject the idea that queerplatonic as a description of a relationship or form of attraction doesn’t or rarely includes sexual experiences and/or sexual attraction.
- Challenge language use that assumes humans pair up with one other human at any given time in an exclusive monogamous relationship–even non-romantic ones. A number of allo-aros are polyamorous, polyaffectionate or polyerosous; we may possess multiple partners for different types of relationships.
When the aromantic community spends so much time on QPPs and QPRs, to treat these as always or mostly non-sexual either closes allo-aros out of a central concept in the community or contextualises us as unusual.
We acknowledge that QPRs originated in an aro-ace history and context, but the key word is originated. In the aromantic community, they are now regarded as a common expression of relationship-desiring aromanticism. Allosexual-inclusive participation in an often community-standard relationship model shouldn’t be treated as less ordinary than asexual-inclusive participation.
- Use the word “allosexual”, not just “non-asexual”, when referring to allo-aros. “Allosexual” may be varying degrees of contentious in the asexual community, but most allo-aros use it to describe ourselves. You don’t get to decide that our term for our identity is inappropriate.
- Avoid the phrase “not all aromantics are asexual”, especially if that’s your only reference to allo-aros in an article about aromanticism.
These terms and phrases (non-asexual, not all aromantics are asexual) continue to centre asexuality as the default way of being aromantic. Lines like “aromantics may possess a variety of orientation identities” avoid this centring. Also importantly, they can lead into explanations that some aros don’t identify as asexual or allosexual.
- When using the word “allo” in text, specify to whom you are referring. It’s not uncommon to see asexuals complaining about “allos” on the subject of amatonormativity or aromantic erasure, which can leave allo-aros feeling that we’re seen as perpetrators of beliefs that target us. If “allo” means “allosexual and alloromantic”, this should be stated.
- Avoid phrases that suggest aromantics are an added benefit or extra to a-spec and aromantic spaces. We’re not a benefit; we’re a fundamental part of both communities and need to be regarded as such.
- Avoid phrases like “aromantics and allo-aros”. We are aromantics.
It is good to state that allosexual aromantics are welcome, because we often do not feel ourselves to be unless it is specified. Better ways of going about it include lines like “we welcome aromantics of all orientation identities”.
Resources and Representation
- If you provide information about general aromantic erasure and antagonism, include information about the specific shapes of erasure, antagonism and amatonormativity faced by allo-aros.
- If you provide general aromantic handouts and pamphlets, provide ones that focus on allosexual aros. Do more than treat us as a short paragraph at the end of general aromantic education. At minimum, a-spec and aromantic community groups with a website should include an allo-aro section where you link to allo-aro blogs and creative media pieces.
Please ensure there’s information specific to allo-aros written by or read over by an allo-aro. If the resource you need doesn’t yet exist, consider commissioning an allo-aro to make them or offering your community resources to support an allo-aro creator in doing so.
It hurts, as an allo-aro creator of allo-aro content, to see asexuals claiming that resources don’t exist. It’s hard not to take it as people justifying a lack of allo-aro presence. Yes, much of it is informal and scattered over blogs and message boards, but more information exists than for which the allo-aro community is given credit.
- When collating allo-aro creative media and resources, check to see that the creator is allo-aro. As much as is possible, prioritise the promotion of allo-aro creators of allo-aro representation, media and resources.
The a-spec and aromantic communities often praise aro-ace writers for allo-aro rep or aro-ace bloggers for collating allo-aro posts. Allo-aro creators and bloggers get less attention for the same work. As important as it is for our allies to include and depict us, they shouldn’t be celebrated for inclusion or representation above own voices allo-aro creators and archivists.
- Pledge to support, celebrate and signal-boost allo-aro content creators. Feature our works on your websites, offer chances for interviews, credit and link to authors for any resources you reference, and promote the social media accounts of any allo-aros who work with you or your organisation.
- Begin or at least attempt research into allo-aro communities, identities and experiences before asking allo-aros to undergo the labour of providing you resources, explanations or education.
The a-spec and aromantic communities often ask direct questions of allo-aros before doing their own research. Over and over, we get asked questions we’ve already addressed on our blogs–accessible to you if you take the time to look. Meet us halfway by learning as much as possible before asking of us the unpaid labour of your education.
(This is where providing an allo-aro information section on your website is helpful to allo-aros and allies.)
Symbolism and Identification
- If your a-spec organisation, website or project represents aces and aros, it cannot display only the asexual pride flag or asexual pride colours in your banners, headers, flyers and symbols. Be sure to include the aromantic pride flag and aromantic pride colours, and check that these flags and colours are treated equitably.
A group or project that only references asexual pride is not a group or project inclusive of allo-aros. Don’t tell aromantics that we’re welcome while expecting us to march behind an asexual flag.
Other symbolic examples of aromantic erasure in a-spec groups includes using more asexual flags than aromantic ones, using larger asexual images in banner art and smaller aromantic ones, referring to greysexual and demisexual flags without referring to greyromantic and demiromantic flags, or a greater use of purple over green. Please get an aromantic to check that your use of symbols, flags and colours don’t emphasise asexuality over aromanticism.
- If your group, website or project represents aces and aros, it cannot be entitled “asexual” or “ace” alone. It must be entitled “asexual and aromantic” or “a-spec”. In the case of “asexual and aromantic”, it must reference aromanticism as often as it references asexuality.
I am aware that some historically-asexual-identifying groups have decided they wish to serve and represent the entire a-spec community. If that’s the case, change your name. Any group that is named and branded as ace or asexual but wishes to include allo-aros is perpetuating aromantic erasure.
- Consider displaying the allo-aro flag! Allo-aros will consider ourselves included under the aromantic flag and colours, but use of our pride colours on your website or flyer makes us feel seen and welcome.
Some a-spec organisations move beyond the aromantic and asexual flags to include aro-ace, demiromantic, demisexual, greyromantic and greysexual flags in their banners and logos. Why not allo-aro colours as well?
Despite the vast number of words, this is not an in-depth guide. This post only outlines the basic things a-spec allies to allo-aros can do to make us feel more included.
Please consider these the first steps taken, not the completion of your journey, in building spaces where no allo-aro experiences erasure or antagonism.