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”

Fiction Collection: Aromantic and Autistic

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the aqua/yellow/red stripes of the autistic 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.

This is a separate list of all my works featuring autistic and aromantic protagonists. My other aromantic works can be found on my fiction page.

It’s also worth noting that my protagonists are like to be various combinations of trans, non-binary, multisexual and otherwise-disabled.

Some of these stories do not focus on the aromantic, and one story, Certain Eldritch Artefacts, is more an example of an aromantic not yet knowing it than an aromantic narrative. (Do the alloromantic usually build a successful romantic relationship with an inappropriate crush by first spending a year travelling around another continent?) The sequel, Love in the House of the Ravens, depicts the beginning of Darius’s finding this out…

What if it Isn’t

Cover image for When Quiver Meets Quill: Collected Aromantic Fiction by K. A. Cook. Cover features black handwritten type on a mottled mustard background. Cartoon images of arrows--in four different styles--sit in diagonal rows across the cover, the fletching and shafts coloured in the stripes of the green/light green/white/grey/black aromantic pride flag.

What if her love is a dull, flickering, rare thing, so insubstantial it makes better sense to disregard it as meaningful? What if her love is quiet and companionate at best while Keiko loves with fairytale passion, a woman who wants and needs to be wanted?

Pretending to be girlfriends while casing an art gallery with Keiko shouldn’t be a problem, but once Jessie realises things have gotten a little too real in the façade they’re showing to the world, the only thing to do is ask.

Contains: A stand-alone, fluffy, contemporary short story about a greyromantic autistic and the beginnings of a QPR.

Continue reading “Fiction Collection: Aromantic and Autistic”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eleven

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.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Content Advisory: Mentions of ableism/abuse, assault, fantasy violence and wounds, along with an agender, aromantic person of colour being referred to as an insect, and a brief discussion of the ways amatonormativity impacts aromantics in relationships with alloromantics. References to kissing and physical intimacy.

Length: 1, 113 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous

The world makes romance more important than anything, or anyone, else.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eleven”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Ten

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.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Content Advisory: Discussion of the intersectionality between autistic-targeted ableism and amatonormativity and the ways said ableism make more difficult an acceptance of aromantic identity. This section includes ableism/abuse, assault and self-harm and/or wound mentions.

Length: 863 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

A word isn’t a gift if you can’t discard it. Keep it, or not, as you want.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Ten”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Nine

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.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Content Advisory: Discussion of the intersectionality between autistic-targeted ableism and amatonormativity and the ways said ableism make more difficult an acceptance of aromantic identity.

Length: 998 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

Does an inability to conform again need labelling when he owns one dangerous word, one whose roots entangle everything Darius was, is and will be?

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Nine”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eight

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.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Content Advisory: Fantasy violence, sexual attraction and sex mentions, along with a discussion of amatonormativity.

Length: 1, 054 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

Yes, voiced to romance’s expectation, doesn’t feel as dangerous as assenting to Ila’s alternative.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eight”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Seven

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.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Content Advisory: Assault mention, discussions of romantic attraction and amatonormativity.

Length: 1, 104 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

The world doesn’t have common language for what it feels like not to feel.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Seven”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Six

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.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Content Advisory: Mentions of neuronormative expectations and language, with depictions of some of the casual ways they’re used against autistics and/or the neurodiverse.

Length: 728 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

Do you feel like you should want her?

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Six”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Five

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.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Content Advisory: Descriptions of wounds and blood, non-explicit sexual experience mentions. This chapter includes discussions of the way sexual experiences are shaped by autism, autistic modes of communication and the infantilising of allosexual autistic adults by allistics (non-autistics).

Length:  884 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

He ruined everything by freezing: unable to say yes, unable to say no, unable to keep from hurting her in his speechless confusion

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Five”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Four

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.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Content Advisory: Descriptions of wounds and blood, bullying and the ableism targeted at people who can’t conform to neuronormative modes of speech. This chapter begins increasing romance mentions and discussions between alloromantic (Akash) and aromantic (Ila, Darius) characters.

Length: 935 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

You never give a family heirloom to a romantic partner before you’ve formalised the relationship.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Four”