My fellow blogger, Tom, in his recent post described his longings for an older brother to love him and help him through the painful times in life. I’m sure many of us same-sex attracted guys can identify with these feelings.

I grew up the oldest of three children with a brother one year younger and a sister five years younger. I believe my own brother wanted me to be that kind of loving older brother — and to my deep regret, I seriously failed him. After learning from my failure, I have lived many years seeking to be that kind of big brother that my friends need and wish they had.

Brad and I were always together in my earliest childhood memories. We were also together when I watched him take his final breath. Years later, I can’t write this without tears.

Brad also experienced same-sex attraction, but unlike me, he went after gay sex with reckless abandon. I first noticed his sexuality when he was about 12 years old. He would stare at good looking guys a little too long and a little too often, and since I also felt the same attraction, I just knew.

We both kept quiet about this to each other and to the family. I saw him spending time with his male friends in high school, and I could tell he valued those guys above his “girlfriend” at the time.

I pretended everything was normal with my gay brother and acted like I didn’t notice his sexuality. I just didn’t want to deal with the trouble that would happen if the garbage hit the fan.

You also have to understand the environment at the time. We lived in the Bible Belt and went to a large youth group in a megachurch. Any confession of homosexuality would have brought ridicule onto the family and repeated public humiliation for us at school — maybe even worse.

So, Brad continued to “date” his girlfriend while sneaking around trying to get sex with guys. I kept my mouth shut — about both Brad and myself.

To be continued…

Do you have a gay brother or close friend who also experiences same-sex attraction? Have you addressed your common sexualities or kept this secret?

Photo courtesy eflon, Creative Commons.

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  • Marshall, I’m already crying. My heart goes out to you. The only gay people I know are those who have befriended me in this time of my life, so we know a lot about each other and the gay part is not secret for us. I do have a gay niece though, who is keeping it all very secret and trying to live a straight life. I am here for her, if she needs me (and in a sense she’s here for me), though she and I are following very different paths, rather like you and your brother did.

    • Jeremy, yes I do wish I had gently brought up the subject with my brother. I have few regrets about what I did, mostly I have regrets about what I should have done but did not do.

  • To answer your question..No. As far as I am aware, I do not have any gay family members. Both my brothers are very straight and masculine. Like you, I grew up in the Bible belt. To admit you were gay, was to sentence you to a life of shame and hate. I know of a few people who are gay, but they are more of a distance aquaintance and so they are not aware of my SSA. I have one friend who is SSA and he aware of my struggle, but we live miles and years apart.
    I could sense your hurt in telling your story, I can’t imagine the pain you must have felt as you watched your brothers life fall apart.

  • I honestly wonder about my sister (my only sibling), mainly because, like me, she’s never dated anyone or mentioned attractions to the opposite sex. My family never talks about anything serious though. I’m out to my parents, but only barely. But I do worry that if she does have SSA but hasn’t found the networks I have, then she could be hurting more than I.

  • Marshall, thanks so much for sharing this painful portion of your lifestory. While you may regret certain actions or inactions regarding your brother, I already see redemption being woven into this chapter by your vulnerable sharing. Thanks for blessing this brotherhood with your openness!
    As far as I know, I don’t have any relatives or close friends who are secretly gay or SSA. I have, however, been quite surprised by several less intimate friends and other acquaintances coming out to me after they read my blog or book. I’m always grateful and humbled when someone trusts me enough to confide such a deep dark secret with me. I hope my story can encourage their own journey.

    • I have a very strong desire to share Brad’s story, not only because I think we can all learn from it, but also because HE actually asked me to share some of his experiences with others. He asked that a few days before he died.

  • When I left the monastery 48 years ago my older brother asked why and we told him it was because they and the psychiatrist thought I’d be more likely to overcome my SSA outside the all-make environment. He has never told me he’s SSA, but his sporadic relationships with women are more like friendships. He’s never seemed close to marriage. So I suspect he’s also SSA, but I’m confident that he doesn’t want to talk about that elephant, and I’m not going to pry.

    • As I will tell later on, eventually there was absolutely no doubt about my own brother’s SSA. It would have helped us both if we talked more about it once I was sure about him.

  • […] After my brother Brad was publicly outed as gay and mistreated by some Christians, I kept making efforts to stay closer to him and be more of a blessing to him instead of as a brother in name only. A few years after college, I moved to a large city far from the Bible Belt where I had grown up. There were more job opportunities there, and I also knew of a church I liked there. […]

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