Playing AroAce Bingo and Proclaiming Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week in Kansas!

We got Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week recognized by Governor Laura Kelly in the state of Kansas, so now we're celebrating by playing AroAce Bingo!


Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the podcast. My name is Courtney. I am here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And I would like to wish each and every one of you a very happy Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, if you happen to be catching us right at release time.

Courtney: And boy, do we have some good news. Some of you may recall that back in 2022, we were able to work closely with the Kansas City LGBTQ Commission in order to get Ace Week formally recognized in the city of Kansas City, Missouri. We unfortunately could not swing it in the state of Missouri, nor the state of Kansas. But today, I am thrilled to say that we have officially gotten Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week recognized by the state of Kansas. That’s right, state level, signed by none other than the governor of Kansas, Laura Kelly, herself, as well as the secretary of state, the assistant secretary of state — we’ve got all three signatures on this thing. This is fabulous.

Courtney: Actually, I don’t actually know enough about how many states have officially recognized Aro Week, so I don’t have those stats right now. I wish I did. I know that every Ace Week, the Asexuality Archive is always posting on social media when new states get recognized or cities. They’ve kind of got a graphic and a calendar going, so you can kind of track it as it goes along, as it keeps getting updated. As of now, I haven’t seen someone who does the same thing or has done the same thing this year for Aro Week, and I don’t know if that is my own fault because [laughing] I haven’t been on social media; that very well could be the case. But, oh goodness, I have been dealing with health issues, I have been busy, I have had family things, and social media just doesn’t seem too important when you’re going through the kind of health issues I am right now.

Courtney: But health issues or not, I wanted to try to get Arospec Week recognized. I was not expecting much, because I tried to get the state of Kansas to recognize Ace Week just a few months ago, and that didn’t pan out. So I did not have especially high hopes for this. But, lo and behold, they did it. They actually did it! So that means Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week has been formally recognized by Kansas before Ace Week has. I’m hoping that bodes well for this year so we can also get Ace Week recognized. How cool would that be? Get both weeks in the same year at a state level, signed by Laura Kelly. That would be outstanding. Stay tuned! Let’s see if we can swing it.

Courtney: But yeah, actually, over a month ago, I hopped on a voice call with several other Aspec advocates. We all worked to write our own proclamations and try to submit them to our respective states. As of the time of recording, it doesn’t sound like anyone else’s state has actually approved it. I know we’ve gotten some outright rejections from other states, but that’s kind of par for the course. [laughs] Someone’s gotta put it in motion to try to submit these requests. But it’s honestly a crapshoot. You never know. It kind of depends on who’s the governor, too. Do they actually care about minority orientations?

Courtney: So what does ours say? I’m not going to give a full rehash of how to get these proclamations submitted. If you are curious in that and want some more resources, I recommend going back to our episode “We Got Ace Week Recognized Locally & You Can Too!” We talk a lot more in depth about that and the channels we went through and the channels you can go through, and we link some templates and whatnot in the show notes for you to take a look at. But if you’ve already listened to that episode, then you know that a very, very important word to know for these proclamations is “whereas.” [laughs]

Royce: Are you going to read the whole proclamation?

Courtney: Well, here’s the thing. I could just read off the whole proclamation, or I could swing the gavel every time they say “whereas.”

Royce: Our gavel has “whereas” printed on it.

Courtney: I don’t think we’ve talked about this yet! This is fantastic. So, [laughs] our longtime listeners will know that… Was it all the way back in Episode 1 that I first said, [laughing] “I wish I had a gavel”? If not Episode 1, maybe Episode 2. It was early.

Royce: Close. It was actually Episode 6 where we talked about Ace Week back in 2021.

Courtney: Oh, Episode 6. That was later than I thought! But that became a running thing. I requested a gavel repeatedly before we ever had one. And I think it was our Sheldon episode, when Tyger joined us to talk about Big Bang Theory, that the gavel made its first onscreen appearance. But I never actually told the story of this.

Courtney: So I just got a package in the mail from one of my besties and I opened it up. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know to expect anything. It is a gorgeous gavel. It is red. It is a serious gavel; it matches my serious briefcase. But you could custom engrave the head of the gavel, and she had the word “whereas” engraved on it. [laughs]

Courtney: But that wasn’t it! Actually, in collaboration with my other bestie… These two folks, for reference, these are the ones we called after my horrible car accident. Like, these are the two people back home where it’s like, they need to know what’s going on. So I got them on speakerphone, calling after the accident, telling them how good of care you were taking of me, Royce — that was horrendous grammar [laughs]; I don’t know where that came from — and the two of them being just like, “Oh yeah, that Royce is a keeper.” So, like these — and one of the two is QPR friend, too, so has also made verbal cameos on here. They worked together to actually write a fake proclamation [laughs] for me using “Whereas, whereas, whereas.” It was so sweet. It was amazing. Proclamation presenting me a gavel that says “whereas” on it. So now, listeners, you know: every time I swing the gavel, it says “whereas.” So now I think I need to — every time I say “whereas,” I’m gonna swing the gavel. It’s right on there. I have no choice! It’s out of my hands! [laughs]

Courtney: So, to the people of Kansas, greetings! “Whereas [bangs gavel] Aromanticism is a generally unknown and misunderstood romantic orientation, and whereas [bangs gavel] people who are Aromantic often feel isolated and confused and lack access to resources and support networks, and whereas [bangs gavel] discovering Aromanticism can be an affirming and positive personal experience, and whereas [bangs gavel] having peers and family know of and understand Aromanticism can provide safety, support and comfort to Aromantic people, and whereas [bangs gavel] Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week is a way to spread awareness and acceptance of Aromantic spectrum identities and the issues faced by the Aromantic community, and whereas [bangs gavel] Kansas is proud of and made stronger by the vast diversity of its residents, now, therefore, I, Laura Kelly, Governor of the state of Kansas, do hereby proclaim February 18th through 24th, 2024 as Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week in the state of Kansas, and I urge all citizens to join in this observation.” It’s very fancy. Got the seal of the state and everything.

Courtney: Now, here’s the thing. So I said I have been dealing with health issues. I have not been very online lately. That’s probably not likely to change anytime soon. I might be pretty offline for a while, save for actually posting these episodes. But when I got the email from the Office of the Governor saying, “Yes, we have approved this request. This is going to be made official,” I thought, “Well, I should post this online. Let me just log in for the first time in, like, over a month.”

Courtney: And normally, when things like this happen, when a new proclamation goes out, normally, it’s just, you know, happy. Everyone’s so thrilled to hear that this came to be. People are sharing it. People are saying, “Yay, congratulations, hooray for…” whatever area this is, like, “Hooray for Kansas.” But this is the first time that I have posted something like this on Tumblr. We have been very new to Tumblr. And I want to ask, because I posted this on Twitter and Tumblr. Twitter was what I expected. Everyone was just like, “Yay! Yay, Kansas! Congratulations.” Good stuff. Getting some retweets.

Courtney: Tumblr. I have to ask: do people on Tumblr have a habit of forging low-level yet official government documents like this? Because we were met with skepticism. [laughs] There were people, like, sending us asks. There were people, like, in the tags and in replies who were saying, like, “Give me your source. [laughs] I don’t trust it. I haven’t seen this on the news. Where did you get this from?” And I’m like… you know, I respect a certain amount of skepticism for things you see online, because fake news is a thing. People do be trolling. [laughs] But I was… What a weird thing. If I was going to fake an official government observance of Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, why would I just be like, “The state of Kansas, Laura Kelly [laughs] has deemed it to be true.” Like, why wouldn’t I aim a little higher if I was faking something, you know?

Courtney: But also, first of all, I’m flattered that you think that I have the skill to forge something like this, because I posted the whole thing — like, an image of the certificate — so people can see the signatures, they can see the seal. And, like, have you seen our YouTube thumbnails? Nobody who’s seen our YouTube thumbnails thinks that I’m out here, like, [laughing] photoshopping government documents. Puh-lease! [laughs]

Courtney: But also, like, if any of you listening to this are any of the people who asked, this is no slight against you, but I’m going to explain why I did not respond to anybody who was asking for the source, because I am the source. And if someone’s skeptical enough that they’re like, “I didn’t see this on the news. Where did you get this information?” and I just say, like, “I am the original source for this,” that’s not going [laughs] to convince anyone of anything online, I assume.

Courtney: But genuinely, here’s how this works. Like a month and a half before Aro Week was set this year — which, it is always, for anybody who is new to this information, I want to make it very clear: it is not a set date every time. So this year it starts on the 18th of February. That’s not going to be the same date every single year, so I don’t want anyone next year being like, “It’s the 18th of February! Happy start of Aro Week,” because that’s not how it works. It’s a revolving week. It always starts on a Sunday; it is always the Sunday after Valentine’s Day. And it’s one full week, so seven days starting on Sunday. And that does get confused quite a bit, and that’s why I want to make that very, very clear.

Courtney: And if anyone ever forgets, if you want to look it up, if you want the real source, the real information every single time, I recommend going to, because they update that every year. They will tell you exactly what those days are. I don’t recommend just googling it [laughs]. Because I just googled it this year out of curiosity, because, first of all, I wanted to see if it’s been put on more of these big lists of, like, queer observances. Like, there’s always one on Wikipedia, lots of universities, or other more broadly queer orgs — think, like, your Trevor Projects. They often have, like, “Here’s a calendar of all the observances.” And they’ll have, like, Trans Week on there and obviously Pride Month being the big one. But a thing I’ve noticed with Aro Week — to a lesser extent sometimes Ace Week as well, but this has been more of a problem I’ve seen with Aro Week — sometimes, it just won’t be on those lists, or it will be on those lists but it will be using the dates from a previous year, because they don’t realize that it it rotates every year. It’s a full week. It always starts on a Sunday. And search engines are terrible right now.

Courtney: So just to test it, I just searched “Aromantic Week” on Google to see what happened. And the first result is not That’s actually the second result. The first result is Colorado School of Mines, for some reason. And it says right here, highlighted right on the page without clicking on it: February 20th through February 26th. I’m sure that was at some point! Not this year. So do be wary of that. Remember that. Keep it in mind. Spread the word.

Courtney: But for those of you who are, or have been, skeptical of this proclamation, here’s why you haven’t seen it in the news. So what the government does and what the news cares about and reports on are two very different things. Sometimes they overlap; sometimes they don’t. But there’s a reason why sometimes, when, like, very scary legislation is about to happen, you don’t hear about it until the very last minute because it doesn’t always get reported on ahead of time. But if someone is looking at a news story — like, they want to be able to see this reported in a journal or a local news station and that is the only way to prove if it’s actually true, that is not how that works at all.

Courtney: So when I say I’m the source for this, a month and a half ago wrote this proclamation, submitted it, and when… Every state’s different for what they need. But for us, we needed to write the proclamation, but also had to basically send an email saying, “Here’s why this is important, and here’s why the state of Kansas should care about this.” So you’re, like, pitching it. You’re making your point. You’re saying, “Here’s why this is important.” And in my case, I’m also sending them resources. So I’m linking them to the Arospec Week website so they can see this has been something we have been doing for years, and here’s the importance of it. And then you wait, like, a month to see if they’re actually going to print it up in a certificate, if they’re going to sign it. And we thankfully got an email back from the director of constituent services at the Office of the Governor Laura Kelly, saying, “Your proclamation request has been accepted. We have processed it.” They gave us a PDF copy in that email and also said, “We are mailing you physical copies as well.” And they did.

Courtney: So, when we have people on Tumblr who are submitting asks to us being like, “What is your source for this? How do I know it’s real?” I’m like, “I’ve got three physical copies of this certificate sitting on my kitchen table right now [laughing] that was mailed to us from the governor of Kansas.” I… And it’s like, I could either take the time to respond to the, like, dozen people or so that asked in a single day what the source for this was, or I, as an advocate, can spend that time forwarding this certificate to actual news sites, hoping that a news site will actually report on it. So it’s like, if you’re looking for a news site, I’m the one who’s going to be hopefully maybe getting the news to care about this in the first place. So I’m going to spend that time there, and hopefully I’ll have that.

Courtney: But whether or not a news site cares to mention this… past informing them of the update, there’s not much more you can do. Again, you’re making your pitch. You’re saying, “Here’s why this is important! Here’s why you should give it a shout-out!” Maybe even, “Here are some folks you can talk to if you want to make this an interview situation.” But again, every state’s different.

Courtney: But our certificate, for example. We were informed on February 1st that this was accepted. So we’ve known all month that this is going through. We got our email ahead of time. We got our certificates ahead of time. But it says here that the certificate, right on the paper, “done at the capitol in Topeka under the great seal of the state, this 18th day of February, AD 2024.” So they do these ahead of time. At least the state of Kansas — they, like, batch do these. I get the impression that, like, the 1st of every month, they bring all the certificates for that month that they’re going to sign and they just sign them. They just go down the line, sign them all [laughs].

Courtney: And that’s why you need to submit it early. If you’re listening to this podcast now and thinking you’re going to get Aro Week recognized in your state, it’s not going to happen this year. Set something in your calendar for, like, two months ahead of time next year and say, today’s the day you go to your government website and see what your proclamation submission requests requirements are. Some just need 30 days; some need 60 days. The state of Kansas right now — and this has changed within the last few years. I think a lot of states have changed things within the last few years because of COVID. They’ve, like, changed their timeline on things a lot. But Kansas is like, “We need to know by the 15th day the month before, regardless.” So even though this is happening, like, halfway through the month, it’s still the 15th. If it was the last day of February that we wanted something, it still has to be done by the 15th of January. And again, I think that’s because on the 1st of February, they’re going down the line, signing all their certificates for the month.

Courtney: But regardless of if any news sites actually pick this up, if you’re going to have those news sources to reference this, a lot of these PDFs do, depending on your state, get published on the state websites. Some states you can just look up all the proclamations for the month, and they’ll just have a list, like, “Here were all the proclamations from February. Here’s all the proclamations from January.” And you can go down the list and pull up all the PDFs. So some are like that. Some will release and publish them on the exact day. So I’m hopeful, but I don’t know.

Courtney: It could be that February 18th, there’s a little press release from the Office of the Government that says, “Here’s the proclamation that goes into effect today. Even though we signed it long ago and we’ve already sent out the physical things, this is the day we’re making the announcement,” so that’s always a possibility. Those are still not going to be news sites, so you still have to sort of know where to go to look for some of this information.

Courtney: Okay. So, now that the entire state of Kansas is legally required to be aware of Aromanticism, let’s determine if we are aware of our own maybe Aromanticism. [laughs] Is that a good segue? How aware are we of ourselves?

Royce: That is a more difficult question than it seems at first thought, I feel like.

Courtney: Yes. Because here’s the thing. For both of us, Asexuality has been the obvious identity that we have held for quite a long time. We both held that identity when we met each other. That was a big reason why we met each other. Aromanticism is more complicated in our case, but we’ve both had situations over the last decade where we’re like, “Do I identify with this in some sense?”

Royce: In my case, I feel like calling myself Aromantic, at least in a more narrow sense, doesn’t really feel right. But if I think about my experiences in relationships and what I need out of broader social interaction and personal relationships and things like that, and then I compare that to alloromantic people, in my experience, that hasn’t been quite the same either. So there’s probably some kind of in-between there. And it’s really difficult for me to break down how much of this is a matter of orientation and how much of this is a difference in how I conduct personal relationships, how much is it a difference in how my manner of neurodivergence manifests and changes how I experience certain emotions in certain relationships. And all of that gets very muddy very quickly and difficult to define.

Courtney: Yes, definitely. And I would say “muddy and difficult to define” works for me too. But here’s what I think makes identifying on the Aromantic spectrum — or has historically made it more complicated for me is because I know some AroAces who are just like, “I have no sexual attraction whatsoever. I have no romantic attraction whatsoever. It is all absolutely zero. I don’t want a relationship, I don’t want sex, I don’t want romance, I don’t want to date, nothing, it’s all there.” And for them, like, saying, “AroAce is what I am,” because they’re both equally important, they’re both equally the same — that makes a lot of sense.

Courtney: For me, my Aceness and my Aroness are different from each other. My Aceness is like, “I am the Acest [laughs] I can be.” I am over here — like, I am on the repulsed side of things. Like, I don’t want any association with sexuality. Romance, however, whether or not it works for me practically and literally, there’s some amount of appeal there. And it’s hard to define what that appeal is. Because is it conditional? Is this, like, a Demiromantic situation where I can experience romantic attraction but all the right pieces have to fall in place, it has to be the right person, sort of a thing? Maybe is it a Grayromantic situation where it’s just a gray area? Maybe! Or is it, I like the idea of romance, but not the practical implications of it. That also maybe could be a thing.

Courtney: Because let’s think of all the horrible, like, rom-coms from, like, the 90s and early 2000s. People will hold up these, like, big third-act romantic gestures as, like, the pinnacle of romance. And there was absolutely a time in my life where I thought, “Well, that is romance, that is good, that is something that…” Like, “I want someone to do that for me!” But as someone who has been, like, third-act-romantic-gestured by people before, it’s been very unwanted every single time. Every single time. And for a while, it was easy to shrug that off as, like, “Well, it was just from the wrong person. Like, I didn’t have feelings for this person, but if the right person did it, it would have been good, right?” I’m not so sure. Like, let’s think of a common romantic trope in media. So, like, someone writes you a song and plays you the song on guitar and sings it for you. Like, “Aww, romantic,” right? No! Have you ever actually had someone sit in front of you in a one-on-one situation and be like, “Hey, I wrote this song for you,” and starts playing their guitar? Like, I relished that scene in the Barbie movie when all the Kens were singing… [laughs] What song was it again? [laughs]

Royce: That was “Push” by Matchbox 20.

Courtney: [laughing] Yes. So, first of all, hilarious song choice. But also, nobody wants that. I mean, I guess some people do. I guess some people do.

Royce: It became a trope somehow, but maybe the people who want that are the people with the guitars?

Courtney: Well, so, that gets to my next point. That’s my next very interesting point. So, I have a theory. I have a theory. For me anyway — maybe some of you will find this relatable — but I’ve mentioned I am a performer. I perform. I’ve talked about conceptualizing gender as a performance for me. Like, I am a woman, not because I’m inherently a woman, but because I am a drag queen and I am extra and I am high femme, and to me, that is what gender is. That’s not what everyone thinks and not how everyone conceptualizes gender, but that is the only way I can relate to gender is the performance of it. But I like the dramatics of it.

Courtney: And I’ve talked about that with weddings, too. I like the pageantry. I don’t like the social obligation. I don’t like… I don’t even like the legal implications of marriage. There are so many things about the institution of marriage as it applies to our modern society that I don’t like. So when people are like, “Oh, I don’t like marriage,” even being a married person, I’m like, “Yeah, I hear you, I get it, but it was financially beneficial for us, in our particular situation. Your mileage may vary.” [laughs] So, like, in that case, it’s easy to say, “Well, marriage is a contract, it’s a legal agreement, it’s financial.” Some people think it’s really cynical when you say that, but, you know, for me, it’s practical if you’re in the right set of circumstances. But when it comes to weddings, like, come on, that’s a performance. You get the most expensive dress you’ve ever worn in your life, you rent tuxedos, you invite all of your friends to stand around you ritually at an altar while everyone you’ve ever met looks on and cries. That’s a performance.

Courtney: And I like performing. So if you were a different person than you are, if you were someone who also likes performance and being in front of people and the pageantry and the glamor, we probably would have had a wedding. We probably would have had a very extra wedding. But, like, I don’t want the wedding because this is the ultimate declaration of our love and this is the most important day of our lives. I want it because I want a big party. I want the gown. So… But I also wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy that performance if you weren’t enjoying that performance.

Royce: Yeah, and I hate everything about that.

Courtney: You hate everything about that.

Royce: Weddings sound awful —

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: — for pages of reasons.

Courtney: “Pages”? [laughs]

Royce: Like, the — every scripted action just feels wrong, and a wedding is just a series of pre-prescribed things called traditions.

Courtney: It is. You even memorize your lines. You say your vows. Like, it’s theater, baby.

Courtney: So I’ve had this thought as well that, for me, romance is also a performance. And there are certain situations where I can enjoy and relish in the performance. And I started thinking about, “Well, what’s the difference between that and sexuality?” And I was like, well, some people do perform sexuality. That is a thing. I know people who would openly admit that they perform sexuality and they love performing sexuality. That’s fine for them. I’m repulsed by sexuality, so that’s just — I don’t want to perform sexuality. But I’m not repulsed by romance. Many Aromantic people are, and that’s something we need to respect. That’s not my relationship to it, though. So, considering the fact that there’s a performance in here, there’s something possibly very melodramatic about this whole romance thing that I can indulge in, and not being repulsed by it, there is a time and a place where I can enjoy that. But there has — as you pointed out, if the guy with the guitar is the one performing at me, I’m not having fun. [laughs]

Royce: Yeah, you’re in the audience.

Courtney: [laughs] Audience of one is very awkward, though.

Royce: You aren’t part of the performance.

Courtney: But here’s the thing, too. I don’t like performing for an audience of one. You don’t get to hear me sing when I sing at home. I love singing. If I feel like I need to sing today, I’m like, “Royce, what can you do that you can put on your noise-canceling headphones, go to the opposite side of the house, be as far away from me as possible, because I want to sing.” [laughs] Like, you don’t even get to hear me singing in the shower. I’m like, “I’m gonna get in the shower. Better put on your noise-canceling headphones.” Because small, very small, intimate groups… there’s something about it. Especially because I’m still afraid to sing in front of people. I could not bring myself to start singing right now with you being the only person in the room. But if I’m on a stage and I am cast in a show and it is my time, it is my performance slot, or I’m playing a role in a musical, I’m gonna be scared out of my mind ahead of time, but I’m gonna perform it. It’s easier for me with a large audience.

Courtney: So then, you start to think about… Let’s talk about, like, public proposals in that sense. Like, so many people should never touch public proposals. So many people do not like that. So many people would be horrified by that. I can see the appeal of it, because now there’s an audience. Now it’s a performance, and everyone is involved. And I know how problematic that can get if you take that line of thought too far. You know, people at that sports game didn’t consent to now being just, like, a spectacle or looking upon your spectacle. Some people really like it; some people don’t. Everyone has their own preference.

Courtney: But there is an element of the performance of romance that I like, in the right time and place. In theory! In theory! Because I’ve also been someone who’s gotten, like, lengthy declarations of love in a handwritten letter. Like, I’ve gotten those. Sounds good in theory. Not so much in practice. If you think of almost every grand romantic trope, I’ve probably had someone do that to me. [laughs] And I’ve never liked it, even though I thought I would. So there’s something there. There’s something complicated there.

Courtney: But if we flip the script and say, “Alright, I don’t want anyone to perform romance to me. I want to be the one who performs romance.” First of all, there’s — societally and historically — almost some element of masculinity in that? [laughs] Which, again, if we’re saying, you know, for me, gender is also a performance, there’s something there. Like, I’m not gonna perform the toxic elements of masculinity, because I hate it. So, there’s almost, like… Is being the forthcoming one to give the romantic gestures and to initiate the romance — is that one of the only ways that I can enjoy performing some semblance of masculinity? Maybe.

Courtney: But what are some of the things that I’ve done or that I enjoy doing? I really like giving gifts. Very timely gifts, very thoughtful gifts, if I can. Doesn’t always work out. Learned some hard lessons. But even, like, giving flowers to someone. I like giving flowers to people, but I don’t think it has to be a romantic prospect. Or giving gifts that would otherwise be seen as romantic, I don’t think has to necessarily be a romantic prospect.

Courtney: But then I’ve been very much of two minds on that, because the way I used to conceptualize it is, “Why does this have to be reserved for romantic love? Why can’t this be for all types of love?” And, I mean, some of that might have come from even just my mother and the way I was raised. She was a single mother, and I think I’ve told this story before, but my favorite Valentine’s Day gift that I ever got was my mother giving me my first coffee pot. Like, she bought me a nice coffee pot, gave it to me on Valentine’s Day when I was a young teenager after I had developed a coffee addiction. (I think I had one for a couple years before I actually had my own coffee pot. I started young on that coffee.) And that was, like, the coolest, sweetest thing, and that’s so far — like, that eclipses anybody who’s ever given me flowers for Valentine’s Day or jewelry for Valentine’s Day or chocolates or any of those things. Like, that was great.

Courtney: So when I thought of things like Valentine’s Day, I’m like, “Well, this doesn’t have to be just for romantic partners!” Like, my mother used Valentine’s Day to celebrate, like, the mother/daughter love. She also, when I was very young, she wanted to be the one to give me my first diamond. So she gave me a ring, which, at the time, was the smallest size and still way too big for me. So I remember us getting, like, tape and wrapping it around several times so that I could wear it. And it wasn’t anything big or hugely expensive. It was a tiny diamond. It had Black Hills gold because we — you know, I grew up in South Dakota. But for her, she was like, “I want to be the one to give you your first diamond,” which makes so much sense! My family has a history of failed relationships. [laughs] I don’t know this for a fact, but, like, my grandmother was married three times. I’m pretty sure we’ve been married longer than all of my grandmother’s marriages combined. And it wasn’t until I was older that I found out that, like, my great-grandfather is not biologically my great-grandfather. That was the second attempt at a, you know, serious adult relationship. And I was like, “Okay! Well…” So, I think my mother really wanted these gifts, these gestures of affection, to not exclusively, in my mind, be related to romantic love and that, you know, family love is just as, if not more, important.

Courtney: And so these seeds were sown in me early on. So I always kind of had the, like, “Oh, well, why can’t I get my friend flowers for Valentine’s Day?” Or, like, “My friend just went through a bad breakup, so I’m going to take her on a date.” Like, things like that. And it was pretty common for me to, you know, leave surprise gifts and surprise letters, for friends and things.

Courtney: But lately, I’ve been challenging my conception of that. Because was it truly a refusal and saying, like, “These things are not only for romantic love, these are not just romantic gestures, these can be for friendship love, family love, any other type of care that you may have for another person”? Or was it just that I don’t have a natural inclination to have this relationship hierarchy, where romantic love is at the height, it’s the pinnacle, and it is distinctly different from any other kind of care you can have from other people? Which would bring us to maybe Quoiromantic, which I think is very interesting, because Quoiromantic is also something that you have been like, “Sometimes, that feels maybe correct.”

Royce: Yeah, there’s definitely something in there that I don’t know what the word for it or the series of potential words for it are, but there’s something in there that isn’t a complete absence, but it also doesn’t seem to be in line with the alloromantic majority either.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: And it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is or what it’s from. I think I’ve mentioned in the past that, in hindsight, a lot of my early dating was performative in nature. And I think that performing romance, or at least performing during the meeting and courting phase, was absolutely a thing. Because you go into it with the world telling you, “This is the way this is supposed to be done.”

Courtney: Mhm. And then I’ve also thought… because I do think there is something distinctly different about our relationship than I have felt in previous relationships, and it’s hard to tell where the line is. Is it because I have a brand of Demiromanticism where a condition that needs to be meant to actually feel and enjoy and appreciate a romantic relationship to its fullest, I need to not have sexual attraction be a factor in it whatsoever? And so this, absolutely, for me, could not be a mixed-orientation relationship where I’m with an allosexual person who is attracted to me, and that is one of the conditions that I need to have met before I can feel romance? Maybe. But then there’s a question of is it romance or is it just a level of comfort I have not been afforded in other relationships? Who knows! Romance is weird! [laughs] Happy Aro Week, everybody!

Courtney: Because I also… A group of Aspecs are getting together. We’ve got a few things going on this week like Aromantic trivia and Aromantic craft night. And everyone’s like, “Let’s do Aromantic crafts and arts.” And I was like, “Well, my main art form is famously very romantic, though.” Like, I make things out of hair. That is Victorian levels of romance drama. Which, a very, very weird thing about that — and maybe I’ll talk more at length about this in the future — I have met so many Asexual people who have a preestablished interest in Victorian-era romance customs, including hair jewelry, hair art, or Victorian-era mourning customs, you know, wearing the all-black. And a lot of them have been, or at least at the time I met them and had these conversations, did identify as romantic and Asexual. And it really got the gears turning because I was like, “Why am I meeting so many Asexual people in this very weird niche community?” [laughs] And I think the performance is an element of it. Because a lot of allo people — alloromantic and allosexual people — find that sex and romance go together. They see it as one and the same a lot of the times. If you feel romantically attracted to someone, you should, you know, perform sexuality as well with them. And so I think for a lot of Asexual people, it’s like, “Sex is not the only way to show affection. Why not give your lover a lock of your hair?” [laughing]

Courtney: So there’s something about these historical declarations of affection that has resonated very deeply with a lot of people who haven’t even necessarily found the Asexual community or aren’t necessarily active in it, but have this identity on their own and have sort of found this. And so, when I think about my interest in this art form, it always started with the grief. It was the mourning. And it wasn’t always… it wasn’t always a lover. Sometimes it was a family member, a parent, a child, sometimes a spouse.

Courtney: But for me, I found grief to be, like, a love equalizer. Like, if someone you love dies, if someone you love deeply dies, it does not matter if it was a parental affection, if it was a spousal affection. Like, to me — and the Victorians would say otherwise. They had their, you know, strict social rules as well that we all would have abhorred at the time, but we can appreciate it now, [laughs] since it’s not forced upon us as much. Like, they would say, “Yeah, if you’re a woman and your spouse died, you have to be in mourning so much longer than if your friend died or your parent died.” Like, there was a timeline to it. But for me, I was like, in that moment, if someone you love dies, it doesn’t matter how you loved them. The love is just what matters. So I saw grief as, like, “This is a love equalizer.” And I loved that you could have the hair of that loved one as a physical memento, a literal piece of them to hold on to while you’re grieving. I found that to be very beautiful. And that was my first love within this art form.

Courtney: But then, of course, the more I studied, the more I researched, it wasn’t just for grief, it wasn’t just for mourning. Sometimes it was literally a wedding gift or proposal gift. It was for romantic love. I’ve seen instances of siblings from the Victorian era having hair from each other and wearing it in jewelry. Sometimes it’s a parent wearing their baby’s first haircut, or children with their parents’ hair. And then there were friendship books. You weren’t even related. This wasn’t romantic, but you were keeping locks of hair from several of your friends, all of your friends, like a high school yearbook. You have everyone’s signature; you have a lock of their hair. [laughs]

Courtney: And so to me, this art form became sort of an expression of love that refused the relationship escalator. It refused the hierarchy, and I thought that was very, very cool. And now that I think about that in terms of what that could mean for my Aro identity, I’m like, “Oh yeah, I see it.” I mean, I still like the performance of it, but I see how it might not necessarily be, like… I don’t know. Is it a willful refusal, or is it just how I’m wired? Maybe both.

Courtney: So, Royce, how are we going to figure this out? How are we going to figure out if we are in fact AroAce?

Royce: Are you asking that with a plan in mind?

Courtney: Oh, 1000%, I’m asking that with a plan in mind. You see, I have AroAce Bingo in front of us [laughs] and we gonna play! This is from Tumblr user SorryFingerr — two Rs. SorryFingerr. AroAce Bingo. If we get it, we are AroAce, because that’s how it works, right? You know, I’ve said before, we’ve never done, like, “Am I Asexual?” quizzes. And I know some people — that is a foundational part of learning about their identity is doing quizzes like that. But I never needed or wanted a quiz like that. At the time I figured out, there probably wasn’t even a quiz like that yet, and now at this point, it just seems silly and redundant to do. But I found this AroAce Bingo template on the day that I logged in online to post our Aro Week proclamation, and I thought, “Oh, that’ll be fun, so let’s do it!” But it also occurred to me, this might just be a repeat of when we did, like, the Autism assessment, where so many of the questions are going to be too vague to answer or not quite correct in the wording. [laughs]

Royce: I kind of assume I’m going to opt out of a lot of questions, but we’ll see. How are you keeping track?

Courtney: Well, being the brilliant graphic designer that I am, I have input side-by-side, over top of our most recent YouTube thumbnail that I made, whatever the heck episode that was — I put side-by-side two AroAce Bingo cards in Canva, and I’m going to find a graphic of a dot to be our virtual Bingo dauber and go put them over.

Royce: Okay.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: And so, what, five in a row in any orientation is a bingo, and some people are going for blackouts?

Courtney: Oh, I’m sure some people are going for blackouts. Unless — I don’t know, I haven’t read all of these yet. I just read the first two rows and thought, “This will be fun, and I’ll be surprised by the remaining three rows.” I don’t know if some of them are going to be, like, opposite-end spectrum things. I don’t know if they’ll contradict each other or not. We’ll see. Also, when I was a very, very little kid, I had two birds. One was named Bingo; the other was named Dauber. And Dauber flew away on Halloween, and it broke my heart. And then Bingo got really depressed and started laying eggs. Actually, reverse that. Bingo flew away; Dauber laid the eggs. Did I say it the opposite way? I think I did.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: I am searching the Canva graphics for “dot,” and I am amazed at how many of these dots you have to pay premium for! It’s just a circle! [laughs] Alright, found one. Now we’re in business.

Courtney: Square 1: “You genuinely like cake / dragons / garlic bread or any kind of game played with cards.” I feel like that should be several squares, but we’re just putting them all in there.

Royce: I feel like that’s such a broad catch-all that it can’t be used as an [laughing] orientation identity question.

Courtney: It’s a community thing.

Royce: But that’s —

Courtney: Like, those are community symbols.

Royce: That’s the thing, though, is I do like a lot of those things —

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: — but not as a part of my identity.

Courtney: So you think! I mean, maybe there is just something innate in AroAces that draws us to these things.

Royce: But everyone likes cake.

Courtney: Not everyone! That is not true. That is not true.

Royce: Almost everyone likes some kind of cake.

Courtney: We have established the only thing that is true across the board for this identity is that no Asexual people like Chicago pizza. [laughs]

Royce: So how are we answering this first question?

Courtney: Oh, well, I’m gonna say yes.

Royce: Okay.

Courtney: I mean, I’m picky about my cake, because there are a lot of frostings that I don’t like if it’s too much frosting, but cake as a concept — there are very good cakes out there. I also like dragons. We play Dungeons and Dragons a lot. Garlic bread I don’t hype as much, but I don’t dislike it, it’s good. And card games, absolutely, yes! I like all the games. Oh, we’re gonna get in trouble for that [laughing] Chicago pizza comment again.

Royce: “We”?

Courtney: Hey, you… enable this. You — it probably didn’t get picked up on the microphone because you stifled your laughs. But when I said that, you cracked up. They can’t see that. The audience can’t see it, but you doubled over laughing. [laughs]

Royce: I laughed because there is a bit that is going on.

Courtney: And you know what we do to bits around here? We what? Commit to them.

Courtney: Square 2: “You’ve listened to Cavetown at some point in your life.” I don’t understand where that one came from, but it’s on here, so.

Royce: I don’t know if I recognize that band.

Courtney: It also says you don’t like them, just that you’ve listened to them. So I mean, I have. I have listened to them. I’ve listened to a lot of things. Honestly, you probably haven’t. I’d be surprised if you have. Is that a no for you?

Royce: I don’t know who that is, so I’m gonna say no, even if I have, like, heard it on in the background or something.

Courtney: I wouldn’t think so, not for you. Okay, so here’s a complicated one. “It’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s capitalism taking your money’s day.”

Royce: I mean, yeah —

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: — but I still don’t see that as an Ace/Aro thing. I see that as, like… There were so many people in, like, elementary, middle, and high school that were like, “Valentine’s Day is stupid. Why do we do this?”

Courtney: Mhm. And at the time when I… I wouldn’t even say that I picked this boy to like. I think this boy was assigned to me. [laughs] Because he was, like, early, early childhood friend that didn’t see each other for years and years and years, and then we went to the same middle school, and then both of our families — like, our parents and shit — were like, “[gasps] It was destined to be. They’re gonna get married someday.” I was like, “Well, I guess. I guess this is a love story, so I’m gonna be in love with this boy.” So the boy that was assigned to me — when I heard him one day — like, on Valentine’s Day, I was like, “He’s gonna do something for me, I know it,” I heard him say, like, at the lunch table, “Valentine’s Day is dumb! It was just made up by some quack who thinks he knows everything.” I was devastated! [laughs] I was like, “Oh no, how could you? I’m not gonna have my romantic Valentine’s Day!”

Courtney: But then, when he wasn’t in front of all the other boys at school saying that, he came to my house and gave me a Valentine’s Day card. It was pink and it had a black velvet cat on it. I can still see this Valentine’s Day card in my head. I’m, like, getting ready to go to dance lessons, [laughs] putting on my dance clothes, being like, “Well, this Valentine’s Day sucked. The boy that was assigned to me doesn’t believe in Valentine’s Day.” And then I get a knock at the door, and I was like, “I knew you loved me!” [laughs] And then I became much closer friends with his cousin than I ever got to be with him. Even though we kind of did this on-again-off-again thing for, like, three years, I was best friends with his cousin the whole time. It was very weird.

Courtney: But I mean, here’s the thing, right? Like, it is capitalism. All of our holidays have been capitalized upon, and I am very cynical about that. On the other hand, my mother gave me a coffee pot when I was a teenager, and that was a very rough period of time in our lives for a lot of reasons, and that coffee pot meant everything. And it was almost the fact that it was such a subversion of your typical Valentine’s Day romance — like, I wasn’t waiting for the boy who was assigned to me to bring me a Valentine’s Day card, and I think there was a little box of chocolates too. It was like, [softly] “Oh my God! My mom got me a coffee pot.” That was so sweet.

Courtney: So, there’s… Can I mark this yes if I believe that capitalism is the enemy, but I also want all the mothers out there to give their daughters a coffee pot for Valentine’s Day and I want the mothers to be the first, if not the only, person to give their daughters a diamond ring?

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: Uhh… But also, like, have you ever looked at Victorian-era vinegar valentines? There are some really good things we should bring back. Trolling your Valentine with mean cards. It’s kind of hilarious. I’ve seen Valentine’s Day cards from the Victorian era where you literally, like, snip off your mustache and put it on a card and basically say, “Hey, here’s your mustache for Valentine’s Day. Maybe next time it’ll be attached to a real man.” Like, [laughs] that’s hilarious!

Courtney: So, hmmm. I’m trying to get at the heart of this question, because if we indulge in the Valentine’s Day subversions, is that still indulging in a form of Valentine’s Day or is it refusing Valentine’s Day creatively? Yeah, I’m gonna find a dot of a different color to say [laughing] maybe for me? Okay, I’m saying black for yes, white for maybe. What do you think?

Royce: Yeah, I have to say yes to that one.

Courtney: Yes! Ooh, actually, I should do a gray for maybe with my ingenious graphic design skills.

Courtney: “You do not understand why living together with a best friend in a small village with cute animals forever is not that common.”

Royce: I mean, I understand why it’s not that common, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

Courtney: I think it’s a great thing that should be a thing more.

Royce: That’s fair.

Courtney: Even being in a monogamous marriage, with you and I living together in a house, I still want my little village. I’m still like, “Hey, everyone I’ve ever met, when are you moving to Kansas City? Come here! It’s great! Let’s make a village! Let’s make an A-borhood!”

Courtney: Next square. “You hate the whole ‘man and women cannot be just friends’ (and same with enbies aligned to feminine and masculine).”

Royce: Yeah, boo, gender roles.

Courtney: Boo, gender roles. Yeah, that’ll be a yes for me. Oh no, these squares are not all the same size, so I can’t just copy and paste my dot. I have to resize the dot. This one’s… “A master creator of Aro/Ace headcanons in your favorite book/TV show.”

Royce: No.

Courtney: No.

Royce: I don’t really do that.

Courtney: Yeah, I’m gonna say no for me on that. “Heard someone tell you that you just didn’t find the right person yet.”

Royce: Uhhh… probably? Isn’t that something, like, everyone gets told after a breakup, though? Even the allos?

Courtney: I think it’s less after a breakup and more of… To me, I think this is really common for people who are single and have been single and say that they want to be single.

Royce: I see. Okay.

Courtney: Like, think of someone who’s like, “I don’t want a relationship,” and people are like, “You just haven’t found the right person yet!” And I have just not been single long enough in my life to have heard this.

Royce: I don’t think I’ve ever articulated to someone that I wanted to be single long-term, so I don’t think I’ve ever been in this situation.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: And, I mean, I have been single for lengthy periods of times, but it wasn’t like I was having people tell me to go find a relationship and I was saying, “No, I don’t want to do that.”

Courtney: Mhm. “You have a weird obsession with some kind of animal. Example: frogs.” [laughs]

Royce: I read into varied facts about nature in general. It’s not really fixated on one animal, nor would I call it an obsession. It’s absolutely a special interest of some kind.

Courtney: You’re going to get a yes for that. [laughs] You know a lot of things about a lot of animals. I also know a lot of things about a lot of animals. We were also… like, I was a dinosaur prodigy as a very young child. [laughs] Yeah, we’re going to say yes on that. Mhm. Mhm.

Courtney: “Always be afraid that your friends will leave you because of their romantic relationships.”

Royce: No.

Courtney: You don’t do friends too much.

Royce: No. [laughs]

Courtney: I’m going to say yes, because I even still get that as a married person. Like, “Oh no, my friend is in a new relationship now. [sighs] Ah, guess I won’t hear from them for a while.”

Royce: Yeah, I feel like sometimes, relations can be temporal in nature and don’t need to go on forever, and sometimes there’s just a point where your lives no longer intersect, and that doesn’t really bother me.

Courtney: “Hate to think that 99.9% of everything in the world is sexualized/romanticized.”

Royce: I honestly don’t actively think about that very often.

Courtney: I mean, that’s definitely going to be a yes for me. I am a person who society has sexualized to hell and back throughout my life, and it has actually caused problems. So, yeah, that’s a yes for me. Next one: “You hate people stereotyping Aro/Ace people as cold and with no feelings.”

Royce: I think I have to say yes to that, but this is another one where “hate” is a strong word for me to say about much of anything. And, like, this isn’t something that, again, I often think about. It’s more like, I’ll see this characterized in media or I’ll read a dumb Tweet or something and be like, you know, “That’s inaccurate, that’s a bad stereotype,” kind of a thing, and then I don’t think about it after that.

Courtney: It’s a weird one for me. I also think I need to say yes. Maybe I’ll give it a gray square while I think about it a little longer. Because I think it used to bother me a lot more. I think I’ve softened on it a bit, but —

Royce: Is that something where wider varieties of representation are starting to come up, so it’s not like this is every Ace character you see?

Courtney: I think so. And it’s complicated because, as you said, there is definitely a wrong and offensive way to do that that I will know when I see. But then there also is the fact of the matter that there are actual real-life people who don’t have the same range of emotions as everyone likes to pretend everyone has. Everyone’s like, “Oh, everyone feels love! Everyone feels this!” And we know that that’s not accurate.

Courtney: But there’s sort of a dual concern here where, by saying this is a harmful stereotype, you are also saying, “If you experience fewer emotions or you don’t experience these emotions that society has considered to be inherently good, you are therefore evil,” and that can get into really ableist territory. Like, some people might just be pretty apathetic to most things. That doesn’t mean that they’re evil or going to hurt people. It just means they don’t have the same emotional responses that you do.

Courtney: So there are ways you could do it well. There are ways that you do it in a harmful stereotype. So it’s become more of a gray area for me as of late. And this is why we can’t do things like this, because I’m like, “Can you be more specific?” Are we specifically talking about people doing this in a stereotypical way, or are we talking about it in general, as a whole, as a concept all around? So we’ll say yes for you. I’m putting a temporary gray dot. Okay.

Courtney: “Not getting it when people flirt with you, [laughing] because you always think they are just being kind.” Whoops!

Royce: That’s a no for me on that one.

Courtney: That is a yes for me. [laughs] “Being kind and no getting it when people think you are flirting with them.”

Royce: I think that’s another no for me. I feel like a lot of my social interactions have been very clearly one or the other and that wires haven’t been crossed too often, unless there have just been some cases where I was oblivious and never made aware of it.

Courtney: I mean, that’s a possibility. That’s gonna be a yes for me. People assume flirtations when there are none.

Courtney: “You absolutely do not understand why two people would willingly take a shower together, because it doesn’t make any sense at all in your head.” See, this is one where I’m like, “But what are you really asking?” Because are we literally like, “You are just showering in the same place, you’re both washing yourselves, and this is just a practical saving water kind of a situation”? Or are you like, “I don’t understand the innuendo that taking a shower together inherently means you’re having sex”? [laughing] ’Cause those are two different questions for me, I think.

Royce: I’m gonna have to read this as is and think, if the shower is large enough, that can be a convenient thing to just shower together, because you both need to do that at the same time instead of waiting for one another. I’m going to —

Courtney: But don’t you think that’s a pretty Ace answer, though? [laughs]

Royce: I’m going to intentionally ignore any innuendo, because this was not written with that in mind.

Courtney: So you’re gonna say no?

Royce: Mhm. If you want more specific answers, be more specific with the questions.

Courtney: [laughs] I’m gonna give that a great dot for me. “Weird obsession with green or purple.”

Royce: Mmm. no.

Courtney: I mean I don’t think it’s weird, but purple’s been, like, my color my entire life. Green — I have a complicated relationship with green.

Royce: See, I don’t have relations with colors.

Courtney: I know! This is why you look like a cartoon character who just has 20 pairs of the same t-shirt and the same pants.

Royce: I mean, that’s partially an anxiety response, but sure. Not caring about colors or not expressing myself through external appearance is part of it.

Courtney: How does that fit in with the long hair and the androgyny conversation we had not too long ago on here? Is that not a form of expression for you?

Royce: I guess, to some degree, I do have, I guess, a certain form that I feel more comfortable in. And, like, long hair isn’t just outward presentation. It’s how it feels —

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: — like, physically. Wearing simple black clothing… It was like, having a variety of different clothing — particularly clothing that had anything illustrated on it or any words or iconography or anything like that — my brain had trouble keeping up with how things like that could be perceived by everyone around me as I was going about my day.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: And there was an anxiety around social perception, and so I stopped wearing anything with really anything on it, which means I had to settle on a solid color, and the color that I chose was black for minor aesthetic reasons.

Courtney: I guess that makes sense, because the things that you are intentional about also have a tactile element, like long hair. We’ve talked about shaving on the podcast before — like, shaving things.

Courtney: I do like wearing a purple top hat in public, because I like advertising to the world that I am weird. [laughs] But yeah, green is a complicated one for me, because my entire childhood, my entire life growing up, I’d hear, “Oh, you have olive skin,” while simultaneously, like, sometimes experiencing racism, especially in the summer, when I tan like crazy. But, like, people would talk about my unique, interesting skin tone as, like, “You can wear green, and other people can’t do that, and it’s only because of your olive skin that you can wear green.” And I don’t know where this came from, that a large majority of people, at least during that period of time, didn’t think they could wear green. But there was something specific about people with blonde hair and blue eyes who would double-down so hard on this. And they would, like, gush around me. They were like, “You’re so lucky, with skin like that, you can wear green. Me, I can’t wear green because, oh, green looks terrible with my beautiful blonde hair.” And it’s like, “Okay. [laughs] There’s something here that I don’t think either of us understands right now, but it’s gonna haunt me when I’m an adult and I’m thinking back on how many times I’ve had this exact same conversation with people who look exactly like you.” But purple yeah, purple’s always been a color for me.

Courtney: “At some point you heard someone tell you that the A in LGBTQIA stands for ally.” Not only have I heard people say that, years ago — not so much recently, but years ago — people would argue it with me. People would be like, “No! A doesn’t stand for Asexual! It means ally, and it is ahistorical to say otherwise!” Okay.

Royce: You can’t be a member of a group and an ally at the same time. That doesn’t make sense. I’ve never been told that in person, because I just don’t really have those sorts of conversations with people in person who aren’t also, I guess, like-minded. But I’ve absolutely heard that thing, just in general.

Courtney: Mhm. Is that gonna be a yes? Because you’ve heard it in general.

Royce: Yeah, go ahead and mark it yes. My take on this entire bingo is that some of these are too common or too vague.

Courtney: [laughs] I think — I mean, honestly, that that’s on us. This is just how our brains are. This is why I never wanted to do an “Am I Ace?” quiz, even for the podcast, because I feel like it’s either [laughing] going to be too common and too obvious or too vague.

Courtney: “You literally cannot understand relationships between allo people. You see it and okay, alright, but how? Because it is out of this world to you.”

Royce: No. I feel like I struggle to understand the perception or experience that that question implies more than allo relationships.

Courtney: Mmm. Yeah, I think that’s going to be a no for me too, because not being able to feel it and knowing that I’m not able to feel it doesn’t mean that I can’t understand it on some level.

Royce: Yeah, that’s where I’m getting. Like, fundamentally not being able to comprehend another person’s experience is… That seems very weird, very odd to me.

Courtney: Mhm. “Dream about a cozy queerplatonic relationship.”

Royce: I’ve never really had an affinity for QPRs. I mean, I hadn’t really considered the thought of the possibility, until, you know, well into our relationship when we started talking about that. But I don’t think I have had a QPR, nor do I think it’s something that I particularly aspire to.

Courtney: Mhm. Yeah, I’m going to give myself a gray dot for now, because obviously I had a lovely QPR, someone who is still in my life. I feel like when you die and make me a widow, I’m not ever going to want to get married again to anyone else. So, like, either I’m going to do the single grieving widow thing for the rest of my life, which honestly I feel like I was kind of born to do, or I’m going to Golden Girls it and, just… [laughs] you know, live out my old lady fantasy with a band of colorful characters. And there’s some room for a QPR in that. Gray dot. I’m not dreaming about it at this moment. I’ve dreamt about it in the past. [laughing] And there’s a theoretical future that needs very specific things to happen first.

Courtney: “Wishing a favorite fictional character to be your bestie instead of a romantic partner.”

Royce: No, I don’t really have that sort of relation to fictional characters. There are characters that I can like in a form of media, as in, you know, I either think they’re written well or portrayed well or are interesting characters with interesting personalities and backstories. But that sort of experience is not something I have.

Courtney: Yeah, I don’t really either. I don’t do a lot of headcanons, I don’t do, I don’t know, fictitious relationships like that. And I guess that even applies to the real world. Like, I do not understand parasocial relationships. I know that it’s a very common thing that happens to a lot of people, but it —

Royce: That’s true for me too.

Courtney: Like, I don’t… We’ve talked about celebrity crushes being a complicated thing and how, like, I just picked one as a kid when everyone was like, “Who’s your celebrity crush?” And it’s like, I never genuinely had one. I also just genuinely — like, there is not a single celebrity person that I would seek out and try to meet. And I think I’ve always been like that, because we had an assignment in school once to write about our hero, and I was like, “I don’t have a hero,” and they’re like, “Everyone has a hero!”

Royce: That’s true for me too, yeah.

Courtney: And it was so silly, because they were like, “Everyone has a hero! You have to dig deep and find who your hero —” And I was like, “I don’t have a hero.” And I needed to write this. I was like, “Can I have another prompt?” And they wouldn’t give me one. They were like, “No, you have to write about your hero.” And so I was like, “Alright, I guess I have to pick a hero, [laughs] just like I pick crushes.” And, I mean, at the time I was in dance training. I wanted to be a professional dancer. This was before my body betrayed me so severely that that career wasn’t going to be viable. But I was like, “Oh, I want to go to Juilliard.” So I was like, “Who’s the head of the, you know, dance department at Juilliard?” And I looked up who that person was and researched their life. And I was like, “Alright, that’s my hero. Gonna write about that.” And then my teacher had the audacity to say, like, “That’s not a real hero.” [stammers] I don’t know what a real hero is!

Royce: “Why didn’t you just pick one for me then?”

Courtney: [laughs] Yeah. “Let me ask you something. Who do you think my hero is? [laughs] Let’s start there.”

Royce: “Who would you like to see a paper written about?”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: “Who do you want to read about?”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: “I’m basically just doing research for you, so.”

Courtney: Exactly. “You are always thinking that X couple would be better as best friends instead of lovers.”

Royce: No, I never think about things like that.

Courtney: I also don’t, unless — and this is where I’m speculating about context again. Like, if it’s a real-life couple, that’s weird, that’s not your business. Like, the nature of their relationship is definitively their business. If it’s, like, a TV show, I, again — I don’t really… I don’t write fanfiction. I don’t understand headcanons. But there are situations where someone will headcanon someone in a relationship who isn’t in the source material. And sometimes, my brain will vehemently reject elements of that headcanon, because it’s like, “They aren’t in a relationship! Why?” [laughs]

Royce: Oh, yeah, there are some times when I will hear a variety of different headcanons of a media that I know enough about where… And this isn’t always just in a relationship. Sometimes it’s, like, extra headcanon material — like, stuff that could have happened offscreen — and with my understanding of the IP, it just doesn’t make sense.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: It doesn’t fit with the narrative as I understand it.

Courtney: Like, especially if it is an Ace- or Aro-coded character and someone’s like, “Oh, but they aren’t in a straight relationship, so clearly they’re gay,” then I’m like, “Mmm, those aren’t the only two options, actually, and this is a very AroAce-coded character.” [laughs] Like, think Elsa from Frozen. Was it Sharky’s episode that we talked about Elsa?

Royce: I think so.

Courtney: Where it’s like, she’s so happy being alone. She is so happy being free. She’s like, “I can live the rest of my life alone on this mountain in my little ice castle.” And everyone’s like, “She’s a lesbian. We should give her a girlfriend.” And it’s like —

Royce: There is absolutely no indication that she’s interested in anyone.

Courtney: Yeah! So, like —

Royce: Like, you’re imposing something on her that was not present in the media.

Courtney: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s my issue with the imposition, because that does happen to real-life people sometimes. Like, there are people who are very happy to be alone and single their entire life — like, famous people who, after they die, it’s like, “It’s probably because they were gay.” It’s like, it’s not the only indication. Like, the things they said! Like, Edward Gorey. The number of people who are like, “Edward Gorey was a homosexual.” Like, mmm, the things he said were very Ace. He even said the word

Courtney: Asexual in a later interview in his life, and people just like to forget that.

Royce: Yeah, that was one of the rare cases where the word did exist or was starting to exist and be mentioned around that time, and he did confirm, yes.

Courtney: Yeah, and even if you say, like, “Well, maybe he was a homoromantic Asexual,” people are like, “No, he was just born before Stonewall, so things were different then.” Like, okay.

Royce: He actually referred to an early attempt at a gay relationship that got sexual as traumatic.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: That was the word he used.

Courtney: [laughs] Yeah. So to go back to this question, I’m going to give myself a gray dot. Because if it’s in real life, absolutely no. If it’s an established couple in media, I’m going to absolutely say no. If it is a situation where someone’s like, “This relationship-less person who hasn’t seemingly expressed any sort of attraction to anyone in either direction, I’m going to clearly ship them with someone else,” then I’m like, “Uhh, but maybe they are just friends. Maybe they are just friends!”

Courtney: “The cottagecore aesthetic is one of your faves.”

Royce: Ehh.

Courtney: I mean, it’s a good one, most of the time. A lot of people do it really well. And I’m like, are we talking dress? Are we talking home aesthetic? Are we talking on other people or on me?

Royce: I think I have to put no on this, mostly just under the grounds that I don’t really have favorite aesthetics. I think there are some things that I like that would fit into cottagecore. I’m currently germinating a bunch of seeds to get ready for the coming months.

Courtney: I kind of feel like you’re living the cottagecore life without performing the aesthetic. Does that make sense?

Royce: Yeah, that’s fair. That’s fair.

Courtney: I feel like that’s you. [laughs] So I’m going to give myself a gray dot. What do you say?

Royce: I’m going to say no.

Courtney: You don’t do gray dots. I have, like, six gray dots right now and you have none.

Courtney: “Always have to deal with people saying that you and your friend would be a cute couple just because you two are caring towards each other, and people tend to associate it with being in love.”

Royce: No, I don’t think that’s happened to me. I’m generally… I think my friend groups are generally small enough and I didn’t really date around the periods of times where I would have been around people who may have said that.

Courtney: I think I have to say yes. I mean, not anytime recently and probably never again in my life, [laughs] for obvious reasons, but I mean, as I said, I had a boy assigned to me. [laughs] There absolutely were elements of that in the past when I was younger.

Courtney: “Not relating to the most famous and mostly romantic description in books about butterflies in your stomach.”

Royce: I have to say no to that. That saying has always made sense to me, but I don’t know if I always felt something like that in these same situations. I mean, there are a variety of sort of anxious or anxiety-adjacent feelings that I would have that I think are close enough that I get the feeling.

Courtney: I think I’m also gonna say no. I don’t know if my association with that feeling — it’s certainly not literal. I mean, if people think that that’s a literal feeling, I don’t feel that. But, metaphorically speaking, I don’t know if my association is the same as an allo person. It probably isn’t, but I’ve at least got my own association with what that is, I guess.

Courtney: “Your favorite trope is found family. No questions, just found family trope.” I have an issue with the word “fave.”

Royce: Me too.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: I was gonna say no. I think that seeing a lot more found family is good. I think found family is a very powerful thing and a very important thing in a lot of people’s lives, and so seeing that depicted more instead of just the, you know, traditional nuclear family as the ultimate goal of every person’s life — that is a good thing. But all tropes get overplayed eventually. And I also just don’t really do favorites, so.

Courtney: Favorites is tough. I’m going to… I’m going to give myself a gray dot because —

[Royce and Courtney laugh]

Courtney: Because I love the found family. I really, really love it. But I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite for anything. If someone’s like, “What’s your favorite food,” I’m like, “I could give you a lengthy list of foods that I like, [laughs] but to pick a favorite one?” And that’s sort of always been the case. And we both talked about this. Like, when someone asks, “What’s your favorite such-and-so,” I don’t have a favorite such-and-so.

Courtney: In fact, at times in my life, I have also just picked a favorite because I thought it was a good answer, rather than it literally being my favorite. Like, during the Disney Renaissance or right immediately after the Disney Renaissance, and people would be like, “What’s your favorite Disney character?” That was a question I was asked a lot, for some reason. And I got asked that question so much that I was like, “Well, shoot, I guess I got to actually get a favorite Disney character.” And I was like, “What’s the most unexpected answer I could come up with?” Because of course people would be like, “Oh, this princess,” or this, like, main character from this movie, or something or another. And I was like, “Let’s pick the most silly, obscure side character in a movie that no one else would say is their favorite. That’s going to be my favorite.” And I rotated a few times. I picked a few different choices. But it’s like, I’ve never had a literal favorite! If someone asks what your favorite character is, I don’t have one! [laughs] I have ones I like and I have ones I don’t like. That’s about it. But if you’re asking, do I really love the found family trope? I do! I do.

Courtney: Final results. Well, Royce, it looks like you’re not AroAce. I might be in four different ways. [laughs]

Royce: I’m a little surprised, but yeah, the dots for me fell scattered. I got close on one or two.

Courtney: You got close.

Royce: But yeah, a lot of this is… Even some of the ones that I answered yes on, I don’t like the line of questioning.

Courtney: I expected nothing less of you and of us. Because, looking at this… So, you had no gray dots. You were like, “This is a black and white issue. I will say yes or no based on how I have decided to interpret the question.” You are one dot away from being AroAce on the very top row. Me —

Royce: So you’re saying, if I go listen to Cavetown for a little bit…

Courtney: If you go — yes! Then, you can be a card-carrying member [laughing] of the AroAce community. Me, on the other hand, I’d have to justify turning these gray dots to black, but if we did, I’d be AroAce on the first row, the third row, the third column, and the fifth column.

Royce: But without your maybes, none?

Courtney: Technically, I don’t have five in a row of all black dots. I have four in a row. Some of my maybes I think are heavily more weighted in one direction or another, but it’s also like — it’s purely up to how I’m interpreting this question, and I can interpret it in two different ways. So, yeah. So, I mean, I mean, I think, based on the the chart I’m looking at with my very sophisticated graphic design skills on Canva here, I think you will be AroAce once you’ve listened to Cavetown, and I think I’m pretty solidly GrayroAce.

[Royce laughs]

Courtney: Because each of these four, too… Well, two of them. One of them only has one gray dot. The other three have two gray dots. So make of that what you will.

Courtney: So, I hope everyone enjoyed this. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your Aro Sparrow Week. Remember that? Oh my gosh. When we first talked about Aro Week on this podcast, we had just gotten some sort of auto-transcript program that was not good. And I remember pulling it up, and it thought that I said “Aro Sparrow Week.” And I don’t know why, but I think that’s what it should be called now. I like Aro Sparrow Week. [laughs] I like Aros and I like sparrows. Happy Aro Sparrow Week.

Courtney: It’s also Black History Month, so I strongly advise all of you to find a Black Aro and pay them money. We had an Aromantic Black guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race this month. How iconic is that? That’s beautiful. The only way it would have been more iconic is if that episode actually aired during Aro Week, but it was a couple of weeks ago. That was — and I don’t think a lot of people even know this, but Law Roach, famous celebrity stylist, has worked with, like, Celine Dion, more recently Zendaya, like, famous in the fashion world, famous among celebrities. He’s been out as gay for a while, but last year, he came out as Aromantic. So we had a gay Aro guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and I think that needs to be celebrated more.

Courtney: Alright, I suppose that’s it for today. Time to sign off. Teach me your ways, Royce. Your oh-so-sought-after and beloved outros.

Royce: I mean, do you want me to just cut where you said, “Okay, time to sign off”?

Courtney: That would be a thing you would do, isn’t it?

Royce: [laughs] That’s the appropriate place to end for next time. Just, “Okay, I’m tired. Time to sign off.”

Courtney: Whereas I am tired, therefore, I, Courtney Lane, co-host of The Ace Couple Podcast, do hereby sign off.