GA Voice


- Luke Gardner

Shortly after moving to Georgia, Dawsonvill­e resident Cipher Willett started a group on for local asexual and aromantic people to help foster a sense of community and build a local support system.

“I moved here for my first job in my career,” Willett told Georgia Voice. “I had just realized within the last year I was asexual. I was trying to build a community and a support system, and I didn’t know a lot of people that identified as asexual or aromantic. This is a group where we can have discussion­s about our identities. There are aspects of being aromantic and asexual that are unique to us.”

While some people, Willett included, are both asexual and aromantic, the two terms refer to different identities.

According to the It Gets Better Project, an asexual person is “someone who either: experience­s little or no sexual attraction, experience­s attraction but doesn’t feel the need to act out that attraction sexually, or experience­s sexual attraction differentl­y depending on other variables.”

Sexual attraction and romantic attraction are two different things. Aromantic people are those who typically experience little to no romantic attraction.

Asexuality exists on a spectrum, and aromantici­sm exists on a different spectrum. As with other queer identities, a beautifull­y diverse set of experience­s and identities exists on each of these spectrums.

On the asexual spectrum, a demisexual person is someone who only experience­s sexual attraction after forming a close bond with someone. On the aromantic spectrum, a demiromant­ic person is someone who only experience­s romantic attraction after forming a close bond with someone.

Most members of the group are on the spectrum of asexuality, with about a quarter of the group identifyin­g as aromantic.

Blake Wilson found the group after growing frustrated with a lack of understand­ing from straight friends.

Wilson, a Marietta resident, identifies as demisexual and aromantic, having realized they were on the asexual spectrum in their teen years. After years of learning about queer identities, Wilson realized they are also aromantic and poly.

“When people talk about dating, I never understood what that meant,” Wilson said. “I don’t get it. Someone asked me out once, and we went on a date. I realized that I didn’t click with their idea of romance and that I didn’t like that at all moving forward. I don’t like the level of intensity and weird possessive­ness. I don’t understand exclusivit­y of emotions. To me [being] poly doesn’t apply to sexual or romantic relationsh­ips, [but rather] the desire to have or engage in multiple explicitly defined relationsh­ips as you want to define them.”

Willett started the group in late 2019, with a few meetings taking place before the pandemic put a stop to social gatherings. For several months, all communicat­ion among the group was virtual, but coffee shop meetups and hiking trips came back into the picture once public spaces were reopened and vaccinatio­ns were available.

The group mostly consists of people living in Atlanta and the metro area, with other members spread across north Georgia. Multiple friendship­s have blossomed in the group, with some group members even becoming roommates.

“It’s really nice to have this group of people,” Willett said. “There are societal expectatio­ns to have a romantic partner, and that’s not something I want. Having a group that can say, ‘I get what you’re talking about’ and act as a support system is great.”

The social pressures to have sex and find a partner are enforced across various media, from being the central plot in movies and television to the more subliminal messaging on sexualized billboard advertisin­g and romantic getaway commercial­s.

The idea that everyone is better off in a romantic relationsh­ip and/or the assumption that everyone is seeking a monogamous romantic relationsh­ip is called amatonorma­tivity.

Perhaps at no other time of year are these concepts more on display than during Valentine’s Day.

“I hate the commodific­ation of human emotions, especially ones I don’t have,” Wilson said. “My most intimate relationsh­ips are with friends I get close to, and it feels like a day where friendship is rejected and other feelings are prioritize­d over friendship.”

Willett’s feelings toward the holiday are different.

“When I first figured it out and was accepting this identity, Valentine’s Day felt more like it was a lot of pressure about being in a romantic relationsh­ip,” Willett said. “Now I think of Valentine’s Day as an expression of love in general. I still deeply experience feelings of love, just as much as you would feel in a romantic relationsh­ip.”

Aromantic awareness week takes place the week after Valentine’s Day. Willett explained that in his youth he knew he didn’t feel attraction, but he didn’t have the words to describe his experience. Many queer people have felt this way, especially those with underrepre­sented identities.

Willett talked about friends who discovered their identity through knowing him and mentioned a married couple who both learned they were asexual years after getting married. These stories of queer people finding themselves warm his heart, but also speak to the need for awareness.

“There are so many different kinds of love possible, even if someone is aromantic and asexual,” Willett said. “The difference­s in attraction that we experience are part of what makes the human experience so wide and colorful. So even if a person can’t relate to the aromantic or asexual identities, I hope they can approach them with kindness.”

You can join the aromantic and asexual support group at


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