|Posted on October 28, 2013 at 10:10 PM|
By Paul Johnson (formerly known as “Lucas Butler”)
[Note: I, Paul Johnson, have decided to remove my previous pseudonym of Lucas Butler. This is partially because I'm now a legal adult, and partially because I'd like to mention this writing gig on my upcoming college applications. Carry on.]
Much of my childhood was spent contemplating suicide. A shy, awkward boy, I fumbled through year after year of elementary school without ever discovering anything I really liked about myself, or anybody who seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with me. I would sit quietly at the lunch table while my classmates effortlessly and jubilantly engaged in the casual social chatter I had never learned to participate in. In my mind I was an unimportant, utterly unremarkable individual who others talked to solely out of social obligation.
This was my default understanding of the world and my place in it until the eighth grade. After a year or so of internal misunderstandings I had finally come to understand that it wasn't an accident that I kept getting erections while looking at guys. I was scared because I'd seen melodramatic coming out stories on TV, and being forgettable was still better than being a violently reviled outcast. This finally changed when I saw several TV shows that featured female characters excitedly proclaiming the advantages of having a Cool Gay Friend to offer them fashion and dating advice.
Oh my god! This was it! For the very first time there was something about me that was cool. Girls would actually like me and want to be friends with me. Sure, I couldn't ever be bros with or even talk to a guy again for fear of them punching me, but who cared? I was going to have genuine friends!
Of course, once I actually got to high school, I was confronted with a set of classmates who didn't actually care one bit whether I liked guys or not. Over the past four years, my classmates have slowly taught me that being gay should not define me, and should instead just be one of many things I like about myself.
I am Paul Johnson. I'm in cross country, track, and robotics. I accidentally spoil “Walking Dead” for the fans who only watch the TV show. I have an insane amount of t-shirts referencing comic books that only I've heard of. Three times a week for lunch I bring in a Chipotle burrito stuffed until the tortilla bursts. I'm passionate about science and apathetic about band. When I get called in to the office during class, people joke that I'm probably getting another award.
These are the things that define me and help me relate to other people. These are the things that allow me to engage with others and converse casually as I had never been able to as a child. These are the things that have kept me from even contemplating suicide for the last year and a half.
Without my homosexuality, I don't know if I ever would have gotten here.
(Editor’s note: I really like this article! I like me some subversion, and it’s certainly subversive to see a young gay boy SAVED from thoughts of suicide by his homosexuality. Paul had wanted to use his real name earlier, but I thought it better to use a pseudonym while he was a minor. Paul, I’m glad you are doing better now than in your younger days. Good luck with your senior year and with your college search. And now I have to go change the names on all of your previous articles!)
Categories: Other Voices