The Novels That Saved My Life and Helped Me Escape the Pressure of Being Straight and “Normal”

From an early age, I knew that I was different from other students, especially boys. I preferred to play with girls but even then I didn’t completely belong to them either. As I got older in elementary school, I felt like it became less acceptable to spend so much time with girls as a boy, so I retreated to the haven of the library.

Here I could escape the fact that I felt very alone and could travel to new realms with endless possibilities. From CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia to Pullman’s His Dark Materials, I loved the idea of ​​a whole new world out there where people dressed and behaved differently from the world I lived in. A world where “normalcy” didn’t exist and where I was free to be who I wanted to be.

I often felt like I was so absorbed in the dream of those other worlds that I didn’t feel fully present in my own. However, as I got to high school and met more people, I started to find a small number of people who looked like me and who I could be myself with, and that was unbelievable.

They shared with me their own stories of their struggles from sexuality to gender: stories I had never encountered in the hundreds of books I must have read before encountering them.

These stories were raw and sometimes sad, but they were theirs and they belonged to them. Like Lyra, the protagonist of His Dark Materials, they were dreamers and thinkers, independent people who forged their own paths, and I wanted to be like them.

As I went through high school, I was able to accept my sexuality more and more – both with the help of my new friends and books. I started, little by little, to live my life in a more authentic way, from the way I spoke to what I chose to wear.

While there were still times when I felt lonely and exhausted navigating the world as a gay man, I no longer felt the need to escape the sometimes harsh realities of the world as often. That’s not to say there haven’t been times when I wish I could have been like Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia and stumbled upon a whole other world, but those thoughts didn’t come as often as they once did. . I was growing up to better accept myself and not run away from who I was or who I wanted to be.

About Karren Campbell

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