Lucas Butler Unmasked!

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

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Reply The_Fixer
3:31 AM on November 4, 2013 
It's tough knowing you're different and thinking that difference makes you unworthy of friendship, isn't it?

I'm happy that you found your way out of that mental trap, and at an earlier time in your life rather than later. Best of everything to ya, kid :)
Reply Ulysses Dietz
6:21 AM on October 31, 2013 
Bravo, Paul. Each of us who has made this journey embraces you and welcomes you. You are experiencing a world changed beyond imagination for those of us who were teenagers in the 1970s. And yet that world is still a minefield of potential pain and unhappiness. You have come so far so young, and it fills my heart with joy. Welcome.
Reply Yiannis
10:00 PM on October 29, 2013 
I think I shared this feeling with you Paul. (I use the word "think", because the facts of thirty years ago somehow fade from memory). My reason for contemplating suicide was that I didn't care enough for anything except for my family and when my family started breaking up, I felt that I had nothing to hold on to. But, the discovery of my sexuality, gave me a reason to live: fully exploring this exotic and in many ways uncharted land, within me and without me, became my chief concern during the next couple of decades. And only when I felt that I have no motivation to explore anymore, depression settled in. So, yes, being gay can be a life saver.
Reply PaulR
3:10 PM on October 29, 2013 
Very interesting. I used to think that that sort of experience in school was really rare (easy acceptance), but I'm seeing a lot of indications lately that it really isn't all that rare. It actually seems cool to be gay in some schools these days.
Reply Dennis Stone
9:58 AM on October 29, 2013 
John - You forget, this is Minnesota. If I had a dollar for each Johnson I grew up with I could buy a new car! Where you come from the pseudonyms are generic names (as with your choice of "John") to cover up the odd real names. Around here we use the more exotic pseudonyms to cover up the mundane real names! My one and only "girlfriend" in high school was Sue Thompson, and my first crush was Tom Erickson. Just the way we roll around here. (Seriously, Paul Johnson is his real name.)

John says...
Oh come on, "Paul Johnson"? You expect us to believe that?
Reply John
5:15 AM on October 29, 2013 
Oh come on, "Paul Johnson"? You expect us to believe that?