Monday, August 9, 2010

My New Friend

My New Friend

I just met one of the coolest kids in the world Paul Ficklin.

Paul lives in Oregon with his mother. He’s 15, trying to figure out life, and just told his best friend that he is gay. Oh yeah, one more thing Paul is LDS.

I found Paul in the pages of John Langford’s book, “No Going Back.” And just so you know, minor spoilers followed by major spoilers below

I love this book. Paul leapt off the pages to me, and became a real person. He deals with the issues a sophomore in high school has, plus the added problems that he is gay, and the even more complex issues that arise when he attempts to reconcile his faith and orientation.

While I didn’t really come to terms with my same gender attraction until my 20’s Paul deals with all the issues I have, and many more, as he deals with the cut throat world of high school. The Gay-Straight alliance plays a part, as does his ward, bishop. Neither side is presented as perfect; in fact both are very flawed.

The story is told from many viewpoints and it works. We see how Paul’s mom, best friend, bishop, friends, and many others view Paul’s struggles.

I recommend this book to anyone that wants a panoramic look at how homosexuality affects LDS teens. Its available online at or you can order a e-book for only 2.99 and you can even read half of it for free online. No reason not to peruse this book.


Paul and Chad (his best friend)’s relationship parallels mine with one of my good straight friends. Chad doesn’t know how to deal with Paul. On one hand, they have been friends since they were 8; on the other Paul is a “fag” as Chad describes it. The bittersweet relationship they have, and how Chad eventually comes to Paul’s rescue was a powerful testament to the love and acceptance we yearn for.

The title “No Going Back” refers to how Paul can never go back into the closet. How once he comes out, he is out. But I think it also refers to the growth Paul goes through. He gains a strong testimony of Christ that is able to carry him through the hatred he gets from his church when they find out, and the harassment he gets at school from the GSA members when he defends Mormonism.

Even though at the end, his father having disowned him, his Eagle Scout award denied him, his high school experience taken from him, and being forced to move just to have a normal life, Paul is broken. He is at the end of his rope. He has done all he can, but then God picks him up, energizes him and carries him on.

I wanted to cry for Paul. It didn’t seem fair, it wasn’t fair, but it was realistic. A gay Mormon who wants to be faithful is attacked from both sides, the Gay side tells him he is repressing himself, that he cannot find happiness without having sex with men—many in the church are afraid we will contaminate them. They see us as a perversion. We are left in the middle, with our love for God to carry us through.

I hope some of the spirit of this book comes through my essay. Just enough to get you to read it. Chances are, you know someone going through a similar trial, or may be yourself. This book is a great way to begin to know what its like.

Note: I'd rate the content PG-13 for for language and a sexual scene

1 comment:

  1. I just read this book last weekend. Having the same feelings as the main character, being "gay" and Mormon, I find that the story really does a good job of capturing most of what it's like. The story doesn't idealize anything, nor try to sweep anything under a rug. I guess "painfully honest" would be the best way I would describe it.

    I would definitely recommend it to straight LDS people who want to better understand what the trial is like. For those who have SSA, it probably won't be much of an eye-opener. If anything, it confirms that I'm not alone in what I've felt, and it's nice to see someone portray that in an effective, non-judgmental way.