I was 18 years old when I came out to my little brother. Hmmm…actually I don’t know if I could call it coming out when I was accidentally outed by one of my best friends (at the time). At that time, I had built up a small tight circle of people who I had already come out to but my little brother was not one of them. I’m not sure why since we had a very close relationship. Maybe it had to do with the shame that came along with being gay and the fear of potential influence (not realizing at that time that sexuality is not as connected to nurture as we had once believed). But it happened and his response was nothing but positive. I look back at how young he was at the time and understanding what it could have meant to him (especially him being a young male teenager) and am even more impressed with his reaction.
As years went on, my little brother became my one of my biggest champions. Even though he was 5 years my junior he never laid ignorance as an excuse to blurt out homophobic things or allow for that behavior like many “allies” sometimes do.
If ever there was an opportunity for education, he took it upon himself to inquire respectfully. He still does it to this day. And even though there are some things he never cared to understand (my overly sexualized personal experiences for example lol) he still found a way to respect who I am and saw well beyond my sexuality.
My brother was by my side when I came out to both my parents (at two separate instances). I didn’t realize until later how much it helped to calm me knowing he was there in those anxiety ridden moments.
These are traits of a true ally. It does not necessarily mean someone who will hold a flag with you at a pride parade or come to drag queen night at a gay bar. Well, maybe those things can be included, but they are never necessary. To me an ally is a person who cares about you, beyond your sexuality. Someone who if they have questions they will ask to better understand. Someone who will stand up for you if you ever feel threatened, period. Someone who allows you to feel supported at whatever capacity they can give.
I am truly lucky to have my brother in my life because I know that mine isn’t the most common experience on a global scale. Here is a candid podcast I did for the Perspectives series where he joins me to tell his side of the story. Enjoy:
What have your coming out experiences been like? Sound off in a comment below!