My brother Eric and I went back and forth over Skype. Laughing, poking fun at each other, smack-talking one another about our ongoing photography competition. Doing what we did so often. We’ve been doing it since we were toddlers. I don’t know if I have a family member to whom I’m closer, even though we live an ocean apart.
Which is one reason it took so long for me to tell him that I was something other than straight.
Only weeks before I came out, I knew that the bigger insult would be for him, my best friend and brother, to hear it alongside thousands of complete strangers. And so, when a moment opened up, I told him I had a secret.
“Oh yeah? What’s that?”
I was quiet for a time. He was maybe the seventh or eighth person I’d told, and it was only getting harder, not easier. I suppose it will be that way when you pick your most accepting confidants first.
“I’m coming out of the closet in a few weeks as a bisexual.”
I said it so nonchalantly, in a well-disguised effort not to break down completely while talking to him.
My cage-fighter, third-degree black belt, tough as nails, manly man brother of mine.
I said the words I had dreaded saying to him. I don’t know how I said them, but I did.
And then I heard it.
Silence so thick I could spread it over the instantaneous and mammoth discomfort that had suddenly sprouted between the two of us.
After what felt like days, he swallowed. “When did you decide this?”
If only he could know how much those five words hurt me in that moment.