I first started to follow the asexual community when I was 16. I spent about a week reading through asexual advice blogs on tumblr and reading every WordPress article on asexuality I could find.
While I very quickly became somewhat of an expert on asexuality, my forays into the aromantic community were slower. There wasn’t as much to read, and I took my time because I was still questioning whether or not I was on the aromantic spectrum. But, eventually I came to identify as aroace and I kept up with the asexual and aroace communities on tumblr. There wasn’t really a specifically aromantic community at that time that I was aware of. I remember people talking a lot about separating the asexual and aromantic communities, which I suppose must have lead to the situation we have now, but to be fair I wasn’t paying that much attention.
Then, a couple of years ago, I joined the fyeahasexual discord server and became more active in the asexual community. This lead to me thinking a lot about being aspec, and the lack of aromantic specific resources, so last year I started my blog, ask-an-aro.tumblr.com. I wanted it to be as specific to aros as possible, and since I no longer identify as asexual, I rarely interact with the asexual community any more.
I’m not completely out of touch with the asexual community, however, since a lot of prominent aromantic resources are joint resources for/about ace and/or aro people. Also, a lot of the aromantic community are aroace or on the asexual spectrum as well as the aromantic one, and I still keep up with some alloromantic ace bloggers who create content I like.
There’s somewhat of an air of hurt and mistrust within the aromantic community towards the asexual one. A lot of aroaces and allo aros are sick of allo aces throwing them under the bus or erasing their existence completely, and aros are constantly having to wade through ace specific resources to find aro ones. I’ve had people tell me that the aromantic community and the asexual community are entirely separate, and I’ve had aspec people who don’t use the SAM (read my article about this here) tell me that that doesn’t work for them. Personally, I don’t see a future for the asexual or the aromantic community existing without each other.
I like to think of the aspec community being an umbrella that encompasses both the asexual community and the aromantic community, as well as those who belong in both and/or don’t really see them as split.
The term aspec is absolutely necessary to me. There’s far too much overlap in the ace and aro communities to separate them completely. In terms of shared language, history, and experiences, but especially in terms of people.
The aspectrum is wide and should be inclusive of anyone who needs it. Those who do and those who do not use the SAM. Aroaces, asexuals, acespecs, aromantics, arospecs. Those who are just one of those things and those who are more than one at once. Those who are questioning if they’re acespec or arospec, or both.
That said, there’s far too much history of aromantic spectrum people being ignored, erased, or denied in asexual places for the ace and aro communities to be seen as one and the same. Aromantics are consistently ignored in asexual and aroace spaces and we need our own community. The aspec community should not replace the ace and aro communities, but co-exist with them.
We could never have come this far without the asexual community. I may never have come across aromanticism if I hadn’t googled asexual one day. A large part of our history is fundamentally intertwined with asexuality and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I will forever be grateful to the asexual people who answered my anon asks and posted blog posts. Who kept telling me over and over again that it was okay to be aromantic until the day I believed it.
I’m thrilled that the aromantic community is coming into its own, and I hope it keeps flourishing. But I’m not annoyed that for the moment we’re inexorably linked with the asexual community as well.