connecting with gay relatives

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 23, 2007 8:14 PM GMT
    About a month or so ago my cousin who's 3 or 4 years younger than I came out to the family and admitted he's been seeing a guy for some time now. Growing up he and I didn't hang out much b/c he was very shy and reserved. I had also assumed he was straight and that we had very little in common so I didn't make much effort.

    He called me a few weeks ago and we had a great conversation; I gave him some advice, told him to call me anytime and even suggested getting together more, to which he wholeheartedly agreed. We met up for Pride, then went out with his boyfriend and his b/f's friends and had a wonderful drunken evening.

    Since then, however, not much else has happened. I know his boyfriend likes me so I can't imagine why he wouldn't want to hang out more often. Just the other night his b/f said they were going out and would let me know the details to meet up. I sent a text to my cousin asking him to keep me posted but got no reply. The following day I saw a missed call from him but no voicemail.

    What gives? When I came out I wish I had a slightly older relative to bond with. Unfortunately I had to blaze the trail in my family alone. I honestly cannot understand why he wouldn't want to do fun gay things together. It's so much easier to try new things in the scene when you've got someone to go or do it with that you really trust---and where is there more trust than within the family?

    Any thoughts? It's hard to not take this personal...
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    Jul 23, 2007 8:36 PM GMT
    maybe it was a lot for him to metabolize and he's just trying to process participating in a gay event, perhaps his 1st relationship, processing how it feels that people know he's gay and last but not least, coming out. I dunno - I'm just thinking of for me, sometimes, when things sort of happen really fast I find that I need to take a break, go in my corner and think things through. It's good that you're trying not to take this personally.
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    Jul 23, 2007 10:39 PM GMT
    NRG has a very good point here. Yesterday, I had someone, who I didn't think knew I was gay, ask me if I had found a gay community yet. It totally blew me away, and I wanted to hide under the table (I'm still in the process of coming out). It may be just him getting used to being out. Don't take offense. Just call from time to time, ask how he's doing, and if there's anything that you can do to help him feel more comfortable or answer questions, and maybe invite him and his BF to go with you to something, but don't push. Give him opportunities.

    He may also feel like this is the special thing about him and his personality, and to have another family member be such an integral part of it may be deflating to him.

    Maybe what you might want to do is to just talk with him - level with him - and ask him if he would feel more comfortable if you were to stand back and give him room.

    But whatever you do, be there for him, and help him understand that you're there for him to fall back on, if he needs you. That's something that I know I really have appreciated during my coming out, even though I haven't really taken much advantage of it. It gives me courage to do things that I might not, if I didn't have a support system.

    Avobe all, just love him for who he is. He needs that above all other things.

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    Jul 23, 2007 10:42 PM GMT
    If he's hot, invite him over for sex. Give him the benefit of your experience. :D Just kidding. Or am I?
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    Jul 23, 2007 10:43 PM GMT
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    Jul 23, 2007 11:08 PM GMT
    Sometimes the worst thing that your friend's boyfriend can say is that you are a nice guy.

    Particularly with the newly coupled a little jealousy can go a long way.

    In fact, the more your cousin might admire about you - the more you might look like strong competition. Whatever the cause of his original shyness might increase this effect.

    It might be best if you make sure to concentrate your attentions and connection on the cousin and not his boyfriend.

    It might be helpful at least till a lot of confidence is built between the two of you - that you bring your own date on any group outing. Or that you propose a few cousins only events.
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    Jul 24, 2007 12:03 AM GMT
    If you haven't been close to him in the past and haven't had much in common that isn't all going to change just because you now know he's gay.
    Yes, he's your cousin and he's gay too, and that gives you something in common, but you will need more than just that if you are to become friends or close to him.
    I would give him time, and leave the communication open and make it clear that you are always willing to hang out with him.
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    Jul 24, 2007 12:17 AM GMT
    Yeah, it sounds like your cousin is just getting used to the idea of himself being gay, and it will take some time. Call him occasionally, but don't be too pushy or aggressive.
  • bigguysf

    Posts: 329

    Jul 24, 2007 6:27 AM GMT
    Being gay is no more of a common denominator sometimes than being any other kind of minority. So just because you are both gay doesn't mean that you will be any closer than you had been before. It's nice to think that maybe you guys can get closer. But often it doesn't work that way.

    I'm fortunate that I have a lesbian cousin who I'm very close to. Whenever I go back to visit my hometown, we always see each other and hang out. We are definitely THE solid gay, united front in my family. :) But then again, we were close before she came out.

    Good luck to you and your cousin. You guys are both still very young, so there is still alot of time to try and bridge whatever the gap is between you.
  • dfrourke

    Posts: 1062

    Jul 25, 2007 2:34 AM GMT
    ...I have a gay cousin who is about 7 years younger than I am...and a gay uncle who is about 7 years older than me...

    ...I have NEVER hung out or much less talked to my cousin who I had a close relationship before he came out continue to make it a priority to hang and exchange emails...

    ...relationships both familial and platonic take time...if you didn't have the relationship before I wouldn't expect it to happen overnight...

    ...I also know some gay folks that don't like to share the spotlight...but before you go there, talk to your cousin...your answer will not exactly be from one of us...

    - David
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    Jul 26, 2007 9:24 PM GMT
    Rather than trying to guess what's going on and make assumptions, just reach out to him. He's your cousin. Tell him now that you've reconnected, you'd like to have a better relationship with him.

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    Sep 02, 2007 3:34 PM GMT
    guys thank you so much for the advice. I've been trying to reach out to him, we'll see what happens. i'll keep you posted... :)
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    Sep 02, 2007 4:05 PM GMT
    I have a gay half-brother and my ex-had a gay nephew. While it gives you the basis for a candid conversation or two, I think BigGuySF hits it right on the head - it doesn't make friends of strangers.
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    Sep 02, 2007 5:32 PM GMT
    I think McGay might have something there!

    But not in the way he said. ;)

    Possibly cousin thinks you're hot. That might make it a bit difficult to be around you - being that your family. Always having the urge to [blank] your [blank] with his [blank][blank].

    If he's shy and reserved, maybe he's just being shy and reserved. Having a family member at his gay events might make him feel more exposed - his actions can be retold back to family. Maybe a vow of confidence between you two, that what you talk about and see or do, doesn't end up gossiped around in the family. ( Especially if you follow McGays advice... :P )

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    Sep 02, 2007 10:24 PM GMT
    genqb> I had to blaze the trail

    That might just be part of it. One thing I've noticed around the U here is that in previous "generations" (defined here as 4-6 years), gay students weren't out to their friends/room-mates/peers. Thus they wanted to have gay-only space in which to let down their hair. Spaces that were established by trailblazers that came before them.

    Then arose a generation which didn't know pharaoh. Which is to say, they were less familiar with the closet and persecution. They were already out, their peers - and parents - knew it. They didn't have a need or use for gay only spaces or groups and thus many of those faded away (much to the horror of those of us who had blazed that trail and created those things).

    Perhaps this explains some of the dynamics (or lack thereof) between you and your cousin. Your needs when you came out and his needs now are not the same. So while it's noble and commendable that you are trying to be the good cousin (the cousin you would have liked to have had), that may not be what he is looking for.

    Granted, I'm saying this based on one sentence in particular and a few paragraphs on-line, but if I'm right, your challenge will be to avoid the temptation to discount him as ungreatful for your efforts and write him off. Hang out with him when you can (and he'll have you). Then you can be there, as his big-"brother"/cousin, when the time comes that he does need you.
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    Sep 03, 2007 12:00 AM GMT
    I have 2 gay cousins..One moved to a larger city years ago, we do stay in touch. My other cousin who lived here all my life moved away 1 year ago. I miss him deeply as he was older than I and blazed the to speak. I can relate to your sense of saftey and security when with a gay pick up your phone/p/c and message the hell out of him til you guys get togther.If something is holding him back..he will eventually tell you over a few cocktails...CALL HIM NOW..GET GOING..LIFE IS SHORT!