February 16-22, the week after Valentine’s Day, was Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week. Despite the growing communities of aromantic-spectrum people, not many people are aware of this identity. An aromantic person is a person who does not experience romantic attraction and/or has no desire for romantic relationships. There’s a wide spectrum of aromantic-spectrum experiences, including people who only experience romantic attraction in rare circumstances. Aromantic-spectrum students on campus can find a community at the Spectrum Center’s Asexual and Aromantic CenterSpace, a casual drop-in group around these identities. More information can be found at the Spectrum Center in the Michigan Union.
To recognize Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, I interviewed Christa Ventresca, a PhD student studying Human Genetics and one of the hosts of the Asexual and Aromantic CenterSpace.
How has being aromantic affected your life? Many different ways! I’m gray-romantic which means that I am in between being alloromantic and being aromantic and I’ve effectively got a foot in both camps. This category encompasses a wide range of people who choose to identify this way for a number of different reasons (ie maybe they experience romantic attraction less frequently or maybe they are unsure what attraction they are experiencing). To me though, being gray-romantic means that I don’t get crushes all that often, rarely act on them, and in general am just kinda confused by romance. I honestly don’t think I could give you a definition of romance if I tried! And given that romance has pervaded so much of our culture (through media and how it seems to be a major goal of most people’s lives) I tend to feel just a little alienated most of the time.
How can alloromantic (non-aromantic) people be better allies to the aromantic community? Knowing about aromanticism can help a lot! So many people just assume that everyone wants a romantic relationship, to find their soulmate and settle down. That’s really not the case and being more open to people like that can help a lot. Educating people is for sure a priority. Another important aspect is representation of aromantic characters in media. I don’t know of any mainstream tv shows/movies with explicitly aromantic characters, but when Little Women came out the community went nuts because it’s very easy to see Jo March as an aromantic character, since she doesn’t want to get married. To be a good ally, I’d say step one is seeing Little Women because it’s excellent, and step two is finding a way to support people writing these kinds of characters because it means so much to the aromantic community.
What do you want people to know about the aromantic community? That we exist! And there’s nothing wrong with us for not experiencing romantic attraction.
What advice do you have for other aromantic people? If you just realized that you are somewhere under the aromantic umbrella and are having a hard time coming to terms with that, know that it’s okay! Learning about yourself and accepting yourself for who you are is a process that we all struggle with at any point. Try to find people who are going to help you become more comfortable with being aromantic, and try to worry less about the haters. You’ve got a great community of people to back you up.