Firstly, I'd like to say a massive “Thank you” for putting in the time and effort of creating and keeping this site running. I hope that you get plenty of appreciation and gratitude for what you've done, because you deserve it all and so much more for doing this.
On to my question, I suppose I should give a little information first. I live in a four-person family with my mother, father, and my fraternal twin brother; let's call him “Brad.” Now, as a family, we've never really hit rock bottom, we've always had food on the table and had the bills paid, albeit a little late sometimes, but always paid nonetheless. We've always been fairly tight about money, but life has been for the most part all right. What I'm trying to stress is that we've done decently as a family, but one thing that has always been a thorn in my side is my brother, Brad.
When we were younger, we were okay. Sure, we had the expected small fights that usually ended with both of us making up, but things usually didn't get too tense. As we grew older though, he just got more and more rude and harsh towards me; he began to pester me constantly and just be a general nuisance to me. Unfortunately, he never really outgrew that, and now that we're teenagers, he still acts the same way, only in an older fashion. He'll constantly ridicule me over my sexuality, usually replying to whatever I tell him with: “Whatever, fag, you like boys” or some other childish and nonsensical reply. He'll also just make himself as large an annoyance as possible, constantly insulting me over how I look, how I talk, even something as minor as how I walk or how I greet someone.
I've grown to just ignore him, and that's worked fairly well so far, but I'm just interested in having an outside perspective to all this. My mother tells me constantly that it's merely a phase he's going through and, in the end, we'll both be best buddies and sit around a fire and laugh at the silly things we did to each other in our youth. I'm not one to be vulgar, but frankly, that sounds like utter bullshit to me. I'm already dead-set on cutting all contact with him after high school if things continue the way they currently are, which they probably will.
So, I'm simply curious if what my mother is saying is true, and I'm merely being a snotty, hormonal teenager, of if Brad's behavior is just so crude and mean that my plan of cutting contact is perfectly reasonable.
Once more, I'd like to thank you Papa Bear. Ask Papa Bear has certainly helped me with my problems in the past, and I'm fairly sure it'll help me in the future.
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Your brother’s homophobic and insulting behavior is not acceptable, and neither you nor your parents should tolerate it. Papabear suspects that his attitude and treatment towards you could be caused by one of two things, if not both:
1) He is getting taunted at school by his friends, who are making fun of him because of his gay brother. Embarrassed and feeling peer pressure, he makes fun of you so he’ll fit in with his so-called friends.
2) It’s possible he is gay, as well, (it is genetic, after all) but is in serious self-denial about it. There are many cases of gay men fearing their homosexuality and lashing out at other gay men so that they themselves seem to be straight. A number of men in politics and the ministry have been caught with their pants down doing this. It's tragic, but gay people are often their own worst enemies in this respect.
Your mother (who probably just wants to keep peace in the family, but by not dealing with Brad she is actually reinforcing his behavior) might be right that eventually Brad will mature enough to realize that his brother is more important than homophobic friends, or he’ll come to grips with his sexuality, or whatever. Who knows when that might happen, though? It could be years ... or never. In the meantime, you shouldn’t have to put up with it.
One way to deal with this is what you are already doing: ignoring him and living your life without him in it, which is rather sad but it does solve the problem if you don’t mind losing a brother. Or, you can talk to him, something along these lines:
“Hey, Brad, I’m not sure what your problem is with me or why you are so afraid of gay people or being related to one, but calling me ‘fag’ and criticizing me really doesn’t phase me at all. I know who I am and I’m comfortable with it. I’m proud to be gay and include myself among the ranks of such people as Michelangelo, Walt Whitman, Tchaikovsky, Marcel Proust, E.M. Forster, Thornton Wilder, Noel Coward, Leonard Bernstein, T.H. White, Ed Gallagher, Kwame Harris, Brian Sims, and Alexander the Great.
“So, you can make fun of how I talk or walk or dress all you want and I don’t care. What I do care about is that you seem to hate me so much when I’ve done nothing to hurt you, and if you keep going on like this you’ll lose me as a brother. If that’s what you really want, then that’s what we’ll do. I won’t talk to you anymore and I’ll cut you out of my life so you won’t be so afraid of being around me or whatever your deal is. But before you do that, I wish you’d just explain to me why you’re acting like this. Does it make you feel good to call me names? Are you trying to lose a brother? I think you owe me an explanation before we say good-bye.”
You don’t have to say it quite like that. Use your own words, but you get the idea. Most likely, confronting Brad like this will make him uncomfortable. He’ll mumble and won’t offer you a good reason for his behavior. Keep pushing him for an answer. Make him confront his own fears. He’s hiding behind a wall of insults and if you keep poking him enough you could poke a hole in that shell and cause him to burst out with an answer.
There is yet another strategy you can take: the strategy of the clown. I’ve known a couple gay men who have resorted to this. It’s when you use humor to defend yourself. For example, next time Brad says, “You’re a fag,” assume an extra-swishy, limp-wristed pose and go, “Oh, yes! I am and it’s soooo FABulous! And I’m just FULL of gay cooties, too!” Then give him a big kiss on the cheek (or mouth, if you're very bold), and add, “Tag! You’re it! You’ve got gay cooties! Let’s go decorate your bedroom!” A couple doses of that should shut him up. His behavior is that of the bully, and most bullies back down when confronted and when they realize they aren’t hurting you.
Whether or not you adopt one of these strategies is up to you. You didn’t ask Papabear’s advice on that part, but to answer your question more directly: no, you are not being a “snotty, hormonal teenager.” You deserve to be treated with respect, just like anyone else, and you should especially expect good treatment from your own brother. This all might be chalked up to sibling rivalry, except that it is very one-sided. Your brother has issues with you and they should be dealt with. It is not your fault, and he should not be given a free pass when he’s being a jerk.
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