For Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week 2021, we collaborated with AUREA to create a collection of resources to help us understand aromanticism better. We also created an interview series with aromantics. This is one of the four fantastic identities we met.
We were able to have a chat with the beautiful soul, Tate during Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week to learn more about their identity and their lived experiences.
What is your name?
Hi, my name is Tate Lin!
What are your pronouns?
I go by they/them.
Where do you feel you belong in the LGBTQIA + community?
I belong in the aromantic, asexual, and non-binary community. Technically, I belong in the trans community too, since I'm non-binary, but I don't really feel like I belong there yet. Maybe if I go through top surgery or something.
When did you first discover the Aro community?
The same time as when I first discovered that I was asexual three years ago. At that time, even though I knew of aros, I didn't realize I was one until late last year.
When I was 16, I found a fanfic where the main character was ace. I had zero idea what that meant at the time and asked my older sister but only got confused by the definition she gave me. At that point, I had read quite a fair amount of romance fanfictions and in almost every single one, there was at least one sex scene. I was confused as to how a romance would work if there was no sex.
This is probably ironic to hear knowing that I am ace, but even back then, I knew that I did not want a romantic relationship so it all felt like a distant concept to me, something that I observe in others but in no way engage on my own volition. Less than a week later, however, I found a Tumblr post on Pinterest where OP was laughing at how he only just realised how horny everybody mostly was cause he thought that everybody was just exaggerating or joking around. The next few reblogs of that initial post was other aces confirming that this was a common experience for them to go through.
When I first saw this, I immediately knew that I was asexual. A deep part of me resonated at his sheer incredulousness and it was the first realization - or perhaps confirmation - that everybody really was serious about loving sex. I started laughing and it made me relieved. Oh, I thought then, I see now. I began digging for more information afterward and that was when I stumbled across the aro community. At that time, I felt an appeal to be aromantic, but a big part of me resisted it. You have crushes, I insisted to myself. Before all this, I vaguely thought that I was pansexual because I didn't put much stock on gender when it came to dating, so I labeled myself as panromantic. When I realised that they weren't actually crushes, but instead squishes, that big part of me relented but still said, Alright, you are aro, but not aromantic. You want to get married, and you can't do that if you can't love someone. Maybe you're grayromantic or demiromantic? As you can clearly see, I had quite a lot of internal arophobia going on.
I also just want to emphasize that there was hardly any concrete aro activism going on. The activism I mostly centered myself with is ace activism so that was the queer identity I learned the most about. I subscribed to an aro subreddit but I wasn't very active on Reddit in general so aromanticism was pushed to the back of my mind until last year.
I don't quite recall what actually pushed me to finally admit that I was aromantic, but I suppose two years of the idea of it boiling in the back of my mind made me slowly accept and come to terms with the idea. Once I did, I went back to the aro subreddit and found myself surprised by how much I connected with them. I felt even more connected to them than I did with the ace subreddit. I'm still not very active on Reddit, but I like going back there from time to time and just read the posts. When I do, I feel a sense of belonging settle into my bones.
What is the biggest misconception around aromanticism?
I don't hear from alloromantic people a lot so I don't exactly know what their misconceptions of us are, but based on my own personal experience of working through my internal arophobia, it's the idea that aros cannot love, that we are robots, that we are lesser for only having platonic and familial love, and that we cannot have a fulfilling life without romantic love.
My arophobia wasn't overt, and I did support other aros even back when these feelings were at their ultimate high, but I held a secret skepticism that it was possible to lead a full and happy life as an aro. To me, it couldn't be possible - not without romantic love at least. It's actually kind of scary to think about, huh? Romantic love is so entrenched in society that it took me two years to navigate myself around it.
How have people in your life reacted to you being publicly aromantic?
I'm only out to like, five people. I'm technically out to two others as well (for my asexuality), but I'm pretty sure they forgot already. Out of those five people, I'm out to my two best friends, my two sisters, and another friend. The first two are extremely supportive and I talk to them about my aromanticism whenever I feel like it. The other three are accepting but I hardly ever talk to them about it.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge you face as an aromantic individual?
The lack of activism. Even I myself, as an aro, don't know about the aro community as much as I'd like. We're also so tied in with asexuality that a lot of people even use the term 'aspecs' without including aros in it as well.
What is one thing you’d like to tell the world about aromanticism?
We're not Asexuality 2.0. We aren't robots. We can love, and most of us even feel a deep sense of loyalty towards our loved ones. Every single person we love is important and precious and we don't need romantic love to fill up the 'emptiness' inside. We had never been empty in the first place.
What can the LGBTQIA+ community, our allies, and the world do to better support, aromantic people?
I wish for the queer community to be more united instead of divided. 2020 was a bad year for the community, not only because of what society did to us, but also because of what we had done to each other. Aros got less of the brunt due to us being mostly ignored by everybody, but sooner or later, we'll be targeted by gatekeepers and exclusionists. We had already seen what aces go through, and I'm sure that aros would go through a similar situation when we gain more activism.
On that note, I'd like it if people would stop lumping aros and aces together. I know that the two communities intersect quite a lot with each other, but we can't stand on our own if we're always tagging behind aces. I don't feel the hurt as much since I'm in both communities, but what about allosexual aros? They are the least represented in our community even though I'm sure that it's their voices we need to hear the most in activism.
I'm not an activist so I don't know the behind-the-scenes of all this, but I think that more will speak up if they feel that people will actually care to hear it. Or that they might even be heard at all. There's an allosexual aro YouTuber that I know of, but I'm pretty sure that even most aros don't know him at all. If we can boost their voices somehow, that'd make me very happy.