Yesterday as I was reading the comments left on Keith Boykin’s website I was struck by a comment left by a reader named Michael. Michael’s younger brother had just come out and he along with the rest of his family were having a difficult time understanding his
“choice”. His exact words are cut and pasted below:
My younger brother came out of the closet a few weeks ago and stunned the family. Some are angry, others are shocked and many are puzzled that he would chose this lifestyle where so many are battling the HIV virus. My older uncle told him that being gay was making a conscious choice to live in a deathstyle of quick sex and shallow existence where gay men life expectancy is much lower than his straight counterpart. I don't want my brother to deny his true self, marry have children and then announce to the world that he is leaving it all behind for a man at age 40. On the other hand, I don't want him subjected to the hatred, venom, scorn and attacks that gays face each and every day. I remembered standing by and feeling powerless watching a feminine guy being bashed in the head by some DL brothers while in college. I cried for my brother's pain and wish to God that he was straight. What's 'gay' about being gay? Why would a man want to sleep with another brother and ignore the natural option of the sist
I know that you are probably shocked and confused about the recent confession from your brother about his sexual orientation. While this may be a hard pill for you to swallow, remember that he is the person that has to deal with the complexities of living life as a same gender loving man. It took an amazing amount of courage for him to reveal his truth, now is not the time for you to back away from him when he needs you the most.
You seem to be caught up in the notion that your brother chose this “lifestyle”. Contrary to popular opinion, your brother didn’t choose his sexuality any more than you chose yours. I know homosexuality may be foreign to you, something you’ve been taught to hate, and most likely you’ve been subjected to negative stereotypes and untruths about gay people all of your life. Let me ask you a question, when you look at your brother do those stereotypes apply to him? Probably not.
I challenge you to look at your brother exactly as you did before he revealed to you his truth and find the courage to love him unconditionally, and take this as an opportunity to dialogue and connect with each other on a deeper level.
It’s ok for you to be worried about his well being, but remember HIV/AIDS does not discriminate, gone are the days when it was only affecting gay men.
You have the power to influence how everyone else in your family treats your brother. You said you felt powerless as you watched a gay man being beaten while in college. Imagine that person was your brother, would you still feel powerless? Well that man was someone’s brother and someone’s son, and every time you hear a homophobic slur or witness an injustice towards a gay person imagine it’s your brother and stand up and do the right thing.
Trust and believe me when I say his orientation is not rooted in sex and actually goes beyond the act of sexual intercourse. What you deem to be natural is the exact opposite for him.
While it’s sure to be hard adjusting to knowing what he’s known all along about himself, it’s the beginning of a relationship with your brother as a whole person who is living life honestly in the face of insurmountable odds. Embrace him, love him, but most of all learn from him.