It’s February, the month of Black History, Valentine’s Day and Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week (ASAW). As someone who is aromantic (aro) and asexual (ace), I want to talk about what it means to be aspec during the month of love.
What is aspec?
I talked about being queer before and my journey to discovering my sexual and romantic identity, which includes being aspec. The term ‘aspec’ refers to the spectrum of aromanticism and asexuality. These are both queer orientations that have existed before we had the proper words to describe them and we are still learning about even today. I discovered these terms after seeing people talk about their experiences with love, sex, and relationships. A light bulb went off when I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
What does aromantic mean?
Aromanticsm describes a little or lack of romantic attraction and is the ‘A’ part of LGBTQA+. This means someone does not experience romantic attraction the same way as others, but does not mean they are cold-hearted or robotic. People who experience romantic attraction are considered alloromantic. This orientation has a spectrum, which includes the following identities:
- and others
More information and resources about aromanticism are available on the Aromantic-spectrum Union for Recognition, Education, and Advocacy (AUREA) website. Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week is a celebration of aro identities and experiences, taking place from February 19-25, 2023. This annual and international event helps spread awareness of aromanticism.
My relationship with romance is complicated, as I experience platonic and familial love; I love my pets, books, as well as friends and family. But when it comes to dating and romantic love, I feel more apathetic. I thought something was wrong with me until I realized I wasn’t alone, and others experience a complicated relationship with romance.
What does asexual mean?
Asexuality is part of the aspec orientation and refers to a lack of or little interest in sexual attraction. It shares the ‘A’ spot in LGBTQA+ with aromantic. People who experience sexual attraction are called allosexual. Like aromanticism, asexuality has various identities based on a person’s relationship with sex and sexual attraction, including:
I have always had a strange aversion to sex and sexual experiences. At first, I thought it was just me, and even my family had concerns. Finding the ace community helped me realize that I was not alone and not broken. In a world where sex is prevalent everywhere you go, and sexual relationships are the norm, having a lack of sexual attraction or aversion to sex can make you an outcast. But there is nothing wrong or unhealthy about being asexual.
Surviving Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love for many, which includes date nights with romantic and sexual partners. Recently, the days surrounding have also involved spending time with loved ones, such as Galentine’s Day (13th), or as a day of self-care and self-love for those who are single (Singles Awareness Day, 15th). For those on the asexual and aromantic spectrum, having a dedicated day to spend with friends or treat yourself is a great way to celebrate Valentine’s without feeling the pressure of having a partner.
I’ll be honest: I used to hate Valentine’s Day. I was never a very romantic person, and found some aspects of sex to be repulsive when I was younger. I would wear all black and refuse to participate in events. As I got older, I learned to appreciate the day and use it as a way to check in with myself. Now, I celebrate it whether I have a partner or am single.
How are you celebrating Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week? Are you aromantic, asexual, or know someone who is? If this is your first time learning about these queer orientations, I hope it was informative!