It was a little while-a few pages into the journal-before my brother told anyone else. He joined a campus group and made some gay friends, and slowly his life forked into two lives. There was the life my parents and I saw-a life with lies and friends who didn’t know him, and no one to love-and there was a second life, a life with friends and crushes and dates. A life where he was happy.
I put the backpack-and the little notebook-back in my brother’s room, and I never told him what I’d learned. But my parents continued to badger me about David and his lack of love life-they knew he was gay, I’m sure, but denied it even to themselves-and eventually I called him up. “David,” I said, “you have to tell them.”
He didn’t ask me how I knew, and I didn’t tell him. But looking back, I understand that reading my brother’s journal-a horrible crime I would never commit again-only filled in some of the details. Somehow, I already knew the story. Maybe it is true that siblings know each other better than their parents know them. I like to think so.
The next thanksgiving, after a pretty typical family meal, my brother suggested we all take a walk. We walked past the end of our street and onto the grounds of the highs school, then onto the track. Then my brother stopped. “I have something to tell you,” he said. “I felt my parents’ hearts skipped a beat-they wanted so badly, back then, for it not to be true. “I wanted to tell you that I’m gay.”
My parents were pretty rational, considering. They told David that he was just experimenting, that eventually he’d find a woman he wanted to marry. He listen to them, then politely but firmly said that this was something that wasn’t going to change. They argued but never raised their voices, and eventually we went home and took naps in separate rooms. The following days were very quiet. Then David went back to school, to his happy life.
It was five years before my parents came to truly my brother was fortunate to be out of the house during that time, but I was not so lucky. My parents fought more than ever, my father drank a lot, and I spent time out of the house. But slowly-very slowly-my parents got used to the idea. After a year, my mother told one of her friends about David, then my father told one of his. They received love and support-David was a great kid, said my parents’ friends. That hadn’t changed. Secretly, I’m sure they were relieved that it wasn’t their kid who was gay. After my parents learned not to hide it, there was still the matter of being proud of David, of not only tolerating hearing about his romantic life, but wanting to hear about it.