December 5, 2010

Brothers and Sisters, Part 2

In collaboration with Ebony Way, we have decided to tag team these posts. We hope this is an effective medium and method to discuss a common topic of interest between writers. While Ebony Way discusses her influence with her little brother in her post, I will discuss my older sister's influence on me.

My sister is four years older than me, so between middle school, high school, and college, we've never been at the same school together. Which is perhaps a good thing, because she was able to tell me things I would need to know.

My sister and I never had a strong relationship. I mean, we are brother and sister, I do not think we are meant to have a good relationship. Then again, we were always busy, so most of our talks were fighting for something, in the interest of time.

Oh, did I mention that my sister is gay? 'Cause that's important to know. I always joke about how some chromosomes just didn't split correctly over the four years, but it happened, regardless.

We have never talked about our lives with each other. While I often feel that never cementing a strong relationship with my sister has not been a huge issue, I feel that never talking to her about being gay and vice versa has been an issue. I know that I can learn so much from her, yet I have not taken the time. I never even personally told her that I am gay.

However, I'm okay with that.

I've never had an easy time telling people that I'm gay. I find that I'd rather let people figure it out for themselves, or even ask. I refer back to labels, and my disgust for labels. I do not like being branded with labels. Whether it is gay, smart Asian, nerd, geek, or any other label, I despise these labels. People are more than words can describe, but often people generalize for every label, and gay is absolutely no exception to the rule. For one, I don't think it is necessary to immediately let people know that I am gay. My straight friends didn't introduce themselves to me as straight, so why should I introduce myself as gay to them? Also, I'm not a different person because I am gay. I am still me, but it just so happens that I'm gay; it really is not that big of a deal. It is analogous to how my roommate folds his pizza before eating it, or how my friend says her a's different; it is not a big deal, it just makes us unique. I would continue to elaborate, but I am afraid I've already taken my tangent too far.

My sister is the athlete in the family. She does crew, she plays soccer, softball, flag football, and pretty much most intramural sports that her college offers. I never had this athletic talent, and I envy her for that (although I am a quidditch player, so I guess there is some athleticism in me). I've always looked up to her as a role model for succeeding in college and life, and I hope that I can only succeed as well as she has.

I also look up to her as one of my LGBT models. Her girlfriend and her have been together for many years, and I only hope that I can emulate that sometime in my future. I know she doesn't read this, but if she does, I do love you very much, and I can't thank you enough for being a role model for me, even though I barely see you.


  1. Cameron-I love the dual-author action going on here!

    Now on to your actual post-I think your personal comfort level is ultimately the most important factor when choosing how to identify and whom to share that identity with. If you've found a method that works for you, in terms of coming out/identifying as gay, that is the only factor I see as relevant to that choice. In that sense, I can't speak to your personal decision...because that's ultimately yours!

    You do sort of remind me a lot of myself, though, because when I first started coming out, I didn’t see the whole point to going around telling everyone that “I’m a lesbian”. I figured I wouldn't, since I hadn’t really changed, and "it didn't make me any different”.

    But what I have come to find, is that it does make me different. I am different as someone who is not in the majority, and like many other LGBTQ individuals, people assume I am straight unless I actively correct them and tell them that I'm not. So I found that being super open about my sexuality stemmed a lot from just a genuine desire to be honest and correct false perceptions about myself. I suppose also though, from an activist point of view, coming out really visibly has the ability to touch a lot of different people in your life who may not have realized before that they are family/friends to a LGBTQ person. I know that if it wasn’t for the openly out and visible LGBTQ women and men who came before me at Duke, I’d never have had a role model to show me that “this is how you can be a LGBTQ Duke student”. And personally I needed that role model.

    But that was just my person decision, which completely evolved and changed over time, and still has the potential to change. I think your decision is just as valid too, though! There are so many different ways to be LGBTQ, and you and I are just presenting two of them. This is a super interesting issue though-thanks for writing! =)

  2. Tag team post ftw!

    Cameron, I'm glad your sister, even though you two aren't close, has inspired you in some way to be who you are and who you want to be. I think you'd benefit a great deal from talking to your sister about being gay especially since you find that to be the issue in regards to your not-so-close relationship.

    Talking about my sexuality is a rare thing (when detached from my close friends) however, if someone does learn that I'm bi, they're often very curious and I find chatting about it becoming easier and easier for me. I've grown leaps and bounds from the frightened, closeted girl I once was and I can only say that discussing my sexuality definitely helped me become more comfortable with it. I used to cringe at the words gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual. Now, it's not so bad. I can only imagine how much further along I would've been if I'd had a family member to talk to who understood and could relate to how I was feeling. Regardless of how close we are to our families their support is perhaps the strongest there is. Maybe this is a way you could strengthen your relationship with your sister. But, that's only if you feel like it. I know I wouldn't really want to talk about that with my sister (I feel like talking about anything sexual with her is awkward lol).

    As for the labels thing, as we've discussed, I absolutely agree. 100%

  3. I love the sibling talk. I'd also like to post a sibling related post, so I may adopt the theme here....

    I also love this post because not only do I have a younger brother, but I have an older queer sister! I am so into this. My sister and I fought So Much. It was really crazy and hurtful and everything, for both of us. Now that we've gotten older, our fighting is less frequent, but more intense since we're both old enough to actually have reasons for what we say and believe, and not just teenage sibling rivalry.

    Over my past four years at Duke, I have missed her soooo terribly and I really love being with her. I am so happy that she's doing well and supports my queerness the best she can with my family through my coming out process. She's been amazing at talking through some things with family members. She's been an awesome ally.

  4. Cameron! I'm actually catching up on The Blog, and besides giving you a cyberhighfive, I wanted to link to this post Aliza wrote forrrreeevvverrrr ago about labels. There's an alternative argument to the "I don't want to identify" idea that's worth considering (and Aliza does a really good job of considering it).

    "Identity Crisis: does the Movement require that we check a box?"