Coming Out to My Sister

I finally did it.  I finally did something I felt was long overdue.  I came out to my younger sister.

Until this week, I was thinking that perhaps I had waited too long, that maybe I’d missed a golden window of opportunity when a child’s mind is freer of prejudices and more receptive to new moral ideas.  I thought that surely by now my sister had been inundated with the homophobia so rampant in East Tennessee and that I was responsible for not planting seeds of tolerance in her mind early on.  I’d had many chances before now, since I’m 10 years older than her (she’s 14): I’ve known about my orientation her whole life.  But I was always afraid that she would not understand, or that she would ask mom about it, or that she wouldn’t like me anymore.

I’m not very courageous.  I’m not very optimistic.  I’ve been given too many reasons not to be.

But recently she’s been dropping little hints to me that she wants to be told, that she is ready to hear it, that she “knows” but wants to know.  Just this week, she out-of-the-blue informed me that there are four gay boys in her school and more lesbians than that.  (Why did she tell me that?)  Then she asked me, “If you could marry anyone you want, who would it be?  It can be a friend, if you want…”  This was different from the usual Do you have a girlfriend yet?  And then just last night she mentioned that one of her best friends at school is gay.  “Do you know any gay people?”

Despite all this prodding and begging and sincere curiosity, I still kept my mouth shut.  Is this fair to her?  Why am I refusing to open up and share with her?  She’s already intimated that she doesn’t discriminate against gay people….but I’m still so afraid.

In the course of last night, in the waking hours of tossing and turning, the troubled twilight watches, I became angry.  No, furious.  What the hell is this culture that makes me so terrified to tell my flesh and blood relative something so fundamental about myself??  And furthermore, why am I, who will preach so vehemently to the choir, mousy in the moments that really matter?!  Here, on the boundary of what is acceptable, is where change can happen.

So I resolved that today would be the day, come hell or high water.  Off like a bandaid.  One rip; pick up the pieces afterward.  Let the chips fall where they will … or something.

The circumstances of today played out perfectly.  I was supposed to drive my sister to our grandparents’ house.  30 beautiful, sacred minutes in which to tell her and deal with the aftershock.  If we needed more time, I could take a detour.  Just me and her.  Uninterrupted.

It took me half the drive to work up the courage.  Is it right for me to trap her in this car and make her listen?  Do I have to talk to my sister about my sexuality? Off like a bandaid.  So I talked quickly.

“So, remember last night when you asked me if I know any gay people?  Well, I do.  Because I am.”

“Really?”

“Yup.”

“For how long?”

“Forever.  All my life.  As long as I can remember.”

“Huh.”

Silence.  I held my breath.

“Some of my friends are gay, too.”

“Yup.”

Am I the adult in this situation?  How is she braver than I am?  Why can’t I formulate words?

“Does Mom know?”

“Yes.  But you can’t tell your dad.”

“I know.”

And that was it.  Off like a bandaid.  I had told her what she probably already knew.  Like paying a debt.  I owed her this affirmation.  I owed her the truth.  Just, “huh.”  No condemnation.  No barrage of questions.  She started singing Do You Wanna Build a Snowman.  Nothing had changed.  We were singing and laughing and talking like always.  Maybe I wasn’t too late.  Maybe it was the perfect moment after all.

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~ by falleninparadise on February 16, 2014.

One Response to “Coming Out to My Sister”

  1. beautiful and well written, so happy for u…

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