Navigating Queer Book Community as an Aromantic

Claudie Arseneault/ July 3, 2017/ Books, Community/ 4 comments

This post didn’t start as a list. I had some nice paragraphs about how my writing statement mission had shifted from “queer sff adventures” to stories that would center platonic relationships. I had some Feels about why that is important, to me and others. And part of the why is how hostile queer lit is to aromantic people, and as I got started on this I… kinda got really started.

I haven’t trashed the entire post. I’ll return to talk about my mission–about positive stuff. But below is the angry post. The stuff I’ve let slide over and over, the little things that irritate, pile up, exhaust. I went for quantity over quality, because honestly, quantity wears you down.

Alors, en rafale, as we say in French:

Navigating the Queer Book Community as an Aromantic, What is it Like?

It’s every queer press out there having submissions guidelines and call for subs focus on romance, and you’re lucky if they even mention anything past LGBT, let alone acknowledge aromanticism.

It’s all the “fun prompts for queer recs” being like “who is your favourite queer ship?” “name a character you’re smitten with!” “Rec your hurt/comfort ship!” with no room for aromantics

It’s asking for recommendations and receiving romantic aces as suggestions.

It’s having every criticism of a slogan (*cough* Love is Love) or a phrasing (eg “Love makes us human”) derailed by “but surely they meant all types of love” no matter how thoroughly romantic the context is.

It’s your aromantic rep described as “casual” and “without influence on the plot” when the most important emotional push behind your climax is a QPP involving an aromantic spectrum character, because only romance is perceived as a plot drive.

It’s having people argue that your headcanons for pairings with same-gender or nb characters must be of a romantic nature, otherwise you are being homomisic.

It’s positivity tweets listing ace, bi, pan, and nb peeps but still forgetting aromantics.

It’s people proudly guessing who the Word of God aro-ace character in a story is, only to discover it’s because they’re the cold or bitter one nobody likes to speak with, because of course.

It’s “happy endings” being equated with a romance plot, as if that was the only way a queer character (aromantic or not) could be happy.

It’s characters who don’t want to date or marry being equated to (and recommended as) aromantic, as if that’s not erasing a large chunk of the community, and as if our ID is a choice.

It’s entire posts dedicated to the great humanizing aspects of romance and how it makes one relatable and good (unlike you).

It’s really aromisic and hostile books being recommended to you as “safe queer SFF” because people are 100% incapable of detecting aromisia in a story unless it’s a direct insult.

It’s having the harassment we face dismissed or brushed aside, like a subtle agreement with it.

It’s the ace community cannibalizing almost all the rare space you are afforded, because you are constantly sharing lists, sections, posts, etc., and the ace community is bigger and has more reach.

It’s, coincidentally, having your identity constantly absorbed in another and tied to it as if they are dependent, which is shitty even for aro-aces, let alone for allosexual aromantics.

It’s knowing I’m forgetting a ton of these, because they just come and go all the time.

It’s always dealing with a wall of attitude—we know we’re the party poopers, we know you think we’re bullies who are never happy, we know you think we’re demanding too much, and you would much rather go on without having to watch your language, how you center romance above all else, how you delegitimize our identity and our queerness at every turn.

And I’m typing all of this and there is a voice in my mind screaming that I’m exaggerating and making it up, that none of it all is truly happening and why can’t I just be satisfied because the silence and microaggressions make me question my reality and my right to speak up, and some days it just feels easier not to speak up, to just bend my head and write more, because that, at least, makes a fucking difference.

Understand, also, that if you have done any of the above, I am not asking for your apologies. Learn and do better, but tweeting at me or commenting about how you fucked up is centering you in this commentary, and asking for my forgiveness (read, emotional labour). Please don’t. We’re all here to learn, so move on with all of the above in mind. I don’t want your apologies, I want to the world to stop constantly invalidating me and my needs.


  1. Thanks so much for this and constantly educating. I appreciate you so much.

  2. I’m happy to read this, I thought I was over-thinking because I have an issue with slogans like ‘love is love’ and all these microaggressions! But they really do build up and it’s especially hard to deal with in queer spaces because there’s a naive voice in my head still going ‘they should know better/care more’

    1. You are definitely -not- overreacting. Sometimes it’s hard to put our fingers on what exactly is wrong, but that doesn’t mean it’s our mistake. (Love is love is also not very inclusive of trans identities so it sucks on several levels, too)

      And thank you for the comment!

  3. I have felt this way many times and was amazed reading this, because you describe it so well. Thank you for writing this!

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