I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity

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.

Content Advisory: Discussions of and references to love, amatonormativity, ableism, neurodiversity, autism, familial abuse and partner abuse.

This June, I saw an increasing number of positivity and support posts for the aromantic and a-spec communities discussing the amatonormativity of “everyone falls in love”. I agree: the idea that romantic love is something everyone experiences, and is therefore a marker of human worth, needs deconstruction.

Unfortunately, a majority of these posts are replacing the shackles of amatonormativity with restrictive lines like “everyone loves, just not always romantically”, referencing the importance of loving friends, QPPs, family members and pets. Sometimes it moves away from people to encompass love for hobbies, experiences, occupations and ourselves. The what and how tends to vary from post to post, but the idea that we do and must love someone or something, and this love redeems us as human and renders us undeserving of hatred, is being pushed to the point where I don’t feel safe or welcome in my own aromantic community. Even in the posts meant to be challenging the more obvious amatonormativity, it is presumed that aros must, in some way, love.

I’ve spent weeks watching my a-spec and aro communities throw neurodiverse and survivor aros under the bus in order to do what the aromantic community oft accuses alloromantic aces of doing: using their ability to love as a defence of their humanity. Because I love, they say, I also don’t deserve to be a target of hatred, aggression and abuse.

But what if I don’t love?

What if love itself has been the mechanism of the hatred and violence I have endured?

Why am I, an aro, neurodiverse survivor of abuse and bullying, still acceptable collateral damage?

Continue reading “I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity”

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Patreon, Aro Arrows and Other Projects

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.

It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted to this website. So I thought I’d give you all a rundown on some new projects of mine and updates to a couple of older ones.

Patreon

One of the problems of being a disabled creator is that when we try to monetise our work, we’re expected–even required, if we hope for a modicum of success at it–to offer up extras in addition to what we’re already doing for free. That makes it difficult to get something like a Patreon up off the ground! I’ve had to take time off everything else to set one up and build up enough content for the next month or two of posting.

I do need support from my community if I wish to survive to keep making aromantic content. So I hope you’ll join me in giving this adventure a shot!

For $1 a month, patron exclusives include:

  • Bones, Belts and Bewitchments, a 275 page collection of Marchverse ficlets, short stories and novelettes where everybody is queer and nobody is alloromantic. Includes the exclusive story Kin of Mind where Darius (Certain Eldritch Artefacts) meets Azhra (Hallo, Aro) and discovers that autistics and dragons have a fair amount in common.
  • Different in Other Ways, a series of fantasy sketches and vignettes about gender, abrosexuality, quoiromanticism, customer service, working-class queerness and friendship. This series shows The Eagle Court‘s Ihrne from the perspective of queer people none too pleased with even the better Iteme royals. If you want a smart-arse abro trans dude with porokeratosis who loves fashion and gives traditional masculinity the middle (scaly, itchy) finger, Harper.
  • Early access to all Hallo, Aro stories.
  • Early access to all free Marchverse stories and books.
  • Early access to general aromantic posts, essays and articles.
  • Free downloads of all paid Marchverse short stories.
  • Sneak-peaks at forthcoming stories.
  • My gratitude undimmed until the ending of the world.

(Why porokeratosis? Because I’ve never seen a fantasy protagonist with my skin, and I yearn to show a character with the magical equivalent of my steroid cream collection.)

Patrons will get exclusive content (unavailable anywhere else) at least once a month, and my goal is to post something every week. I have a collection of short stories I’ve been working on just for patrons!

Continue reading “Patreon, Aro Arrows and Other Projects”

New Community Term: Dia Aro

In the last twelve months or so, it’s become common to see folks scrambling for a term that conveys the meaning of “someone on the aromantic spectrum who doesn’t solely describe their aromanticism as ‘aromantic'”. “Aro-spec” was for a time beginning to be used this way, in the sense of “I’m an aro-spec ace”. Now, I’m seeing an increasing number of posts where the community is deciding that “aro-spec” includes all aromantics.

On the one hand, some of us have a need for a word that includes aros like me–aros who additionally use terms that aren’t “aromantic” to describe our aromantic identities. On the other hand, the alternative “greyromantic” (in its use as an umbrella term) doesn’t include everyone who feels that general aromantic spaces and terms are unable to encompass our needs because of the way we identify our aromantic identities and experiences.

When idemromanticism and my shape of nebularomanticism mean I am not greyromantic, but the general aromantic community’s approach to content and representation leaves me feeling alienated from my own community and even the word “aromantic” because it assumes a relationship to and understanding of romance and romantic attraction I don’t have, how do I find connection and support?

Let’s be real, here: “aromantic” is a broad term that encompasses us all. General aromantic community spaces, however, tend to focus on a few ways of being aromantic, particularly the kind that doesn’t require additional identity terms to explain how we experience or navigate romance, romantic attraction and relationship behaviours.

I am not greyromantic, but when I am lumped together with end-case aros as though that interpretation depicts my aromanticism, all I feel is how different–and unwelcome–are my experiences with regards romance and attraction. I have more in common with the greyromantic community than I have with most end-case aromantics, despite not being one of you. I need a way, therefore, to connect with other aros who don’t fit the standard end-case aromantic experience without misidentifying myself, a word that can’t be conflated with “aromantic” or “aro-spec”. A word not quite as wonderfully broad as “aromantic” or “aro-spec” but a little broader than “greyromantic”. A word that lets other people identify us without leaving cupioros and idemros under the “end-case aro” label as though the reasons we claimed those identities don’t matter enough to be worth distinguishing.

Continue reading “New Community Term: Dia Aro”

Allosexual Aromantic Erasure: A Guide

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-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.

I’ve seen the beginnings of a trend that conflates aro-ace experiences of aromantic erasure in a-spec spaces with allo-aro experiences of allosexual-and-aromantic erasure.

I am troubled when this notion of we’re all aros together and we all experience aromantic erasure is sometimes being used to silence allo-aros from talking about our specific experiences. But I believe this line of thought seems reasonable because there’s been no real discussion on what allosexual-and-aromantic erasure in a-spec spaces looks like. When you don’t know what allosexual-aromantic erasure is, it’s not so unreasonable to think that it’s always similar to aromantic erasure.

When allo-aros experience aromantic erasure in general a-spec spaces, we are simultaneously experiencing allosexual erasure alongside it. (This is because we cannot exist in a-spec spaces by virtue of our allosexuality alone.) This makes our experiences of erasure in a-spec spaces different from those of aro-aces, and we need this difference recognised.

(Aro-aces are not privileged for being asexual, but inside a-spec spaces there is a real assumption that folks are asexual, not allosexual.)

It’s also worth noting that these points are interconnected and similar: a lot of these instances of erasure can’t happen without the concurrent existence of others. I’m listing these to create this sense of exposure and clarification, because even allo-aros don’t know the breadth of our own erasure.

I’ll also say that erasure does not have to be intentional to be erasure. A lot of this doesn’t happen from malice; some of it happens from good intentions and a lot of it happens from the history of aromantic communities and culture evolving from asexual ones. It still diminishes allo-aro voices, though. It’s still erasure.

So please find a list of forty-five instances I consider allo-aro erasure, along with a few parenthetical explanations.

Allosexual Aromantic Erasure in A-Spec and Aro-Spec Spaces Is:

Continue reading “Allosexual Aromantic Erasure: A Guide”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile – K. A. Cook

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Hello! You all know me as the autistic, disabled, transgender, abrosexual, allo-aro Australian behind @aroworlds, @alloaroworlds and the Hallo, Aro short story series. I also have a Ko-fi you can support if so inclined, and you can find all my books on my personal website or collected by theme: allo-aro and aromantic.

Aside from the writing, I’ve worked as an editor and text designer on various community publications. When my hands allow, I like to sew, craft, bead and scrapbook. I’ve made everything from fidget toys for my @stimtoybox blog to dollhouse miniatures.

I’m here to talk about how disability separates me from my own aro-spec community, the importance of early recognition of aro-spec identity and my yearning for allo-aro autistic representation. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement as I attempt to kick-start more conversations on what it means to be aromantic and creative!

Four book covers, depicting cartoon-style fantasy images of a graveyard, a witch's front door, a taproom and a swamp, all with white type and author credit. The books are as follows: The Sorcerous Compendium of Postmortem Query; Love Spells, Rainbows and Rosie; Love is the Reckoning; and The Crew of Esher Hill, all by K. A. Cook.

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile – K. A. Cook”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Pauline

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Pauline, known here on Tumblr as @the-rose-owl but best known to the aro-spec community as one of the super talented mods on @arostuck!

Pauline is a queer, bigender and aromantic original and fan creator specialising in digital art. Aside from populating much of this blog’s homestuck tag, you can find his super cute work on @rosey-arts, DeviantArt and YouTube. She creates fanart for Homestuck and Steven Universe along with a heap of gorgeous OCs. I’m in non-romantic love with this gorgeous draft-horse centaur girl and this sleepy plant-themed dog!

With us Pauline talks about aro pride, his journey to aromanticism, art as building self-esteem and her passion for the aro-spec community. His words are just so brimming with positivity and enthusiasm, so please let’s give her all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Pauline”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Sebastian

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Sebastian, better known on Tumblr as @gloriousmonsters and @mangledmouth!

Sebastian is a bisexual, autistic, aromantic trans man who is single-handedly covering many literary bases in producing original aro and queer short stories, novels and poetry. Aside from his Tumblr blogs, you can find and support more of his work at his Patreon. If you have a dollar or two you’re wanting to invest in worthy aro-spec talent on a less-regular basis, please take a look at Sebastian’s Ko-Fi!

With us Sebastian talks about identifying with the role of villainy in narrative as an aro creative, aromantic characters and grand emotional gesture, the divide between representation and self-expression, and some spectacular-sounding work-in-progress book titles! His investment in aromantic characters and characterisation shapes every word, so please let’s give him all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?

It took me a while to realize I was aromantic, but it was one of the things that made me go ‘oh, that makes … a lot of sense’ when I looked back at my childhood. I was a weird, isolated kid, so I didn’t learn from bouncing off other children; I learned through stories.

One of my strongest early memories is of watching a poorly made Red Riding Hood film over and over again, belting out the lyrics to the (poorly written) villain’s song, called ‘Man Without A Heart’. Cut to a year or so later, watching the Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella (still the best Cinderella, IMO), I was utterly fascinated by the villainess singing: ‘Falling in love with love is falling for make-believe…’

I didn’t know, that early, that I didn’t feel romantic love. Not consciously. But there was something utterly, obsessively interesting about villains that sneered at love, who were called heartless, who challenged the narrative that there must always be a love story and it must come out right no matter what. I felt, on a deep level, that these people were like me somehow. The additional queercoding and common side-helping of mental illness helped – or didn’t help, depending on your perspective. I grew up knowing, deep down, what my part in life was: I was the villain.

When I hit my rebellious age, it first came out by my saying, ‘But being a villain doesn’t mean you have to be wrong or unhappy’. I began collecting villains like nobody’s business, and writing stories that more and more often centered people whose character types I’d only ever seen as villains. And from there we arrive at today!

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Sebastian”