This is a long one, mainly because I’m at home and have nothing else to do. Enjoy!
This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with my parents, my brother, his wife, and their daughter. It was really a great weekend. My brother, Rusty, is a very busy guy and we’re often separated by both distance and our own schedules, so it’s nice to get to spend some time with him. I used to see him all the time. Even after he moved away from home, he still worked at the high school that I attended, so I saw him every day and he was right there with me as I grew up. Because of this, we’re incredibly close. He’s much older than me, so in a lot of ways he’s like a second dad, and that makes me feel very blessed to have these types of mentors and guides around.
My close bonds with both my father and brother are mainly what has turned me off to the assertion that homosexuality is caused by a stunted or immature sense of masculinity. These guys have always supported me. I take the bonds I have with them, as a son and a brother, very seriously. I’ve always been assured that I was a man, even though I’m more artistic and gentler and stereotypically “feminine” than most guys. They’ve always been there for me. In fact, on the list of people that I felt comfortable “coming out” to, my brother and father were right at the top. Even after I’ve come out, they’ve continued to support me. It hasn’t changed our relationship at all, and in fact we’ve grown much, much closer.
Still, I am the youngest son and the little brother. I don’t mind those roles, of course, and I couldn’t help them. At the same time, it’s a little irritating to be the smallest. I don’t consider myself immature, nor do I see my sense of masculinity as such, but I still am young and so I still need advice and support every now and then. It’s nice to know that people have my back, but every now and then I want to know that I can have someone else’s back, and more importantly, that someone else needs me to have their back. Yes, I have my father and brother’s backs, but let’s be honest here: they don’t need my advice or opinion on much, since usually that type of advice is shaped by what they’ve raised up in me.
So, among my friends I’ve usually seen myself as a “big brother” type figure. I try to be the guy that has other people’s backs, who can spout off good advice and that people can come to when they just need someone to talk and listen. I think some people add this to my somewhat “feminine” nature and think that I’m being motherly, which is fine by me because it’s led to some good jokes on my friends’ part, but it’s not what I’m going for. I have a natural urge to care and look out for people, because I’ve always been cared and looked out for and I want to give that back. I just want to do it in a way that is distinctly brotherly. I think that requires a bit more personal space than mothering done. A brother looks out for you, but mainly he only does it so you can look out for yourself. This is also, incidentally, I think one of the main reasons I want to be a teacher.
Being a generally brotherly figure is something I try to do, then, but I didn’t think anyone would notice. Most guy friends are seen as being brotherly anyway, even when they’re being friends to girl (I have a lot of sisters out there, I guess). I was surprised, then, when one of my close friends recently took to calling me “brother” and “big bro.” Usually, the only person I address as “brother” is my actual brother, Rusty. He calls me the same as well (in English or in Spanish, which is kind of a weird quirk we have). It’s kind of an exclusive term, to the point where I don’t usually like when other guys call me “bro” (even in a Christian setting. I know we’re all spiritual brothers out there, but come on now).
Anyway, this friend is named Shane (well, not really, but for the purposes of anonymity he will be). He’s not the kind of friend that I would have expected to have. He lived in the dorm where I work, so that’s how we met. He’s a Buddhist, and also gay. We don’t really have much in common, but we became friends anyway. I was dating Hitch when we first started getting to know each other, and through that situation I explained to him my views about sexuality, religion, and celibacy. He didn’t agree, of course, but he was respectful (I’ve found that to be the case with most gay guys, actually. It’s a lot of my Christian guy friends who have problems for some reason). When Hitch and I broke up, he was there for me, even though I was doing okay and realized that dating Hitch probably wasn’t the best decision I could have made to start with (even though I don’t regret it because it taught me a lot of important lessons).
Now Shane had had a pretty rough year that year, mainly because he, like so many other freshmen, had come to college and decided to be a little too rebellious since he was finally away from home. He made some bad decisions, in both academics and relationships, and through it all I tried to give him the best advice I could, while being there to help him when he stumbled. It’s not quite the same situation as helping a Christian friend, because a lot of the beliefs and views are different, and thus solutions are also different. But still, I did what I could, and always showed him that I was there for him if he needed me.
We’ll be roommates in my apartment next year, and it should be interesting. Shane says I can be a little annoying sometimes, but he says he knows I care, which is why he started calling me “brother.” I call him the same thing, and it’s the first guy that I’ve actually felt was worthy of the title. My relationship with him isn’t totally based off helping him, of course, because he can put me in my place quite often as well. I haven’t made any headway into helping him become Christian or renounce gay sex, but I’m really trying to leave those particular things in God’s hands. He knows what I think, so I’m not going to pester him about it. That really would be annoying of me. Just knowing that two people who are so different can call each other brothers is quite a jump in itself, I think. Maybe a brotherly approach is something Christians should use to reach out more often.
Whew, that was long. Peace out, everybody.