Warning — this post talks a lot about queerness, depression, suicidal ideation, and shitty people. (“Govern Yourself Accordingly!”, as fancy lawyers like to say to sound threatening).
If you have known me for any appreciable amount of time, you probably already knew that I was, at minimum a bit off kilter. See, e.g., this Buzzfeed article. Can you can spot me? (Hint, it’s at ¶15, and I still do not know who sent this photo to Buzzfeed).
But I did not recognize I was queer until very recently (BTW: I wish you all had told me sooner, it would have saved me a lot of consternation). This is also a difficult post for me to write, as I have tended to be very private in the past about my personal life. However, as I have committed to the Qowat Milat philosophy of “Absolute Candor” in 2021, it is time I get this off my chest.
Recognizing my queerness was a hard thing for me to come to terms with over the past few months. 2020 was a hell of a year. I spent much of it suffering from suicidal depression. I was so completely depressed that I was not even able to write Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (yes, this is a real subgenre, check out Leviathan and Xasthur. Sidebar: one of my local metal buddies is Leviathan’s lawyer. What a weird, small world). You know you are in the shit when you cannot even find the creative passion to write music for a subgenre that is all about being depressed and killing yourself, in a genre that is all about killing each other and burning churches, and playing guitars in the snow. (I will probably write a post about my suicidally depressive 2020 later, but that is another story for another time. Short version: the only reason I am still here today, writing this post, is that I am simply to polite to leave my corpse for another person to deal with. Also, do you KNOW how difficult IOLTA accounting is? I couldn’t possibly foist that burden on another person).
That said, I found myself living on my own in October of 2020. I have not lived by myself since I was 21 (ish? My memory is starting to go at 36 so this is my best guess). I got my own apartment. It was weird, this monastic life without other people around me. I was alone with my thoughts. That is a scary place to be, let me assure you.
But in being alone, I was able to take the time to work on myself. I had the time and space to realize who, and what I was. I’d started therapy about a month prior (highly recommend—everyone should be in therapy), which also helped me along the journey. I was able to be weird again. I say again, as I allowed a prior partner to crush my creative spirit, for purposes of keeping up appearances of being A SERIOUS LAWYER™.
I only came to this realization these last several or so. It was enlightening and horrifying.
Irrespective, in that time of monastic contemplation, I started to stop lying to myself. When Harry Styles appeared on the cover of Vogue, it reminded me of a time when I was child, at a water park, afraid to get into a water slide. I then saw a younger kid fly down it, care free, and realized I had nothing to be scared of. Regardless what you might think of Harry Styles or his music, I owe him a debt of gratitude.
My partner has always been supportive of me in all things. They were supportive of me in this journey before I even knew I was on this journey.
But this was scary.
I grew up in a household where my parents threw the word “faggot” around. My dad had a gay cousin, but he was one of the “good” ones. I remember my father talking about how he made fun of his cousin when he shaved off his pubic hair as a teenager.
My father also asked me if I was a “faggot” when he discovered I shaved my armpits at 16. I still do. Easier to deal with.
Needless to say, this is difficult for me to discuss.
Last June, a group of us had all been at a drag show in West Philly for a gay friend’s birthday. We all had a “few” drinks. Things were supposed to be winding up with my divorce.
That night, D R U N K E N L Y, I hit on my ex’s male classmate of my from law school. This person presented as queer, but I was wrong. My b. Problem was, I had forgotten that this person was a MY EX’s CLASSMATE. I do not remember much of this conversation, as we had had a few (I am not perfect). THIS WAS BAD NEWS BEARS.
So around 11.30pm on June 4, I get a text out of the blue, calling me a “fucking faggot” and a “dirty disgusting human”, and accusing me of gaslighting her for years. I did not sleep well that night. There is much more to this story, but that is private business not suitable for the internet, and I do not wish to air any more dirty laundry than is necessary to make my point, or to harm my ex’s future law job prospects.
Whatever. I am too nice sometimes.
My internal struggles with that aside, I *think* (until relatively recently, at least) I am a cis-het presenting white dude.
If you look at my Instagram history you will see what I mean. I try to look like a Brooks Brothers’ catalog from the 60s. I have all of the privilege. I can go anywhere and be invisible. I have not faced adversity in my life due to how I look or act. So I was also afraid of intruding into a space that might not be meant for me, or which was inhabited by people weirder and braver than I.
This was dumb. I have largely been welcomed with open arms.
And then in the last year, I saw as friends and colleagues of mine (of similar vintages, or perhaps even with a few years on me) were brave enough to openly announce their own queerness, whether that be ENBY/trans/gay/pan whatever.
And just like that kid on the water slide, that gave me the strength. I was afraid of losing face, or clients if I did too—but I realized I am good at my job, and that if a client fires me over this, I probably didn’t want them as a client anyway.
So, TL;DR. Hi, I am Leo. I am queer (he/him/they whatever I am pansexual). I’m the same Leo as ever before, I just know myself better now.
The Great Work begins:
The Messenger has arrived.”
—Angels in America Pt 1: Millennium Approaches