My brother has always been a lively shadow of me. He’s goofy, fun, and adorable all on his own, but he constantly feels the need to do and say everything that I do. I suppose that’s how younger siblings are; they look up to you as if you’re some sort of super-human, prepared for everything without a single weakness or chunk of kryptonite to bring you down.
Younger siblings always want to be like Big Brother or Big Sister, and hey, what’s wrong with that? It might be the single joy in my life that I have a cuter, miniature male version of myself. He walks awkwardly like me, talks excitedly like me, smiles goofily like me, laughs at the same stupid things that I do. He can’t dance, hates flying insects, and loves to draw. He works hard, always looks to impress—always looking for approval.
The extent of his hero-worship is a bit extreme, however. Sometimes I find him eating foods he doesn’t like just because I like them. I see him choosing that character on Super Smash Bros. Brawl that he can’t play with to save his life, just because I mentioned liking that character. Before, he was an extreme imitator. He would’ve worn my clothes if he could’ve—worn my shoes that are far too large for him, and my jeans that are far too long for him.
My parents understand how my brother places me on a pedestal. When I came out to them, everything they said that night seemed confused and contradictory, but the one thing they did make clear was that my little brother was “not to see it” and by “it” they meant anything relating to homosexuality. I suppose they already had their silly fears for their son, who was 8 at the time.
He’s a small kid and a bit effeminate. What is there to expect from a boy who has grown up with two older sisters? There have been instances of school bullying when kids accused him of being gay (what do 3rd graders know about that? Really?) and even while playing with cousins the accusation has come up. I’m sure, after finding out that I was (well, what I told them was) bisexual that they thought I had somehow been affecting him. It’s such a simple fear, to have not one, but two queer children.
I didn’t really know how to go about shaping my brother in regards to this topic. I didn’t know how to go about telling him “it isn’t a bad thing” in a way that wasn’t telling him “Yes, mimic me! Desire the same sex.” I know he’s far too young to even be thinking about that, but what do I know about male development? Things that happen to us in our youth shape us into young adults. I tried to remain neutral whenever the topic arose, but I realize my neutrality may have come off as disapproving.
I don’t really have to worry about him wondering about my opinions now. I don’t see him as often as before and my weekend visits home are brief and infrequent, but I do know he wonders about it. He’s met my androgynous friends, met my exes and past potential girlfriends, and he’s seen the two lesbians with their son at church. He’s asked me “Why does she look like a boy?” and “Why does he have two moms?” and “Mommy says you’re gay; are you?” It’s difficult, because deep down I would give anything for him to be heterosexual. I know it’s far too early to be thinking that, and it really isn’t my problem but something inside is telling me to keep the possibilities away from him until he’s old enough to really think about it. It almost feels like I’m trying to protect him from it, which is stupid, because homosexuality isn’t something people need to be protected from (and with that being said, I reiterate that the previous statement about me wanting him to be heterosexual is merely a personal wish and that it isn't founded upon any sort of disdain for the queer community and that I know that it is his decision to make in the future).
I suppose I feel like my young, impressionable brother needs to be kept away from all sexual possibilities until he’s old enough to understand them. I don’t want to force him into any more of my opinions unknowingly. For now, I’ll continue to remain neutral to his questions—practically ignore him and change the topic if the questions continue to come. If I do somehow end up in a relationship, regardless of the sex of my partner, when my brother meets that person, s/he will only be a friend. I will not promote heterosexual or homosexual relationships in the presence of my brother. And, once I think he’s old enough, I’ll let him know about my own sexuality if he’s still curious and if he hasn’t figured it out on his own.
I love my brother dearly and without a doubt more than anyone else on this planet, and I know he loves me unconditionally. I can only hope that as he grows as a person he’ll be strong enough to develop his own opinions without the influence of others taking too much precedence over his own thoughts and beliefs. I won’t allow myself to force my opinions on him (however wonderful they are). I refuse to force my opinions on any young person I interact with and I will end this post with this scenario that happened not too long ago:
Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I work with/tutor kids from local elementary schools. It just so happened one Wednesday I was wearing my purple Love=Love shirt for LGBTQ Spirit Day over a long-sleeved shirt. When I arrived at the classroom I was wearing a jacket but it was notably hotter in the classroom and I decided to take it off. Without a moment’s hesitation I also removed my Love=Love shirt. Following my rule of not forcing opinions on children (who, in my opinion certainly aren’t old enough to comprehend and make decisions about things such as sexuality) I brought myself to the question of whether or not I needed to really do so. There are a number of reasons I thought of as to why I needed to do so, but there were also a number of reasons as to why I didn’t need to. Here I open up the post to your opinions. Perhaps you’ll address the same questions I ask myself when I spend time with my little brother.