I was asked rather last minute to cover Asexual Awareness Week for this blog, so here’s my process of becoming a more outspoken ally (by doing this blog) of a group I’ve only been a casual ally of before (I’ve never had a problem with anyone ace, have a basic understanding of what it means to be ace, would stand up for anyone I thought was being unfairly treated because of it but have never gone out of my way to fly their flag). This works out well, it turns out, as this week I was planning to do a blog on how to be an ally, so I’m combining the two!
My plan was simple:
First step, double check the date!
Second step, general online search for more information.
Third step, share what I have learned (and be open to criticism if someone from the community comes back to me to say I got it wrong).
Having searched ‘asexual awareness day’ online, I found that it was on the last week of October each year, founded by Sara Beth Brooks in 2010 and that a lot of the ace community put out things online to say they weren’t broken.
This leads me to believe that the idea of them being broken may be a common misconception and something I should look into.
I decided to focus on resources by the ace community and looked at a few sites that explained a little about asexual awareness week and ace identities more specifically.
Very quickly I came across a page that showed me language I didn’t know existed.
Now I’ll share the combination of the basics I knew and learned during my searching:
Asexual/ace people don’t experience much/any sexual attraction to others.
Aromantic/aro people don’t experience much/any romantic feelings towards others.
Some people are both asexual and aromantic, others are one or the other.
When talking about asexual and aromatic people as a wider group including those who are one or both of the two, ‘a-spec’ is the correct term. (This is the one I had not known about).
These are valid identities, much like being straight/gay/bi/pan/poly, and do not mean that the person is ‘broken’ or has a ‘problem’.
There are many other terms within the community to talk about specific groups within the a-spec community and outside of it.
Now, if someone asks me about a-spec people, I know a little more about what to tell them, and some places to send them for information. I managed it without having to ask an a-spec person and put them in the awkward, and often exhausting, place of having to explain and defend their identity.
This is something that all minority groups in society face – being asked to explain and/or defend their identity. Being a good ally can be as simple as not asking a person directly because you know they’re in that community.