Advice: my brother’s ‘secret’…

My brother is 17 and came out to me the other day but he wants me to keep it a secret. He said he also wants to tell our parents he is gay but we both know that they would not support it as they don’t deal with this stuff very well. I don’t want him to have to hide all his life, is there anything I can say to our parents or should I keep it quiet?

Jackman, 15, QLD


secret brotherOur psychologist says: For your brother to feel he could ‘come out’ to you, indicates he has a deep trust in you and in the relationship you two share. It speaks volumes about you as a brother that he felt secure enough to reveal something which is obviously so personal to him. Now that you’re ‘in the know’ the key things you can offer him are support-without-judgement, a listening ear and a commitment to keeping his ‘secret’. While you care about your brother and don’t want him to have to ‘hide all his life’, it’s essential to realise it’s not your role or responsibility to ‘out’ him. This is ‘his own story’ and he must be allowed to come out only when he is ready and feels it is ‘safe’ to do so. If he doubts your mum and dad would be accepting of his ‘sexuality-reveal’ right now, it may better for him to wait and develop a ‘plan of action’ for how to approach them. Be open to discussing whatever he needs and just let him know “I’m here for you”. Encourage your brother to reach out for support from organisations such as QLife. Counsellors from these services can guide him through the process of ‘coming out’. They can also offer you advice on how best to back him up. Hopefully when your brother feels the time is right to tell your parents he’s gay, they’ll be able to accept him and his sexuality. They may benefit from support in their own journey as ‘parents of a son who is gay’ from a group such PFLAG.

Over to youOur psychologist has made some suggestions, but what do you think? Have you or  your brother or sister ever ‘come out’ to your family? Do you have any ‘words of advice’ based on your experience? 

(image credit Steven Depolo)


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  • I feel that it’s your brother’s decision to whether he feels comfortable of coming out to the parents or not because by someone else doing the job that he should be doing will ruin him rather if the parents accept him or not. I’ve been in the situation before but finally came out to my parents and they accepted me.


  • Your parents are just going to react how they’ll react… Maybe they’ve figured it out for themselves and it won’t be such a big thing… I don’t know I don’t know your parents… They may surprise you as mine did. Although, mine were the opposite, they were very gay friendly, my dad even flirted back with a waiter who flirted with him…. However, saying that, I was terrified of telling my parents… I think I thought they’d think differently because I was their son. My dad hugged me and cried and told me he was sorry I’d felt the need to keep it to my self and he was sorry for the torture I must have felt, my mother told me she’d known since I was a child but that she didn’t want me to be a target for abuse…. My sister just happened to be there when it burst out of my mouth, quite by accident and she was a great support as I can see you are for your brother. Best wishes.. 🙂


  • Your brother has requested that you keep his sexuality secret. It is therefore essential to maintain his confidence in you, that you tell no one. This means your close friends. Revealing a secret to your close friends may result in them revealing the secret to their parents. Parents unfortunately gossip and it is possible that your brother’s secret could be revealed by some means to your parents. This could destroy the close relationship with your brother. Please discuss this with your brother and if you have already discuss the matter with close friends of yours, your brother should be told.


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