I grew up in a very strongly conservative family – Southern, republican, god-fearin’, church-attending, small town folks. I could go on all day telling you the details of exactly how conservative I mean, but I think you get the idea. My coming out wasn’t exactly warmly received. Or at least I thought it wasn’t at first. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are highly displeased and I don’t see them recanting those stances anytime soon.
As the oldest of nine kids (yeah…), most of my siblings belong to a younger generation. A generation with plenty of problems of their own, but a more open and accepting generation. Each of my 5 sisters checked on me regularly reminding me they loved me and wanted me to find my happiness. One sister I never had much of a good relationship with at all, suddenly was texting me wishing we could be closer and we together we rebuilt (or built, rather) a good relationship.
But then there are the brothers. Of all 8 siblings, it’s only my two oldest brothers who don’t live in Texas. One lives in Virginia. And one, Dillon, the one I was always closest to growing up, lives just 15 or 20 miles from Terra and me. This is the brother I grew up singing with, covering for, and venting to. Often we were jointly punished for having a “sibling clique.” Later we went to college together, scheduled classes together, and his closest friends became like extra little brothers. He’s fun and hilarious and bold. He’s also highly opinionated and always had a streak of homophobia. . After he moved away to follow his wife to grad school, we saw each other less frequently and didn’t communicate a lot beyond that. After she finished grad school they moved to Coeur d’Alene and I didn’t make the trek up often. Now that I have moved up here as well, I have been both excited and dreading meeting up with them.We grabbed lunch once and it seemed strained. Since I fully settled in up here, I have tried most weekends to catch them. And by try, i mean texted and rarely followed up beyond the first couple of texts. Until last weekend. Terra and I had no real plans, but there was karaoke just a bit down the road from my little bro’s place, so sent him a quick invite.
When Terra and I arrived at the bar with our friend Joanne, I swear to god I (we) collected more blatant stares than I have in my short little out life. I felt a bit like perhaps we had gotten a touch to close to Aryan Nations grounds than was good for us. Gradually what started as staring turned into fascination and we quickly became the “cool table.” Strangers were coming up begging me to sing with them, girls were flirting with Joanne, and some nice fella gave Terra the hat right off his head.
True to form Dillon was roughly an hour later than he said he’d be, but he made it. We laughed, we gossiped, talked of the family and old friends, sang a song or two, and even joked about these North Idaho people not knowing what to say to the gay girls. Most importantly he was kind to Terra and Joanne and made sure to hug them good bye. We made drunk plans to revisit the dive bar monthly and I hope we really do. It feels pretty glorious to have my brother back.