Aro Week: My (Personal) Aromantic Manifesto

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the 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.

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?

Continue reading “Aro Week: My (Personal) Aromantic Manifesto”

Discussing Allo-Aro Identity (And Why Fluid Folks Need Better Definitions)

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.

I began my Allo-Aro 101 page by defining the words “allosexual” and “aromantic”. If “allosexual” is uncommon terminology outside a-spec spaces, “allo-aro” (in all its grammatical and stylistic permutations) is even less accepted. “Aromantic” itself voyages into arcane language, often understood by outsiders as only a relationship to or a form of asexuality. Visitors to this website may not know what “allo-aro” means, so–limited by current terminology and conceptualisations of the split attraction model–I follow the well-trodden educator’s path of first mimicking a dictionary.

I consider my following explanation more important, as an allo-aro whose relationship to this identity cannot exist untouched by fluidity:

Any allosexual aromantic who isn’t also, solely and permanently, asexual; or any aromantic who wishes to centre their experience of sexual attraction alongside their aromanticism. Heterosexual aros, bisexual aros, pansexual aros, gay aros, lesbian aros and aros with fluid or shifting attractions inclusive of allosexuality can identify as allo-aro.

Some allo-aros identify as both asexual and allosexual or shift between them. Abrosexual aros may be entirely allosexual or experience both asexual and allosexual identities. Aceflux aros may experience allosexual identities along with their asexual ones. Being solely and permanently allosexual should never be a requirement for allo-aro identity and community participation.

I can count on one hand (with spare fingers!) how often I’ve seen fellow a-specs acknowledge attraction’s potential fluidity in their defining of “allo-aro”. In stressing adverbs like “permanently”, I am an outlier in the genre of explaining allo-aro identity and community membership.

Most allo-aros explain our identity by the words comprising this term: allosexual and aromantic. What more need one say on this subject after coming to agreed-upon meanings for the words “allosexual” and “aromantic”? What more need one say than to explain that allo-aros are aromantic and not-asexual?

Such an explanation erases a non-zero number of fluid allo-aros (not to mention forcing aromantics who are neither asexual nor allosexual, or reject identifying with this binary construct, under the allo-aro umbrella).

It erases me.

Continue reading “Discussing Allo-Aro Identity (And Why Fluid Folks Need Better Definitions)”

Hallo, Aro: Question – K. A. Cook

Banner for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: Reflections on the aromantic desire to avoid family members’ amatonormative questions about dating–and the ways attaining this freedom can speak less about aromantic inclusion and more about heterosexist erasure and queer antagonism.

How can this be the aromantic dream when your queerness quiets the room?

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Question – K. A. Cook”

Pride Patch Tutorial: The Patch Jacket, Part One

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

If you’ve been following my tutorials, you may have spent the best part of a year cross stitching your own pride patches. I’ve been sewing to occupy my hands while streaming TV during Victoria’s covid-19 lockdowns, so I’ve ended up with a lot of patches. What better thing to make with them than the ultimate in pride clothing–a one-of-a-kind pride jacket?

A light wash, blue, cropped denim jacket sitting on a blue, white, yellow, green, navy and cyan striped quilt cover. The front of the jacket is covered in an assortment of handsewn cross stitch patches, including the letters "A" in pride flag stripes, two arrow designs, hearts in various flag stripes, a frog, two dragons, a hot air balloon, the word "abro" and the words "aro" in upper and lower case type.

I used a cropped denim jacket from K-Mart that I got on clearance, as I had no access to op/thrift shops or other retail clothing shops during lockdown. Whatever jacket or coat you have on hand should work, although it is easier to work with thinner denim.

This tutorial describes tips and techniques for hand sewing patches onto a jacket, which is the cheapest but most difficult and time-consuming (or occupying!) method of attachment. If you use a heat and bond or iron-on adhesive product, much of this tutorial won’t apply, but you may still find useful the sections on layout and temporary adhesion.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: The Patch Jacket, Part One”

Story Collection: Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold

Banner for Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold. Image features a tree landscape background with a grassy foreground, tinted to resemble the greens descending into golds hues of the allo-aro flag. A sun sits in the top left corner and the bottom of the foreground is layered with ivy leaves and trailing vines. Text is written in black handdrawn script with the words green and gold in their respective colours. A cross-hatching frame in the colours of the allo-aro flag surrounds the banner.

Cover image for Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold: Non-Asexual Aro Stories by K. A. Cook. Cover features a tree landscape background with a grassy foreground, tinted to resemble the greens descending into golds hues of the allo-aro flag. A sun sits in the top right corner and a green banner, bearing text reading the author's name, sits at the bottom of the cover, surrounded by ivy leaves and trailing vines. The cover title is written in black handdrawn script with the words green and gold in their respective colours. A cross-hatching frame in the colours of the allo-aro flag surrounds the cover.A princess flees her betrothed in search of a witch willing to entrap her within a tower. Rowan yearns to be out and proud as an aromantic, but other people’s misapprehensions—and his own anxiety—hamper his quest. A woman expresses her wish for unfettered sexual intimacy, despite her mother’s desperate romantic expectations. For another pansexual, the route to freedom from amatonormativity lies in accepting monstrosity’s fur and fangs. Suki finds aromantic freedom inside the priesthood’s cloisters, but even a rebellious life leaves her at a loss when ministering to her own. And the words “allosexual aromantic” offer a struggling magician hope of a new road—but one not without its dangers.

Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold collects twenty fantasy and contemporary stories celebrating the many ways aromanticism need not always pair with asexuality.

Continue reading “Story Collection: Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold”

Fiction: Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold

Banner for Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold. Image features a tree landscape background with a grassy foreground, tinted to resemble the greens descending into golds hues of the allo-aro flag. A sun sits in the top left corner and the bottom of the foreground is layered with ivy leaves and trailing vines. Text is written in black handdrawn script with the words green and gold in their respective colours. A cross-hatching frame in the colours of the allo-aro flag surrounds the banner.

Constance, princess of Blackvale, knows the duty of a summer-hearted heir: wed the prince, birth the child, symbolise her people’s prosperity and fecundity. Love, joyously and passionately, a man even she believes handsome and kind. But what if her heart can’t cast summer’s warmth? What if she feels solely the profane desires of skin and flesh? What if Blackvale’s crops wither and rot unripened because their future queen can’t—and won’t—bow to the nonsensical-seeming rule of seasons?

She knows only one way to avoid catastrophe, falsehood and marriage: surrendering herself to the Forest Witch. Not even for his daughter will the king risk angering the feared but necessary master of briars, protector of forests and abductor of women.

Constance expects a lifetime’s bondage to a dangerous witch, freeing her cousin to inherit Blackvale’s throne. The witch has other ideas…

She owns no place in a world ruled by sacred seasons, and even a witch’s tower must be more welcoming of a princess whose heart beats unknowable.

Continue reading “Fiction: Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold”

Pride Cross Stitch: Butterfly Hoop

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

For @aggressivelyarospec‘s Aggressively Arospectacular 2020 week-long event, I have embarked upon a quest to post something creative each day.

I’m starting with a more subtle way of showing my pride: a butterfly pattern designed by Anne Mills and set into a plastic Daiso 15 cm hoop.

A cross stitch piece on white aida, set into a cream plastic embroidery hoop. The piece consists of three grey and white butterflies fluttering among sprays of green leaves and yellow/gold flowers. The butterflies have been outlined in glittery black thread, while the flowers are outlined in glittery gold thread. The hoop sits atop a blue microfibre blanket.

The pattern came as part of a cross stitch set published by Hinkler. It’s nice to work on pieces where I don’t have to first draft my own patterns, but for me the joy of cross stitch is the freedom to diverge from completely or perfectly reproducing someone else’s design (and adding a little more aro pride).

For this piece, I chose teal greens from the abro flag, yellow and gold from the allo-aro flag, and grey and white from the aromantic flag. I backstitched the outlines around the flowers and butterflies in gold and black metallic thread from DMC’s Light Effects range, which, unfortunately, doesn’t show well in a photograph.

(In person, it’s wonderfully sparkly without being overbearing, even in dim light.)

After two weeks of sewing, this hoop now hangs above my desk, where I can watch glittery butterflies feast on glittery allo-aro flowers. For folks wishing a subtle way to demonstrate their pride, sewing unrelated embroidery patterns in pride colours is a nice way to still show off the colours that represent us. One of the advantages about our aromantic-spectrum flags is that the preponderance of green well lends itself to floral designs!

How (Not) to Ally: Absent Authors, Empty Exhortations

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.

How (Not) to Ally is a series discussing the supportive content made by well-meaning asexual allies to allo-aros–and why some approaches still fail to recognise, promote, welcome, protect and include us.

Allo-aros are now more commonly referenced in asexual-authored content discussing the aromantic and a-spec communities. That’s great! We need acknowledgement of our needs, viewpoints and experiences. We need our allies including us in discussions of amatonormativity and a-spec/aro antagonism, especially when they occur in broader a-spec spaces in which we don’t yet safe or comfortable.

Unfortunately, this means seeing comments like these:

  • “Allo-aros feel alienated from the a-spec community”
  • “I’ve heard allo-aros say they don’t feel allowed to mention their allosexuality”
  • “Allo-aros often talk about how to include them in community projects”

Inclusion also means witnessing a direction that’s become horribly overused:

  • “To learn more, go follow allo-aro blogs!”

This always leaves me wondering: which allo-aro discussed that? Which allo-aro activist or creator provided resources outlining community inclusion? Which allo-aro blogs does the speaker think we should follow? Why are our asexual allies so reluctant to mention us by name?

Continue reading “How (Not) to Ally: Absent Authors, Empty Exhortations”

Book Edition: Absence of Language

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Fiction sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Cover image for Absence of Language by K. A. Cook. Cover shows a red brick wall behind a wooden step, a red curtain covering half the wall, with a small wooden bench sitting on step. A chair, a hat and a squarish bag sit in the foreground of the image and a fabric banner hangs on the wall in the background. An assortment of coins and buttons litter the floor, and two yellow roses are shown floating inside clear bubbles. The scene looks like a magician's performance area or stage. The subtitle "a kit march short story" is written in white handdrawn type.Four months ago, Kit March abandoned his fiancé without even a note of explanation for a deserving man.

Leaving Lauri should have freed him from the pressures of romantic expectation, so how does a talented magician end up performing flash magic for buttons and hairpins in Raugue’s worst tavern? Kit doesn’t know and doesn’t care, as long as he can keep drowning guilt in beer and spellworking. As long as he can keep not thinking!

When a stranger offers the word “aromantic” followed by an opportunity to join a dangerous quest to the Gast, Kit may have more distraction than he can survive—and more comprehension than he can navigate.

Continue reading “Book Edition: Absence of Language”

Fiction: Absence of Language, Part Two

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

Four months ago, Kit March abandoned his fiancé without even a note of explanation for a deserving man.

Leaving Lauri should have freed him from the pressures of romantic expectation, so how does a talented magician end up performing flash magic for buttons and hairpins in Raugue’s worst tavern? Kit doesn’t know and doesn’t care, as long as he can keep drowning guilt in beer and spellworking. As long as he can keep not thinking!

When a stranger offers the word “aromantic” followed by an opportunity to join a dangerous quest to the Gast, Kit may have more distraction than he can survive—and more comprehension than he can navigate.

There’s a word for anything if you look long enough.

Continue reading “Fiction: Absence of Language, Part Two”