An interview came out between two of the show runners where they confirmed that Raphael would not be aromantic because he has a “deep romantic connection” with Isabelle Lightwood, and that they would be exploring them more in the second part of season 2, and how his coming out as asexual would affect their relationship. Oh and the fact that he doesn’t use labels.
Angry is an understatement.
As you may or may not know Raphael was confirmed on Twitter by author Cassandra Clare to be both aromantic and asexual. These were confirmed in two different tweets, the asexual one first and then the aromantic one a few days or months after. So Raphael Santiago is “word of God” aroace. Not just asexual, not just aromantic. Both.
Now onto my point. By confirming that Raphael will not be aromantic for the potential and development of Rizzy (Raphael and Isabelle’s ship name), a ship that 95% of the fandom despise anyway, is arophobic and aro erasure. They are changing, whether deliberate or not, an aromantic character to fit an allonormative relationship, a toxic and unhealthy one at that.
I talked a lot about why you shouldn’t ignore the “aro” in “aroace” in yesterdays post but I need to emphasis on some points. The fact that we have little representation as aroaces, and the fact that we need them. Having two characters who are aroace ripped away from us is so damaging (yes I’m talking also about Jughead and Riverdale here). It teaches aroaces and aros that we shouldn’t love being aro, that being aro is wrong and that we need to fix the fact we are aro. It tells aros and aroaces that “romance makes a person human”. And that you only accept half of who we are. Stop aro erasure already. If you can’t write a character without romance then maybe you should write a character at all. Romance doesn’t define a person. If you really don’t know how to write an aro/aroace character well ask an aro/aroace. It’s that simple. We would rather you ask us than decide to erase half of their identity.
We already have to face a lot of arophobia within the fandom and how they’ve denied Raphael’s aromanticism for years, saying that it’s “not really canon” or whatever just because they want to ship Raphael with another character. Shipping should not be at the cost of a whole community. Shipping should not invalidate someone’s identity. Shipping should not ERASE someone’s identity.
Don’t get me started on the fact that he won’t be using labels, just because he’s a vampire doesn’t mean he hasn’t been introduced to technology or something that would introduce him to the world “asexual” AND “aromantic”. By not using labels this increases the aphobia because it can be twisted once again to “not really canon” because the words were never used. Labels are not dirty words. They are words to help define who someone is. This doesn’t just go for Raphael, none of the characters on Shadowhunters have used their labels. Magnus hasn’t said the word bisexual, Alec hasn’t said that he’s gay. Only the story telling and the choice of lines have really told us what their sexuality is. LGBTQIA+ people like me need labels to feel reassured in our representation and by not using them you’re telling us that our labels are dirty.
We don’t want your half arsed canon, we don’t want your arophobia. We want Raphael for who he is aroace. You can’t just canonise one half of who he is and throw away the other. It’s not fair. Romantic asexual Raphael is not a win. Fix this before it creates more damage. Also stop making a LGBTQIA+ person’s identity about the other person. Also don’t make Raphael’s asexuality about Isabelle, this isn’t about Isabelle at all or about “how she it’s going to affect her”. This is about Raphael. Period.