Rising up in Modesto within the Nineteen Seventies, Billy Lemon was standard and outgoing. He was a very good Catholic boy, and a little bit of a jock.
However all that was a cover-up.
“I actually needed to be a backup dancer for ‘A Chorus Line.’ However I did not need you to know that,” he says, referring to the enduring musical about dancers auditioning for a Broadway present. “So I’d secretly hearken to ‘A Refrain Line’ at dwelling, on my own, when my dad and mom and my sisters have been gone. To cover all that stuff on a regular basis is exhausting.”
His reckoning got here when he was 27. He was nonetheless in school, learning overseas in Europe, and received an invite to see mass on the Vatican on Christmas Day. He was sitting in row 12, staring up at Pope John Paul.
“I might have thrown a paper airplane and hit him. And I used to be like, that is the closest I’m ever going to be to what I do know as God, I am simply going to have a frank dialog with Him,” Billy remembers. “I stated, ‘OK, I am homosexual. I’m placing it on the market, I do know that I’m homosexual.’ That was the second. The subsequent week I used to be carrying a pretend ostrich-feather coat and I used to be listening to Madonna.”
When Billy got here again to California, he headed straight for San Francisco. He was 30, however he says it was like he was 16, discovering his sexuality for the primary time. He dove into the get together scene.
“It was like homosexual paradise, it was Mecca,” he says. “You’re in a dance membership with a thousand males, they’re all mainly bare, and a very good majority of them are excessive. It was off-the-wall loopy.”
Billy developed a style for crystal meth. It erased his disgrace, his inside critic. And it gave him the intercourse drive of a 16-year-old. It was enjoyable. Till it wasn’t. After the World Commerce Heart fell on 9/11, he misplaced his bartending job.
“Hospitality right here within the metropolis got here to a screeching halt,” he remembers. “It is sort of like now, to a lesser diploma. And that is after I began promoting.”
‘Breaking Dangerous’ With Present Tunes
At first, he bought small quantities, simply to help his personal behavior. However finally, he was transport kilos of meth throughout the nation.
He would go to Boudin Bakery on Fisherman’s Wharf to purchase bread bowls, hole out the break, line the within of the sourdough with meth, then cowl it again up and shrink wrap it, he says, including “some accoutrement from Fisherman’s Wharf, so it regarded like a care package deal,” then shipped it to Boston. Then his clients would ship again $16,000 in $20 or $100 payments by way of FedEx.
“No exaggeration, my life was ‘Breaking Dangerous’ with present tunes,” he says, referring to the television show about an entrepreneurial meth cook dinner. “That sounds enjoyable and humorous, however it wasn’t. It was that dangerous. There have been weapons and folks getting robbed. Stolen automobiles, individuals getting beat up. It was dangerous.”
Although Billy was by no means caught for the cross-country care packages, he was arrested thrice over his 10-year drug profession for possession or intent to promote. The primary two instances, he served a month or so in jail, then skipped out on probation. The third time, he received caught with a half-pound of meth and was dealing with a compulsory sentence in state jail.
The day he was scheduled to go earlier than the choose, he sat in his jail cell at 850 Bryant St. in San Francisco, desperately bargaining with himself, with God, with the universe: “Please, please, something. Is there something you are able to do to get me out of this?”
Billy was escorted to the courtroom in his orange jumpsuit and shackles.
And the choose dismissed his case.
“I used to be launched that day,” Billy says.
The Kamala Harris Twist
This was 2010. Kamala Harris was the district lawyer of San Francisco and her workplace was swept up in a scandal involving the San Francisco Police Division’s drug crime lab: a 60-year previous lab technician was suspected of skimming cocaine out of the evidence room for her own use, throwing the integrity of about 1,000 drug instances into query.
Harris’ workplace, which relied on this proof and the testimony of technicians in drug prosecutions, got here beneath hearth for failing to reveal the contaminated proof to protection groups, and for failing to have a coverage in place for how one can deal with doubtlessly exculpatory info like this.
Although her workplace initially tried to reduce the variety of instances affected and fought laborious to maintain them alive in court docket, Harris finally determined to drop them.
“It was like Christmas for drug addicts. Everyone was getting launched,” Billy remembers. “I used to be the fortunate beneficiary of a type of instances.”
To Billy, it was the reply to his prayer. An indication that the universe needed one thing totally different for him. He dedicated that day to cease promoting medication, he says, and he made his strategy to rehab.
By means of years of therapy, Billy unpacked all of the disgrace, trauma and internalized homophobia underlying his habit. He’s been sober for eight years and now runs the Castro Nation Membership, serving to different homosexual males get off medication. Billy says it’s all due to Harris.
“She actually saved my life,” he says. “She has no concept that she saved my life, however she saved my life. She gave me my second likelihood.”
Billy continued to attract inspiration from Harris as her political profession superior, from DA to attorney general to senator. It’s as if every of her successes was an affirmation of his personal small triumphs towards restoration. When she introduced her run for president, Billy’s buddy instructed him it was time to take the following step.
“He’s like, ‘Lady, you started working on her marketing campaign X quantity of hours to pay again the truth that she saved you out of jail and does not even realize it,’ ” he says. “And I used to be like, oh, yeah, I am already making a shirt.”
Billy canvassed and raised cash for Harris’ marketing campaign. He says she’s a fighter for folk who battle. And that smile — it conveys energy and compassion, he says, drawing him in each time.
The Fairy Godmother Phenom
In fact, different individuals have combined evaluations about Harris and her report as DA. In San Francisco, she needed to walk the line between being the town’s “high cop” and dwelling as much as her extra progressive guarantees. Both manner, dropping these instances was not an act of benevolence for drug offenders. She was not within the enterprise of handing out “get out of jail free” playing cards.
Billy is aware of this, however he units it apart. He’s received his narrative about her position in his life and he’s sticking with it.
“It was simple for me to place her on a pedestal. And since placing her on that pedestal, she’s solely gotten greater,” he says. “I really feel this bizarre fairy godmother sort of connection to her.”
The homosexual group has had a gentle run of celeb fairy godmothers over time: Judy Garland, Madonna, Beyonce.
Particularly for males of Billy Lemon’s technology, who’ve been rejected by their households or the church, they’ve elected these well-known ladies to fill the position of nurturer and advocate.
“A number of us homosexual males that grew up in sort of strict spiritual dogma, the concept of God is simply sort of gross,” he says. “The concept of a goddess really sounds actually sort of superior.”
So for Billy, a former Catholic who started to forsake his typical God on the Vatican itself, it’s totally becoming that he deify Kamala Harris. Particularly now that she will be vice president and the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, accountable for a few of the greatest selections within the nation.
“It’s sort of rad, like, tremendous rad. The primary 50-50 vote that they’ve, and so they get to zoom in on her gaveling within the vote, is sort of badass,” he stated. “I’m sort of impressed by that.”
Whether or not it was intentional or not, Billy says he turned his life round due to a choice Harris made.
Her ascension to energy is simply one other signal that he made the suitable determination to consider in her — even when she is simply the human image of a large fortunate break.
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