On saying “before there was a separate aro community”

Sometimes, in situations concerning QPR misinformation, I’ve noticed people will talk about that term as having been created “before there was a separate aro community.” Positioning it that way interests me because, well… how do we draw that line, exactly? I don’t have a concrete answer, but long story short, it’s gotten me thinking about how the aro community talks about itself and its history.

[Crossposted to Pillowfort. Preview image created using Arrow Tips by Don and Janet, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.]

For example, this is the sort of thing I mean here:

These are just the couple of links I had on hand, but I’ve seen this kind of talk around plenty before.

What’s interesting to me about this particular framing is that… I’m not actually sure how to divide the timeline into “before” and “after” in that respect. What should people uphold as the pivotal moment?

I won’t be the one to answer that, but a few examples for consideration:

When was “aromantic” coined?

Somewhere between 2002 and 2005. The original posts are no longer online, but the members of HHA (Haven for the Human Amoeba) began articulating a concept of romantic orientation as early as 2002, and uses of “aromantic” can be found on the AVEN forums as early as 2005. So we can place the origin of “aromantic” somewhere in the very early 2000s.

When were the first aromantic-specific blogs created?

Somewhere in the early 2010s. I can’t say which was the first, but in terms of specific, dedicated, themed blogs, one of the earliest was the Aromantic Aardvark tumblr, which was first launched on September 3, 2011. Its premise was based on the “advice animal” meme template, featuring an aardvark and surrounding text on an aromantic theme.

When was the first aromantic-specific organization created?

The first known aromantic organization was the short-lived National Coalition for Aromantic Visibility, which was founded by college students in 2010.

When was the aromantic flag created?

There have been several design proposals for aromantic flags, with the earliest ones clustered around 2010-2014. The first was by the NCAV (approx. 2011), the second was by Cameron @cameronwhimsy on Tumblr (2014), and the third was a modification of the second (2014), which is now the most recognizable design.

When was Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week (ASAW) created?

ASAW was created initially on Tumblr in the fall of 2014. More recently, ASAW has been given a dedicated website.

When were the first aromantic-specific forums created?

There have been a few over the years, most of them now defunct, and most of them founded between 2010-2015. AroPlane was perhaps the first all-inclusive aro forum, created in 2012 and promoted on Aromantic Aardvark. Before that, there was also an aromantic asexual forum in 2010. As for Arocalypse, which still current, that dates back to 2014 (thanks to Laura for the correction).

So that’s several different benchmarks you might choose to look at.

Important to note here is the time gap between coinage and community organizing: “Aromantic” as a term dates back to at least 2005. Aromantic-specific organizing has taken longer to get the ball rolling, with initial efforts emerging around 2010-2015. Trying to draw specific lines around this sort of thing is difficult not only because inertia builds over time, but also because “aromantic community” (or aros connecting over being aro) has undoubtedly also been happening outside of dedicated “aromantic spaces.” After all, aro-themed blogs and forums are not the only places that aros can convene and converse about being aro.

But hey, setting all that aside, why did I put together this whole list myself instead of just linking to something? Well… because I don’t know of anything equivalent that could’ve done the job. If you know of a good resource, please drop a link in the comments. In terms of community timelines, the most I’m aware of is this forum thread by Sennkestra, which is a start (but certainly in no shape to be reference material). Some folks have also speculated on much older history through an aromantic lens, but that’s not really the sort of thing I’m talking about here; this post is about the emergence of aromantic communities, going by that name, traceable into their present form, and “separate,” i.e. dedicated to the aromantic umbrella itself.

I wonder about this because while there’s a lot in the way of Aro 101 out there, what about documenting and educating people about aro communities’ past? The Carnival’s call for submissions this month asked about educational aro resources you wish existed, so here’s one suggestion: an actual, quality resource on the emergence of aro communities. After all, it does seem like there’s a need for it. And I get that five or ten years ago might not exactly seem like “history,” but you might be surprised how quickly things can slip through the cracks. It’s never too early to start remembering.

So on that note — what would you say has been the pivotal year?

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