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And Then I Heard It

Dan and Eric Pearce

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.

Him.

This man.

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.

445 comments
ShoqFullONuts
ShoqFullONuts

Wow! Beautiful coming out story. You are lucky to have such a kind, loving brother who put you first and all that other stuff he'd been told growing up (and untrue as well) second. I wish you all the very best

WendyDELMO
WendyDELMO

DAMMIT.i AM CRYING NOW,TOO.  Love won.

My Two Mums
My Two Mums

I got goose bumps reading this. You're such an inspiration. Not many would share such heartfelt emotions with strangers.

JoeyMcDonald
JoeyMcDonald

Dan: Your words are simply awe inspiring. Thank you again for being the whole, complete and authentic you.

I still remember the moment my older brother asked me to be the best man at his wedding. He was 27 and I was 24. I had just returned home after a 6 year stint in the US Navy where I (a) excelled in classes, (b) received numerous awards and commendations, (c) had two failed engagements of my own, and most importantly, (d) came out to myself, my friends, and my fellow sailors as a gay man.

For 3 and a half years, I lived a double life - trying to be the perfect sailor while aboard ship, and living as openly as a gay man in the military during the 1970s could be when I was ashore. With all of the duplicity, I was still happy because I was able to be myself at least half of the time. It was a far cry from trying to live up to the expectations as the fourth of five boys in an African-American Roman Catholic family.

But I had never actually told my family. Mom had died when I was 13, and Dad died when I was 22, so it was just my siblings and I. And here, my brother wanted me to stand beside him as his best man at his wedding. After several days of complete and utter panic (why? I don't know, but such is the human condition), I decided that I had to come out to my brother. The moment came one evening while we were having dinner. He said that I still had not agreed to be his best man yet, and wanted to know why there was a hesitation on my part. Was I angry with him about something? Somehow the words just came out of my mouth: "You do know that I am gay, don't you?" Part of me was relieved that I had finally said those words to someone in my family, but part of me was completely and utterly afraid that I would be rejected. And then, there was love. My brother set his fork on his plate, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, "You are still my brother, and I want you to stand next to me at the alter, as my best man, when I get married."  It was that moment of complete and total unconditional love that made me realize that I needed to let go of how I thought others might respond or react. Those who loved me would continue to love me.  I was reminded of words spoken by Bernard Baruch, adviser to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter."  My brother loved me. Love conquered my fears and doubts. And it was then that I began to live authentically.

RachaelCreel
RachaelCreel

I know EXACTLY how scary this is... my little brother is my best friend, we've been through a lot of crap together and he's always had my back. I was terrified to tell him and risk losing him forever. But he had to be one of the first to know... Luckily, he didn't really care about the label, just that I'm his sister. <3 I'm so happy that things worked out in a positive way for you. I literally have tears of happiness for you right now. *hugs*

cathys
cathys

This post was like poetry to me. 

Heather
Heather

Something to think about:  You've been living with this for a long time.  But for your brother (and others who you've known for a while who you'll tell), it will feel as if it's coming out of nowhere.  And in that moment, their brain automatically goes into revision mode.  "What about all these experiences?  Was this the same person that whole time?  How could I not see it?  What does this mean for the future?"

This has happened to me every time I get surprising news:  That my father had spent the previous two years unemployed, that two close friends were divorcing, when a good friend of mine who was "overtly straight" came out to me.  In all cases, it became, "Okay, well, I love you and support you," but initially it was "WHOA, what?!?!"

It's not really about you.  It's about them trying to make sense of it and questioning how they could have missed it when they felt they knew you so well.  Be gentle with them (and yourself.)  

vanthea
vanthea

Love can conquer all. Love DOES conquer all if you let it. Thanks for sharing.

JennyMeadors
JennyMeadors

Silence is better than an initial explosion of words he wouldn't be able to take back. He loves you enough to listen and think. Be thankful for that silence - so many feelings are irreparably hurt from people speaking impulsively. As for the, When did you decide? Is it possible in part he meant, When did you decide to come out to the world? I'm sure he's worried for you (possible backlash of haters, including some family) and he knows he can't protect you. He may not ever understand all of you, but he loves you. And that is a wonderful thing.

KBE
KBE

Yay Love! Yay for your bro. Yay for you! Yay for us all. Love wins. ;-)

GDad
GDad

One of my friends in college had basically the same first reaction, but it took him 21 years to have the second reaction.  You're going to be fine, I suspect.

ajwhitti
ajwhitti

I don't know how healthy it is that I am, admittedly, living vicariously through your blog posts, but I am glad I am not alone in my feelings towards both sexes. I have been married to my husband for 10 years and we have 4 children. I love them all very much, but I am full of regret that I did not experience more of a life I wish I had lived where I could have more relationships and explore myself more completely. I have never been with a woman, and it burns inside me almost every day. I cannot talk with my husband about it, I do not have a friend close enough to talk about it and I don't have family that I can talk about it with. You wrote once about being happy and lonely. I am so there... every single day. Happy with my kids, husband, home, pets, job, and yet so very alone. So very lonely. You have inspired me so many times from your posts, and this time you inspired me to speak up... even though most, if not all, the people I know and love will never see this. I hope with all of my being that you continue on your journey with all the positive energy that you are able to hold within. And that you experience everything that I could not, to make whole that which is beautiful you. 

A
A

I've been following your blog for awhile and I'm SO PROUD of you! I know you must've heard it a million times by now, but you are a brave man for coming out. I wish you the best of luck :)

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you Dan.  This summer my youngest brother told me he is gay.... I was the first in the family to find out.  Only he told me by email because even though he had told some friends at college, he still wasn't able to make such an admission face-to-face... I believe it was for the same reason... he couldn't deal with the inevitable silence before that first reply.  Who is to say which way is better, but I do know that it gave me the chance to put a bit of thought into the words that I know he was so anxious to hear.  I can only imagine the fear he had while waiting for a reply.  

The first email read simply... "Will you love me no matter what?"  And in that instant, I knew what he wanted to tell me.  I told him no matter what he's always my brother. His second email confirmed that my hunch was right.... what I didn't know was how long he has been struggling with these feelings and trying to hide it from himself.  He and I have always been closer than him and our other 2 brothers, but even I had no clue that he had been struggling with this since he hit puberty.  It still makes me sad that he went through all of that alone. It breaks my heart that I didn't know for so long.  

The 2 brothers and their wives have taken the news rather well (my husband is a musician and while it was a little shocking at first, he's been around the GLBT community for so long that now it's not even a blip on the radar),  but my parents are having a hard time with it.  So much so that they asked that he not say anything when we had a family reunion for Thanksgiving this year.  Sigh.  So we do have some work to do, both with our parents and with the rest of the family, most of whom are rather religious.  I pray that we can be done with this soon.... the not knowing how people will react is the worst part.  Once they have reacted, then you know where they stand and if they want to remain in your life.  And that is what I want to be done with... dividing the family into camps.  Because unfortunately, that's where my extended family is at.  I am praying that they surprise us with more of that unconditional love, but we are preparing for the alternative.  

Thank you for your honesty Dan.  It's truly none of our business... but you've got plenty of unconditional love from my corner. 

Amy Wamy 621
Amy Wamy 621

I have been gone from your blog for quite some time, I have been busy and you fell thru the cracks, I guess. I am reading these and I am sobbing. I am a 40 year old, closeted, bisexual woman. My husband is the only person in my life who knows. He is very supportive - and not in some perverse way some may think. You are very brave, Dan. Maybe reading these will help me finally share with my family the real me. I'm glad your picture post for today brought me back to the blog. I think someone knew i needed to read it.

Mahesh G
Mahesh G

I'm sorry Dan, but now that I've discovered a delicious pie recipe on your website, nothing else you say really matters. 

Shen
Shen

Dear Eric, Thank you for being an awesome brother!

My eldest brother is at the very least bi-sexual, it was admitted during a psych evaluation that he was attracted to men (he has some mild learning difficulties). He will, unfortunately, never be true to himself, not in the near future. His, my, two other brothers continually make derogatory marks about 'gays' and 'fags'. Our two sisters are not much better and our mother does not defend him, but laughs along with their jokes. When it was brought up that the eldest might be gay, we got to read his evaluation, they made fun of him mercilessly, called him names and were just so terrible to him, once again our mother never said a word. I tried to confront them but also got called a 'fag lover' and a lesbian for standing up for him. Even though I accept him completely, and have told him so, it is not enough for him to come out, or even accept his true self. He pushes it further a way, and has become overtly sexual towards women and vehemently homosexual in the hope that it will make his attraction to men go away. He is not happy and each time I see him, he is more depressed, angry and troubled than the last time. I am the only one in the family who has been supportive of him and accepted him for who he really is, but sadly I fear it is not enough for him. With his learning difficulties he is very easily influenced by other peoples perceptions and beliefs, his family have destroyed him. It saddens me to see him and angers me tat my "family" are so ignorant and pathetic.

How I wish our family were like you Eric, so accepting of your brother no matter what he is or is not. You have done him so much good by not rejecting him, for that I applaud and admire you.

Dan... you have an awesome brother!

Dave48
Dave48

Hi, Dan: I know what you have been going through in telling family members, or anyone close to you. I've gotten the same response as you from my brothers and one sister. I feel in these times that people are much more accepting of Bi's and gays than they were in the past, although it does depend on what the family background is. The first person I told was my exwife, and yet we remain friends. That was after 26 years of marriage. I am 64 years old, so got a late start on all this life. Never gets easy. The hardest part of all is getting past our own fears.   David

Derrick
Derrick

Congratulations Dan.  The more people you bring into your circle on this, the happier you will become.  Not all will understand, but you will be happier in the long run.  You are the person God made you to be.   I understand what your going through.  I am a divorced father of one and have recently gone through the very same thing with my family and friends.  As they say, it gets better.  Keep the blogs coming.  Peace, Love and Happiness.

Derrick

SerenityLeith
SerenityLeith

I love the blog post here, really emotionally potent, but I absolutely LOVE that pic of you and your boy! Makes me miss my nephew even more! :-)

kali
kali

Good for you Dan!  Gotta love and accept yourself first.   I am very happy for you!  This brought back memories of my dear sweet friend's experience, so I wrote about it today.  Too long to copy here - but if you'd like to read, here it is

http://wp.me/p2T0uU-r

MeggyPoo75
MeggyPoo75

My dad said many profound things to me when I was growing up, but one that runs through my mind the most (and applies in this situation) is this: What other people think of you is none of your business.

It took me years to figure out what that really meant, but for me, the gist of it is that it doesn't really matter what people think of you, unless you choose to give weight and power to it. Just be you, and to hell what people think about it.

sebastiansmom
sebastiansmom

Perhaps he was thinking "when did you decide this" in a manner such as knowing he is your best friend and why is he hearing this now and not a long time ago or why had he not heard the thoughts you had which brought you to a public decision.  That is how I would have taken that comment, more from a hurt standpoint from him in your not confiding something sooner.  Not a rejection.

I enjoy reading your posts and think your Great!  Always Be Who You Are!

aliciadeberwic
aliciadeberwic

I think you took that wrong... I mean, I think he was asking when you decided to tell everyone. The way you worded it, his response could have been asking either one.

And I know you grew up LDS, but I've never heard anyone outside of Utah/Idaho treat people like crap for being gay. I think it's just psycho/judgmental Utah mormons for the most part. No offense to Utah mormons, plenty of you are not crazy! I'm just saying that some of you are super, SUPER judgmental!

Stefie481
Stefie481

Wishing you lots of love and happiness :) Thank you for sharing your life with us. It truly is inspiring to let people see all of you. Stay strong. Hugs!!

-Stefie

Random
Random

I am confused. I have no way to understand how you feel, and I hope you feel LOVE LOVE LOVE from those around you.  But I am confused.

1- I read your post on June 19th of this year, where you responded to Josh Weed's coming out post, and you talked about trying out online dating websites, for both men and women, and then said :

"That’s when I realized… Dan… you’re as straight as a balance beam."

And you had all these people asking if you were gay, and asking you to be honest with yourself, and you said you weren't gay.  Now, I understand that gay and bisexual are not the same, but still, I am totally confused.  I was previously thinking, "wow, this straight guy is being really honest with himself by trying to flirt with men and just "check" if he might possibly be attracted to men, and he isn't." Now I am thinking, "based on this post you must have experienced attraction to men at some point before trying out the online dating website, and were really just confused and conflicted and on a search of personal self-discovery. and not ready to share online, which is fine, but then why would you make such a bold statement online of being straight if you were bisexual? isn't that kind of dishonest?"

Second point.  When you say:

“I’m coming out of the closet in a few weeks as a bisexual.”

And someone says "When did you decide this?"

 Could that mean "When did you decide that you are going be coming out of the closest to everybody?"  as in, referring to the decision to tell people, not a decision to "be" something.

 Thirdly.

If you have previously asserted, on many occasions, that you were straight, doesn't that mean that there WAS some kind of decision point, or decision process? Or were you bisexual the whole time and made up that stuff of thinking you were straight?

~

Anyways.  You are awesome.  Never forget that!!!! 

AaronRyan
AaronRyan

Lots of love Dan. I know how hard it can be to come out to those you love most. Stay brave!

Kim Vivanco
Kim Vivanco

Teared up, Dan. So hard to come out to the people closest to you. Cynthia, wow! What a great family you have!

movealong
movealong

I'm happy for you and your brother Dan!  I had hoped for this kind of reaction when I came out to my brothers, but so far it's been just the opposite. 

When people ask me something like "When did you decide this?" I tell them I never decided to be gay.  Rather, the decision I made (after 40 years of denying and hiding) was to be honest - with myself and everyone else.  

Hexi
Hexi

I've been thinking of you a lot, Dan, and I'm sending you love and hugs! Thanks for sharing your story. You are amazing.

John Kusters
John Kusters

I had a similar response from my parents when I came out to them. "We don't understand why you made this choice, but we love you nonetheless." And you might be tempted to say "Love won," but I wasn't. All I heard was that they thought I had become gay as a whimsical choice. It belittled all of the suffering I went through for years trying to understand my feelings and deal with the years of guilt and shame inculcated in me by their church and society in general. Their comment just deepened the rift that had already been put between us by my knowledge of my orientation and their previous comments and views. It took a couple of years to heal that rift, mostly by them acting with love, and accepting me. But it wasn't easy for either of us. Those of us who come out have had years to get to understand the issue. Those we come out to are often very unprepared for our announcement, and the fact that their entire world is about to be turned on its ear. I don't think things could have gone any other way for me and my folks at the time. Sometimes it's just that difficult. Thankfully things are great now.

LauraParrottPerry
LauraParrottPerry

love wins.  This is beautiful, and wrenching, and inspiring.  I am proud of you for sitting through that silence and granting him the opportunity to listen to his better angels and be the brother that you love.  Well done, you.  Well done, brother.

Fedelynn
Fedelynn

BRAVO to you and your brother for taking the first steps towards love.

Rich Brammeier
Rich Brammeier

<3 Your Awesome Dan, just the kind of Guy I'm looking LOL.. Your truly amazing person and father. The worst is over, and the best is yet to come..

Abebi
Abebi

Sending light and love to you.  I am so grateful that your brother is accepting of you.  I cried at the end of this post, let me tell you.  

Amy Hope Colton
Amy Hope Colton

Thank you for reposting. I have a crazy-busy news feed and missed it yesterday. This warmed my heart to know that your brother is giving you the loving support you deserve. You need. Continue to live life honestly, openly, and with happiness. I cannot wait to hear of your new adventures with Noah, with an unburdened heart.

ThomasRoss
ThomasRoss

@Heather Thank you Heather! I think you did an excellent job of describing an initial reaction to someone who has come out...and maybe lied a little...to others, to themselves. There is a disconnect that needs to be bridged. But it doesn't undermine the support necessarily!

Dan Pearce, I hope you do a sort of addendum to that article where you talk about trying to date men and deciding you were straight..."as a board", I think I remember you saying. A LOT of your readers have questions about that! You don't owe any of us anything, but I think I'm not alone amongst your readers in having this hope! With your writing skill, I think you could do a fantastic job of getting straight people to understand a little better about the stuff we're spinning around inside our heads, before we come out.

ThomasRoss
ThomasRoss

@ajwhitti I don't want to assume anything you haven't shared about your relationship, but if you're "burning inside you almost every day", your husband might already be sensing something going on in your marriage. It might be as simple as the fact that it is quite rare for anyone to try and keep a relationship to the same degree of effort that it took to win the relationship in the first place, and you're feeling the lack of romance. You need more, and because of your unexplored bisexual issues, that's the way you experience that lack in your current relationship. Or, it could be because your true heart is elsewhere. Either way, it sounds to me, like you and your current Significant Other need to hash out a few thoughts and feelings, whether you reveal to him your perceived orientation or not.

anniekate76
anniekate76

@Anonymous I'm glad your brother has you. Here's a link you might like to read from one of my favorite websites, about what it's like to come home for the holidays and not say anything. 

http://www.autostraddle.com/you-dont-have-to-come-out-on-thanksgiving-on-going-home-and-being-quiet-150279/ 

Definitely read the whole thing and all the comments, but this one line really distills it all down. "But my place at the table is an accident, something given to someone I am pretending to still be."

Wuxia
Wuxia

@Shen There are really no words that can really describe how saddened I feel at the situation your brother and you are enduring. At the very least, he has you as support and love. It is horrible that the rest of the family cannot at least be tolerant of who he is and that he cannot embrace himself and his identity. It isn't right to have to choose between being abused, bullied, treated absolutely heinously and being who you are. This situation is stifling and suffocating. He cannot grow and discover who he is as a person in any way in this caustic environment. All I can really say is maybe there is a way to intervene on his behalf. A support group, his psychiatrist, someone at school, something that can be done to help him before this becomes the entire ruin of him. I am terrible with advise, but I really feel for you and your brother. No one should go through that. No one. I hope things get better for the both of you. It would be great if you could move out and get some distance from all of these toxic people and their destructive actions and tendancies. I wish you two the best of luck and that your brother can find more people like you in his life that are loving and accepting. Shen, you are an absolute blessing in your brother's life. If there were more people like you around standing up for their families and loving and accepting them, the world would be a better place.

Hexi
Hexi

@Shen This breaks my heart, Shen. I can't believe it. They call themselves his family? They are destroying him. This is cruel beyond words. What does it take for them to wake up? Does he have to take his life Before they realize what they are doing?

ritazart1
ritazart1

@aliciadeberwic Unfortunately there are a lot of other "christian" people aside from Mormons who have the horrible judgemental attitude. I always want to ask them why they didn't follow their own "beliefs" where Jesus said, the greatest commandment I give you is LOVE one another, not discriminate against those who are different.

Kshaffer
Kshaffer

@Random "If you have previously asserted, on many occasions, that you were straight, doesn't that mean that there WAS some kind of decision point, or decision process? Or were you bisexual the whole time and made up that stuff of thinking you were straight?"

In my experience, the only conscious decisions one makes when coming to terms with his or her sexuality is to acknowledge feelings of attraction and whether or not to come out (and to whom). The only decision (either consciously or subconsciously) one makes before he or she comes to terms with his or her sexuality is to deny same-sex attraction at all costs. I don't think any of it was necessarily made up. I know you're trying to gather better understanding, and I think it's great you want to learn more, but this really isn't a clear cut step-by-step process and relaying it can be one helluva challenge. I think he's doing a great job expressing what he has gone through to get this far, and he's doing better at it than many other people I know. Like KrystalBass said, he just wants people to know he isn't straight. I think it would be considerate to just let it lie there and see how things unfold.

I don't mean offense with any of this.  I'm truly happy you're trying to learn more about what leads up to coming out.  I think there is an unspoken etiquette that revolves around this particular discussion and it can hurt when people unwittingly suggest deception is involved, even if deception was intentional.  I feel like I haven't worded this properly or I might be misunderstood.  I'm sorry if that is the case.  I just mean.. before you're "out" or before you're comfortable sharing your orientation with someone, "straight" is how you behave.  When you're "outed," people who question past "straight" behavior seem.. interrogative. 

I hope this helps clear up why a person would claim to be straight when he or she is not.

KrystalBass
KrystalBass

@Random He's been trying desperately to live within the labels set by society. The whole point really is that it really shouldn't matter. Whether straight, bi or gay, we should not be asked to define ourselves, nor should we be asked to specify our sexual preferences in order to be judged by them. Truthfully, it's not easy to try to live up to the expectations of the people around us. He is NOT STRAIGHT. That's all he wants us to know!

Shen
Shen

@dagi My family are not a family, we are very messed up. I speak with none of them apart from my eldest brother. I fear that even if their behaviour were to result in my brother taking his own life, it would not change anything, they have a poor view of people who do that too, labelling them as a coward and selfish... Their physical, emotional, mental and other abuse of myself, resulted in a suicide attempt when i was 15 for which they teased me mercilessly and called me an attention seeker and drama queen, yet still continued with their old behaviour. I ended up moving 400 miles away just to be safe. I am heartbroken for my brother, I wish deeply he could be free to be himself without fear of retribution but when his own family do not support him, and at the opposite are disgusting towards him, he has no chance. Not a word I say to him makes a difference and oh how i wish it would. I can just support him as I can whatever happens.

Hexi
Hexi

Shen my heart breaks for you too. I wish you strength on your journey and can only hope that your love for your brother is LOUDER than anything else. {{{{{{{(you two}}}}}}}}