One Sunday afternoon four years ago, my parents called me and my sister into the kitchen for a family meeting. I was twelve years old and I had no idea what was going on. I thought we must be in some sort of trouble. My sister and I walked into the kitchen and my father told me to sit down on his lap. My parents had concerned smiles on their faces which automatically led me to believe that something was wrong. My brother, Jack, was sitting at the kitchen counter next to my mother, when she said, “Jack has something that we want him to share with the family.” I will remember the next words that came out of his mouth for the rest of my life. Jack looked up at and me and my sister and said, “Basically, I’m gay.”
At first I was shocked and then I felt sad for my brother. I knew that it meant that a lot of people might give him a hard time. I also wondered if people would feel differently about me. I worried about how things might change for my family so I did not want anyone to know. I needed time to absorb this new, expanded version of my brother. I did not want to talk about it even with the people who knew, including my family. This did not last very long.
I knew that my mother had strong religious beliefs that did not accept homosexuality and had even left the Episcopal Church when it ordained a gay bishop. My brother’s announcement in the kitchen was like an earthquake that I feared would split our family apart. What happened was very different. My parents were not happy but my father said to my brother, “you are still our son and we love you.”
Over the next several months my parents did a lot of reading, talking, and praying. I could see that they were working very hard at understanding and accepting the child they loved. This gave me the courage to share with a few trusted friends. Some people had the reaction I feared and thought he was terrible. However, the people who already knew my brother saw that he was still the same Jack they liked yesterday. I came to realize that my brother being gay really did not change anything, just like my father said. Now, four years later, our family not only accepts Jack but celebrates his uniqueness as an additional gift to us. I believe that love overcomes fear of differences.
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