Hi, I’m Rick Anderson. I’m from Pearland, Texas.
I grew up in the Clear Lake, Friendswood area in my early childhood in the eighties and nineties. And it was a community, very conservative, very Christian. In that environment, I was very different. One, being a Black child, two, being gay.
I spent a lot of time by myself. My mom saw that, and she encouraged me to start doing something that was creative, like drawing. During the drawing, I always practiced what I would draw, and one of the things that I think I gravitated towards when we were in the drugstore, like the Walgreens, there was these comic books that were right by the checkout counter, and there’s this one series that just stood out to me. It was called The X-Men.
So naturally as a kid picking up comic books, I started drawing them. I read the books, I became obsessed with them. They told these stories, there was representation, these amazing people were different. They were like me, they were different, but yet they had these gifts and talents that made them special, and they used them to help other people.
As a kid, I played little league baseball, and we played in this area called the Brio site and it was basically a toxic chemical dump. A lot of the community was built on this site and it was affecting people, making them sick, and there were all kinds of things going wrong. Well, along came this, what I would call a super lawyer, a guy named Joe Jamail. He came in and sued that company and it was declared a Superfund site. They had to clean it up and make things right for the community. This was a different kind of hero to me. This guy did something to save and affect people, and I saw him as, Wow, this is a superhero, right? And I decided in that moment as a kid, like, Hey, I want to become a super lawyer like Joe Jamail. I want to become this great person.
Come to my junior year, I started applying to colleges, and I’m on this tour of universities across the East Coast and I find myself in a D.C. College, called Howard University. And while we were walking, a gentleman, seemed to be a professor on campus, was walking around with books and he started talking to some of the kids in the group. And that guy’s name was Charles.
I ended up started talking to this guy and he was a lawyer and he asked us where we were from, and I was like, “We’re all from Houston.” He’s like, “Oh, you know what, I have an office in Houston too.” I get back to Houston, I call him up and I interview with him and I get hired.
Unbeknownst to me, Charles is a person that’s gay. I didn’t know it at the time, but later I found that out. This firm was led by two Black women. They had political ties with political leaders here in Houston, the mayor, city council members, state representatives. I got to see and have access to what I would’ve never have seen on my own.
And I go to college and I go to the same school that Leon Jaworsky went to, Baylor University, and I stayed for law school. After graduating from Baylor, I’m back in Houston and I’m working at a litigation law firm, and I’m doing the big cases that I always wanted to do. and I came across a lawyer who also went to Baylor a little bit ahead of me. I was working with him and just always looked up to him. He eventually ran for judge. He had his partner at the campaign finance fundraising events, and I saw him standing there proud with his partner being this high-powered intellectual, talented lawyer, super lawyer out there and navigating that space and being a gay man. I was inspired.
There was another lawyer a little bit ahead of me as well that I looked at and watched and followed during my career. He was Black, openly gay. I learned from them that I didn’t have to camouflage and shapeshift to be that super lawyer I wanted to be, I could be myself. Eventually, that shape-shifting camouflage version of myself had to die.
I learned from them that I didn't have to camouflage and shapeshift to be that super lawyer I wanted to be, I could be myself.
And as that was happening, I reached out to that wonderful Baylor lawyer and it was just called them out of the blue. I think I was kind of panicking at the time. I called him and I said, “Hey, I’m in this place. I want to come out professionally. I don’t know what that’s going to mean for me, and I’m scared. I’m scared of it.”
He gave me words of encouragement that “This is not going to change who you are. This is not going to change your accomplishments. This is not going to change your talents and what you’ve done and what you can do. So don’t be afraid.”
So after I hung up with this Baylor lawyer that I looked up to, fast-forward, I did not lose my job. I did not lose the respect of my peers. I did not lose respect to clients. I actually did better, had better cases. I was my authentic self, and there was nothing holding me back.
I look back at me being a kid and imagining in isolation what life can be like and dreaming the impossible. And I had the audacity to think, “One day I’ll be happy with a partner and have a family and a beautiful house and a wonderful career, and just enriched lives and great friends.” And today that’s what I have.
I think there was a scene in one of the X-men movies where Mystique is always camouflaged as a natural human and not in her blue form. And somebody made the comment of, “You know how much energy you are putting into being something you’re not? If you just were yourself, you’d be so much more powerful.” That’s what happened when I became myself and that version of me died. My career took off after that. I became a super lawyer.