Corey Johnson has a tendency to stand out.

That may take the form of an Instagram lip-sync while strolling through City Hall Park.

Before that, it was on the football field.

Johnson grew up in public housing in Massachusetts and was considered a star player on his high school football team.

He rose to national fame with a flashy headline: "Icon Recast: Support for a Gay Athlete."

He came out as gay at 16 years old, drawing attention from major media outlet like ABC's "20/20."

"I am coming out as a gay student," he said in the interview.

After that, Johnson quit college and moved to New York. He worked for a gay rights group and soon found out he was HIV-Positive.

"I am an openly gay man, I am HIV-Positive, I grew up in public housing," Johnson said at a forum for city council speaker candidate last month. "I don't come from a political dynasty. I have fought my entire life. "

Politics was a natural fit. He worked on Mark Green's campaign for state attorney general in 2006.

"Even in 2006, he just stood out as someone of high intelligence, super-high energy, and an innate ability to be progressive but not doctrinaire," Green said.

Then, he worked for city's Retail Workers Union.

"I haven't found anyone who understands people and politics better than Corey Johnson," said Stuart Appelbaum of the union.

That relationship did not carry into the speaker's race, as the union endorsed Johnson's rival Mark Levine.

"We never had a problem with Corey," said Appelbaum.

Since Johnson won his city council seat in 2013, he's seen by some as ambitious and affable. Others question, behind-the-scenes, whether the councilman is trustworthy.

"I trust Corey, but I can see how other people might not," Green said.

Many agree he works hard. Most say he's been courting votes for speaker for months, if not years.

It appears he succeeded.

Johnson will not officially get the speaker title until the council votes. That vote is scheduled for early-January.