Visibility (i.e. Part 2)

A short drabble for the first day of Asexual Awareness Week.


It starts, as do all things that are worth it in the long run, as something small.

It starts with a nondescript black ring, placed reverently and cautiously into the palm of his hand like a treasure. The cool edges sink into his skin, already part of him, sleek and silent and powerfully symbolic only to those who already knew.

It starts with the realization that even the sturdiest of rings would be rendered piecemeal  by the working joints of a bionic, flame-throwing hand, and the discreet exchange of a silvered metal proximal phalanx for a black one.

As all things that are worth it in the long run, however, it grows.

It grows into races around the city, eyes straining for the most unintentional of references to ‘ace’. They are two of a kind, tracing blurred lines through the streets, ascribing validation to unaware wordings, jubilant in the knowledge of their sameness, breathless at the knowledge of their apartness, thrilling and celebratory of who they are in a city where no one else is quite like them.

It grows into striped stickers they slap, with suppressed laughter, into the corners of shop doors, on lamp posts, that say “You are not alone” and “It’s okay”.

It grows into a white cape painted with gray, blacks, and purples – much to the initial chagrin of its owner – and worn the day a monster borne from the sexual frustration of misogynistic office workers manifested. It was a horrible day overall, as many of the following news reports were themselves written by misogynistic old men attempting to reduce their heroic efforts to “machinations of those who wish to prevent anyone from engaging in such pleasurable activities, given that they themselves are unable to achieve them” and denying the existence of a monster in the first place. Accurate reporting of the incident was initially only available from several news stations with a higher ratio of female employees, at least until the not-so-discreet demand that the Hero Association ensure quality news reports from at least the more influential news stations was passed along.

It grows into the installation of railing flower planters filled with foamy black, gray, white, and purple flowers. Neither of them are sure whether black or gray flowers really exist, but a certain doctor seems to have acquaintances of all sorts. Including, apparently, one who specialized in flowers of unrealistic colors.

It grows into something brought up at every interview, to explain the lack of girlfriends and discourage the nonstop barrage of erotic fan-letters. For whatever reason, this seems to only encourage further questioning and an increased volume of amorous letters, worried, consoling, each confident in their ability to convince them of their inherent wrongness.

It grows until the names of two particular heroes are whispered by those who have finally found someone visible, someone like them. It grows until some of the fan letters express gratefulness not only for their hero work, but for their unceasing support of those like them. Thank you, these letters read, for letting me know that the way I am isn’t wrong.

Their visibility is a process, but every day it becomes more a part of who they are. It takes effort sometimes, forces them to lash out against those who deny them their existence, but every single letter, every single quietly proud black ring, and every single moment they share just knowing who they are, and that it’s alright, and that they are understood and loved for who they are, is worth it.