This post was written for the September 2023 Carnival of Aros, where the theme is “Visions of Aro History.”
Back in 2021 I got really interested in queer history after I wrote an essay on the history of the term “asexual.” Eventually, that interest expanded to aromantic history as well, and learning a bit about the history of our community has given me a new perspective on it.
Learning about aro history has shown me how this community was built by real people chatting online and making connections and building spaces together. Even the term “aromantic” was just proposed one day by a person in an ace forum trying to find people like them, and the term stuck. In a world of rainbow capitalism and performative displays of queer solidarity, the aro community feels refreshingly grassroots; we’re all just people trying to make sense of our identities and have fun along the way.
The aro community is small compared to other queer communities, and that gives it a sense of closeness and safety and comfort that I’ve come to love. Aro spaces feel like home to me, and that’s because they’ve historically been built by and for aros. These are spaces for exploration and discovery; I love how inventive this community is—inventing new ways of conceptualizing our identities and relating to one another, like when Meloukhia coined the term “queerplatonic.”
I love how silly this community can be at times too. Like how Meloukhia started the trend of calling your QPP your “zucchini.” Or how how Sciatrix coined the term “WTFromantc” to refer to their romantic orientation. Or how Raisin decided to start calling their platonic crushes “squishes.” These are terms that have stuck around and that many aros identify with, all because someone was having fun and being creative with identity labels.
Our history doesn’t stretch back very far; the aro community is still quite young, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. It means we get to decide the direction this community takes and nurture it for the next generation of aros. It means we get to build a world where aros feel accepted and validated and [platonically] loved.
I love this community. I love the fun terminology and the silly in-jokes. I love experimenting with new labels and terminology. I love talking to other aros about their experiences and learning more about myself in the process. I love writing for this carnival and hearing from all of y’all. I sincerely hope that as the aro community grows and matures, we keep sight of our history and don’t lose this close-knit sense of community I’ve come to love. I hope the aro community stays silly.
I hope this is appropriate for the Carnival, but I want to mention a project I’ve been working on for the past two years or so. It’s called Ace Archive, and it’s a website to document the history of the aro and ace communities. I would love to include more sources related to aromantic history in the archive, and I would love y’all’s help doing that. If there are any documents, pictures, videos, forum threads, blog posts, or anything else you think is significant in aromantic history, please get in touch! You can email me at [email protected] or follow the instructions here. Even if you don’t have any sources to contribute, I would love to hear from you!