“Prom King” by Rob Rosen from Best Gay Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Richard Labonté.
We’ve had a couple of books of LGBT fairy tales already, and this would’ve fit right into those, despite the fact that it’s contemporary and doesn’t contain magic. There is royalty of a sort, though, and a definite happily-ever-after ending.
Chuck is a high school aged everyman in love with an unattainable classmate. In his case that’s prom king Jack, the stereotypical dumb jock who’s failing biology. Jack needs tutoring to pass the class. Of course he does. And Chuck’s a whiz kid set to earn straight A’s in all of his classes. Of course he is. This is a fairy tale. Jack hires Chuck to tutor him after school, and the scene we get is fraught with tension. Then Jack’s parents return home and keep things from going as far as Chuck’s heart desires. Of course they do.
But wait, this is a fairy tale. We get to leap forward in time, and Chuck gets a second chance at finding romance with the man of his dreams. It’s a cute, very sweet story. I especially liked the voice the piece employs. It’s an older Chuck who’s looking back, telling us his story. He has just the right amount of self-deprecation and bite in his tone to keep the reader alternately smiling, rolling their eyes, and worried about how it will all turn out.