GS: Naming the Umbrellas

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Early on, I noticed a terminology snag in the free-write answers. Different respondents were making different choices about what to name the broad umbrellas of identities related to asexuality/aromanticism, and at times this conflicted with the wording of the survey.

For this reason, I am dedicating this section to some of the different ways that respondents named, conveyed, and verbalized

  • the most absolute terms for asexual/aromantic
  • the broad swath of various identities including and related to asexuality/aromanticism
  • the relationship between asexuality/aromanticism and the associated spectrums
  • the breadth or narrowness of the words “ace” and “aro”

To be completely up front, the way that I personally use these terms is like this:

  • the spectrums comprise both their a- identities and their gray- identities
  • ace = asexual spectrum/ace umbrella = [asexuality, gray-asexuality, etc.]
  • aro = aromantic spectrum/aro umbrella = [aromanticism, grayromanticism, etc.]
  • asexual is the absolute that can be contrasted with gray-asexual
  • aromantic is the absolute that can be contrasted with grayromantic

Some respondents used terminology in the same way as the above. Some did not.

Some points of departure include:

1) The most absolute terms for asexual/aromantic, as contrasted with gray. In place of “asexual” and “aromantic,” some of the variants were “flatly asexual,” “full asexual,” “strictly asexual,” “regular asexual,” “extreme asexual,” “black stripe asexual,” “asexuality (non-umbrella),” “aromantic (not in the umbrella sense of the term),” “fully ace,” “wholly ace,” “strictly ace,” “totally ace,” “hard ace,” “flat-out ace,” “end case ace,” “aces proper,” “pure-ace,” “100% aromanticism,” “wholly aromantic,” “‘hard aro'” (in quotation marks), “‘completely ace'” (in quotation marks), “‘non-gray’ asexual” (in quotation marks), “‘fully’ asexual” (in quotation marks), “‘fully’ aromantic” (in quotation marks), “‘pure aromantic'” (in quotation marks), “‘strict’ asexual” (in quotation marks), “‘strict ace'” (in quotation marks), “‘normal’ aces” (in quotation marks), “‘end-case aro'” (in quotation marks), “‘aro-aro'” (in quotation marks), “aro,” and “ace.”

2) Split spectrum, as opposed to comprehensive spectrum. This is something I have discussed previously in Spec Work: Tracing the Emergence of “Spec” as a Suffix. Respondents operating off this framework treated “aro” & “arospec” or “ace” & “acespec” as two separate categories, where the former is absolute and the latter is everything-but-the-absolute.

Below are some examples to illustrate the use of terminology in the free-write boxes, with asterisks to denote a break between different respondents. If you keep reading past this point, see if you can reverse-engineer how each respondent must be conceptualizing the relationship between these words.

I hate how binary these choices are. Experiences vary a lot. I think gray aces are gray ace, AND just ace, that most parts of the ace community are very chill and understanding but some don’t understand being gray ace at all, that gray ace experience sometimes overlaps and sometimes is worse and sometimes is better than aces proper…. a lot of the aces I’ve met id as gray ace in some way, so i guess there’s that. I just think most things are complicated and hard to define. [Coyote’s Note: this was in response to a question that used the word “asexual” and did not use the word “ace.”] *

Grey aros are welcome to identity as both grey aro and aro. Anyone under the umbrella (demi romantic, grey romantic, etc) can call themselves aro [CN: this was in response to a question that used the word “aromantic” and did not use the word “aro.”] *

I chose “Unsure” for the first question because the closest answer “People who identify as ‘gray-asexual’ are actually asexual” doesn’t quite capture it for me. The word “actually” in there implies a different experience, some sort of lying or self-delusion. Instead, I would omit that word – gray aces are ace, because they can’t be meaningfully separated out from the ace community. The experiences & cultural histories are too intertwined, and they’re too often just describing the same experiences from slightly different perspectives. *

Wording is nuanced here: I might say that “people who are gray-asexual are asexual”, referring to the umbrella, but ‘actually’ implies that defining gray-asexuality separately from the ‘standard’ experience of asexuality is in error/unnecessary, which I disagree with. *

There should have been an option to indicate greyasexuals are both asexuals and greysexuals. I chose the latter because though greysexuality falls under the asexual umbrella, your wording implies strict asexuality (ie complete lack of sexual attraction/libido) and I do not want to impose that definition on people who do not identify as such, but this does not inspire in me any confidence in your acceptance of greysexuality within ace communities. *

i feel like gray asexuals are both gray asexual AND fully asexual, in that i feel like asexual is the base state and gray is the modifier. they’re not any less or more asexual, they just experience it differently, you know? they’re just as welcome under the umbrella of community. if it helps them to conceive of it as a spectrum where they are “less” asexual, then obviously more power to them, but they are Fully under the umbrella and Fully part of the community. they are wholly their identity, and wholly part of us. *

I left the first blank because I’m graysexual and that makes me asexual. It makes absolutely no sense to ask me to decide between “graysexual people are graysexual” and “graysexual people are asexual”. It’s like asking me to choose between “blonde people are blonde” and “blonde people are people”. *

Grey asexuals are grey asexual, and asexual in the sense of that they’re part of the asexual umbrella. *

Also not sure about question one. I eventually chose “grayromantics are grayromantic” because I think you’re trying to figure out if people think people who call themselves grayro are wrong, but it was kind of hard because I do identify as aro and therefore do consider myself to be aromantic. *

Graysexuality is experiencing sexual atraction rarely, very weakly or only under certain conditions. It can be an umbrella term for anyone on the ace spectrum *

Asexuals who for a variety of reasons do not fully identify as asexual *

it can be used by those who don’t specifically know where they stand on the ace spectrum. *

Grey-aromanticism – like grey-asexuality – is a form of aromanticism, and should be treated as such. *

I think some of the prejudices graysexuals face is different than asexuals. They might encounter less prejudice from allos than aces do sometimes, but more prejudice and identity-policing from aces *

I think extreme asexuals and the different gradations of gray face some common and some different prejudice. *

Grey-aros may face different and similar prejudice to aros *

Greyromantics are both greyromantic which I consider a subset of the wider aromantic spectrum, so technically they are aromantic, but I went with most specific choice in the first question which is that greyromantics are greyromantic, because it is a slightly different experience from 100% aromanticism. *

Anything between being fully allo and fully ace. *

Grayromantic is a type of alloromanticism, on the low end of the romantic attraction spectrum. It is not a form of aromanticism, as aro is specifically no romantic attraction at all. *

I really find it hilarious how you are using the term ‘umbrella’. No, I do not identify with an umbrella. I am very unuseful in the rain. No protective capabilities whatsoever. Do I ID as being included UNDER the Ace Umbrella, sure. *

i feel it describes different experiences with romantic attraction than allos, but not a complete lack like aros *

It’s a subset of asexuality that may contain different definitions of “not strictly asexual but not allosexual”. Its utility is in its vagueness *

Since I belive that grey-ace is a more specific part of the ace-community, I don’t think “people who identify as grey-ace are grey-ace” and “people who are grey-ace are ace” are mutaly exclusive. Wheather grey-aces are also ace depends on their individual experiences and view-points. [CN: this was in response to a question that used the word “asexual” and did not use the word “ace.”] *

What i mean by “they’re actually aromantic” is that they fit too with us since it’s a spectrum and not “they believe they feel x attraction but are really just aros” *

In between allo and ace, usually closer to the asexual end of the spectrum *

in addition to those who are actually gray-ace, some individuals who identify as such may be pure-ace (need a better term for that) but misunderstand the signs or be unwilling to accept; can also include those who are questioning *

A person can be fully ace and in a relationship, appearing the same as a grey ace, or allo person. *

Greysexuals and aces have more in common than not. […] Greyromantics and aros have more in common than not. *

Grayro people probably experience the same amount of prejudice as aros bc they are arospec *

It’s just that identifing with only the “aro” term takes of the pressure from me to classify that attraction, since aro encompasses grey aro already. *

i believe gray asexuality fits under the asexuality umbrella, so unless a gray ace person specifically does not identify as asexual, i’d count them as ace anyway *

Grey-asexuality is for anyone who wants to use it. It’s sort of, to me, more ace than allo, but also not “”””completely ace””””. *

Greyness adds a nice lil safety net of not locking in to any more….end of the spectrum identities. *

my main problem with the arospec community is the automatic assumption that nobody in it experiences romantic attraction; some of us are largely aro but do experience romantic attraction in some capacity, and that’s an important thing to acknowledge *

my asexuality (non-umbrella) *

I believe that “grey asexual” is beneath the asexual umbrella, so people who identify as “gray asexual” are actually asexual. *

I’m very hard ace *

Can be both umbrella term for any acespec term other than just flatly asexual *

Grayromanticism is the gray area in between aromanticism and alloromanticism which encompasses individuals who are somewhere on the aromantic spectrum but who do not identify as wholly aromantic or alloromantic. *

If it is useful to you, you can use it. Other than that, I would consider it a synonym for acespec […] Everybody who wants to use it can use. I consider it mor or less a synonym to arospec [CN: these are from the sections on the meaning of gray-asexuality and grayromanticism.] *

A lot of “strict aces” think Gray-asexuals are closer to allosexuals than other asexuals […] A lot of “hard aros” think Gray-aromantics are closer to allotomantics than other aromantics *

experiencing sexual attraction while being asexual (by asexual i mean anyone under the acespec umbrella) […] experiencing romantic attraction while being aromantic (by aromantic i mean anyone under the arospec umbrella) *

It encapsulates the identities outside of strictly ace or strictly allosexual *

people who dont fully identify as aro but share too many aro expiriences to be comfortable with the allo label *

the experience of falling somewhere in between aromanticism and alloromaticism, which includes experiences such as infrequent attraction and other microlabels that aren’t “end-case aro” *

on the other hand many or some of them do experience some foorm of sexual attraction which might exempt them from some of the hate end case aces get. *

I feel like gray aces get argued over more than the “normal” aces. *

the demisexual, graysexual/acespec, or asexual communities *

Any experience of sexual attraction that is not fully ace and not fully allo *

Graysexuals deserve a place in the ace community, but also deserve their own spaces to talk about graysexuality-specific issues and for the identity to breathe without being bundled into the broader asexual label (-> strict asexuality??). It’s a coalition, not a cloning facility or a custodianship. Graysexuals likely face discrimination from within the ace community (“If you feel sexual attraction at all, you’re not really ace!”) in addition to aphobia from the world at large, but “strict” asexuals also face pressures for their complete lack of attraction (“I heard some people have an exception,” “Aces can still feel that stuff you know, you’re just being weird”). *

In short, it’s that fuzzy, hard-to-define area in which you don’t feel quite 100% ace but also don’t feel 100% allo either. *

i don’t think we face any more or less than full asexuals, *

i am not ace or certain i am ace-spec either *

Some of the answer options in this section presuppose that “grey-asexuals” and “asexuals” are distinct, non-overlapping communities, e.g. “Gray-asexuals face prejudice like asexuals”. I strongly disagree: grey-aces are part of the ace community *

There’s overlap between common definitions of aromantic and greyromantic which leads to some degree of confusion and anger from aros and allos alike towards those who identify as both greyromantic and aromantic, despite this being very common amongst greyros *

Gray-asexuality is an umbrella term for the asexual spectrum, anyone who experiences sexual attraction rarely or in a non-normative way from allosexuality […] Gray-aromanticism is an umbrella term for the aromantic spectrum, anyone who experiences romantic attraction rarely or in another non-normative way from alloromanticism *

Also not wild about the implicit distinction between “grey-aces” and “asexuals”, since (as noted in earlier questions) grey-ace can be part of the general ace umbrella. (Of course I understand the constraint of needing wording for a survey, and no choice making everyone happy.)

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