Homophobic Family - How would you respond?

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    Apr 10, 2008 3:35 AM GMT
    OK, so I've hesitated posting this but I would really like your input and comments. As many of you know I'm married and out to my wife (only my wife, as of Jan 2008 icon_cool.gif and working through some tough issues with regards to our future (have on child at home).

    So with that background, here's the scoop. I'm visiting family and staying with my oldest brother. I thought before I arrived that if the opportunity arose that I might talk to him about my situation. I'm on the west coast and my family lives on the east coast so it would give me one person locally to hear me out and understand.

    So the time had not been right when last night during a discussion about an employee that he recently fired, he mentions that the guy was gay. I, of course, responded with "what does that have to do with anything?" He "him-haw'd" on it and finally I asked him, did you fire him because he was gay? because you know that's wrong and illegal! My sister-in-law was going nuts (she's in HR at her work, she knows) and he finally confirmed that yeah, he did. I know from my s-i-l that there were other work related problems that would have probably justified the firing.

    Tonight the subject came up again (employee) and my s-i-l indicated that the guy had just left his previous job without notice and she had found out it was to live with his bf. My bother made some rude comments and again I confronted him and told him that there was nothing wrong with him because he happened to be gay, and that what he was saying was very wrong. My brother finally indicated that we would never agree on this.

    So, how would you handle this? Tonight is my last night and obviously I can't tell him about me. I didn't pursue it further and decided to just let it go. I feel sort of like a loser for not going further and I'm not sure if I'll want to stay with him again. I honestly did not know he was so homophobic and I'm very saddened by it. It's finally hit home now...how sad is that?
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    Apr 10, 2008 4:26 AM GMT
    in all honesty, i wouldn't tell him anything. he told you enough about himself. he will tell everyone else in your family, and he'll do it in a confrontational, blaming sort of wat that will start alot of shit.

    find your own time, place, and person to start this off. your coming out process is already going to be thorny enough without your martyring yourself in front of someone who won't appreciate your process.

    if you are out to your wife, THAT is an incredible start. i would throw it up in convo with other family members that your brother did this and gauge what i tell them based on their response to his attitudes at work.
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    Apr 10, 2008 5:10 AM GMT
    Obviously your brother is not in the state of mind to accept anything gay at this point. I would highly discourage telling him you are gay right now. Doing this might make your current situation even worse.

    I am sorry to hear your bro is such a homophobe but really there is nothing you can really do to make him accept gays. Firing someone because they are a homosexual despite the other problems that might have existed sounds a bit extreme to me.

    I think dancerjack made an excellent suggestion. Try to work the issue of homosexuality into a conversation with your family and see how they respond. It will provide a good indication of those who are more willing to accept or support homosexuals.

    Depending on their repsonses, you can determine whether it would be a wise decision to tell them you're gay.

    If you are trully fearless then I would suggest pursuing the subject further if it comes up again. And don't back down. Try to explain to him gays are just like everybody else without outing yourself. They are less likely to believe you are gay considering you are married.

  • CuriousJockAZ

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    Apr 10, 2008 5:26 AM GMT
    I told my brother and he wasn't ready. It took years to get our relationship back on track and, to be honest, I don't know that it will ever truly be the same.

    My advice, don't tell him. He doesn't need to know, at least not now, and it will only bring more drama into your life that you probably don't want or need right now. I am sure when the time is right, if that time ever comes, you will know. Maybe even wait until he actually asks you about it. You can always go by the mantra "When they have the courage to hear the answer, they'll have the guts to ask the question".
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    Apr 10, 2008 5:41 AM GMT
    My brother was extremely homophobic and had actually physically harmed a guy who hit on him. He was the hardest one I told. I actually thought we might get into a physical fight. We didn't. It took years for him to come around but he needed to hear it because for him, he had to reconcile two conflicting issues: his fear of homosexuality and his love for me.

    Having said all of that, I certainly didn't pick him as my first. I got some practice on other people who I figured would be a lot more supportive first so that I was stronger and more ready to out myself to him at the time.

    Now we're great and he often asks about guys I'm seeing and we talk a lot about relationships. It took a long time but was ultimately very worth it. I'm actually really proud of how far he and I have come in our relationship with each other.

    Your timing might not be bad. If you're still there and are heading home, you could always drop the bomb and then leave. Heck, you don't need to stick around to see the wreckage.

    I'd ask you - what is your goal? To be out, regardless of the reaction? To "protect" them from knowing? Know your goal and you'll know the right answer. Only you can know what to do next. Have good strong allies around you who will love and support you. It IS hard at first. It gets easier over time. And it never stops. I've been out 12 years and I'm still coming out to people. Don't let that freak you out. It just becomes part of your process of meeting people. Heck, the more people who know, the more dates they might set you up on!

    Good luck on all fronts. Keep us posted.
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    Apr 10, 2008 5:54 AM GMT
    I've been waiting for a post like this lol. Here's my situation. My ENITRE family has been raised Southern Baptist (so you know what I'm already in for) so obviously no one in my family knows. But the two demons that I need to carry are this.

    -I'm an ONLY child and have parents that want (biological) grandchildren, even though I've tried to explain myself to them.
    -I'm pretty much the only surviving male on my fathers side which means that if I die without having a (male) kid, that my whole family name will die with me as well.

    This is why I hate that so many homophobic BIGOTS try to claim that this is a choice!!! (BUT that in itself is a whole other message post)

    I know how you feel guy(s)!!! But don't get discouraged, the only person that you can ever truly be is YOU!!!
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    Apr 10, 2008 6:08 AM GMT
    Your gayness, is your business. You have the option and right to tell or not tell whomever, whenever and for whatever reasons you wish. No timetables! Just be aware that once the jeanie is out of the bottle, so to speak, you can not put it back in the bottle very easilly.
    As I have said in the past to you, pick your person, your place and the conditions and reasons, etc, CAREFULLY. Control your circumstances and always make sure you are in a "safe place"....stack the deck in your favor, for success or at worst a minimal failure.
    Visiting your brother at his home and talking about a hot button topic like firing an employee for being gay, is not what I would have considered a "safe place", nor is it "stacking the deck" in your favor. It was educational for you to learn something about your brother...that he is not the most tolerant or "diversity minded" individual, but I would maybe retry this outing on "your turf"....
    Actually, I don't believe I would tell the "family", until you and your wife have come to some mutual understanding and then to broach the topic with your kids....they are the ones that this will affect most directly. You need to get it clear in your mind and then with your closest family and then out to the rest of the family and friends and so-on. Controlled, deliberate and always SAFE..the way I went about it with my ex and kids and the rest of the "family". As I also said, there is no timetable, do it when everyone is "ready", but do it fist with your wife and kids. Make a plan and work your plan!
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    Apr 10, 2008 6:54 AM GMT

    All the guys have stated things in such an eloquent way and I'm impressed. My thought is that if you wish to let the truth be known, do it beacause of the pride you hold with in yourself, not because you're looking for acceptance or approval.

    I don't know you situation with your wife, and I can't pretent to know of her feelings. But I do have empathy to your situation. When you wish to declare your sexual orientation for yourself, do it with pride and honor. Who you choose to fuck has nothing to do with the kind of man you are. It just happens to be a part of you. And honestly, people that truly love you understand that you are the same man yesterday that you are the day you let them know who you prefer to be with sexuality. Their knowledge on being with men, does not change the amazing kind of man and all the wonderful things that you have done for your family.

    When you're ready, tell them with honor, tell them with love, and tell them with pride. Make no apologies. It's not like you robbed a bank. In fact, you did something honorable, you were honest with them.

    Peace my friend and know that there are a lot of peole in your same situation and many in your family who love you for the man you were. Cause honestly, just cause you tell someone you're a fag today, doens't mean that you're not the same man they loved yesterday before they knew
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    Apr 10, 2008 7:42 AM GMT
    If your brother is redeemable, and you love him, tell him. If he's unredeemable, forget it...you have your life, he has his. Focus on your wife and kids.

    Maxxtowt said-I'm an ONLY child...if I die without having a (male) kid...my whole family name will die with me as well.

    Don't give up on kids yet. You may, in fact, have a child, if you want one. Me, I don't want kids. But if you have a strong desire to have one, and this fulfills your familial obligation, make it happen.

    If you fear telling them will make them hysterical, tell them in a public place (dinner at a nice restaurant), where making a scene would be more difficult.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Apr 10, 2008 10:50 AM GMT
    You really can't say anything more because you're in the closet for now...I'd leave it because it's basically your brother's problem and not yours for the moment
    but IF and WHEN you do come out...

    Then you can say all you want
    and say... Wow, I can't believe you believe in such stupid crap
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    Apr 10, 2008 11:03 AM GMT
    I've never experienced outright homophobia in my family. Just a few derogatory comments now and then that are actually justified anyways (gay men make fools of themselves... a lot. LOL)

    I hadn't realized how fortunate I am in that regard. icon_confused.gif

    Good luck, eb925guy, and I hope they do eventually learn to accept you when you come out.
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    Apr 10, 2008 11:14 AM GMT
    You told your wife in January.
    This is April.
    You've taken your first step and acclimated yourself in the process of coming out.
    However, and I may be unfair in saying this, you seem to have frozen in place after that first step, and that is at least some of the problem here.
    Someone above said that he and his brother took a long time to repair their relationship. If that's going to be true of you and your family, the longer you put off coming out to the rest of them, the longer it will take for you to get past the awkward stage that will ensue.

    Also, you are likely dreading the feeling of shame over having lied to nearly everyone you know for an entire lifetime.

    Don't let that paralyze you. You HAVE been lying--we've all been there--and they will forgive you for it once they understand why.
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    Apr 10, 2008 11:32 AM GMT
    Hi Don

    Firstly well done for coming out to your wife. It must've been hard for both of you, and some relief on your part that she now knows.

    You are under no pressure to come out immediately to your family. So situations like the one you're in now, are probably best left to ride themselves out with your keeping things to yourself.

    A good way of dealing with the coming out process is to do it gradually. Start with the family member you imagine will be most sympathetic and work towards the ones you know have problems with Gay people (in this case your brother). By the time you actually get around to coming out to those with less enlightened views, you'll hopefully find they know already (family grapevine is better than CNN/BBC for getting news around).

    Good luck.


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    Apr 10, 2008 11:57 AM GMT
    Wow...I can not believe the response and replies from you guys! I can not tell you how much I appreciate the support. I was going to respond to each but there are just too many. So many of you have really hit the nail on the head with the issue of timing, location, comfort and love.

    As I also said, there is no timetable, do it when everyone is "ready", but do it fist with your wife and kids. Make a plan and work your plan!
    Thanks Gary, you're right.

    I've decided that it is not the right time, despite the fact that I'd like to "educate" him some. That will have to wait for another time.

    JP, these words are very true:

    Also, you are likely dreading the feeling of shame over having lied to nearly everyone you know for an entire lifetime.

    Don't let that paralyze you. You HAVE been lying--we've all been there--and they will forgive you for it once they understand why.

    I was energized after coming out to my wife but working through just that part has taken a lot out of me. The next big step, that I've procrastinated about was leaving home...it's another biggie.

    Anyway, thanks guys! It's great to know that there's so much support for something that is so difficult.

  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16461

    Apr 10, 2008 12:17 PM GMT
    Well let me say, "congrats" for making the effort with the issue. I would never think of it as less than successful just because you didn't confide your sexuality to your brother.

    I agree with much of what the others have said, don't push it. If the situation presents itself later, than pursue it. To say anything at this point would probably just be more of a confrontation.

    As time passes, he might find out and either "talk" or "confront" you... how will YOU react? I'm sure very calmly and matter of fact.

    You know we are behind you in your efforts. Let us know if we can be of help!
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    Apr 10, 2008 12:18 PM GMT
    I first want to comment on those who're influenced by their family wishes about kids and grandkids. By what Mom and Dad want vs what YOU want.

    Is this your life or theirs?

    That's not asked in judgment, but I think it's a question we've all had to ask ourselves in the coming out/not coming out process.

    As for you, eb925guy, and others dealing with tricky family coming out processes, kudos to your courage and may your balls continue to swing as you move forward. It's not easy. You'll probably be called nasty names, shunned by some, perhaps overwelcomed by others, and asked impertinent questions. One of my mother's first questions - Do you have AIDS? icon_confused.gif

    I asked myself that question I wrote above. Is it my life or theirs to decide? I could want kids [shudder] or this or that hetero-normative thing. But it had to be FOR ME. Not them.

    So hang in there. Let your heart and gut be your guides.
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    Apr 10, 2008 12:31 PM GMT
    RunintheCity saidI first want to comment on those who're influenced by their family wishes about kids and grandkids. By what Mom and Dad want vs what YOU want.

    Is this your life or theirs?

    Very true RunintheCity!

    You also may be SHOCKED that your parents don't expect you to have kids "FOR THEM!"

    It was indeed a huge shock to me when I was coming out to my parents, staunch catholics (both ex ministry to boot!) and was putting on the waterworks saying "But I won't be giving you grand children"

    My father's eyes got huge and he said "David, You don't have children FOR US, You have them FOR YOU! If that's not part of your plan it's no big deal"

    I just couldn't believe it.

    Eb925guy,I"m not sure your brother will ever be ready for you to come out to him. But I hope that he will accept you and still love you when you do.

    All the best,

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    Apr 10, 2008 1:36 PM GMT
    If you tell someone, you will never have to tell that person again. If you lose that person from your life, that person was never in your life, he or she was part of a life that didn't exist to begin with. If it hurts badly enough to keep the secret, unburden yourself. There is no blame to be assigned for homosexuality.
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    Apr 10, 2008 1:39 PM GMT
    It may be more difficult if your brother is older and has been set in his ways for decades, but let me give you a bit of inspiration and maybe some advice about how to approach him with the news.

    The first guy I seriously dated had an older brother (ten years older) who was as southern redneck as they could be. He was a bit of a punk who liked to pick on gay guys. He had beaten one up more than once just for the fun of it.

    Do you think it was easy for my partner to tell his brother? Not a chance. The whole family knew for years before his brother. After about three years of that, he finally just decided it was enough. One day when the family was all together for a birthday dinner, his brother just happened to ask him why he never dated.

    In a snap, he had enough and replied, "Jeff, I've dated since I was 18. Only I'm not dating girls." And left the room to go to the kitchen.

    The didn't speak much for about a year, but that was a real turning point for his brother. That's been about ten years now and they are the two closest siblings in the family now.

    He and his brother finally had many long heart to heart talks about it. Jeff, his brother, later said that he came to realize that it was hurting him to have the attitude he did. The fact that everyone else in the family already knew and was OK with it, but were keeping it from him made him feel like he was estranged from his family, when in fact he lived next door and saw them everyday.

    So, there's hope that some good will come from telling him.

    As for how, I would simply wait until I got back home and write him a long letter. Tell him about how his firing of his employee made you feel. Tell him you hope to be close, but that in order to do that you can't keep this a secret.

    I wish you the best.
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    Apr 10, 2008 2:29 PM GMT
    eb925guy: Telling a wife is a pretty big deal and I know that time can move fast while we can't see the next move. As Rod Stewart once sang, "Time is a thief when you're undecided." I certainly won't rush you on anything but I will say that clearly the next move is for you and your wife to separate. She's got to have a chance to have another guy in her life just as you need to explore your gay life.

    My brother was the first person whom I told and he wasn't particularly homophobic but he did have a hard time with the news because it was unexpected. It's a different thing to work around gay people and to have a gay relative. Remember that even Cher was a little thrown when Chastity came out to her.

    I can see why you wanted to tell your brother next. You wanted to ease into these waters with people you thought would be supporting. But your brother sounds like he is influenced by his wife who sounds very closed-minded. There's this myth that women are better with this subject than men are. I've found the number of homophobic women to be the same as men.

    If you tell your brother before you and your wife separate he could possibly get in your business with her. If you tell him afterwards he will have the double blow of your separation and your homosexuality. Regardless, life is messy and your brother is just going to have to wrestle with this. As I said to my own brother, who told me how hard it was to have a gay brother and now have to think about things differently: "Take a teaspoon out of the ocean I've been swallowing since I was 13!"

    What I think you want one of us to say is that there is a way to tell your brother that will make the effort smooth but I don't think that there is. Like all of us you are going to have to throw this relationship into the air for an indeterminate amount of time and hope that it lands in a good place.

    I am guessing that your brother will do as most siblings do, which is go through a lengthy process of adjustment. For him it may take a few years. After that is done he will realize that he had been preconditioned to think wrongly about homosexuals.

    I truly believe that the greatest part of the gay revolution that we've had in the past decade has simply come from the mixture of media exposure that has emboldened so many to come out, and the realization for straight people that a loved one is gay. Before straights thought gayness was something that "happened" in San Francisco and New York.

    maxxtowt: What I said above and another thought. Your parents--like the families of all gay people--need to realize that it's your life to be lived to your fulfillment not their's. But even realizing that, they can still realize their dreams of grandchildren, etc. if that's what you want as well. They will just have a son-in-law instead of a daughter-in-law. It will take them some time, but what are their alternatives? To forget that their beloved son exists and have no grandchildren in the future, or adjust and have the possibility of such along with a son-in-law whom they could love, too, once they realize that dreams never come wrapped in a box. If you can't buy a toy with batteries and fully assembled, why would we expect a dream to be any different?
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    Apr 10, 2008 2:40 PM GMT

    If I were in your place, I'd rather be not loved for who I am than loved for who I'm not.

    Seems to me your relationship with your brother, sadly, is already strained (if only from your perspective) because you know how he feels about gay folks. If I were in your position, my inclination would be to tell him (always on your time and terms, of course), get it out in the open, and let the dust settle. You can't rebuild that relationship until then, and, until then, it's gonna eat at you.

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    Apr 10, 2008 2:58 PM GMT
    I concur with McGay and ZDrew78, not much else to say except for hang in there!!
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    Apr 10, 2008 3:08 PM GMT
    Hi Don,

    You have told me a bit about your situation and we talked about both being from the same area. I know how much thought you have put into coming out to each member of your family. You've said some things about this brother and his wife - and my own feeling is that he should be told - but when? It sounds like there could be a breach in the relationship if you tell him. On one hand, it is great to be honest and open - but at what cost? Also - will your brother be angry enough to call other members of your family - thus robbing you of your chance to speak with each of them in your own way, and at your own time? Perhaps I would tell other members who are more sympathetic first, then deal with your brother and any other hostile people last.

    Good luck - you're an intelligent, thoughtful guy - you'll give this a lot of thought and do the best thing for yourself.

  • coolarmydude

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    Apr 10, 2008 4:29 PM GMT
    Coming out is on your terms, not anyone else's because they don't have to live with the stigma that we gay folk have to fight against.

    Do it regardless of outcome. Do it for your reasons. A person who disassociates themselves from you for revealing you're gay is doing it out of homophobia, not knowledge.
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    Apr 10, 2008 9:25 PM GMT
    Why do some gay men feel they have to just tell the world about it? If you love your family and your family would react negatively, why do they need to know?
    Just live your life the best way you can and if they find out, well, they did. By not coming out it communicates to them if they do find out that their behavior caused you to mistrust them, but that you still love them.
    I'm not against coming out but why put yourself through problems if you have strong evidence that coming out would lead to problems?
    I've been in your spot before. This is my suggestion, you of course should do what you feel is best. Good luck.