A Straight Man’s Coming Out Story

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This story isn’t about me. Except that it is, because it’s all about me. Maybe some of you can relate to that.

I’m the black sheep of the family. The traditional path has always been tough for me to follow. When I was 19 I dropped out of college to pursue partying full time. This was hard for my parents, who always stressed the importance of getting that four year degree.

I moved out to Texas with a buddy so we could be Austin slackers, and the good times rolled.

After a few months my little brother came out to visit me. We spent the first day hanging out with my roommates, and later in the evening we had the apartment to ourselves.

We were sitting at the table, talking about this and that (I was probably trying to give him advice about girls), when suddenly he says: “I have something to tell you, and it’s really hard!”

Oh my god, I’m thinking, he’s gonna cut me out of his life. He’s gonna tell me that my divergent ways are too much, that he’s trying to live a normal life and that my influence is detrimental to that. He’s cutting me off. My little brother is cutting me off. What am I gonna do? I love this kid! What am I gonna do? WHAT AM I GONNA DO?

“I’m gay,” he says.

That’s it? He’s not cutting me off? I still get my little brother? Oh, God, what a relief! Oh, man, that was close…

It then occurs to me that he’s just made a huge confession.

“Really?” I say.

“Yeah.”

Just then I hear my roommate’s key in the front door. I lean over; kiss my bro on the head and say, “Okay. I still love you, you’re still my brother.” (It’s not until years later that I realize that this well-intended statement carried a hint of rejection, i.e. the possibility that I might’ve stopped loving him or disowned him. Alas, it was the best I could come up with in the moment)

That was it. We spoke at length that night. I had a lot of questions, pure curiosity since I’d never been so close to someone I knew was gay. It was cool, here’s my brother that I’ve always known, and now I know this whole new thing about him.

Pretty soon I was making sure that all of my friends knew about his revelation (with his permission, of course). I felt that his orientation upped my alternative cred. I think he found that amusing.

While this was no doubt a major event for my brother, it also marked a turning point for me. I had already landed in the ally camp, but now I had a dog in the fight. The struggle for LGBTQ equality was no longer just a theoretical issue. Suddenly it was about blood. Before this conversation, I had principles. But now, my principles had a focus, and a purpose.

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It is a big brother’s responsibility to protect his little brother, and while my brother is a badass and doesn’t require much in the way of protection, I still take that role very seriously.

I’m not a young Austin slacker anymore. I’m almost 40, I live in Portland, Oregon, and I have a family and a career. I don’t have a lot of free time. But I will stand up, any time, any day, to anyone who suggests that my brother or any other person of the LGBTQ persuasion is less worthy or doesn’t have the right to love who they love. I invite debate and discussion, and I make my best effort to see anyone I’m debating as a thoughtful and principled person, but just below the surface is a dragon’s claws prepared to tear up anyone who threatens my little brother’s well-being.

At the end of the day, I’m no genius, I’m no hero, I’m just a dude who loves his brother, and his brother’s people. Ally ‘till death. With dragon claws….grrr.

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About allydavidstevens

Husband. Father. Son. Brother. Uncle. Nurse. Aspiring Kung Fu Fighter.
This entry was posted in Civil Rights, Family, Hatred, Prejudice and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to A Straight Man’s Coming Out Story

  1. Clarence says:

    David, I don’t know if you will ever truly know what your obviously-heart-felt apology to those of us in the LGBTQ community really means. It was hope-affirming, and it was life-affirming. Most of us never get an apology at all for the hurt that people who really do love us cause us. I try to remember (difficult as it may be most of the time) that, in a backwards and ultimately very hurtful way, at least some of the people in our lives do what they do sometimes because they care about us…and because many simply don’t know any better. Believe me, it takes a lot for me to be that generous with those people, but I am just the kind of person who tries to understand why some people do what they do. That is why your apology means the world to someone you have never wronged or hurt, even incidentally. Though, of course, I cannot and do not speak for you (you do a pretty good job of that yourself), the way I see it, you apologized specifically for those of us who never had someone to shed a tear of unconditional love and acceptance for us; for all of us who ever doubted our own humanity because of how our hearts work. This is the closest I can come to shaking your hand and giving you a big hug not just for your words, but for your own lovely heart, which your words so accurately portray. I am a Christian (still), and I know that your best thanks is yet to come, when your God will thank you Himself one day for being not just a “good and faithful servant”, but for being God’s heart in the flesh for so many of us who doubted for too long if we even deserved to be loved. Thank you.

  2. I truly enjoyed reading this story and witness a True Brothers’ Love.

  3. Mark Seedig says:

    Wow. I just watched your video a few minutes ago, and just read this post. I may never have the honor of meeting you, but would still be proud as could be to call you a friend. I never had a sibling, but you are the kind of brother I would have wished for. I’m still in tears, but wanted to take a moment to say thank you for being you, which amounts to a pretty amazing terrific person who gets it, who understands what unconditional love is really all about.

  4. Thank you for being the kind of big brother that I also am lucky to have! We can now see Marriage Equality in NJ from our Pennsylprejudice porch!

    T W O . H U S B A N D S
    Earl and Tim, together in love at first sight since 1976, married in Canada in 2003

    Federal litigation has been proven to be the fastest way to affirm our U. S. Constitutional rights that are still denied Americans born non-heterosexual who must live in states that deny our civil rights.

    Pennsylprejudice: Time to get the lead out!


    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200462480439085&set=a.10200137869644018.1073741847.1669134909&type=1&theater
    http://www.freedomtomarry.org/blog/entry/tim-earl-after-37-years-we-cant-wait-longer-for-the-freedom-to-marry-in-our

  5. Kevin says:

    Hi Dave,

    What I wouldn’t give to have an older brother like you. My older brother not only doesn’t defend me. He actually treats my partner with something that resembles a blend of indifference and contempt.He doesn’t see the need to defend me and he is completely indifferent towards mine. I think your attitude towards your brother is positively stupendous. BTW, are you on Facebook?

  6. crazycatlady says:

    I’ve been an ally for quite some time. But, like you said “Now I have a dog in the fight” My youngest daughter came out to me last summer. I’ve always been very vocal about my views on equality and support for the LGBT community. But she still asked me “Mom, what would you do if I said I was bisexual?” My response was “After all these years of living with me and equal rights rants, you need to ask that question?” I’m proud of her. I’m proud that I have raised a child that is ok with who she is and not afraid to be herself. She’s 14 and I’m taking her to her first pride later this month.

    • allydavidstevens says:

      You go, Mama! The gift you have given your daughter in helping her to accept and be herself is immeasurable. I suspect she won’t fully realize it until she is much older, but this kindness will return to you a thousand fold.

      Peace,
      Dave

  7. Reblogged this on My Straightjacket's Bedazzled and commented:
    This is amazingly sweet.

  8. I’m the ex-husband to an out wife. No matter what pain this causes me personally, her rights should be no different to mine. And I support equal rights for all.

    • Caroline says:

      I’m the ex-wife of an out husband and I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have a very good relationship with him and his parents as my children are their only grandchildren. They are all adults now and they all get along with their father. I feel very blessed

  9. I liked how you wrote this. I’m the older sister and I always knew my baby sister was different. We just didn’t have words for it then. I moved up to Portland, OR to be closer to my sister who is more like my first child. Our dad tried to beat her to death when she was 15. Just couldn’t handle having a “deviant” in the family. She has lived here 35 years in this wonderfully progressive city. I would do anything for her and she for me. We aren’t supposed to all be the same. I often wonder if the rest of the world will ever get it?

  10. Jen Smith says:

    I am the oldest sister to 3 brothers. Almost a year ago, my middle brother came out to me (he’s 25, I’m 29) , one of them already knew (because he told him) and the other one kind of figured it out, but I was completely clueless, had absolutely no idea and it shocked for a few weeks. Before that, I considered myself being an open minded person (we live in a third world country, so you can imagine it’s still more of an issue than in the US) but after he came out, it hit me really hard, I couldn’t believe it and somehow was in denial, it was a completely different story knowing and accepting that my sweet little brother was gay than any stranger in the street.

    I spoke to him very honestly, trying to understand, apologizing for the way I reacted (I cried a lot), he was extremely understanding but I felt really bad because I didn’t notice at all. It took me one month to finally accept it. After accepting that my reaction was just because of the “society” we live in, I thought “I don’t need to understand it, just to respect it and I don’t care what anybody thinks of him or of our family”, after all he’s my brother, who I love soooo much, he’s incredibly smart and a badass as well :) He can love whoever he wants, that won’t change anything about how I feel about him, I just want to see him happy, just like everybody else, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t.

    Right now, he’s studying abroad pursuing his master’s degree (as I said he’s super smart), but in the future, I want to be able to go to his wedding (of course this means he won’t get married in our country, but who cares, I’ll go anywhere for him), I want to be the cool auntie for his kids and I just want him to live a normal life (even if it that means that we won’t live in the same country).

    It’s still a completely different situation in a third world country like ours, little by little the situation has been changing, but we still have a long way to go. Whenever I get the chance, I try to get people to understand, because it’s very easy to point fingers and judge from the outside, but once it’s close to you and somehow affects your family, of course the claws are out, because family is everything!

  11. I’m an only child and always wished to have a brother. In the seventh grade I met my future brother-in-law, and we became best friends and later, college roommates. I knew and dated his sister a little in high school (with his permission!) and we ended up going to different colleges, where we both became involved/engaged with other people. But then, one day he told me that she broke it off with her fiancee, and I immediately called her to see if I could pick her up for a ride home on the next holiday. She said yes, and our relationship renewed and grew to another whole level — falling in love over the following summer, as she decided to attend summer classes as my college! That August, we went to a friend’s wedding together and discovered that we both wanted to name any daughter either of us might have after that friend. Seven years later our daughter was born, and we did give her that name. But we knew we were in love that very night, and we became engaged two months later. That Christmas, her brother — my best friend — saw her picture on my desk (he’d gotten married the previous year) and was completely surprised and shocked! When… how… when did this happen, he sputtered… We were married eight months later (the brother and friend was my best man). Fast forward seven more years, and I came out to my wife — and subsequently to her mother, younger brother and wife, and other family members, including my friend, her older brother (by mail or “by mother”) and he acknowledged his surprise (and I know, shock also) once more. He and I had discussed homosexuality only once and very briefly, and not in any personal sense at all. He has been a supporter of mine and I’d say an 80% supporter of gay people in general. I’ve been frustrated at that missing 20%, but accept that his support for me is grounded in love for me as the brother I never had — and now I have two, as both brothers are accepting and supportive of me as well as their sister. They know our journey together has not been easy, but our love did overcome and outlast all others, and we have remained together as married partners for over fifty years! It’s a remarkable story, and I will be ever grateful for this family I married into — my one true love and her loving and accepting brothers and their spouses. We share the depth of family by choice as friends!

  12. Joel Hess says:

    My brother is four years older than I. We didn’t get along too well when I was a kid; I suppose he resented this little boy tagging along with him and making him less cool with his friends. But now he is one of my greatest defenders and supporters. When I came out to him 30 years ago, he said, “No big deal. I’ve known you were gay since I asked you to show me who you thought were the prettiest girls in your high school yearbook, and you pointed out all the smart girls.” When I moved to Portland after losing my job in New York, he helped me adjust to a new city. He is part of what makes Portland an amazing place.

    • allydavidstevens says:

      I’m trying to get my brother to move here, too. He’s just too darn happy in San Francisco to be persuaded.

  13. Michael Hall says:

    My brother told me he thought my being gay was a choice. Broke my heart.

    • allydavidstevens says:

      Hi Michael,

      I am deeply sorry for your brother’s response. I like to think that he knows better on some level and that that response is just a product of societal indoctrination and ignorance.

      I pray that someday he will come around and see and appreciate you for the beautiful, complex being that you are.

      Peace,
      Dave

  14. Larry Dillon says:

    I’m the older brother but I’m also the gay one.My brother is 4 yrs younger and straight.I came out 22yrs ago.My brother is my one of my greatest allies.He too will defend me and mine with the rage of a dragon.He does it because he believes equality is right but for 22yrs he too has had skin in the game…..Come Out.Come Out.Where ever you are.It does make a difference.Make everyone have skin in the game

    • allydavidstevens says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Larry. I am so glad for you that your brother is in your corner, and I am equally glad for him that he has his priorities straight, er, clear!

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