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We Need More Asexual and Aromantic Headcanons

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Jessica Yang

Staff Writer

Jessica grew up in Silicon Valley, yet somehow ended up rather inept at technology. She dreams of reading luxurious novels all day in a greenhouse, and is guilty of writing puns for money. Majoring in Japanese and English literature made her both wary and weary of the Western canon. She can be bribed with milk tea. Follow her on Twitter @jamteayang.

I don’t often dream up headcanons, but when I do, I headcanon that all my faves are ace. It’s just so easy. I go about my day, reading cereal boxes or staring into the fridge, and then I realize — hey, given her character arc in Discworld, Granny Weatherwax is totally asexual! And I bet the Queen of Attolia falls somewhere on the aromantic spectrum. And how about Brienne of Tarth?

Imagining that fictional characters are asexual or aromantic isn’t much of a stretch, especially with books that aren’t in the first person. If you don’t know exactly what goes through the mind of Intrepid Hero So-and-So, they could be ace! Or aro! Or demisexual heteroromantic! The possibilities are endless.

To my mind, asexual and aromantic headcanons work just about everywhere. But in canon, they’re pretty much nowhere. This isn’t exactly surprising, considering that the “A” in LGBTQIA is often forgotten. And it doesn’t help that (heterosexual) romance is so heavily emphasized in fiction. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy a good, swoonworthy romance. Reading about people falling in love and feeling the electric fizz of attraction is tons of fun. But that doesn’t mean better representation of people on the asexual and aromantic spectrum isn’t desperately needed.

When it comes to books found in your friendly neighborhood library, I can reel off only a handful that feature actual, canonical asexual characters. These volumes are few and far between. Even then, it’s a real toss-up whether the representation is accurate and respectful, or totally wrong.

Which brings me back to the need for #ownvoices, a.k.a. books written about people of marginalized groups, by people from those specific groups. (Thank you to Corinne Duyvis for this ever useful hashtag!) There is always a need for more representation — and not just any representation, but good, respectful, and thoughtful representation. Who better to bring that to the table than those who live the reality that they write? Unfortunately, I have yet to find that #ownvoices book, though undoubtedly, it’s out there.

In the last year, I’ve read two books with asexual characters —Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey and Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate. I was excited for the inclusion of ace characters, but I wanted more.

asexual books

With that in mind, I’ve been trying to find more books involving asexual/aromantic characters. I’ve added to my to-read list Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and Clariel by Garth Nix. I’m looking forward to how those books pan out.

In my heart-of-hearts, I dream of shelves upon shelves of books starring asexual/aromantic characters. Until then, I’ll get by with my headcanons. Do you headcanon any characters as ace or aro?