Superheroes are far more than just fictional characters in a nonexistent universe. Superheroes remind us that no matter how much garbage there is in the world, there will always be good guys fighting for us. They remind us that you don’t have to look a certain way to be a hero because being a hero is entirely about your actions. The Black Panther made waves as the first mainstream Black superhero, giving Black youth a Marvel hero they could identify with.
We’ve all come to love Ryan Reynolds’ smartass yet kind-hearted ways. And his portrayal of Deadpool gave us another relatable hero, one who showed us that scars really are only skin deep. Though often self-deprecating, Deadpool was undoubtedly a badass. His love interest, Vanessa Carlysle, was unbothered by his scarred appearance, which helped Deadpool become more accepting of himself. Recently, med student, cosplayer extraordinaire, and self-proclaimed “Burn-Thriver” John Quinn of Millington, Tennessee gave us the most personal, concrete example of just how influential these relatable superheroes can be.
17 years ago, John Quinn was seriously burned across his face and body. He shared in an inspiring Instagram post, “I’ve been burned longer than I have been alive not burned. This part of who I am that I’ve learned to love and embrace. I don’t need to escape my reality because I absolutely love it. It’s taken years to get this way, and pity I know is inevitable to receive at times, but just know I am not a victim.”
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Sometimes I catch myself wondering what I would have looked like if I were not burned so severely. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy what I look like now. It’s just a curious thought that can have no real answer. I’m proud of who I am, I don’t need a answer. People always say “I’m so sorry that happened to you”, yeah it sucked no doubt, definitely one of the most debilitating painful moments of my life, but that isn’t the point. The point is, I was burned about 17 years ago. I’ve been burned longer than I have been alive not burned. This part of who I am that I’ve learned to love and embrace. I don’t need to escape my reality because I absolutely love it. It’s taken years to get this way, and pity I know is inevitable to receive at times, but just know I am not a victim. I love what I look like. It’s opened so many doors for me in my life and career. I’m sure I would have not helped as many people as I have now if I were not burned. Being burned was not the end for me, it was just a new beginning. So do I miss what I looked like? No. But there were times I did. It’s okay to grieve over your losses, but that is not me anymore. I don’t want anyone to be sorry for me, because I am thriving. I know who I am and my purpose in this world. I love being burned, trauma has given me such a great sense of humor, and I can laugh at just about anything. It is not a coping mechanism, it is just how I view the world and myself. I’m not a sensitive person. I would rather be hated on then pitied. It’s quite liberating to start taking ownership of who you are. You give words meaning, not others. Don’t forget to be a friend to yourself and practice self compassion. I love what I look like, I really do. I know some people might be baffled about it, but it’s true. They probably won’t understand because they aren’t me. But I have understanding on a lot of this. It does not matter in the long run, because I don’t run away from my problems anymore. I’m not that same insecure boy. I’m a man with fire scars. And if you get heart burn after reading this post, it just means I touched your heart🔥💙 I’m not your average guy, I’m not ashamed of who I am and neither should you🔥
Quinn’s strength and positivity is nothing short of extraordinary, and he credits Deadpool for helping him own his scars. To honor his favorite superhero, Quinn pulled off an incredible Deadpool cosplay, even learning to do the splits for his epic photoshoot. Aside from transforming into his favorite superhero, Quinn had another dream – he hoped to get the picture to Reynolds himself, letting him know just how much Deadpool’s character changed his life for the better. A few months after his initial post, Quinn got his wish.
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It would make my dream come true if @vancityreynolds got to see this post! I learned to do the splits just for this photo. Deadpool has honestly made me way more confident. Anyone who has read or watched anything about Deadpool, knows his face and body are pretty messed up. So it’s only natural that I cosplay him. I wanted to be authentic as possible, and that was to not wear a mask. It’s so easy to cover up who I am, and to give In to despair. Deadpool just makes me not care about that stuff and show my true self. This is me, and I’m not Ashamed about it. Deadpool is icy clean, and he’s helped my self esteem so much. I’m owning who I am, and cosplaying Deadpool makes it that much easier.
Sliding into the comments of Quinn’s incredible cosplay photo, Reynolds commented, “Holy sh*t, Jadiant, this made my YEAR. Can’t even describe what this post means to me. Also, I can do the splits… but only once a year. And it has to be in the lobby of a hospital.”
Of course, Quinn was beyond thrilled that he got Reynolds’s attention. He replied, “BROOO I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU SEEN IT! You made this so worth it. I HOPE YOU CONTINUE TO INSPIRE SO MANY OTHERS.”
The costume was amazing, the response was above and beyond – but possibly the best part of all of this is that Quinn is a hero in his own right. Inspired by Deadpool, Quinn embraces himself fully. Now, he works with the Courageous Faces Foundation, inspiring others just as Deadpool inspired him. So yes, Reynolds will continue to inspire so many others – but so will Quinn.