What do you think of when someone says the words “college experience?” One of the more common activities associated with college and the sense of freedom that comes with it is having sex. With no parents and a population of over 30,000 students at the University of Connecticut, the opportunities for sex are abundant. For many though, sex is the last thing on their minds.
Asexuality and aromanticism are two similar but different identities that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. People who identify as asexual or aromantic experience little to no sexual or romantic attraction to others, respectively, contrary to the majority allosexual and alloromantic population. Unfortunately, these sexualities are often quite overlooked and unrepresented.
Spaces for Aros and Aces is a discussion group for students at UConn who fall under the asexual and/or aromantic spectrum or are questioning their attraction for others. Meeting Wednesdays at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Rainbow Center, the group explores identity, labels, relationships, navigating allosexual and alloromantic culture, their favorite aromantic and asexual media and anything else that may come to mind during a discussion. The group falls under the umbrella of the Queer Collective, a collection of diverse discussion groups specializing in a variety of facets of the LGBTQIA+ experience.
Sex in college is normalized to the point where it’s almost expected as part of the college experience. It’s a conversation topic, a fun activity when you’re bored and/or a special shared experience with another human being. Contrary to the norms of college culture though, asexual students simply just aren’t into it — which, can feel isolating in a setting where sex is seemingly so prevalent.
“For many people, the idea that some people don’t have to have sex or romance – heck – experience sex and romance in a way different from them, doesn’t occur to them at all. Many people just cannot wrap their heads around the thought of people who don’t experience sexual or romantic attraction, let alone those with complex relationships with that attraction,” said Kaiden Allen, facilitator of Spaces for Aros and Aces and an eighth semester theatrical design and technology major.
Spaces for Aros and Aces is seemingly the only resource on campus specifically for students who identify with such groups. For these students, there aren’t any other options at UConn that cater to their own specific identities.
Furthermore, there is a startling lack of ace/aro representation in public and in media. As a heterosexual individual, the only example I have ever seen of a character identifying as aromantic or asexual is Todd Chavez in the show, “Bojack Horseman.” This goes to show that unless people are specifically seeking out media with ace/aro representation, they have a very likely chance of never being exposed to these identities. For people struggling with or questioning their identities, the lack of relatable characters and representation in society makes it all the more difficult to resolve them.
This is exactly what makes Spaces for Aces and Aros such an important and meaningful resource for many.
“Yes, the struggles of navigating the world as an ace or aro person are real. To me, finding community is the best remedy. Finding out you are not alone, that there are those who relate, have advice or experiences, have a shoulder to cry or a joke to make about the ridiculousness of allosexual culture, makes being asexual or aromantic not something to ‘deal with’ but something to celebrate,” Allen said.
For those who are interested in learning more, some informative online resources include aromanticism.org and whatisasexuality.com. For forums, additional resources and a Discord, you may look no further than The Asexual Visibility and Education Network, which has served as a hub for the asexual community for decades. Finally, the New Haven Pride Center has an Affinity Group for aros and aces.
Allen remarked that if anyone is interested in joining Spaces for Aros and Aces, to shoot them an email at email@example.com to check the time, since it moves around.
“All of us have completely unique experiences. It’s wonderful. I wouldn’t give it up for the world, and I’m so happy to get to share this with members of my community,” Allen said.