I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity

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.

Content Advisory: Discussions of and references to love, amatonormativity, ableism, neurodiversity, autism, familial abuse and partner abuse.

This June, I saw an increasing number of positivity and support posts for the aromantic and a-spec communities discussing the amatonormativity of “everyone falls in love”. I agree: the idea that romantic love is something everyone experiences, and is therefore a marker of human worth, needs deconstruction.

Unfortunately, a majority of these posts are replacing the shackles of amatonormativity with restrictive lines like “everyone loves, just not always romantically”, referencing the importance of loving friends, QPPs, family members and pets. Sometimes it moves away from people to encompass love for hobbies, experiences, occupations and ourselves. The what and how tends to vary from post to post, but the idea that we do and must love someone or something, and this love redeems us as human and renders us undeserving of hatred, is being pushed to the point where I don’t feel safe or welcome in my own aromantic community. Even in the posts meant to be challenging the more obvious amatonormativity, it is presumed that aros must, in some way, love.

I’ve spent weeks watching my a-spec and aro communities throw neurodiverse and survivor aros under the bus in order to do what the aromantic community oft accuses alloromantic aces of doing: using their ability to love as a defence of their humanity. Because I love, they say, I also don’t deserve to be a target of hatred, aggression and abuse.

But what if I don’t love?

What if love itself has been the mechanism of the hatred and violence I have endured?

Why am I, an aro, neurodiverse survivor of abuse and bullying, still acceptable collateral damage?

Continue reading “I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Shell

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Shell, already known to the aro-spec community as @arosnowflake and the author of the awesome short story Seducing Trouble!

Shell is an autistic, ADHD, non-binary aro-ace person who writes short stories, original fiction, fanfiction and essays. You can find eir fanworks on AO3 under the username spitecentral, writing for the Voltron: Legendary Defender, Fullmetal Alchemist, DC Universe, Batman and Batgirl fandoms, and we’ll hope ey posts more pieces from eir original Coffeeshop Project!

With us Shell talks about how ey writes romance as an aro-ace, depicting relationships in fiction, the impact of amatonormativity on creativity and eir alienation from current aro-spec community conversations. Eir words bound with enthusiasm on authentic creativity and the growth of the aro-spec community, so please let’s give em all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?

I never thought I was anything other than straight, although I did start noticing that I was different from other people when I was as young as twelve (for example, I remember being asked to pick the handsomest guy in a boy band, but to me, they all looked the same). However, I simply put this down to my autism, and since I was already desensitized to differences with peers, I pretty much ignored it. That is, until I repeatedly saw the word ‘asexual’ used online, and I began to wonder what it was, so I googled it. After reading the first paragraph on the Wikipedia page, I basically slammed my computer shut and did my very best to convince myself that no, I was overreacting, and also straight; after all, I was already autistic and ADHD, so any more diversity would be implausible.

Past me was so naive.

Anyway, I came to terms with being asexual at sixteen, and openly started identifying with it without adding ‘I think’ when I was seventeen. When I learned about the SAM, I initially dismissed the idea of being aro because I had a couple of crushes when I was a kid. However, after learning more about aromanticism and after some conversations with aromantic people, I decided to adopt the label since it really fit me. I mean, I was like nine when I had those crushes, and I don’t feel like they counted. I’m fairly sure now that I was just having them because it seemed like the Thing To Do, and, even then, all of my fantasies involved a more platonic ‘best friends forever but with shared pets’ lifestyle than a romantic thing. So while I may or may not have had crushes before, I don’t think I ever will again, and I don’t want to either, so I’ve adopted the aromantic label. I know it sounds weird, but oh well!

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Shell”