Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week

An illustration of many people carrying a large Aromantic Pride Flag

By Harper Walton

@harperwalton_

When Is Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week?

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week (ASAW) takes place on the first full week after February 14 (Valentine’s Day - I don’t think this is a coincidence!). In 2024, this will fall on February 19 – 25th. ASAW was first observed in 2014 under the name Aromantic Awareness Week. The word Spectrum was added a year later to be specifically inclusive of all arospec (Aromantic spectrum) identities. 

What Is Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week?

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week was set up to spread awareness and acceptance of the Aromantic community, to highlight the issues they face, and to celebrate their experiences. Visibility is critical, so during this week, people in the community are encouraged share their personal narratives, selfies and videos to show the world their Aro pride and show everyone else how thriving the community is.

 

Aromantic and Asexual people have gained more cultural representation in the last year or so, from the character O in Season 4 of Sex Education to Isaac on Heartstopper and Todd on Bojack Horseman. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of edits of everyone’s favourite AroAce characters during ASAW!

 

For people who identify outside of the Aromantic spectrum it’s an opportunity to explore and understand Aro identities and educate themselves about the issues Aro people face. These include compulsory sexuality: the pressure to conform to romantic and sexual attraction, aphobia: discrimination and invalidation of Aromantic and Asexual people, and online bullying.

 

Companies and organisations can use ASAW as the perfect opportunity to draw attention to their employees or members who identify under the AroAce umbrella. They can share resources or arrange support groups and social mixers – ones where people won’t have to put up with awkward gossip about office romances!

What Does Aromantic Mean?

Aromantic means experiencing little to no romantic attraction or feelings for others. This can feel different for different people. At one end of the spectrum someone may be repulsed by the idea of romantic relationships, whereas at the other end a person may engage in them but with limited interest.

 

But there are so many ways to be Aromantic! Some don’t experience romantic attraction, fall in love, or feel the intense passion that Alloromantic people (those outside the Aromantic Spectrum) feel. For others it’s an aversion to stereotypical ideas such as weddings and flowers and dates, to some it’s an inability to imagine themselves in a relationship with anyone other than as friends or family. 

 

It is, however, important to understand that Aromantic people don’t need a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled. But they can have a hard time relating to romantic stories. And in a world so obsessed with sex and romance this can be extremely alienating.

Having relationships and giving a great deal of affection and care for their partners are still really important. Just because an Aromantic person may not have romantic feelings doesn’t mean they don’t want and need intimacy or emotional support. 

 

The Aromantic movement is believed to have began in the early 2000s, with the first recorded use of the word occurring in 2005. It’s difficult to trace the history of Aromantic people back through time, as like many other LGBTQ+ identities, Aromantic people were being silenced and erased, or were unable to articulate their feelings because they didn’t have the language to express it. 

 

Many people still enjoy making theories about historical figures however, especially if they never married or appeared to have any romantic relationships. As a community who have such limited historical identities to relate to it's natural to claim some historical figures, as a way of proving to heteronormative society that Aro people have always existed. History is being written every day. So living out and proud now will become Aro history in the future!

Show your aromantic pride

Aromantic Spectrum Identities

There are several identities within the Aromantic Spectrum. Here are just a few.

 

Greyromantic people may experience limited romantic feelings.

 

Demiromantic people only experience romantic feelings with another person after forming an emotional bond.

 

Lithromantic people may feel romantic feelings toward other people but do not wish for those feelings to be returned.

 

Recipromantic people only experience a romantic attractions if they know that the other person feels the same way.

What is AroAce?

AroAce is short for Aromantic Asexual, and means people who are both Aromantic and Asexual, or identify somewhere on the spectrum of both identities. It can be written aroace or AroAce. There is often an overlap between the two, mainly because romantic and sexual feelings can often appear similar or hard to separate. 

Why Is Aromantic Awareness Important?

We live in a society in which romance is not only a given but for many people a priority. We are constantly bombarded with romantic films, TV shows, books, and pop songs about falling in love. Many Aromantic people might feel forced into relationships just to meet a social convention. And many people still refuse to accept the existence of Aromantic people. 

 

With increased visibility and awareness of Aromanticism, those growing up and trying to work out who they are and why they’re different can see people like them, who’s lived experiences they can relate to, and a vocabulary they can use to describe themselves. And we can move towards a world in which everyone can be themselves, either in relationships or happily living their lives without the need for them. 

 

Most importantly, look out for your Aromantic friends and family, either online or in person. As iconic AroAce author Alice Oseman wrote in Loveless:

 

“Give your friendships the magic you would give a romance. Because they're just as important. Actually, for us, they're way more important.”

Some Aromantic Icons You Can Follow

Yasmin Benoit – model, activist, writer


Michaela Coel – screenwriter, actress 


Moses Sumney – singer 


Alice Oseman – author of Heartstopper


Cavetown – musician 



A portrait of actress Michaela Coel
Michaela Coel / Image Fred Duval - Shutterstock

How You Can Get Involved in Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week

If you’re part of the Aromantic community, you can share your experience online using the hashtags #aromanticspectrumawarenessweek or #asaw, or arrange an in-person event to spread awareness. Share selfies and videos to show your Aromantic pride. You can raise the topic at work and make sure your workplace is up to date with resources and understanding of how they can fight discrimination.

 

If you’re outside the spectrum then listen to what Aromantic people say and ask how yo ucan accommodate their needs. Remember that they understand themselves better than you do, so don’t dismiss what they feel. Avoid common misconceptions, such as the idea that they’re cold or simply haven’t met the right person yet.

Some Aromantic Resources

AUREA – Aromantic-spectrum Union for Recognition, Education and Advocacy - https://www.Aromanticism.org/

 

Guide to Aromanticism - https://Aromanticguide.com/

 

Two Aromantic teenagers share their experience - https://fettle.health/help-centre/what-im-feeling-is-valid-and-normal-what-its-like-to-be-young-and-Aromantic

 

List of resources from the official Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week website - https://www.arospecweek.org/get-involved/online-resources/

The Aromantic Pride Flag

Created in 2014 by Cameron and unveiled on their Tumblr page. The two green stripes represent the Aromantic spectrum. The white stripe represents the importance of platonic relationships and non-romantic love. The black and grey stripes represent the sexuality spectrum, recognising the diversity of the Aromantic community.

 

Find all the most visible LGBTQ+ Pride flags in our blog post here 

Aromantic Pride Flag

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