Coming out in inverted commas because I'm unsure as to how I feel about the term. No one should feel obligated to declare their sexuality - it is a very personal thing. However, we live in a world where people are assumed heterosexual until they assert otherwise, and as such coming out is often a practical thing you have to do. How can we expect to obtain our rights, without first asserting that we exist?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Coming Out to...the Little Brother

My Thoughts

Growing up, I was always aware that my parents wanted me to respect certain Bangladeshi cultural boundaries. I had no interest in doing this, but I toed the party line nevertheless for fear of the consequences. Whenever I did do anything against their wishes, it was either done in a clandestine manner or accompanied by lots of cajoling and placating. My little brother, on the other hand, has always taken a different approach to the parents – pretending that he is completely unaware of their expectations, culturally or otherwise. This has let him go and do whatever he wants, and feign ignorance later to avoid the consequences.

Given the directions I have seen him take socially, culturally and religiously – he's liberal, practical and agnostic – I've never really thought that he'd have a problem with my bisexuality. I'd wondered if he'd find the gay sex part of it a little icky, but nothing more than that. I believed he was a product of his time – educated enough via contemporary narrative to know that there is nothing wrong, morally or medically, with same-sex attractions. Additionally, his agnosticism assured me that he wouldn't espouse any Islamic prejudice. My concerns had actually always skewed towards the more circumstantial side of the situation. He still lives with my parents, and back when I told him, he was going to be doing so for another 2 years before leaving. He was and still is preparing for university, which is hard work. On top of this, he has major ideological differences with the parents, and this makes his living situation even more stressful. I didn't want to add to his burden by telling him about my bisexuality and the issues it brought up. And of course, there was the tiny, tiny worry of what would happen if he did end up reacting negatively. My brother is one of the closest people to me in the world, so even the slightest possibility of rejection made me doubt myself.

However, I've become quite the expert at swallowing my doubts and ploughing on. During a winter holiday we were both spending with the best friend, I hinted at my desire to 'experiment' with a man in casual conversation. He's quite close to the best friend so I knew she could create a buffer if he reacted badly. His reaction was mostly bewilderment though, and I left it at that. The following summer holiday was when I next mentioned my bisexuality. I broached the subject of attractions with him while we were gaming in the den, but backtracked because of the concerns I voiced in the last paragraph. I told myself I was building him up to it, so I should see this as yet another small step in the right direction. But within a few hours I got annoyed at the dithering so I changed my mind, went into his room and told him. And that was it. There was a very minimal reaction. He said he wasn't surprised, that the hints had worked and he had no issue with it. The fact that the parents wouldn't take it too well was discussed. I informed him that I was slowly telling other friends and family at a pace comfortable to me, and hoped eventually to tell them too. He shrugged. I didn't mind - his support was always implied. Don't mistake his apparent apathy for an actual lack of empathy. He's probably the most pro-LGBTQ friend/family member I have created by the way of my coming out. I've discovered him challenging the prejudice of random people in various situations, more so than anyone else I've discussed my sexuality with. 

My coming out has made us closer, and now I can include him in all the aspects of my life. That positive energy has more than anything offset any burden my 'secret' would have left on him, and I am immensely lucky to have someone like him in my life.

His Thoughts

When my brother came out to me, the situation was as follows: I was in my room sitting on my bed, reading or looking at something, I can’t really remember. My brother comes and says, without further ceremony, “The person I’m going to be dating this summer is a guy.”  I look up with a bland face and say “I see.” A moment’s pause. “So you’re bisexual then?” to which my brother responds with a simple “Yup.”

I can’t imagine the scenario in any other way. I tend to take these emotional things with a degree of apathy that some might consider borderline offensive. It’s not malice, it’s just that sexuality to me has never been a big issue. To me, homosexual relationships aren’t wrong, weird, or unnatural, it’s just different. So what if a guy gets turned on by another guy? Or if he gets turned on by both men and women? What’s it to me? It doesn’t harm me, and don’t tell me it results in less children because the last thing the planet needs is more people – certainly not people that think we need even more babies, the wretched creatures. It results in people being happier, as they are able to enjoy a relationship with a person they truly want to be with. Life is hard as it is; let’s not make it harder by enforcing outdated social rules. There are enough fake couples in school.

I first suspected, or considered, as “suspected” implies different sexual orientations are crimes, that my brother was gay or at least partially fancied men by his acute ability to distinguish whether they were attractive or not. I couldn’t do it, not because I felt that trying to distinguish attractive men would make me gay, I simply couldn’t do it, yet my brother could, without fail. The second time I considered his sexual orientation was during a trip with his best friend. We were huddled in a room, eating cupcakes and talking about…I can’t remember, something to do with sex? It’s always to do with sex. Anyways, my brother announced that he’d like sleep with a guy, and that it’d something cool to try out, to which I responded “If you want to be bisexual, then you are bisexual! Haha!” but nothing never truly came of it. The last instance, for which I actually now feel bad, is when we were in the house’s den, playing PS3 maybe? He asked me “Hey, can I tell you something? It’s a big issue and I hope you won’t be weighed down by it.” I simply looked in his direction and mumbled something along the lines of “Um, it’s fine by me…”. It was at that moment my thoughts solidified regarding my brother’s sexuality and looking back, I was an insensitive little cunt for brushing it off the way I did.

Now however, I try to play a more active role regarding these issues. When I see the absolutely stupid reasons for which the LGBT community is oppressed, I cringe inside. I make it point to drive in the fact I fully support the LGBT community despite being straight; as to me it’s a slap in the face for those who try deem them as freaks.

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