What’s My Name? (Sebastian Speaks)

Leelah Alcorn

Leelah. She walked in front of a truck because she didn’t feel like there was any other option for her, no possibility of ever being seen or anyone KNOWING HER NAME.

Hello, Sebastian speaking, Sebastian Smythe.

I know it’s been yonks since I’ve been round, but I’ve finally wrested control from that fecking  waffling wanker of a yakker, Charlie, and can speak again. When the silly bastard stopped smoking, stopped drinking, and kept up that gym routine and healthy eating, all that positivity tied me up — not, alas, literally — making my appearances brief. Any adjustments and corrections I’d manage to this dreary life he’s trying to make us lead were shame-facedly expurgated by Mr. No Smoking No Alcohol No Tricking Stiff Upper Lip Smith — well, horses for courses, as they say, but I’m sick of the upper lip being the only thing that gets stiff in this body; spread the joy, you tosser, before the old prat’s todger withers away to dust, right?

Finally, the shite that has rained down recently — an accumulation of

baddish sort of rot piling on for months, set off by stepping in dog shit and, too, the house he’s sitting features an ancient radiator system knocking and banging and burping threats like the boiler that gutted Rosalind Russell and Hayley Mills characters in “THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS” — best film ever, why doesn’t A.L.W. do something with that one? — anyway, WHAT? Oh, right, so life’s hard lines tipped the scales and put paid to Chuckly-Wuckly’s control — not to mention he’s only gymmed it once since Boxing Day — all together made him weak, and then, he completely lost it over Leelah Alcorn — still can’t say her name without starting to sob. Lost it. All his buttons pushed. Hard.

And, so, it’s up to me, ten years younger and a might more gifted in the how’s your father department to cut through his codswallop and get my own chinwag in before the bleeding barmy bender gets control back. He’ tried to work a gymmer in yesterday but fat chance (so to speak) since he had his Mum and his pals lined up and he did the nod-off by accident since the radiator’s keeping him up nights and the silly sod had no chance to get his aggro out safely, thus, my entrée to control.

Tried to sneak a drink in, but the bastard won and wouldn’t even think it. I can’t get him to have any fun. Damn it, back off Charlie, I’m taking this one — but I’ll PRETEND I’m you.

### ### ###

Leelah. Oh, Leelah.

Leelah Alcorn walked in front of a truck to end her life because she did not believe that anyone would ever see her who she was, or, if they did, they would not love her for it; she died because of the terror that she would never be seen. Never be loved. Never be able to be.

I so fucking get this. And I am pretending I am okay, but this has destroyed me. It has brought up issues with which I thought I’d long dealt which, apparently, I have not. I have been (and still am) sublimating.

I have been among those asking (and exhorting) on Twitter (and elsewhere) how can we save Leelah? The next Leelah? How do we live so that we are reaching out to the next person who feels like the only option she or he has is to walk in front of a truck? I want, really, mostly, to be a member of the “it gets better” camp.

But, you know, does it? Really? Mostly?

All the trucks that don’t kill you — do they make you stronger?

I had the same sort of childhood as all sissy-boys. Same old story through high school. The name calling, and the beating ups, and the well-meaning exhortations by those who loved me to be like all the other boys. The suicide attempts. The running away. The drugs. The furtive sex. The struggle into adulthood, basically alone, basically without role model or promise of a future in which who I was, really was, would ever be even okay with the world at large, let alone, celebrated.

I thought about walking in front of trucks — my own version of same — and never had balls enough to manage it.

I achieved a version of society approved, sort of culturally normative, pet gay token man adulthood.

I spent five of those years in corporate hell. My climb to management made no sense. I had neither the qualifications nor temperament for employee supervision or client interaction, yet, I was chosen to head up a transition of policy-payment I.T. systems from Indiana to suburban D.C. for a major health insurer.

I found out, much later, I had been the only available applicant for the position. I was — quite literally — a space filler, someone to blame. And, I was an easy mark and a token. I never understood the game, never was going to be a member of the club, never fit any more comfortably into that world than I had in school or society at large up to that point in time.

But, in corporate hell they don’t shout faggot at you and dunk you in toilets. Much more pernicious. Sneakier. The way they crush you is far more clever. Your yearning to sit there, at the head of that table, makes you complicit in your own destruction.

I was a classic outsider. Everywhere. And, I was openly gay, so the powers that be could point to me as proof of how tolerant they were — and, at that time, I could STILL be fired JUST for being gay.

I sat in meeting after meeting, and — for the most part — people were outwardly polite. I did get things done. I did produce. I did manage people reasonably well. But, here’s the thing: despite the majority of employees being female and largely, females of color, the actual top management was all white, heterosexual male. When I was given my own department, I had forced upon me a white heterosexual male of some average ability, not terribly concerned about anything to do with work performance, but quite well made, pretty, and most important, a definite asset to the corporation’s sports teams. Had he been a woman, a person of color, or less actively heterosexual and sporty, he’d have been considered a marginal employee at best. But, here’s the thing; while I was NEVER invited to do anything with the white, male, heterosexual director of the place, this young man — almost a boy — who worked for me — along with the four other white, male, heterosexuals in the place (an auditor, an accountant, and two other processor-types, like the youngster who worked for me) all became a “golf-group” — who visited the nearby greens on the corporate-membership-dime and, more importantly, bonded in the bar and locker room there.

They networked. A network predicated not on ability — at least two of these fellows were famous for their near incompetence at their jobs — but on gender, race, and sexuality. When this company was bought, dissolved into a larger corporation, one of these fellows moved to a mass-media start-up and took along two of the others — coincidentally two of the three of these were idiots — and ALL of them became multi-millionaires. Dumb luck and timing contingent upon having white dicks aimed at women.

I, on the other hand, not only was not invited along for the golf or the multi-media company, but the new corporation that swallowed my company determined through personality testing and my personnel file that I was not the type of person they wanted working for them. I was not, it was determined, a manager.

I guess not. Managing, not my strong point. I barely manage my way through the days. True that. Although I did, after that corporate adventure, manage to manage a theatre company for quite a while and manage and counsel an agglomerate hundreds (thousands?) of students and parents and adult cast members into relatively cohesive wholes. The stories got told. Skills were taught — theatrical and life skills. Lives got saved. I managed that well enough.

Until another unhappy end, but, that’s a story for another life. Not the point.

But what is your point . . .

Point, I didn’t fit in corporate world. I worked harder than most of the people there. I was smarter than most of the people there. But, as it had been in school and life, I did not — could not — fit into the normative mold. I stuck out. I had to make my own way on a path that was not approved, but was the only way I could walk — it was my direction, my way, and pot-holed and pitted and difficult to travel though it was, I had no other option, the more conventional paths were closed to me — those golfers closed those doors. I didn’t close them, I didn’t “stray” from the path — it was gated. I was blocked. Denied access.

And when the rules seemed skewed or unfair, eventually, yes, I did say something. And I learned the lesson we Leelahs all learn: When you don’t fit and you choose to speak up — no matter how quietly or nicely you do so, even if you politely raise your hand and ask a question in an apologetic whisper — you are marked as an outsider and a trouble causer.

And I was afraid. I was paid more then than I have EVER made since and it was twenty-plus years ago. I wanted a place at that table. I walked part of myself — the part that didn’t fit into that gold-group — in front of an existential semi.

But you have made so much noise . . . you’re making noise NOW . . .

Yes, there is a part of me that people see, point to, the part that screams and objects and fights — but he was born because I was beaten up and on so badly. I walked him in front of a truck so I could have a little peace. Yes, I was name-called from the moment I was out in public. Long before I was out in public, so to speak. I had to develop defenses. I had to have volume and anger and the “I OBJECT” gene because those golf players (and all the other versions of members of clubs into which I would never be invited) didn’t give me a choice. When they weren’t mocking or beating me, they were excluding me from the club — we are — we outsiders, kept from the greens and the rooms and the bars where the secret codes are taught and spoken — and so when it comes time to gain access to the millions and the power and all of that, we don’t know the language. We aren’t members of those clubs and cabals. We aren’t privy to the passwords. The pass. The words.

And I have to ask myself, “Why do I want access? To what do I want access? How can I make a world of my own where none of that bullshit matters?”

The answer was always (and still, in many ways is) YOU CAN’T.

Leelah felt she would never be really loved, never really accepted, that the unloving “you cannot be you” response she received from her parents and the religious co-criminal murderers those parents subjected her to would be the story of her life.

And she wasn’t wrong. Not really.

Exhausted . . . existential EXHAUSTION . . .

And so, my dears, I am fucking exhausted. So exhausted that on my bad days, yes, I have wanted to execute my version of walking in front of that truck.

I would have heard you, Leelah.

We all need to hear Leelah, especially when she is inside of us. Because, this world is hard. This life is hard. And we must be always on watch for the ways in which we ourselves become complicit in inviting it to steamroller over us; the abuse we allow because we have become accustomed to it, brainwashed by a world that marks as other and outside, as not invited into the golf club. Example:

Someone I knew briefly, someone with whom I spent time, someone with whom I didn’t even exchange real names until the something was almost over, someone whose final text to me was:

Got GF now. Rather have real pussy. Not really queer.

Yes, that. Well, after long silence, that someone messaged me:

Wanna give you big favor if you do me little favor.

Sadly, I lacked enough dignity to just completely ignore him. I fell for it, I asked what he was talking about.

Totaled car. GF in hospital. She’s ok. But I have no car right now. You bring me little bottle tequila. I do whatever you want. Im so hardhorny since GF in hospital.

I didn’t reply. He kept on. For hours.

Cum on dude Your chance for straight dick Cum on

Honestly. And while his messages may make him sound as if he is the lowest sort of bottom-feeding scum (and, emotionally, morally, okay, yes, he IS) his outward appearance, his place in this world is at the head of a table and in a golf club group. He fits in. Or, at least, he looks like he fits in. He plays like he fits in.

And yet, what the fuck? Do I look like Susan Hayward to you? I have an IQ in the genius range. I have long been the go-to person for people in need of go-to and solace — in fact, I am — right now, being a “go-to” and “solace” person for any number of people. So, why, WHY do I STILL have such little self-esteem as to have aligned myself — however briefly and even with (especially with?) alias identities — with those men who belong to the golf-club and would NEVER publicly invite me along?

Even in death, Leelah’s ought to be in prison parents, refused to acknowledge who she was. That sort of ignorance and hate ends up producing a child without hope of love, a child whose final embrace is the front grille of a semi. But, have I not done the same thing to myself by ALLOWING this sort of text to happen in my life?

Would it not have been better to have walked in front of a semi hurtling down the highway at seventy miles an hour than it has been to allow this slow cessation of Charlie? To have repeatedly offered myself up to people to whom I was disposable? Since Leelah died, I have been haunted, tortured by horrifyingly bad dreams and memories involving the people I loved — deeply, fully, without reservation — who threw me under existential semis when I needed them; family members, friends, lovers, those I’d saved and given solace who threw me in front of semis.

By choosing them, by loving them, by trusting them, had I not killed myself? Piece by piece? Heart chamber by heart chamber?

Is it better than it was in the world when I was seventeen? Yes. Much. Is it better enough for me to encourage someone like Leelah — or my own inner Leelah — to keep going? Honestly, I don’t know. Because as a culture, as a society, we seem — largely — to still hold up that golf-club-invitation, big-money-big-house-prize as the goal. And, that is all illusion. Delusion. That is out of reach for nearly everyone. And all we nearly everyones for whom it is out of reach are kept so busy fighting one another for a little, tiny smidgen of the golf-club — brainwashed by the members of the club that we can get in, really, if we just work hard enough and eat everyone in our way — yes, we are KILLING one another at the behest of those members who are NEVER going to let any of us in and are DELIGHTED we are at each others’ throats.

I am exhausted. They are the truck. And we are all walking in front of it every fucking day.

I am sorry, Leelah, that no one was there for you. And I am sorry, Charlie, for the ways in which I have abandoned you as well.

Oh, Sebastian again — that was perky as shite, wasn’t it? He’s lost it, you see, which is why I’ve dropped in, taken over the corporeal form for a bit. Don’t worry, it’s more to do with mourning that Joseph Gordon-Levitt got married over the holidays and NBC decimated “PETER PAN: THE MUSICAL” and he was turned down (i.e. IGNORED) by another agent and — well, lookit, Sebastian’s got him. I’ll take care of him until he can take a deep breath again without weeping.











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