WARNING: POST INCLUDES DISCUSSION OF DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE.
I knew all my life that I was gay and had an attraction for men. I remember distinctly in kindergarten have this HUGE crush on a first grader. He was tall and had the cutest smile. Since then I had a crush on a guy in every grade. At first, I didn’t think much of it or even what to call it. However, I knew that I liked guys and just didn’t like girls. It was around the 3rd grade that I began to pick up that I may was gay…and where my personal turmoil started.
I remember having a teacher who actually discussed sexuality, involving both heterosexuality and homosexuality. It wasn’t in a disrespectful or heteronormative way but for me it raised a great awareness about myself. I had a name for it. Gay. Homosexuality. That’s who I was. From that time, I fought hard to change. I was raised Christian and attended Catholic school. I was taught and believed that my feelings were a sin and that I was going to hell. I prayed to God to please take it away. I wanted to be normal. I didn’t want to be an embarrassment to myself or my family. It took me into such deep depression and dark places mentally. I hated myself and often didn’t not want to be here. I can remember on at least two occasions where I did try to end my life. The world didn’t love me. God (I felt) didn’t love me. I didn’t love me. And I didn’t think anyone ever would. I wanted my existence to be over.
Fast forward to my junior year of high school. I was still heavily depressed at this time, but it was very clear for myself that I was gay. I was tired of fighting it. I had tried dating girls. I tried being “one of the guys”. I tried being bisexual. But there was no running from it. So, I came out which was a…I can’t explain it. It was a freeing yet difficult time for me. Freeing as in I didn’t have to hide who I was but difficult in I didn’t have family and some friends support or love anymore. It wasn’t until college where I got access to therapy and established a great group of friends from all sexualities, genders, and other identities that I began to love myself and love my gayness. It’s amazing how those four years for me provided me so much needed insight and freedom that I have been longing for all those years before.
In my 20s (I’m 30 now) I went through what many would call gay adolescence. I had spent most of my adolescence hating myself while others were opening and actively learning more about themselves, an experience that many LGBTQIA individuals can relate to in some way. For me this included understanding more about my gender expressions and identity. It’s not that I didn’t like being a “man” or that I wanted to be a “woman”…I just never felt connected to the two or felt that they accurately reflected my gender. I wanted to embrace more of my feminine energy that was in me while not neglecting my masculine energy. Now in the gay community, this certainly made dating hard with the whole “no fems, no fats” thing. But as I got older, I just stopped giving a damn. I had already had experience trying to hide who I was resulting in mental chaos and depression. I didn’t want to travel down that road again.
These past few years have been quite a journey for me. In 2017, I decided to embark upon my entrepreneurial quest to form and build my online boutique, Pass Da Suga. The idea came from a matter of understanding my own expression of style using fashion and accessories and would eventually come to have a lot to do with how I personally identify. My gender expression and ultimately my gender identity, cannot be defined within the binary of male or female. It was one of the reasons why I decided to start my boutique and offering styling services as a genderqueer stylist. I don’t believe clothes have a gender and I have always loved using fashion and style to express myself. It was just last year that I finally realized that my gender identity was not man or woman but nonbinary. In all honesty, it has been something that I can say I’ve always been all my life. However, because of my new career endeavors and experiences in the last decade that taught me more about myself, how to love myself, how to express myself without boundaries or fear. I found myself. Again.
Mx. Leeander Alexander. Black Nonbinary Queer. Preferred pronouns they/them.