Carnival of Aros: Aro Community Wishlists

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Sennkestra on Next Step Cake asked this question for November’s Carnival of Aros, with specific mention of allo-aros in the explanatory post:

What kind of community spaces and resources do you want to see more of, as an aro-spec person?

My wishlist as an allo-aro who must interact with the a-spec and aromantic communities is singular: an a-spec audience. A supportive, responsive audience that recognises the a-spec community’s current tendency to overlook, disregard or paraphrase allo-aro expression, and will make a concerted effort to promote and support the creating of allo-aro content, resources and communities.

That’s it, done. The shortest essay I will ever write.

Not so much.

The problem is that this well-intended question encapsulates the challenge I face as an allo-aro interacting with the aromantic and a-spec communities.

I can answer it as it’s meant. I don’t need to start from scratch; I can rework several old posts into a new essay. This isn’t novel to me, given that this post about allo-aros in the aromantic community is a rework of this post about a-spec community inclusion for allo-aros (which was a rework of an earlier @alloaroworlds post). I can dredge up the answers scattered across two blogs and piece them together anew in the hope my needs will be better acknowledged by asexual a-specs. This is the spirit in which the question is asked and in which most people will and are expected to answer.

How many more times must I repeat myself?

To be allo-aro in aromantic and a-spec spaces is to be trapped in a funhouse hall of mirrors. I am caught in an endless cycle of parroting and recycling the same core sets of concerns and feelings, each rendition as different from each other as a new set of mirrors–the distortion or context differing, the subject identical. Will this next, newest mirror grant me a reflection other a-specs will acknowledge? Will it allow me to move on to another conversation?

My a-spec kindred ask the same questions and give the same advice like a cursed supermarket radio stuck on repeat. Write more lists, tell more stories, create more resources, answer more questions, devote more time and work to speaking of allo-aro needs and experiences. Change that benefits allo-aros in a-spec and aromantic spaces will occur, we’re told, when we answer through our labour the deficit of spaces, resources and representation.

There are no allo-aro resources is the most-common reasoning made by a-specs when addressing a lack of substantial allo-aro recognition or inclusion in a-spec and aromantic community materials and websites, so I spent weeks making and collating my own.

There is no allo-aro representation is the most common reasoning made by a-specs when addressing a lack of allo-aro presence on a-spec and aromantic media lists, so I spent the last eighteen months telling allo-aro stories.

Nothing I have done can or should be regarded as complete for either quest. But an allo-aro creator has made a beginning, and I am far from the only allo-aro to do so.

So, in a reversal of this month’s theme, I’ll ask these questions of anyone who believes that the problem of allo-aro inequity and invisibility in the a-spec and aromantic communities is due to a deficit in content and response:

  • Why do I create allo-aro resources only to see the a-spec community and parts of the aromantic community do little or nothing to promote their existence?
  • Why do I lose followers whenever my content on a general aromantic media blog on Tumblr focuses too much on allo-aro-specific experiences or narratives?
  • Why am I accused of hating asexuals and aro-aces should I voice criticism of a-spec and aromantic community norms that erase and harm allo-aros?
  • Why am I subject to accusations of “dividing the aromantic community” if I make spaces centred on the allo-aro needs and experiences that we are taught to avoid speaking in a-spec and aromantic spaces?
  • Why do I have to fear negative a-spec and aromantic reaction to full, uncensored expressions of my allosexuality as shaped by aromanticism in both a-spec and aromantic spaces?
  • Why do I have to fear that the asexuals reading this list will respond with reasons that aren’t “a culture of justifying the centring and privileging of asexuality and asexual narratives within a-spec spaces” to avoid recognising the challenges I face as an allo-aro?

If the problem is a deficit of allo-aro responses that can be countered with instruction or opportunity to create said responses, why are allo-aro content creators and communicators suffering from the deficit of an non-allo-aro audience in a-spec and aromantic spaces?

Why don’t you know about allo-aro inroads into creating communities, resources and representation? Why do our communications to promote these struggle to make it into the broader aromantic community and rarely if ever make it into the broader a-spec community?

I recognise that some a-spec communities and groups have made changes like equitably including aromantic flags, changing organisation names to include “aro” alongside “ace” or “asexual”, and understanding that “asexual” doesn’t mean “everyone on the aromantic and/or asexual spectra”. These are, however, the very first steps taken on a marathon of change. Just as cis people can acknowledge that non-binary people exist whilst still assuming that certain reproductive experiences can only be referred to in context of womanhood or manhood, asexual a-specs can acknowledge that allo-aros are allosexual without engaging in further interrogation on how an a-spec community culture of asexual-adjacency hurts allo-aros.

(We are aromantic. We do belong in aromantic and a-spec spaces on the strength of our aromanticism.)

We know that you lack knowledge on allo-aro experiences and needs, especially asexual-adjacency critical allo-aro experiences and needs, within and without the a-spec and aromantic communities.

We know that narrative, expression and activism are ways in which we allo-aros can make inroads into the ignorance that others and silences us.

We know, for our own benefit as allo-aros communicating to other allo-aros as well as allo-aros communicating to our allies, that we need to work to gain visibility and recognition.

We also know that we need our asexual a-spec allies to serve as a receptive and supportive audience for the narratives we are telling.

We need the willingness of asexuals who create and participate in shared a-spec and aromantic spaces to seek out allo-aro narratives, promote and signal-boost our resources and communities, make changes that run counter to needs and assumptions in asexual-only spaces, and accept that the privilege afforded to asexuals in the context of the a-spec community when used to support those who have less of it necessitates an openness to critique for it to avoid oppression.

We need our non-allo-aro a-spec allies to become just that: allies.

I am not unaware that asexuals, too, are trapped in this funhouse hell in your dealings with better-acknowledged gay, lesbian and multisexual communities, along with the heterosexual mainstream. I am not unaware that you too are forced to repeat yourself in the hope that at some point you’ll find a willing ear, the audience you need to enact greater change. I am not unaware that you too are subject to erasure, hatred and antagonism. My metaphor of distorted mirrors and endless reflections describes you as much as it does me, which is why I feel so betrayed by you. You know what it means to be frustrated by so-called allies who sit back on their heels and do nothing to help you. You know what a difference it makes to your work, particularly in your outreach outside a-spec spaces, when you find good allies.

We need your recognition of the ways a-spec spaces force an attitude of third-class citizenry on allo-aros through the creation of a culture that makes the allosexual part of allo-aro unwelcome and the aromantic part of allo-aro secondary in importance to asexuality.

We need your recognition that allo-aros are providing resources and guidelines on allo-aro inclusion and integration in a-spec and aromantic community spaces, in want of acknowledgement and implementation by you.

We need your recognition that building inclusive, equitable a-spec and aromantic communities for allo-aros also requires the labour, reflection and consideration of asexual a-specs and asexual aromantics.

To see this question–what kind of community spaces and resources do I need more of as an allo-aro?–asked without acknowledgement of the many times I have already answered but gone ignored by the people asking it, is alienating, dispiriting, depressing. It doesn’t acknowledge the challenges currently facing allo-aros in being heard even when we do provide the responses for which asexual a-specs have asked.

It doesn’t acknowledge the feeling that too many asexual a-specs have little to no interest in listening to and supporting allo-aros in our shared broader a-spec community.

Please. Engage with, support and promote the allo-aro resources that already exist. Build shared a-spec spaces explicitly inclusive of allo-aros from the beginning, and meet with allo-aros there instead of asking us to come into asexual-focused spaces to educate you. Seek out and acknowledge the extant responses, especially those that never escape the allo-aro sub-community bubble, about community integration and equity. Implement and encourage changes based on the feedback already given without denying or dismissing the allo-aro experiences that led to it.

Then, you may and should ask questions about further changes and resources. Then, a question like the above is welcome and necessary.

First, though, I need the a-spec and aromantic communities to become a receptive and supportive a-spec and aromantic audience to the allo-aros already speaking.

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