On Monday, Feb. 22, the Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio (AAACO) hosted the first-ever community-wide Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week (Aro Week) event in the state of Ohio. Kenyon’s own Ace Space and Aro Place (ASAP), an affinity group that was started last year, collaborated with AAACO, directing people to the event. Held each year on the first full week after Valentine’s Day, Aro Week strives to both celebrate and increase visibility for people across the aromantic spectrum, which encompasses those who experience little or no romantic attraction.
This was not the first event ASAP was involved with this semester; before Aro Week began, Unity House and ASAP provided grab-and-go, platonic Valentine’s Day cards for students who wanted to celebrate the occasion with people who were not their romantic or sexual partners.
Dorian Rhea Debussy, associate director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and one of ASAP’s co-advisors, worked with the group’s student leaders to expand this year’s Aro Week programming — specifically tailoring it for the Kenyon community. The celebration of aromantic spectrum identities featured two main events: a panel hosted by Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio and a special, campus-wide, virtual meetup for aromantic and questioning students hosted by ASAP.
“We are thrilled about the turnout for the panel from Kenyon and the broader community in Ohio,” Debussy said. With more than 100 people registered, the goal of the Aro Week panel was to spread awareness about the needs of the aromantic community, which aren’t often discussed in queer spaces. As the founder of AAACO, Debussy hopes that the interest in this panel and other similar programs will lead to better consideration of the needs of the aromantic community in “education, healthcare and community-based settings.”
In collaboration with the Equitas Health Institute and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network of Central Ohio, the four student panelists, including Kenyon students Judah Greenberg ’21 and Micah Smith ’22, shared their personal experiences as students on the aromantic spectrum and some of the challenges aromantic people face in the LGBTQ+ community. They also discussed the intersection of aromantic identity and other marginalized identities as well as how alloromantic people (those who experience romantic attraction) can become better allies to people on the aromantic spectrum.
Towards the end, the panelists encouraged attendees to donate to AIDS Walk Ohio — the state’s largest fundraiser for HIV and AIDS service providers — on behalf of Team Ace and Aro, which is the first ever AIDS Walk Ohio team to represent members of the asexual and aromantic community. This is Kenyon’s third year participating in the event as an institution.
To learn more about aromantic identities, visit www.acearoalliance.org.