I scrapped my last personal statement and gave this one a shot. I figure that most of my accomplishments will be covered in the resume and letters of recommendation and that I shouldn't necessarily reiterate those. This is pretty personal, and fairly reflective, but it's also might bit too jarring:
"Look at that gay man," one of the ten or so boys yelled. The epithet had been hurled my way long before I even realized I was gay, so I was conditioned to ignore it. When I was seven years old, I asked my mother "what's a gay man, and why do people call me that?" "It's a bad word for boys who like boys. People call you that because they have no hometraining," she said in her typically Southern way. I was quite precocious so the answer did not really make sense to me. "Well, why don't they call anyone else that, and how come it's always the other black kids saying it," I asked. She gave me what I now recognize to be my first lesson in gender studies. My mother, who was legally blind, raised me alone with no help from my father. The fact that I was with her all the time, she reasoned, probably meant that I had feminine mannerisms and speech patterns. "Lots of people think that if a man is somewhat feminine that means he's gay, but that's not always true. Black kids can sometimes be really mean to other black kids if you don't act the way they think you should. I know that's all confusing, but just ignore them and they'll leave you alone."
"Homo," another said. I continued walking until I stopped at the intersection. Suddenly, one of them punched me across the right side of the face. I was so stunned, that I crossed the intersection and walked to the University Security Station. It was only then that I started to cry. "It's broad daylight and I'm dressed conservatively," I told the Dean. I could see in her eyes that she realized what I was getting at. The Eastman School of Music was a tight-knit community, and she, like everyone else, knew about that tuba player who had the bizarre part-time job. I worked at local bars and nightclubs as a drag queen. I had chosen the name Jenna Saisquoi, a fitting double entendre for a Francophone "lady-man." The Dean had recently expressed concern for my safety, and said that I should not leave the bars in drag alone. Neither of us could ever have imagined that it was actually near the bus stop that I needed to be more on guard.
The story of my attack appeared in the Campus Times and the outpouring of support was overwhelming. Coincidentally, a few days later, I was scheduled to host the Pride Network Panel "How to Dress in Drag." The group's officers offered to reschedule the discussion and while I considered it, I decided it was important to hold the event. I was more emotionally battered than physically injured, and giving the talk would be an act of personal courage. The panel was very well attended and, as always, the question and answer session was the most entertaining part. "No, I did not want to live my life as a woman. Yes, my mother knew that I did drag. Yes, I really did just consider drag a job and a creative outlet. No, I did not want to be the next RuPaul, and in fact I was not even sure I wanted to play the tuba anymore."
I left the talk, dressed in a black miniskirt, thigh high boots, and a long black wig. As I walked to my practice room, I heard a student say, "and he wonders why he got punched in the face." His words hurt nearly as much as the fist had, but I kept my cool. I never made it to my practice room that night, because I immediately began writing an editorial about the student's remarks for the next issue of the Campus Times. The drama of those few weeks eventually faded in my mind. I ruled out a career in tuba performance, and focused exclusively on studying French at the University of Rochester. At that point, drag was my only creative outlet, so I threw myself into it even more. I did shows more frequently, sometimes hosting contests, and headlining large parties. Eventually, I started co-hosting a Thursday night Drag Revue with one of the local radio disc-jockeys. Today, it is one of Rochester's busiest club nights.
Now, when I walk down the street in broad daylight as a conservatively-dressed male, I am more likely to hear "Wait, ss that Jenna Saisquoi?" than "gay man." Sometimes people stop me and ask why I am "so dressed up." When I say that I am employed as a paralegal at Nixon Peabody LLP, many are completely incredulous. I explain that although I do host the drag show, I went to the University of Rochester, studied and worked in Paris, and hope to become an attorney. When they are still skeptical, I try to disarm them with humor. "Drag queens," I often joke, "do many of the same things lawyers do. We respond to the demands of the crowd, just as attorneys respond to the demands of the client. Surely, you don't actually believe I enjoy performing Beyonce songs every week do you? Judging a drag pageant is actually harder than a judge making a ruling on the case. If someone thinks a courtroom judge is wrong, they'll appeal. If I give someone too low of a score, they might shred my gowns. And come on, getting people to believe I am a woman is the same thing as presenting a compelling argument. Hey, the fact that I'm saying these things right now, ought to show that I will make a great litigator."
While a career in drag is not fully analagous to a career in law, it is one of the many experiences that has shaped my worldview. Rather than ignoring those who have "no hometraining," in hopes that they would leave me alone, drag gave me the courage and confidence to face any challenge head on. It has imbued me with a greater sense of empathy than I ever had before. It has given the strength and tenacity to carry on in the face of adversity. Most of all, it helped me realize never to take myself too seriously. There is, after all, nothing serious about a man in a dress. Combined with motivation and intelligence, these are the qualities of a great attorney. They are the qualities that will make me an excellent student at ______________ Law School.