Even in our progressive, more accepting age, coming out to one’s friends and family remains an emotional, often difficult right of passage.
For one thing, it forces LGBTQ peple of all ages to more or less fess up to something which is innately part of who they are.
Something straight people are not forced to do.
Sadder still, some people are justifiably worried that their friends and family may no longer accept them when they are told this information.
A worry which seemed to face the brother of Redditor ver03255, who grew up in a strict, conservative household.
What the young man seemed to be unaware of, however, was that the original poster (OP) already knew, and wanted to let him know that he still loved and supported him.
Wondering if he’d be out of line for letting his younger brother know this, the OP took to the subReddit “Would I Be The A**Hole” (WIBTA), where he asked fellow Redditors:
“WIBTA if I told my brother that I know about his sexual preference?”
The OP shared how he inadvertently discovered that his younger brother was involved in a same-sex relationship, and didn’t know how to handle this knowledge.
“I am a 24-year-old straight male and my brother is 17 years old.”
“We grew up in a deeply Catholic household, so our parents are very, umm, traditional.”
“It came to a point where when I was watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and there was a gay sex scene, my dad asserted that we never watch that show again.”
“Fast forward to yesterday.”
“My brother usually borrows my iPad to do some schoolwork.”
“He naturally used a messaging app to talk with his classmates, but he often forgets to log out, no biggie, I just log it out when it’s my turn to use it.”
“However, last night, I saw a notification I didn’t mean to read.”
“It said, ‘good night, babe!’ followed by kiss and heart emojis.”
“This was from a guy who we thought was just his best friend.”
“Now I know he could be gay or bi or whatever, and I don’t have any problems with that.”
“I also respect his privacy, and I totally understand that I should not out him if he’s not yet ready.”
“However, with all the news about the mental health of teenagers lately, I’m afraid of what keeping this to himself would do to him.”
“Also, because of my parents’ disposition about these things, I’m afraid that my brother won’t ever have the courage or be comfortable enough to ever open up to us.”
“I just want him to know that he has an ally in me and that I’ll love him no matter what.”
“We’re a close family, but we’re not vocal about emotional things.”
“I’ve never said ‘I love you” to anyone at home, we just know it’.”
“That’s why no matter how subtle or casual I try to talk to him about this, it would surely be a big moment for us and he might just feel really unsafe and/or uncomfortable.”
“So, WIBTA if I told him I know about his sexual preference?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Everyone agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for wanting to tell his brother that he knew he was gay and supported him.
However, most people also cautioned him that he shouldn’t out his brother, but rather let his brother come out to him, and then share his love and support, or that he should subtly share that he has his love and support without sharing that he knew.
“But don’t out him.”
“Just let him know that you love him no matter what, yes use the L word, and that he can always talk to you about anything.”- clangin813
“You’re trying to be supportive and show love to your brother regardless if he is gay, bi, or straight and questioning.”
“Puberty is a confusing time for anyone, not only to be growing up in a household with such a strong stance against homosexual representation.”
“I will say that as a gay man, if I had been shown support by my brother or one of my parents in any way it might now have taken until I was dragged out of the closet at 22 to come out to them.”
“The problem is that the message from his best friend doesn’t actually tell you anything about either of their sexual orientations.”
“Yes, you could assume that the ‘babe,’ ‘love you,’ and kissing emojis means that they are a couple and dating in secret.”
“For purposes of being contrarian, I will say that it could mean that the best friend is gay, and feels comfortable around your brother.”
“I know in my experience there have been friends I have called honey, said I love you too with heart emojis that have been very straight but that I simply felt comfortable telling them these things to because I knew they wouldn’t freak out that I loved them platonically and treasured their friendship.”
“Other comments have given you great advice about ‘walking the walk’ and basically showing up not just for your brother but for all LGBTQ+ people when the opportunity presents itself.”
“If your brother is gay or bisexual, it tells him that you’ll step up to bat for him anytime he needs you, and that at a minimum you’ll always be there for him.”
“For a lot of LGBTQ+ teens that’s all they really want.”
“Another option that I’m hesitant to fully recommend is letting him know you saw the notification and that you didn’t mean to, and just let him know you’re there for him whatever it means.”
“This could be more awkward because it relies on many assumptions about your brother and his friend that might not be true, and may lead to your brother being more secretive and feeling like he can’t trust you.”
“Again, I will reiterate that your brother is lucky to have you, and if he is gay he will need someone to support him and show up for him.”
“By doing research and coming from a place of concern for his mental health and considering the environment he’s in, I really commend you for being so empathetic instead of what easily could have resulted in a place of judgment.”
“If your parents are expressing homophobic ideology, they likely expressed it to you as well and you could’ve easily defaulted to that and judged your brother instead of trying to support him.”
“If you have any questions or you/your brother want advice on how to navigate this, please feel free to DM me!”- Nayr1230
“When I was in high school, my very very very good friend was clearly gay to me.”
“One day, I mentioned to them that I knew they were gay and not to worry, that I would keep it to myself.”
“They freaked out on me, said I had no idea what I was talking about, how could I possibly say that, and that was the abrupt end of our friendship.”
“Our friendship was an incredible loss to me, I mourned the loss of it and felt so horrible I had messed it up.”
“Years later, our paths crossed again, and my friend told me that he was gay and proud to be able to state that aloud.”
“He said I was right, but it terrified him that others, me, could see so obviously what he was trying to hide from his family because he knew they would not accept him.”
“If I could ‘see’ his gayness, that meant others would too, and that loss of control was something he could not afford, hence the freak out.”
“My heart broke again, but this time for what my dear friend went through back then, the emotional and mental trauma at not being able to share his truth freely.”
“What I’m trying to convey OP, is that letting someone who is not able or ready to come out that know you know is a very dangerous and risky thing.”
“Yes, your brother may benefit from knowing he has your support, but the other side of that is that him knowing you know his secret and could potentially use it to out him might be too frightening of a concept for him.”
“I don’t know what the right thing is here – whether to risk telling him or not.”
“I wanted to share my perspective do that as you decide, you can have this point of view to reference.”
“Good luck, OP.”- battery21percent
“The thing is, you don’t actually know what his preference is.”
“So don’t tell him you do: you’d just be one more person imposing expectations on him.”
“What you can do is tell him that you saw the notification, that you’re not sure what it means but that you’ll support him regardless, and he can talk to you if he wants.”
“Leave it at that.”
“It’ll be awkward for both of you, so give yourselves time to shake it off.”
“And then, act on it.”
“Don’t cringe at gay scenes on TV, don’t differentiate between heterosexual and homosexual couples.”
“Stand up to your parents if the topic arises.”
“Not necessarily into a full blown fight, but enough to show your brother that you can walk the walk, and take the fight upon yourself if necessary.”- magneac
“YWNBTA, but I would be very careful how I approached this.”
“You don’t necesarily need to tell him how you came to find out about his sexuality.”
“You could find a LGBT news headline or something and use that as a reason to state to him you have no issues with gay or bisexual people, and do everything but outright say you are a safe haven for him.”
“Let him come out on his own terms, and just make it known you’d be the type of person who would be in his corner if he did.”- McSquishin
The OP shared in an update that he followed the advice of the Reddit community, to show his support for the LGBTQ community, and that his brother eventually caught on to his knowledge.
“So, most of you told me that I should just voice out my support for the LGBT community instead of directly talking to my brother about his sexuality.”
“This was very helpful as I did not want him to feel pressured to come out.”
“When I wrote my original post, I was already watching ‘Schitt’s Creek’, which had non-straight main characters.”
“This was really convenient because I could simply say remarks like ‘Awww, they make a really nice couple’ and ‘Wow, I wish my relationship with my gf was like that’.”
“I also asked my bro about Pride month, he has been going to marches as an ally for the past few years with his out friends.”
“I asked him ‘Hey, what’s their plan for Pride month during quarantine?'”
“‘Too bad they can’t hold the march, I was thinking of joining’.”
“I didn’t really know how to be subtle, okay.”
“When our parents went grocery shopping last weekend, that’s when he told me.”
“‘You already know, don’t you?'”
“I knew what he was asking but I tried to play dumb.”
“‘You know, that I’m gay, right?'”
“I just said yes, told him about the iPad incident, and hugged him.”
“He cried and asked me not to tell our parents, which of course I agreed to.”
“He then asked if this changes anything between us, to which I replied ‘Of course, now you have to give me better fashion advice!’
“I make jokes when I’m emotional, okay.”
“I told him he has my support no matter what, and that I can help him come out to our parents when he’s ready.”
“I also told him that he and his boyfriend, which he confirmed, are a great couple, then I reminded him that they should always be ‘safe’.”
“Giving sex advice to my brother was VERY awkward.”
“He’s still annoying as hell, because, you know, he’s my brother, but I’ve never seen him happier, and I can really feel that a burden has been lifted off his shoulders.”
Even if they know deep down who they really are, no one should be pressured to come out when they’re not ready to.
And should someone come out to you, it’s always important to remember that nothing is different, they are still very much who they always were.
The best thing we can do is love them even more than we already do.