The New 60

BY Robert Levithan

August 16 2010 6:55 PM ET

Last week I was turned down by a New York City co-op board.

The reactions of my real estate agent, my lawyer, the mortgage loan officer at the bank, and my very best friends could be summed up by a shocked, What the fuck?

I was not shocked. I was surprised. However, what surprised me most was that I was merely disappointed rather than deeply upset.

I had placed every detail of my financial life (along with references and endorsements regarding my integrity, value to the community, and all-around charm) in the hands of a group of strangers, that they might judge. Me. On their terms ...

I committed myself to getting this loft. My first offer was turned down. I was upset then. They chose another buyer "with better financials" who, ironically, couldn’t get financing in the end, so they came back to me. I decided to go for it. There were obstacles: Two mortgage brokers said I wouldn’t qualify for a loan in this new marketplace. I kept at it anyway.

I am self-employed. My business expenses cancel out a significant portion of my income, and on paper, I don’t fit into co-op board formulas.

Fitting in is not usually my number 1 goal. After a childhood and adolescence of trying to pass as "normal" (i.e., straight), by my 20s I had gone for a more noticeable style. I wore only white for many years and still tend to dress in light colors and wear a lot of cashmere scarves. I have often had long hair. I am one of only 12 who ride a Segway in Manhattan, which makes me an outlaw.

My work as a therapist came out of activism in the alternative healing community. We were the "lunatic fringe" in 1986: We were talking about living with HIV and quality of life. Today, I am doing the same work with HIV and other conditions, and it is "mainstream."













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