“Like No One’s Watching” by Josh Helmin from Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press, 2009).
This story is part of an expanding catalog of works that re-imagine high school as, no doubt, it already is, somewhere, and hopefully will be everywhere, without remark, in the near future. That is to say as a place where all kids, including gay kids, are free to be themselves.
Mark isn’t out to his sister Brynn, but not because he’s hiding. You get the feeling that he hasn’t quite put the pieces together yet. An artist, he knows the subjects he likes to draw, but it isn’t until he agrees to be an usher during the school play and cannot take his eyes from actor Seth Stratton that he begins to understand the true nature of his heart. The greatest thing about the unfolding of the rest of the plot is what doesn’t happen. He doesn’t imagine that his world will fall to pieces if he makes his feelings known. He doesn’t expect to be physically or emotionally attacked. He doesn’t actually angst at all. He simply acts, and then deals with the result he gets. Perfect.