My younger brother Brad graduated high school one year after me, and both he and his “girlfriend” decided to attend my college. He shared a dormitory room with me his freshman year.

I don’t know if Brad actually succeeded in having gay sex in high school, but he definitely did in college. He continued keeping up the appearance of an opposite-sex relationship while secretly throwing himself into a very destructive promiscuous life of sexual encounters with other guys, often anonymously.

I discovered my brother’s sexuality even though he tried to keep it from me.

Back in the days before cell phones were common, we shared one wall phone in our shared dorm room.

One time I heard the phone ring in the middle of the night, and I got up to answer it. When I picked up the phone, I recognized the voice of Jeremy who lived in our same dormitory. My voice sounded like Brad’s, so Jeremy thought I was Brad and asked me for sex in very graphic, almost poetic words which I will not repeat here.

I firmly shouted back at him, “You have the wrong number!” and hung up immediately.

I had just intercepted a “booty call” meant for my brother! There was absolutely no doubt now that Brad was having sex with other guys. I was faced with a decision: would I show Brad love or would I distance myself from him because of a booty call?

I wound up telling Brad that I’d intercepted an obscene phone call from someone who sounded like Jeremy. This was my hint to Brad that I knew everything he was doing with guys.

Embarrassed, Brad just remained silent. You have to understand the pattern of communication in our family — we never talked about sexual sin directly aloud. Instead, we would drop hints and talk in a kind of code that we understood while also giving us the ability to say “I never said that” or “he never told me,” if we wanted.

Brad and I never actually talked about his gay sex until years later when he was publicly outed as gay.

This is where I started seriously hurting Brad. I hope I never repeat that failure again with anyone else! Brad needed me to be direct and compassionately talk through this situation confidentially. I should have told him about my own sexual issues and let him know I understood what was happening, allowing him to open up to me if he wanted.

Instead, I just dropped hints, put him down, and cut myself off from him. I regret that I took the easy way out instead of initiating that difficult conversation with him.

At that time in my life, I was still very serious about following Jesus Christ. Also, I believed (as I still do) that gay sex is sin. I knew if I stayed with Brad I would be tempted to flirt with his gay friends, so I left the dorm and Brad and moved in with a group of Christian guys from my church.

To be continued…

Have you ever experienced a situation where you suspected or knew a brother or dear friend was struggling and didn’t know how to respond? In this proverbial or literal “booty call” decision, did you take “fight” or “flight”?

* Photo courtesy kdigga, Creative Commons.

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    18 Comments
    • Reply Jeremy

      14 March 2016, 5:19 am

      Marshall, your story makes me cry, because I know how this happens and have done it to others myself as well as had it done to me. The church has been good at teaching the righteous-path/doomed-to-hell ways and often missed it on love and compassion and mercy. It’s that which makes me cry. How I have run away instead of staying to help because I was too scared to try to help. Other times I tried to help but my own sexuality keep putting me in a place where I couldn’t do so in an unbiased manner. It both freaked me out and excited me at the same time. I ended up not wanting to “pastor” in any way and hated others calling me by that title. I still do. It’s a tough one for a young man called to minister, but caught up in the teachings of the church. I have ended up throwing over anything to do with church now. I follow Jesus as best I can and don’t do church anymore.

      • Reply Marshall R

        14 March 2016, 9:09 am

        Jeremy, when I share part 3 of Brad’s story I will tell about other ways Christians caused my brother pain. Yes, there are some bad Christians, but there are also Christians who were a great blessing to Brad and me. Please don’t give up on all of us just because of the bad ones.

        • Reply Jeremy

          14 March 2016, 9:37 am

          Thanks, Marshall. No, I’ve not given up on all Christians at all, but I won’t set foot in church in any hurry again. I haven’t really been hurt by the church as such, only by some folk there. But I really don’t go with what most churches preach these days and how they conduct themselves. Plus here where I live the church is totally homophobic in the extreme as it mirrors the national stance on homosexuality.
          I was a church leader in a big local church. I was dean of our Bible School. I taught much and later preached a little at other churches. I was called “pastor” but I never liked it, as I am very very weak in pastoral gifts and not a pastor at all. I later joined a smaller church and was soon asked to join the leadership team there, but after a few years I had a major fall out with the head pastor. Since then I haven’t been involved with church on a long term serious basis. I started going to another church where I know the head pastor well. He is gay friendly, but they won’t allow gay folk to be involved in any form or service or to become members, so I don’t go anymore.

          • Reply Marshall R

            14 March 2016, 3:45 pm

            Thanks for sharing such difficult, painful things from your own life. It can help us all to think through these things before we face them ourselves. I pray you will find real Christian love and friendship and some form of the fellowship we all need!

    • Reply naturgesetz

      14 March 2016, 11:43 am

      It’s good that you realize now how your conduct was not what it should have been. Sometimes we know what we do is wrong when we do it, and sometimes it only becomes clear on reflection later. It sounds as if you thought you were doing what you were supposed to. If so, hopefully that can ease the regret a bit.

      • Reply Marshall R

        14 March 2016, 3:42 pm

        That describes me at the time. I thought I was 100% right and Brad was 100% wrong. There was only one way I believed I should show him compassion, and that was not to out him to anyone myself. So, I never told my parents or others what I knew about him until he was publicly outed later on.

    • Reply Mike

      14 March 2016, 11:08 pm

      I was in complete denial of my SSA. growing up. In high school, I was part of a church musical. A new kid that was visiting the church wanted to join the choir. The choir director gave him a part in the musical and he began to attend practice. After a few rehearsals I began to hear rumors from the other kids that the new kid was gay. I didn’t know what to do, I believed that homosexuality was wrong and that our church would not support his lifestyle. I ended up telling my parents, who in turn told the church elders. The kid never came back to our church again. At the time I felt it was the right thing to do. I wish now I had talked to that kid, at least talk to him and hear his side of the story. I feel guilty for the role I played in all that.

      • Reply Marshall R

        15 March 2016, 3:09 am

        I understand how you feel. Like you, when I failed my brother I was young, inexperienced, and had no one to ask advice from. I can’t say I was 100% at fault, but I definitely want to learn from my mistake and not repeat it!

    • Reply Jon Evan

      14 March 2016, 11:45 pm

      I, as well tried to block out my ssa in high school although I had a crush on many guys resulting in much pain. In 2nd year university an older student wanted me to be his roommate and because he was studious unlike my freshman roomie I readily agreed. He was very nice to me hugely respectful and kind. Only at the end of the year did he confess he was in love with me. I ran. Discarded him like a used Kleenex. I wouldn’t deal with my ssa nor his — talk about internalized homophobia as the gay community calls it! He went on to kill himself. A insane ending both for him and me…
      Now, of course I would do it differently. But then, so young, immature, so alone, so confused, and in pain. Paralyzed by it all….
      Only God can figure that one out. In survival mode we can only react and not act as we now might. I’m thankful I’m different now.

      • Reply Marshall R

        15 March 2016, 3:15 am

        Yes, there are many ways I have also changed since I rejected my brother. I am glad that both you and I have grown and learned. Maybe we can keep others from making the same mistake, too.

      • Reply Mike

        15 March 2016, 2:37 pm

        Wow Jon, I am sure that was very traumatic for you. I’m not sure how I would have responded in your situation. Do you think this young man possibly figured you struggled with SSA too?

        • Reply Jon Evan

          15 March 2016, 4:46 pm

          Mike, I wasn’t attracted to him. Did he know? Likely. I wasn’t the most masculine of guys, wasn’t into sports, watching hockey on tv, etc. We never talked about anything like that. I didn’t know he was gay. I didn’t know many things back then. Things are easier now. There isn’t as large a stigma now as then for being gay. People are more open minded. But, a post like Marshall’s is hard. It awoke in me memories long buried. Is that a good thing? Yes. I needed to re-examine that time of my life to understand what it is like to be young and vulnerable. I have a rebellious son right now who I’m trying to understand. Reliving my younger days helps :). So, thanks Marshall and you too Mike for asking.

          • Reply Mike

            18 March 2016, 11:34 pm

            Jon, thank you for the honesty and truth you pour into your comments. it is evident that you take your testimony serious. It wise to examine our life and take notice of the challenges and struggles that God has brought us thru. I’ll be praying for you as you examine your life and use your experience to mentor and love your son.

    • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

      15 March 2016, 7:27 pm

      I remember bits and pieces of this story from passing conversations with you, Marshall, but seeing it more fully in context how helps put more pieces together. Really enjoying this current series of your lifestory. Thanks again for being so bold to share it.
      I’ve never suspected anyone super close to me as being same-sex attracted, be it a brother or friend. I have had a few passing acquaintances “come out” to me over the years because of my blog/book, and that’s surprised me every time. I’m glad I haven’t run away from those conversations, though, “easier” that may have been. I’ve been on the flip side of revealing the darker side of me to a good friend, and knowing how good it feels to be received well, I want to engage with the person who does the same to me rather than run.

      • Reply Marshall R

        16 March 2016, 2:23 am

        Thanks Tom! There is a lot left to this story. I did eventually end up closer to Brad, but not before he suffered a lot.
        I don’t mind being open like this because I think we will all learn from it. Again, before he died Brad actually asked me to share his story so others could avoid the same mistakes he and I made.

    • Reply Brandon Parrish

      21 June 2017, 9:58 am

      In my family we never really talked about much at all besides how our days have been or whatever small talk we could think of, I never really had deep meaningful conversations with my siblings or my parents (except my dad did give me THE TALK, which really left me with more questions that I didn’t ask and chose to just find out on my own). Anyways, about a year ago maybe my younger brother told me that he thinks he is bi. I was able to open up a little bit about my sexual issues too. However I talked about it as if it was in the past and didnt deal with them anymore, but I was glad to be able to be there for him as I think I am the only person in our family who knows.

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