pro bonoJohn B. Dorris is an attorney practicing at Rebecca L. Palmer Law Group. He specializes in family law, mediation, and creditor’s rights. John recently received esteemed recognition from the Florida Supreme Court due to his pro bono services to the community. He has been a volunteer mediator with the Orange County Bar Association Citizen Dispute/Family Mediation program serving Orange County residents.

Let’s get to know John!

#PalmerPride #RebeccaPalmerLawGroupPride #LoveIsLove #HereForYou #PrideMonth

What do you love most about working at Rebecca Palmer Law Firm?

I love being part of the team and the genuineness of each member. The team works together with great energy, professionalism, and camaraderie, which translates into quality work for our clients. Rebecca reminds the clients we are here for them, an important message they need to hear while perceiving their world is drastically changing when going through a divorce or another intense family law issue. We often help people get through a traumatic, disruptive, and challenging part of their life, but they can get through it with reassurance that the pain will subside, the grey skies will become less and less cloudy, and they will experience joy again.

What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of? Why?

The obvious answer has to be becoming an attorney. Law school, the bar exam, and the character and fitness background checks are designed to keep as many people out of the profession as possible since once you are in, there are fewer checks on whether you should remain than people realize. An attorney’s integrity, honor, and honesty are critical for the legal system to operate. Those terms seem to mean less and less in everyday society and within our political system, which is a dreary pretense for the future. I’m proud and humble that I made it into a highly exclusive club of distinguished and honorable human beings.

How are you involved in LGBTQ+ community outreach events?

I’m involved in multiple queer sports organizations and will participate in their outreach events when the duty calls. More on that in question 5.

What are you most looking forward to during Pride month?

The celebration of uniqueness and community. Individualism is often contrasted with collectivism as if they’re incompatible, but in fact, they’re interdependent. It’s a fallacy to believe individuals can exist outside of the community. The community cannot be cohesive without recognizing the uniqueness of each member. Pride encourages us to celebrate our differences, learn from each other, cherish what makes us and our comrades unique, and remember the bonds we carry from similar life experiences, perspectives, and dreams.

What associations are you a part of that address LGBTQ+ matters?

Over the years, I’ve been in many organizations, most being LGBTQ+ oriented but some as umbrella groups fighting for multiple progressive causes. Now more of my free time includes engaging with queer sports organizations, including OUTSports League, the Orange Blossom Bowling Association, and the Central Florida Softball League. When people think back to elementary, middle school, and high school, their PE moments could be filled with a bit of trauma. Young people perceived as gay, soft, nerdy, or just different often were bullied and excluded from sports. We didn’t play dodgeball in elementary school; the kids called it “smear the queer.” For every child and young adult, it was a missed opportunity to socialize, bond, and learn about different experiences from others with different backgrounds, beliefs, or ideas when others are excluded. As an adult, queer sports become a safe space to enjoy a sport with others who probably shared similar experiences in their youth. If there’s a self-limiting belief they’ve held onto since childhood, it can be released once they see they need the right environment to thrive. Or they learn they do stink at a particular sport, but so what? It’s a lot of fun to play with people who enjoy your company.

This is important because it builds character, confidence, and connection. When life gets tough; when pandemics force isolation; and when parents, religious leaders, and/or politicians slander and libel communities, there’s a higher probability that the individual engaged with the queer sports community (versus someone completely disengaged from all communities) will have a support network along with a healthier mindset to persevere regardless of their obstacles or detractors. Queer sports can help individuals become healthier members of the community, which helps the community become a stronger advocate for itself. And it starts with one person moving past self-limiting beliefs and insecurities. Queer sports are more than just a game; it helps builds a stronger and healthier community so we can all thrive.

What message would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Just one message? I’d need to send a novella filled with advice. 🙂 Well, maybe not that much. First, listen a lot more and speak considerably less. While we all think we’ve got great insights, the best wisdom comes from age and experience. But speaking also takes up space and time that can preclude another voice and thought from entering the moment. What wisdom or insight could have been imparted if I had listened? The second piece of advice I’d give is to work toward ensuring the words you speak and the choices you make come from a place of love instead of fear. I’m not sure 18-year-old John would understand that, maybe he would, I hope. We tend to be gentler, kinder, more compassionate when acting out of love for humanity and each other. We think more about the ramifications and long-term consequences of the action and the emotional needs of those we engage with. And finally, just like that song from the ’90s, I’d remind eighteen-year-old John to wear more sunscreen.

What advice would you give to someone struggling with their sexuality?

I’d start by encouraging them to take ownership of their body and life. It is understandable to think about how everyone will judge you because you’ve decided to exist as you are and to express yourself authentically. We often think about the bad things that might happen if we decide to be honest with ourselves and the world, but life is a balance with a tremendous amount of positive and joyful experiences that are genuinely possible when we are authentic. Next, I’d advise them to find other people who recognize that we’re all consistently learning about ourselves and growing into healthier beings. They’ll likely experience greater happiness while learning and appreciating their own uniqueness. Finally, I’d remind them sexuality is a continuum. Categories are useful for legal and educational purposes, but they can be limiting when someone perceives themselves as blending outside the box. Listen to your heart and soul, and the choices about intimacy will flow naturally.

To learn more about John, click here.