Becoming Myself: Growing up Gay in a Straight World

In support of the well-being of lawyers across the professional spectrum—from students in the classroom to attorneys in all walks of legal life—we have launched a Mental Health Impact Blog Series, in partnership with alumnus Jim Warner ’92. Comprising deeply personal essays by community members who have struggled with mental health issues, the series provides restorative insights and resources to fellow lawyers in need.

The Mental Health Impact Blog Series coincides with a Law School-wide initiative, which will include lectures and workshops to support and promote mental well-being. To get involved in the activities or to write a guest post, contact jim.warner.uk@gmail.com.

The article below is adapted from alumnus David A. Mill’s full-page editorial published a decade ago on the eve of the first gay pride event in Salem, Massachusetts.


I was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on Oct. 9, 1942, but I was nearly 50 years old before I began to deal with the reality that my sexual orientation was principally gay and was the root of my so-called mental illness. That realization was torture for me, a culmination of a half-century of guilt and shame. I still shudder to recall the terrible isolation of that journey.

As a young boy learning to fish in the Danvers Mill Pond, I readily internalized strong feelings of shame into a core belief: I was unacceptably flawed. It crippled my sense of self and prevented me from following the normal, healthy stages of adolescent development. I was consumed with the task of hiding the fundamental truth of myself from others around me—first my family, then my town, then the Prep, my college, my profession … everyone and everything. I pretended all the while to be something I wasn’t. At the time, to me, it was the only way that I could survive. It was really lonely.

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Mental Health Check-ins

In support of the well-being of lawyers across the professional spectrum—from students in the classroom to attorneys in all walks of legal life—we have launched a Mental Health Impact Blog Series, in partnership with alumnus Jim Warner ’92. Comprising deeply personal essays by community members who have struggled with mental health issues, the series provides restorative insights and resources to fellow lawyers in need.

The Mental Health Impact Blog Series coincides with a Law School-wide initiative, which will include lectures and workshops to support and promote mental well-being. To get involved in the activities or to write a guest post, contact jim.warner.uk@gmail.com.

Please be advised that the following post discusses depression and thoughts of suicide. If you need help, please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is now reachable nationwide by dialing 988, or visit them online.


During my first year of law school, I seriously considered taking my own life. It was a case of classic depression. There was no great nexus event to cause me to feel that way. It was simply the anxiety of being in a new situation, mixed with sleep deprivation and too much caffeine that created a chemical storm in my body. The reason I did not go through with my plan is that someone convinced me to get help. The thing is, I didn’t look like someone who needed help – at least not by law school standards. I looked tired and withdrawn, but so did most people.

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Crossing the Street: the Long Walk to BC Law

I grew up in Techwood, a housing project of inner-city Atlanta. Until it was razed in preparation for the ’96 Summer Olympics, Techwood was widely regarded as one of the most dangerous projects of any city in the country. Bodies in gutters and on gurneys, overdoses, gang violence, drive-bys. I saw it all. I still do, from time to time. So I escaped. Left it all behind. And I didn’t need a Wardrobe or a Tardis or a tricked-out DeLorean. All I had to do was press the ‘walk’ button, wait for the light to change, and walk across the street. It was just that easy. And when I stepped on the far sidewalk, as if by magic, the world changed from the pitted, blood-stained sidewalks of Techwood to the manicured lawns of Georgia Tech. That was my Narnia, my middle-Earth, my galaxy far far away. Use whatever metaphors and similes you can find. But the campus of Georgia Tech was as magical and mystical as any of those fantasy lands, except that this one was real. And it was mine.

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What ‘Panic’ Can Teach You

In support of the well-being of lawyers across the professional spectrum—from students in the classroom to attorneys in all walks of legal life—we have launched a Mental Health Impact Blog Series, in partnership with alumnus Jim Warner ’92. Comprising deeply personal essays by community members who have struggled with mental health issues, the series provides restorative insights and resources to fellow lawyers in need.

The Mental Health Impact Blog Series coincides with a Law School-wide initiative, which will include lectures and workshops to support and promote mental well-being. To get involved in the activities or to write a guest post, contact jim.warner.uk@gmail.com.


By Elizabeth Martin ’92

Back then, in that lecture hall, sitting for my third-year Administrative Law exam, I could not imagine the work I would be doing today: leading strategy and innovation for a multi-billion dollar business and the largest health care company in the world. In fact, at that moment, I could not imagine much of anything other than the wreckage of my future playing out in live action in my imagination. My heart was racing. My ears were ringing, drowning out every cogent thought I had ever had. That’s the power of panic—in seconds it is able to reduce your otherwise bright future into a movie of the worst imaginable things: “you will fail this exam, you will not graduate, you will crater on the bar exam, and then, you will embarrass yourself, shame your family, and never be able to make a living! Oh, and still owe thousands of dollars to the federal government for the privilege.” 

So it was written. A promising career, tanked before it even started, felled (or so I thought) by a panic attack in my third year of law school.

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Lawyers Helping Lawyers: Comfort on the Path to Well-Being

by Jim Warner ’92

In support of the well-being of lawyers across the professional spectrum—from students in the classroom to attorneys in all walks of legal life—we are launching a Mental Health Impact Blog Series, in partnership with alumnus Jim Warner ’92. Comprising deeply personal essays by community members who have struggled with mental health issues, the series provides restorative insights and resources to fellow lawyers in need.

The Mental Health Impact Blog Series coincides with a Law School-wide initiative, which will include lectures and workshops to support and promote mental well-being. To get involved in the activities or to write a guest post, contact jim.warner.uk@gmail.com.


“You are no more likely to suffer from depression now than anyone who has not suffered from depression.” And with those words from my treating psychiatrist, I was cured.

Until I wasn’t.

In the months leading up to this optimistic sign-off from my psychiatrist, I had lost my job after plunging into a major depressive episode in my late 40’s. I had undergone therapy, taken a course of antidepressants, and rebuilt my emotional and physical health in about three months. Job done. I chalked up this unexpected and traumatic period of my life to a high level of stress at work. I was the General Counsel for a company that had just gone public.  

Four years later, my old friends, Anxiety and Depression, knocked on my door again. This time, they hadn’t booked a return ticket. They intended to stay for a while.  

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On Innocence, Factual and Moral

One of the first lessons taught in the year-long Boston College Innocence Clinic concerns the concept of “factual innocence.” It is closely related to the concept of “actual innocence,” though different jurisdictions may refer to one or the other, and the substance and application of those terms can vary. Regardless of which term is deployed, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher when clinic students learn that the legal concept of “actual innocence” entails its own discrete body of thought and doctrine within criminal law. Doesn’t the determination of actual innocence suffuse the entire criminal-legal process?

It turns out it does not, and factual innocence is largely a claim raised in the post-conviction setting to overturn a wrongful conviction. That claim often finds little legal purchase. In Herrera v. Collins, for instance, the Supreme Court held that a claim of actual innocence does not entitle a person to federal habeas corpus relief under the 8th Amendment’s proscription of cruel and unusual punishment. Constitutionally and procedurally intact convictions can remain undisturbed by the truth. In Herrera’s case, a capital case, the Court ruled it was not cruel and unusual to execute an innocent man. That kind of antiseptic, procedural logic is one striking example of how the banality of evil manifests itself within the criminal legal system.

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Students Respond to Dobbs V. Jackson: Part Two

Student organizations have issued two joint letters in response to the recent leaked SCOTUS draft opinion. BC Law Impact has agreed to publish these letters in the interest of continuing a respectful dialogue within our community on this important issue. The following letter was issued by the organizations listed below.


By now you have probably seen the student statement regarding the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Inc. draft opinion from the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, this statement may create the impression that it represents our entire community. It does not.

While we understand many students feel strongly opposed to the draft opinion, we are also aware that pro-life students are just as much a part of the BC Law community. BC Law has always been a place where people with different ideas and beliefs can learn from and befriend one another.

We hope it is made clear that not all student leaders agree to the statement put out earlier today through the Law Student Association email account. As the most recent Diversity and Inclusion Statement notes, we acknowledge and welcome a range of viewpoints. Those with principled disagreements can still share the same community. Diversity of thought makes our community strong. We are confident that tradition will continue.

The draft opinion represents a major victory for our democracy. In 1973, the Supreme Court ended debate on the contentious issue of abortion. They hoped then, and later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that the issue would be settled. Despite perhaps good intentions, they were wrong. Abortion raises significant moral questions about a woman’s liberty, medical care, and the rights of the unborn. Since abortion was erroneously crystallized as a constitutional right, court battles have led jurists with no expertise to attempt to determine when life begins. Many believe that this question should be answered by us and our representatives, not the judiciary.

As law students, we know that the courts are powerful. When properly constrained, regular people are free to decide through their elected officials what values our law will reflect. We encourage all students to respectfully speak their minds on this issue. We applaud the effort to return this important topic to the people. We agree with our classmates that this dispute is far from over. Should the draft opinion be adopted by the Court, the debate would only just begin.

At BC Law, we sincerely hope that an exchange of different ideas and beliefs continues respectfully.

Signed,
BC Law Republicans
International Law Society

Students Respond to Dobbs v. Jackson: Part One

Student organizations have issued two joint letters in response to the recent leaked SCOTUS draft opinion. BC Law Impact has agreed to publish these letters in the interest of continuing a respectful dialogue within our community on this important issue. The following letter was issued by the organizations listed below.


By now you have heard of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Inc. draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court overturning the decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The draft, written by Justice Alito, sets the stage for millions of Americans to lose their constitutionally protected right to a legal and safe abortion. 

While the authenticity of the draft was confirmed, we still do not know whether this is the Court’s final opinion. Today, abortion is still legal in all 50 states. But if this is the Court’s opinion, it soon will not be. States have already been empowered to pass increasingly draconian and restrictive abortion bans in recent years. Twelve states have trigger bans that immediately go into effect if Roe and Casey fall. Some states have pre-existing anti-abortion laws still on the books. In all, abortion will be protected in less than half of U.S. states and territories if Roe and Casey are overturned. We also acknowledge that while Roe and Casey reified the right to abortion, access to this fundamental reproductive freedom is not accessible for all, especially low-income women of color, trans men, other pregnant people, and those living at the intersection of marginalized identities. Furthermore, coinciding with the uptick in laws modeled after Texas’ S.B.8, this decision opens the door to surveillance and criminalization of pregnant people and those who perform abortions.  In a criminal judicial system that has been built on systemic oppression, it is no surprise that the increased targeting of pregnant people will disproportionately criminalize Black, Brown and Indigenous people. Those who are disenfranchised in this country will experience the greatest impact from this decision. 

We also recognize that many people may fear the broader implications of this decision and what precedents may be overturned next. While people throw out the names of cases like Lawrence and Obergefell to illustrate the potential catastrophic consequences of the Court’s actions in Dobbs, the fear that many people have that their liberties and identities are threatened is very real. Even without the decision in Dobbs, the rights of LGBTQ youth and adults have been in peril–from “Don’t Say Gay,” to attacks on transgender youth, the community has a lot to fear. The Court’s decision–which will also inevitably impact trans pregnant people seeking healthcare at a higher rate– only adds to that. We stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ communities and communities of color.

As student leaders we realize the role we have to offer comfort, information, and solidarity in moments such as these. We want to acknowledge the deep sadness, anger, and fear many students–particularly those assigned female at birth–are feeling right now. We recognize that this comes at a very stressful time in the semester, making the news even harder to stomach. We will aim to create spaces to understand the intellectual and emotional implications in the fall and over the summer. Your community at BC Law is here to support you. 

As law students, we know the law is malleable, ever-changing, and a way to influence society. We encourage those of you who feel disempowered or frustrated by these decisions to use your power as a law student to effectuate changes you want to see. Whether that means donating to abortion funds or legal defense funds, explaining doctrine to others, engaging in legislative advocacy in your home state or at the federal level, or even joining the profession as a reproductive rights/justice advocate, this fight is far from over. 

Signed, 

American Constitution Society 
If/When/How: Law Students for Reproductive Justice
Law Students Association (LSA)
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)
Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
Boston College Law Democrats
Disability Law Students Association
Health Law Society
Holocaust/Human Rights Project
Immigration Law Group
Lambda Law Students Association 
Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA)
Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA)
Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF)
Women’s Law Center

We Need More Blood Donors: The FDA Ban on MSM Donations Must End

Tomorrow, Boston College Law School holds its last blood drive of the year at a time when the nation’s blood supply is critically low. Due to the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Red Cross had to declare its first-ever national blood crisis in January. Even prior to the pandemic, meeting the country’s needs was a challenge; 4.5 million Americans require a blood transfusion each year, but less than forty percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood. And less than ten percent donate annually. The BC Law community includes many people who have committed themselves to lives in service of others. But the prospect of donating blood remains a significant psychological hurdle for many. We have had to conduct constant outreach to fill the blood drive schedule. In fact, we still need more donors. If you are able, please sign up to donate here: Boston College Law Blood Drive Registration Page.

Given this state of affairs, it is all the more frustrating that we have had to turn away gay or bisexual men who are eager to donate blood. Despite the urgent need for blood and the difficulty of finding donors, we have had to tell friends, colleagues, and classmates that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for regulatory oversight of the U.S. blood supply, prohibits donations from “Men who have sex with Men” (MSM). The FDA instituted a lifetime ban on blood donations from MSM in 1985. This was early in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when the incidence of HIV among gay men was high, the virus was poorly understood, and there were no available screening methods for donated blood.

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She believed she could, and she did. Now we can: The Impact of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

On April 7, 2022, the United States Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next Justice of the Supreme Court, marking a historic step in the nation’s tortuous history with race and gender. For the first time, a Black woman will serve on the US Supreme Court.

Regardless of political affiliation, it is impossible to ignore the significance of this moment. While Justice Brown Jackson’s judicial impact remains an open question, her personal impact, particularly on Black women, is undeniable: a resounding affirmation and inspiration. Here are a few reflections from members of the Boston College Law School community.

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