I want to support my brother, but I'm not sure how, or if I should

Questions and discussion about your sexuality and how it's a part of who you are as a person.
Jon White
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I want to support my brother, but I'm not sure how, or if I should

Unread postby Jon White » Sun Apr 19, 2020 1:00 am

Look, the title sounds rough, but it's complex. It's not that I'm not okay with his sexuality, it's that I heard it from someone else, he didn't tell me, and he doesn't know I know. I also don't know if the information is absolutely reliable, but it seemed viable enough to be at least noteworthy. I want to support him so he's comfortable enough to come out, but since he didn't come out to me, since I came by the information secondhand, is it the right thing to do? I feel like I should do something, but I really don't know, like now that I do know should I behave like I don't? Since I know I feel like I should do something, but is it fair to start doing that when he didn't tell me? I feel like it might make him feel bad if I start up and then he finds out I know without him telling me. Also, if I should start doing something, what is that? I can't really directly discuss it. I don't have any experience here, I just want to make sure he's happy.

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Re: I want to support my brother, but I'm not sure how, or if I should

Unread postby Alexa » Sun Apr 19, 2020 7:26 am

Hi there Jon,

Let's start with what we know! I think it can be hard, when hearing secondhand information, to root yourself in what is truth, what is inference, and how to go from there.

From what I'm hearing, this sounds like what we've got (and please correct me if I'm wrong!):
    1. There is a possibility that your brother is queer-identifying.
    2. Others are talking about his sexuality, possibly without his permission.
    3. You want him to feel loved and supported.

Since he hasn't told you about his sexuality directly, and you say yourself that you're not sure how reliable that information is, I think instead we work from the *possibility* that he's queer*. I'll tell you something from my own experience -- it's honestly easiest to assume anyone could be queer anyways, and thus model that you value inclusion and LGBTQ safety and happiness regardless of who you're talking to. If you do this, then your brother will see it -- even though it's not directed at him, per se -- and will get the message that you're a safe person for him to talk to, if and when he needs to.

For me, there are so many ways to signal comfort with, and support of, queer folks. This can include things like:
    Mentioning queer folks that you admire, follow, or love, without drawing excess attention to their sexuality. It can be skeevy to hear someone say, "I'm so down with Sam Smith, even though they're queer!" but to me, it's helpful for someone to be able to talk about queer people without calling out their sexuality -- e.g. "Have you seen Ellen Page and her wife's Instagram stories? They're so good."
    Learn on your own. Being here is a great start! Try to learn about contemporary LGBTQ issues, our culture, and how to be respectful of the community -- without asking him to teach you, necessarily. Make the effort independently.
    Being aware of queer issues and lending your support to them in a visible way. For example, knowing how queer communities are being affected by the current pandemic, and talking about important efforts to support them (here's a list of community funds and efforts that can help you get a sense of that).
    Not making assumptions about sexuality. When you're talking about a new friend, or your brother is discussing someone in his life, don't make assumptions about their sexuality. For example, if his friend (who's sexuality you've never been explicitly told) has a date, ask "who's the lucky person?" rather than assigning gender.

This is just a tiny list, but does it make sense where I'm trying to go with this? In short, try to be someone who an LGBTQ person would feel comfortable approaching. Don't ask him probing questions if he's not ready, or make assumptions -- who knows if what this person said is true? -- but instead, model for him that you're a safe person to talk to.

This is also a great place to ask questions that may not be appropriate to ask your brother or other queer people in your process of learning -- a lot of our staff are queer-identified! -- so please use it, if you'd like.

Also, as an aside -- it might be a good idea to tell whoever shared this with you that outing people can be dangerous, and shouldn't be done without someone's permission. It might be a good learning opportunity. <3

Glad you're here! Let me know what you make of all of this. I know I just put a lot out there.

*I am queer and thus use this word to describe our community. As a straight person, it's best if you do not use that word unless someone asks you to use it to describe them.
Alexa K.
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Re: I want to support my brother, but I'm not sure how, or if I should

Unread postby Sistine » Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:40 pm

As someone who has been outed, it would not be supportive to tell him what you heard.
When my mom asked me about me being queer, I was not at all prepared for her to know, and it caused me to feel uncomfortable around her for a while.

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Re: I want to support my brother, but I'm not sure how, or if I should

Unread postby sharkmm » Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:00 am

Hi Jon,

When I was closeted, I was always happy when I heard friends talking about LGBTQ related topics in an accepting manner. Those friends who I then knew were accepting were the people I had first come out to.

My advice to you:
-Learn about the LGBTQ community and issues they face
-Show your support for the LGBTQ community (subtly and only if it comes up naturally!)
-Listen to your brother when he's ready to talk

I would not mention to your brother, what you've heard. When he is ready to come out to you, he will do it on his own time. Just be there for him so he knows you're a safe person to come out to!

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