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
Our 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 you: Our 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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