Navigating relationships as aromantic

31 agosto 2019

This is my contribution for the August 2019 edition of the Carnival of Aros.

Aromantic, squish, queerplatonic… some words that have resonated with me when I learnt of them. A squish is an instance of platonic attraction that I could describe as different from crushes, so that I could develop relationships outside of the sexual or romantic framework. Queerplatonic was a term I learnt after my first relationship of this kind ended, but it helped me to speak about it again outside of the sexual or romantic framework. These words have helped me a lot.

Some time ago, I wrote some posts on the tetrachotomy romantic/platonic/social/acquaintance versus the trichotomy romantic/friend/acquaintance and an analogy with 3-level vs. 4-level vowel systems. I find more useful the tetrachotomy for my thinking, but I am aware that the general society uses the trichotomy, so I must be aware of the phonological issues that may arise. For instance, when I speak of the platonic sphere, I may be lumped with the romantic or with the social, depending on how is listening. The asexual community tends to romanticize platonic stuff, while the rest of society goes the opposite way.

So, being platonic aromantic, and aware of it, has impacted greatly on the relationships I have formed and especially on the relationships I have not formed. Not falling in love prevented me from entering romantic relationships, and being aware of a squish allowed me to forge a friendship of the queerplatonic kind. All this would have not been possible without the terminology developed by the incipient aromantic community, although then still inside the asexual community.

My first steps in the asexual and aromantic communities

22 febrero 2019

This is my contribution for the February 2019 joint edition of the Carnival of Aces and the Carnival of Aros.

When I learned of asexuality, some terms like “allosexual” were not coined yet; we said plainly “sexual.” However, the split attraction model was developed, though unnamed, and the terms “heteroromantic,” “homoromantic,” “biromantic” and “aromantic” were in common use in the forums. I had my reservation with respect to being asexual, since I still hadn’t gotten the concept of sexual attraction, but the concept of aromanticism immediately made me identify with it, despite romantic attraction being a trickier concept than sexual attraction. For me, the split attraction model makes a lot of sense, even generalized to splitting also platonic attraction. I know that the attraction may be entangled for some people, like demisexuals and demiromantics, or even unsplit, but for me it works very well and we should not get rid such a useful tool.

I joined the asexual community with my reservations and, for a long time, there was no room for aromantics outside asexual spaces. We admitted there might be allosexual aromantics in the same way there are romantic asexuals, and even had our intuitions on how these people could be, but they were so unaware of their aromanticism as asexuals were of their asexuality before the community arose. They might deem themselves regular allosexuals of their own sexual orientation. They could be seen as heartless and commitment-scared by the romantic allosexuals, assuming universality of romance, but they didn’t have a community.

I remember a protest in AVEN for a space for aromantics in the same way the romantics had their own, which resulted in broadening the scope of certain subforum. Later there appeared forums for aromantics of all the sexual orientations, but I am still unaware of specifically aromantic in-person groups. In my experience, I meet other aromantics through the asexual community. It’s true that this way I meet aromantics that have more in common with me than aromanticism, but aromantic asexuals are still a minority within a minority. I still find denial of my aromanticism by romantic asexuals because of my platonic feelings. I still don’t know if asexual aromantics could feel alienated in general aromantic spaces if they evolved to not overrepresent the asexual because of historical reasons. I hope that initiatives like this new Carnival of Aros help the aromantic community.

A 10-year perspective

30 julio 2018

This is a contribution to July 2018 Carnival of Aces.

Next October it will be 10 years since I joined AVEN. The Spanish asexual community has changed a lot from then on, and also my personal circumstances. First, as one can check in my first posts in this blog, I was initially cautious about considering me asexual, identifying more with the grey label “hyposexual.” Only once I learnt what sexual attraction actually is, I could identify as asexual rather than grey. Nowadays there are better descriptions of what sexual attraction is, but the issue of having to describe something we don’t experience remains.

The asexual community in Spain, which back then was entirely in AVENes, was tiny because of the the lack of visibility and awareness among the Spanish asexuals. The international community was still centered around AVEN, but it was more dispersed than the Spanish one. I remember the forum Apositive and a pre-Tumblr asexual blogosphere. Indeed, it was my admiration for these few but worthy blogs what made me start one in Spanish. Nowadays there are a lot of blog on asexuality, especially on Tumblr, and I post mostly for this carnival in English.

There were offline meetups in Spain since I joined the asexual community, but they gathered very few people from remote towns. Nowadays there are plenty of meetups, mostly in towns with a group with regular meetups, as Madrid and Barcelona. But my impression is that the growth of the community in size has increased more the number of groups than their size. I relate this with a phenomenon observed by a meetup organizer: when the size of the group reaches a dozen, a unified conversation is not sustainable and the talk splits into two subgroups.

Nowadays, the role of AVENes has declined a lot, with a fragmentation of the community both in Spain and in Latin America. As it was observed by Chrysocolla Town, the Spanish-speaking asexual community has migrated to Facebook. So, the outlook of our online community is dominated by the use of third-party platforms. The preponderance of a central resource as AVENes has its drawbacks, but so does the preponderance of third-party services.

¿En serio hay un 39,6% de LGBAfobia en la juventud?

2 julio 2018

Recientemente me pasaron la noticia Un 39,6% de los jóvenes españoles rechaza las orientaciones sexuales que no sean la ‘hetero’ alarmados por el casi 40% de jóvenes intolerantes con la diversidad sexual. Curiosamente, el estudio que citan (Barómetro Juventud y Género 2017 del Centro Reina Sofía sobre Adolescencia y Juventud) parece seguir el modelo de Storms: heterosexualidad, homosexualidad, bisexualidad y asexualidad. Es de agradecer que este estudio deje de ignorar la asexualidad y la trate como una cuarta orientación sexual, replicando de paso el famoso 1% de Bogaert. Este barómetro de 2017 encuentra un 0,9% de asexualidad entre los jóvenes, aunque con un importante 2,2% de ns/nc que puede ocultar muchos asexuales en la ignorancia.

El estudio del Centro Reina Sofía encuentra un 3,6% de rechazo de la heterosexualidad, un 11,4% de la homosexualidad, un 13,8% de la bisexualidad y un 14,4% de la asexualidad. Resulta preocupante que la asexualidad sea la orientación sexual más rechazada. Es también reseñable que, aunque el perfil del homófobo, del bifóbico y del asexfóbico es similar en la muestra del estudio, mientras que la homofobia y la bifobia vienen predominantemente de varones heterosexuales, el rechazo a la asexualidad parece venir de varones de toda orientación sexual. Habría que ver si esto incluye a los propios asexuales.

Aunque es plausible y esperable que los porcentajes de diversofobia se solapen, en especial los de homofobia y bifobia, no hay en el informe ningún dato sobre las intersecciones del rechazo a las diferentes orientaciones sexuales. Esto seguramente habrá llevado a los periodistas a sumar directamente las cifras de homofobia, bifobia y asexfobia para dar un resultado global de 39,6% de LGBAfobia, ignorando que con ello suponen que no hay solapamientos. Por tanto, yo no me preocuparía por ese casi 40% de presunta diversofobia, ya que seguramente es bastante menor, pero sí de los porcentajes de rechazo de cada una de las orientaciones sexuales, en especial del abultado porcentaje de asexfobia.

Label =/= identity (Carnival of Aces)

31 enero 2018

This is a contribution to January 2018 Carnival of Aces.

My sense of identity is not strong. I have a greater sense of individuality than of identity. Among the different factors of identity (race, religion, gender fandom) proposed in the call for contributions, I don’t feel strong identity in any of them. I live in a racially homogeneous country (thanks to miscegenation) where the great gap is marked by the Hispanic culture, which includes a lot of countries in the Americas. My country is also religiously homogeneous country, where even the atheistic are so in opposition to Catholic beliefs. Personally, I don’t feel a strong sense of gender identity, and I don’t identify with any fandom. Contrary, I do feel identified with the asexual and aromantic labels.

The label itself doesn’t create the identity, as one’s identity may be expressed with a complex phrase, but it helps shaping it. Identifying with a label is not the same as satisfying the label. For instance, most of asexual are unaware of their asexuality because they ignore the label. Conversely, many antisexual identify as asexuals when they are actually allosexuals who reject their sexuality. I especially dislike when journalists confuse these states as synonyms, speaking of a 1% of the population who identify as asexual, when most of this population is unaware of the label.

Do I belong here?

31 diciembre 2017

This is my take for December 2017 edition of Carnival of Aces: Alienation and Belonging.

As I told in my last post, when I entered the asexual community, I was not sure I was completely asexual, maybe hyposexual, but I felt the community was welcoming enough to stay there, even questioning. It was only later that I came across the antisexual elitism, people or groups that kidnap the asexual label for a meaning tailored to fit their convictions, especially of a religious kind. Apart of those, who try to policy who belongs, the community is built around an agreed definition focused on sexual attraction, which makes the rest of the variables free and welcomes the grays. Moreover, there is a tradition to give advice but to leave the last word on their asexuality to the subject.

In real life, I feel discriminated as aromantic and single than as asexual. In my current circles it doesn’t matter if you get laid or not, but having a steady partner matters a lot, and has a lot of unfair advantages. As I haven’t explicitly come out, I don’t know if I would be discriminated for being asexual. Another chapter is what would happen if I came out publicly, but this was treated in the carnival theme Unassailable Asexual of August 2014.

Labels left behind in my discovery of asexuality

30 noviembre 2017

I came across the asexuality jargon in 2008 while trying to help a friend to understand their sexual orientation. When I read the definitions, they resonated a lot with my experience, but I didn’t identify as asexual right then. I had previously considered if I could be bisexual, but I discarded the idea because I didn’t desire guys sexually. I didn’t desire girls sexually either, but what confused me is that I was open to sexual exploration with girls, so I was an odd kind of heterosexual in my mind.

From my first encounter with asexuality terms, I remember reading about Rabger’s model, whose author has changed their mind later, and about the split attraction model. The distinction between sexual attraction and desire was clarifying, though I still needed better descriptions of them in order to decide if I could be asexual. Also, the split attraction model made me realize I could be aromantic, though by that time the concept of squish had not been coined yet.

Three months later, after some conversations with more sexual people, I realized I was not in their wavelength, so I reconsidered asexuality and joined AVEN. At the beginning, as my first posts in this blog prove, I didn’t consider me asexual yet, but within the gray spectrum. I considered myself hyposexual on the heterosexual branch. In terms of Storms’s model, I would score a little in the heterosexual axis and zero in the homosexual one. This was still subject to revision under better descriptions of sexual attraction, however I was pretty sure about my aromanticism.

The concept of squish made me completely sure of my aromanticism, and further conversations with asexuals made me refine the definition of sexual attraction and labeling me as asexual. Nevertheless, I am still attached to the term hyposexual, and defend it as a useful and legitimate category within the gray spectrum. So, I encourage people to explore their orientations and take as many provisional labels as they need, using them always descriptively and never prescriptively.