Over the last few years, the aromantic community has seen a comparative outpouring of recognition. It’s less common to see multi-identity art posts that remember asexuals but forget aromantics; it’s more common to see LGBTQIA+ blogs, spaces and communities referencing aromanticism. On Tumblr, I can find a wealth of positivity posts affirming many aromantic-spectrum experiences and even resources that reference aromanticism. Our existence, individually and collectively, is no longer solely the province of obscure art and essays … or presumed to be encompassed by asexuality.
We have a long way to go in acknowledging, including, supporting and protecting non-asexual aros, grey-umbrella aros, loveless aros, fluid and flux aros, aros of colour, non-English-speaking aros and disabled aros. Many of our gains have not yet reached or served all aromantics. The online aromantic world of 2021, however, bears little resemblance to that of 2011.
Past Aro Week content centres on demonstrating our existence: what we are, experience, feel, need, deserve. Now, though, such explanation feels repetitive; in 2021, I yearn to look inward, to face the questions underpinning my essays and storytelling. What does my aromanticism look like? What understandings, beliefs and obligations do I consider an inherent part of my aromantic identity? What do I owe other aromantics? What do other aromantics owe me?
This manifesto–my manifesto–details my belief in the creation of aromantic identity and community that refuses repackaged amatonormativity, rejects sex negativity and celebrates our radical, queer divergence from normal. Built from the bones of my intersection of identities and experiences, this list is limited at best and blinkered by my privileges at worst. Nor have I lived up to all its goals, because I am as flawed and hypocritical as any other human.
It is the start of an attempt to answer one question: what do I believe, as an aromantic seeking to understand and conceptualise aromanticism?
Love, Friendship and Platonic Relationships
My aromanticism recognises that while behaviour is not the same as attraction, neither is love, and it will not echo amatonormativity by conflating attraction with behaviour or attraction with love.
My aromanticism does not assume that anyone who desires, or participates in, any particular relationship must also experience the attraction associated with such a relationship.
My aromanticism does not assume that anyone who experiences any shape of attraction must also experience (or wish to name their attraction as) love.
My aromanticism doesn’t require that one experience love in order to be granted worth, recognition, respect and visibility.
My aromanticism understands that experiencing attraction of any kind, or desiring relationships of any kind, does not invalidate the lovelessness experienced by loveless aros.
My aromanticism rejects the amatonormativity-derived primacy of romantic relationships and believes nobody must seek, desire or participate in romantic relationships in order to be respected as human.
My aromanticism rejects all amatonormativity-derived presumptions that one must replace romantic desires and relationships with sexual, platonic, queerplatonic, alterous and/or non-romantic desires and relationships.
My aromanticism recognises that replacing romance with “friendship”, “platonic bonds” or “platonic relationships” as a requisite human experience will never challenge or deconstruct amatonormativity.
My aromanticism rejects all assumptions that friendship must be the purer, healthier and better form of intimate relationship.
My aromanticism seeks to deconstruct and dismantle the concept of any type of relationship being “better” or “more important” than any other.
My aromanticism supports, respects, includes and celebrates non-partnerning, aplatonic and loveless aros.
My aromanticism recognises that, until an unpartnered or solo life is socially, legally and financially accessible to all who choose it, we have not conquered amatonormativity.
My aromanticism understands that using experiences of “love” and “friendship” as metrics of human worth also harms the neurodiverse, with particular impact on neurodiverse aromantics.
My aromanticism will not shelter, ignore, condone or overlook the ableism inherent in how we understand love, romance, friendship, relationships and intimacy.
My aromanticism will not shelter, ignore, condone or overlook the ethnocentrism inherent in how we understand love, romance, friendship, relationships and intimacy.
My aromanticism welcomes, includes, affirms, protects and celebrates sex workers.
My aromanticism welcomes, includes, affirms, protects and celebrates the polyamorous and the non-monogamous.
My aromanticism welcomes, includes, affirms, protects and celebrates the neurodiverse and the disabled.
My aromanticism seeks to make aromantic spaces and content as accessible as possible.
My aromanticism believes that that privileged aros must undertake the labour to welcome, include, affirm, protect and celebrate marginalised aros.
Romance, Romantic Relationships and Romantic Attraction
My aromanticism protects and includes the romance repulsed to the same extent it protects and includes the romance favourable.
My aromanticism doesn’t require one to reject or disdain romance and romantic relationships to be granted aromantic worth, recognition, respect, community and visibility.
My aromanticism won’t assume that aromantic identity, by default or predominantly, means an absence of romantic attraction.
My aromanticism includes those who reject the entire concept of romantic attraction as meaningful, but it also recognises that some don’t see this experience as related to aromantic identity and/or community.
My aromanticism doesn’t require that one perceive or experience a difference between romantic and any other shape of attraction.
My aromanticism recognises the difference between romance and amatonormativity, and does not presume that all romantic relationships and expressions of romance are by definition amatonormative.
My aromanticism builds a world where romance exists independently of amatonormativity.
My aromanticism builds a world where friendship, platonic and queerplatonic relationships also exist independently of amatonormativity.
My aromanticism fights for marginalised people’s right to desire, seek, have, formalise and celebrate romantic relationships.
My aromanticism supports, respects, includes and celebrates aromantics in romantic relationships as much as it does those in non-romantic relationships.
My aromanticism understands that any socially-regarded-as-romantic behaviour can and does exist in a non-romantic context.
My aromanticism understands that sexual behaviours have been historically contextualised (and are better privileged when seen as) as romantic behaviours.
My aromanticism understands that denigrating or eschewing all romantic-coded behaviours will harm other aromantics, particularly romance-positive aros, attraction-experiencing aros and allo-aros.
My aromanticism will not contextualise another’s aro experience with my understandings of what is and isn’t romantic behaviour.
My aromanticism rejects any attempt to treat or contextualise queerplatonic relationships as simply a non-romantic form of Western romantic relationships.
Marriage, Monogamy and Polyamoury
My aromanticism believes that the legal and financial rights currently afforded to married couples should be extended to people who have been designated by another (or others), irrespective of the intimacy involved in their relationship.
My aromanticism respects and celebrates one’s right to marry a consenting partner or partners for reasons both romantic and non-romantic, and recognises that too many marginalised people don’t yet possess this basic human right.
My aromanticism doesn’t ignore the suffering of disabled people who, though financial coercion, are still denied the right of marriage.
My aromanticism supports the polyamorous community, believing that marriage should encompass as many consenting adults (irrespective of gender or lackthereof) as any relationship group desires.
My aromanticism recognises that amatonormativity also harms polyamorous and non-monogamous people.
My aromanticism rejects Western notions of monogamy as a universal model applicable to all people, cultures and relationships.
My aromanticism understands and respects the difference between non-monogamy and cheating, never using the existence of the latter to denigrate or diminish the former.
Aromantic Identity and Community
My aromanticism acknowledges that the aromantic community’s language, understandings, norms and mores have in the past harmed other aromantics–and still do so in the present.
My aromanticism understands the vital necessity in recognising and supporting aros harmed by community norms–past, present and future.
My aromanticism values our community history but won’t rigidly conform to terminology, language and norms that harm and erase other aromantics.
My aromanticism celebrates the way a-spec community terminology changes to recognise, validate and include a growing diversity of aromantics.
My aromanticism recognises that aromanticism as an identity and a concept is deeper, greyer and broader than “not experiencing alloromantic shapes of romantic attraction”.
My aromanticism will define identity terms and concepts in the most inclusive way possible.
My aromanticism respects that terms like “quoiromantic” and “abroromantic” are not solely aromantic-spectrum identities and will not contextualise all members of either identity as solely aromantic.
My aromanticism values and includes the unique perspectives had by flux, fluid and multi-identity aromantics.
My aromanticism values and includes the unique perspectives had by grey-umbrella aromantics and other attraction-experiencing aromantics.
My aromanticism recognises that not all grey-umbrella aromantics experience any shape of romantic attraction.
My aromanticism does not treat attraction and behaviour as inherently the same while still understanding that these can be linked to varying degrees in any given individual’s experience of attraction.
My aromanticism refuses to police other people’s identities while simultaneously challenging and defying all attempts to police my own.
Sex and Sexual Attraction
My aromanticism, no matter whether I am sex favourable, neutral or repulsed, is always sex positive.
My aromanticism affirms the right of other community members to engage in consensual relationships and interactions.
My aromanticism does not slut shame other aromantics for their consensual sexual expression, interactions and relationships.
My aromanticism never denigrates consensual sexual behaviours or activity based on frequency, number of partners or lack of committed/long-term partners.
My aromanticism does not require one to eschew or condemn one night stands or friends with benefits relationships in favour of committed/long-term partners.
My aromanticism protects and includes the sex repulsed to the same extent it protects and includes the sex favourable.
My aromanticism will never forget that sex and romance favourable aros are also in need of protecting.
Allosexuality and Asexuality
My aromanticism rejects the presumption that aromanticism is by default accompanied by or entwined with asexuality.
My aromanticism doesn’t assume that not being asexual means one must be allosexual.
My aromanticism doesn’t assume that being asexual means one cannot also be allosexual.
My aromanticism is boldly, overtly, radically, rebelliously queer.
My aromanticism has no interest in the concept of “normality” and will not modify itself to accommodate any shape of normativity.