A Voice Once Swallowed
A Voice Once Swallowed is a story written by Okō. It ran in Issue 69 at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/a-voice-once-swallowed.
How does the New York Rangers PR department react to media rumors of impending player trades that are stressing out the team? Warring hashtags and a Junior Rangers fundraiser, of course. If Nicholas Larsson happens to take advantage of this effort to show his boyfriend that Kolya is safe around kids, well, that's no one's business but theirs.
If Nick happens to be particularly motivated to do this because of a really awkward dinner with Kolya's parents, well, that's no one's business but his own.
I highly recommend cooking borscht while wearing an apron. I also highly recommend cooking it, full stop. The first draft of this story involved a lot more cooking and was intended for the food issue, but I missed the deadline and it grew sideways and in directions I hadn't intended.
Note that this story deals with homophobia in both Russian and American culture. Some language is strong; some internalized narratives are deep-seated and damaging. This is still an S2B2 story, but it's hard to write a gay Russian hockey player who doesn't have emotional baggage, so I just tried to make things work out in the end, especially with regards to family dynamics and embedded cultural norms. If you're interested in efforts to combat homophobia in professional sports, check out You Can Play.
Our narrator is on the asexuality spectrum. He would (if he were aware of the terminology, which he really is not) call himself demisexual rather than asexual, and is not "healed" by having sex. Please message me or comment if you're curious.
Many thanks to Himawari, who went above and beyond in betaing, language-related and cultural research (especially wishing people good luck in Russian) and to the editors for helping this story become a *story* instead of a series of linked vignettes that sort of meandered to an abrupt stop instead of actually ending.