As last week was Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, let’s dive a bit more into the “A” spectrum in LGBTQIA.

The aromantic flag.

First of which we have aromantic, which we learned was “a romantic orientation, which describes people whose experience of romance is disconnected from normative societal expectations, often due to experiencing little to no romantic attraction, or sometimes feeling repulsed by romance or being uninterested in romantic relationships,” according to the official site recognizing the week-long celebration.

On the other side of the “A” is asexuality. This, according to UNC Chapel Hill’s LGBTQ resource page, is “A term used to describe someone who does not experience sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender.”

The asexual flag.

Thus, if an individual were to experience both feelings, they could self-identify as aromantic asexual, or aroace to make things a bit easier. Though they are on the same spectrum, the difference between the two “A” terms here are quite large.

In an article with Bustle, model, activist and aroace Yasmin Benoit discussed this specific difference from her perspective. As she was exploring her identity, Benoit’s experiences with both asexuality and aromanticism blended together before she realized some asexual people weren’t aromantic and vice versa. 

And something that stuck out in particular is her thought that most people might mix sexual attractiveness with sexual availability, “because they think that if you’re seen as being sexually attractive, then you should be sexually available,” she said. “So then you’re a walking tease and that upsets people.”

Elle Windsor, a writer with LGBTQIA+ Greens, a political group in the UK, pins the historic orientation of asexuality and aromanticism to – broadly – the 1200s. 

“In medieval Flanders (France) communities of women began cropping up in the form of small gated cities known as beguinages. These were for single women who wanted to lead solo lives – usually for spurious religious reasons – these communes had their own amenities, businesses, farmlands, leisure activities…they represented freedom from the expectations of marriage and family,” the article reads.

And the same seemingly occurred in 17th century China as well with their “Golden Orchid Society,” which offered an alternative lifestyle than heterosexual marriage.

But Windsor notes a fair bit of info arising around the industrial revolution through an amalgamation of terms trying to describe the same thing. One of which came from a Hungarian journalist named Karl-Maria Kurtbeny, who “made reference to people who eschew all sexual contact with others and choose only to masturbate,” calling these people “monosexual.”

And in the late 1940s, Alfred Kinsey introduced his “Kinsey Scale” which included an “X” rating for individuals who did not feel sexual attraction either way. Other honorable mentions include Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan mentioning asexuality in the Satanic Bible, and Lisa Orlando and Barbara Getz’s Asexual Manifesto from the 1970s.  

For more information about where a-spec has been seen in history, visit LGBTQIA+ Greens’ website. 

In addition to those who identify as asexual, aromantic or aroace, there are other identities that align with the spectrum, including: 

  • Graysexual/grayromantic, meaning someone who experiences very limited sexual or romantic attraction. They may experience sexual or romantic attraction rarely or at very low intensity.
  • Demisexual/demiromantic, meaning someone who can only feel sexually or romantically attracted to a person they already have a strong connection with.
  • Reciprosexual/recipromantic, meaning someone who only feels sexually or romantically attracted to someone who is sexually or romantically attracted to them first.
  • Akiosexual/akioromantic, meaning someone who can feel sexual or romantic attraction but doesn’t want those feelings to be returned by whoever they’re attracted to.
  • Aceflux/aroflux, meaning someone whose capacity for sexual or romantic attraction changes over time.
  • (Credits to healthline.com for the list.)

Healthline also included some actions or practices that align with those who identify as aroace but noted that each and every person’s experiences are different and does not have to fit perfectly with what’s listed:

  • You’ve had little desire for a sexual or romantic relationship with a specific person.
  • You struggle to imagine what it feels like to be in love.
  • You struggle to imagine what lust feels like.
  • When other people talk about feeling sexually or romantically attracted to someone, you can’t really relate.
  • You feel neutral or even repulsed by the idea of having sex or being in a romantic relationship.
  • You’re not sure if you only feel the need to have sex or be in relationships because that’s what is expected of you.
The aroace flag.

Happy knowledge hunting!

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