**Assuming lone essays can have dedications, this one is partially for the creators and crew of ABC’s Once Upon a Time but mostly for Justin. Ich liebe dich—immer, ständig. **
In my Indiana childhood, on the edge of the Bible Belt, I invoked a constant, subconscious, and, for some, immoral vigil—always on the lookout for some Prince Charming to call my own. Stories told of a man who would fight a dragon and face an evil witch for his beloved. I found Prince Charming first in the pages of favorite fairy tales. He popped up under different names, peppered throughout the concepts and the very grammars of world literature. At the apex, he appeared in the story of Snow White; here, he was even called Prince Charming, and charming he was.
In many tales, he rode a horse and was adorned in the highest, richest fashion. Only later in life would I realize that I was attracted not only to the heroics of a brave man whom I would have loved to emulate but also to the actual image of the man on the page, the drawing of him. The perfect curve of his brush-stroked jawline. The shapes of the hats he wore and the swords he wielded. The unseen but ever-present heart beating in his noble, armored chest. I wanted to be with him; for reasons that were both obvious and somehow unclear to me, I loved Prince Charming.
Many years later, after receiving both my gay card and my B.A. in English from the all-male Wabash College, I moved to Baltimore, MD and enrolled in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts program at the University of Baltimore. And while there, I met a man, a myth, a fashion designer. He was Prince Charming, but instead of a sword and hilt, his tools of the trade were a needle and thread. He had a passion for outfitting and repairing the many character costumes of his Six Flags America employer, and, in his spare time, he puttered and freelanced, designing dresses fit for the fairest Snow White. And even his own underwear.
Still in the writing program, and building a life with this wonderful man, fiction continues to be an important aspect of my life, and it always will be. I am a storyteller, after all, and a consumer of stories with which I can identify, on which I can project. In ABC’s most recent hit series Once Upon a Time, I have found a new iteration of the fictional Prince Charming. Josh Dallas’ Prince Charming is not gay and is, of course, no competition to the real thing in my life, but he is the next step down. Beautiful and masculine, he is the embodiment of every man who would die for his lover—and in the pilot, he almost did just that. Watching this moment, I teared up, and when he came back with the rest of the fairy tale characters in the form of an amnesiac John Doe in Storybrooke, ME, I felt elated. The tale of the prince would continue after all, feeding my need for well-told fiction and the universal love story. Someday, as all the viewers know, Snow White’s Prince Charming (not to mention her memory) will come back to her, as mine came to me two years ago. Once Upon a Time might very well be my favorite new show of the season, and I think it’s clear why.
All my life, I’ve had this need. To be around a Prince Charming, about him, of him, with him, and—as I grew older and more aware of myself sexually—to be on, over, under, and in him. In short, Prince Charming was and is the object of all my prepositions and the desire of my grammatically correct life. As a confused child, I was in love with a handsome myth, and until I came to Baltimore, he remained a myth. But in Baltimore, in the process of finding myself and my writing, I found him. I found my Prince Charming, both fictional and real.