Monday, February 05, 2007

Telling The Truth

I can't believe I did it. It was terrifying, but satisfying. I had often thought about doing it, but having courage to follow through with thought is a different animal altogether.

Of all the people I know, I am closest to my brother. We are almost two years apart. And though we used to fight as brothers do, and I used to beat on him now and again, he is my closest friend. We were roommates for a whole year at school and through the summer before he got married to a friend of mine last fall. In our relationship, being t
he older brother, naturally I was the leader. I was the example. I graduated from high school first, served my mission first, enrolled in university first. Now that he is married though, he is... well, walking a path that frankly I may never walk.

Coming out to my parents was terrifying enough. I first told them right after returning from my mission. I stuttered, sputtered, and my mind locked up like an engine at 10,000 RPMs with no motor oil. It felt like the most humiliating experience of my life because I was so ashamed of myself at the time. I could hardly bring myself to tell them. It was a really big deal for me. I told myself that I would never tell another person unless it was absolutely necessary. Of course that was almost four years ago and I am no longer ashamed of who I am. Many things have changed…

This last weekend I made a bit of a road trip to visit my brother. I had no intention of telling him the truth about my attractions, yet during the six hours of silence on the road, I literally out of no where gained a conviction that I needed to tell my brother. I had occasionally thought of telling him or others but mostly for the thrill of frightening myself. I suppose I just realized that people knowing about my situation doesn’t change my reality. It won’t make me any more or less gay and if there is anyone that I should be able to trust, it’s my best friend: my brother.

My second night there I told him that we needed to talk and go for a drive.
This was not entirely unusual as my brother and I always talked and it is just nice to be with each other one on one. We talked about his marriage and little pet peeves of his wife (who is wonderful) and so on and on. The conversation came to a lull and I said with a grin and a slight up beat tone, “So can you keep a secret?”
“Yeah, I can.”
After a brief silence I said, “I’m gay."
Yeah, seriously.”
“How do you know? I mean how can you be sure?”
“Well, trust me I know. I’ve felt it my whole life.
The first time I ever admitted it to anyone was Bishop Soandso when I was just 13 or 14. I’ve been dealing with it for a while.”
“So you’re not attracted to girls at all?”
“Not so much…”
We continued for a while and after I finally convinced him that I was sure I
was gay he kind of went off on a bit of a lecture about the church and life and handicaps (he has a physical handicap of his own). He talked about how one can choose to live a handicapped life and identify themselves as such or they can transcend their handicaps and live despite them. He tried to think of something he could compare it to. He talked about “A Beautiful Mind” and how the main character referred to the way he dealt with his struggle as a “diet of the mind” and that is something I must consider.

I countered that I don’t feel handicapped –that I feel like a whole person.
I explained to him that while being gay has provided a unique set of challenges I am glad to be me. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

I don’t think he realized the extend of challenges I have faced.
I mean I had to tell him that this isn’t a recent development of the last year or so… It has been my entire life. “Yeah, the thing that sucks the most is feeling like you have this big secret that you can’t tell anyone about. Or that people will think you are a pervert or messed up or that you want to be a woman and that’s NOT me.”

He sat thinking about what this for a while –the import of what it means for me, and what the defining struggle of my life has consist
ed of.
“Did you ever even suspect this about me?”
“I would have never guessed in a million years if you hadn’t told me”

I continued and explained to him that I probably will never get married regardless of what lifestyle I choose.
I just can’t expect to. He of course countered with the “nothing is impossible” angle and I agreed that indeed it is possible, but unlikely. We argued back and forth about my “marriageability” and looking at it realistically. I also talked about statistics and such and that I cannot ignore the reality of my situation. No matter how badly I want some things, they just won’t be part of my life.

“Sure I’d be willing to give marriage a shot with the right girl. But I can’t expect to go into marriage with a sampler’s attitude. I have to be sure and committed and I don’t know that I can ever be sure enough nor that such a girl would exist for me. I am not going to put my life on hold for a reality that may not be mine.” This realization broke his heart because he loves his wife so much and wants for me to experience the beauties of marriage too. I must accept that there are some things I cannot change.

We continued and went back and forth about the Church a little bit but
I didn’t really want to argue about the Church especially because he is just as good at arguing anything as I am. So I let him go on for a while. It made me feel bad. I didn’t know what to say to him about the Church. I don’t even know what to say to myself about the Church.

Finally I said, “Listen, I don’t expect you to give answers to me about the Church or anything here.
I have done a lot of reading from both sides about this issue –married men, out and gay men, and celibate men. I have heard it all. I have read countless books articles and essays about this and none of it is conclusive. I don’t expect you to be able to give me an answer.”

“I know,” he said half way choked up with a lump. “You told me because you want me to tell you that I love you and that no matter what I still love you. I love you more than you know. You have been the most influential person in my life. You have been the strongest spiritual example to me out of anyone on the planet. I can’t imagine my life without you in it. No one has played a bigger role in my life than you. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain you have endured because of this and I am so so sorry. How hard this has been for you… I cannot even begin to imagine. No matter what happens, I love you and nothing can change that.”

“Don’t feel sorry for me. This is my life and I am privileged to live it. Of course it is painful; so is everyone else’s.”

We got back to his place and stood outside and talked for a while longer. “If you ever need to just talk, call me.” He threw his arms around me and hugged me. Then with tears in his eyes said, “I love you.”


John said...

That is the most amazing story!!! I am so happy that your brother took it so well. You are so lucky to have such a kind, loving and understanding brother. Congratulations... it's always a feat to tell someone new... especially someone as close as a brother. Thanks for sharing!

Chris said...

Thanks for sharing that experience. You're lucky to have a brother you love that much, and who loves you just as much.

And good for you for being honest and brave.

-L- said...

Thanks for sharing that story. To have anyone say about you that you've been that influential and that good of an example is really remarkable.

agirlwho said...

That is truly a wonderful experience. Being on the other end of the confession is a frustrating place to be at times. Just like your brother, we sometimes don't know what to say or how to be a support to those who share their challenge with us. I hope to continue to be a strength to my friends with SSA and other various challenges. I don't pity you or my friends. I am grateful that you exist in this world. You have given me greater perspective and more opportunities to love.

iovan said...

Thank you so much. It's great to think that telling someone could be like this. I can imagine your relief and satisfaction. I admire your courage and strength.

Scot said...

As you surely know, you’re a lucky man to have such family. Thank you, as well.

“How do you know? I mean how can you be sure?”

I remember such situations. I particularly remember being asked this, and how odd that question hit me. I came to realize I just had to remember, if it wasn’t easy for me to understand at first, family needed time too. Even the worst of my coming out stories have a happy ending, in time, with patience. I’m very glad to hear your brother doesn’t seem to need much of that time at all.

I don’t think he realized the extend of challenges I have faced.

Even if he doesn’t though I hope you don’t find that to be a barrier. It can be for some I've known. But I know I’ve friends who love us and support us but just don’t get what it can mean to be gay. I don’t get them either :-), but we do love each other, nonetheless.

Congratulations again.

SG said...

What a blessing to have such a loving brother. Families really are supposed to work like that; many don't, but it's so refreshing to hear about one where "brotherly love" isn't just a platitude!

Thank you for sharing!

Beck said...

What an inspiration! With a brother like that, it's a shame that so much time has gone by without having this experience together. Now you can look forward to many more such experiences and have him as your support team! What a blessing!

Elbow said...

Congrats! That is one of the most beautiful entries. Honesty, trust, hope, values, ect...

Keep doing what you are doing, because obviously, you're doing something right.

Sir Robert Chiltern said...

You've already a full slate of comments, so I'll just say I'm glad things went well :)

MoHoHawaii said...

What a nice story!

Coming out is a great experience. Being authentic with people you love heals a lot of pain.

Good luck to you.