We're reposting a few questions from readers this week. If you have a question, leave a comment or send us an e-mail. Anonymous questions allowed and encouraged.
Question from a reader (September 2010):
“Help. I'm 15 and I just came out to my older brother. He told me not to worry about being gay -- that there is nothing to be ashamed about. However, my twin brother found out, and now he keeps giving me the cold shoulder and teasing me. I love my brothers and sisters. I have one older brother, a twin brother, younger sister, and younger brother. I was hoping someone could give me advice how to get my twin brother to accept me like my older one did.”
GAY GUY RESPONDS:
Jesse, I admire you. It takes a lot of bravery to be true to yourself and with those you love, especially when you know that what you have to say doesn’t always go over very well.
I suspect you already know this, but you can’t “get” anyone to accept you. Acceptance is work that we all have to do for ourselves. It’s not work that others can make us do, let alone succeed at.
Your twin is acting like a brat. My gut tells me that he has some catching up to do. You’ve been thinking about your orientation for a while; maybe he needs some time to get used to the idea.
Don't let the cold shoulder go on too long, and don’t let the teasing make you feel bad about yourself. This behavior is about your twin, not you. Your older brother can give you some good help and perspective.
Take comfort in knowing that you and your siblings have been raised in a loving, thoughtful way—your oldest brother as proof. That’s the best indicator you’ll find the acceptance that you want from the ones you love.
STRAIGHT GUY RESPONDS:
I agree with GG's last point, the fact that your oldest brother is being supportive is an indicator that your family is on the right track. There's still more good news than bad in your situation.
We all see bits of ourselves in our siblings. I'm not a twin but had a couple of sets in my group of friends growing up. Some of the stereotypes are true. They can share a stronger connection and do seem to know what the other is thinking and feeling. Maybe this is the first time your twin has felt truly out of sync with you, and that might rattle him to point of pushing back. At 15, we can hardly judge him as an adult. As GG said, he's being a brat. But I'm not sure that's his permanent state. Every year will bring epic changes. He'll be a different person next year, and the year after that.
For now, just do what you can to let him know that he can still trust you. But also coolly inform him that his taunting isn't acceptable. Above all, he should respect your privacy and let you manage this information with your friends on your own. If not, that's a deal breaker.
I'll go one dangerous step further in my response, though. I don't know if you are fraternal or identical twins. If you are identical, then you share your genetic makeup. Both GG and I are believers in the gay gene (that it's not a choice). I'm just saying that the odds of a person being gay seem to be much higher if they have a gay twin. This does NOT mean that he is gay -- still probably not -- but you shouldn't be shocked if someday you run into him at a Pottery Barn outlet.
I could throw you a bunch of links to research, but I'm too scared to google "gay teen twins" and end up on yet another government watchlist. Oh, heck, here's a wikipedia link to get you started.
Maybe he knows or guesses at these odds and is just reacting out of fear of being pre-judged. "They've always been soooo alike, and did every single thing together, and now one of them is gay, so...."
Gay or straight (did I mention -- probably straight), maybe he's struggling with identity issues of his own now. I'm willing to transfer a smaller portion of sympathy to him, too.
Standard Straight Guy remedy applies: Take extra time and cut back on drama wherever possible. Good luck.
MORE GAY GUY SAYS: I agree with SG on the gene machine. I didn't want to write about it but SG thought it would be helpful to you. Do some searching to find solid information. That is to say, nothing from YouTube. I totally agree with SG that maybe your twin knows about the gene research, and he is feeling way uncomfortable, wherever his orientation lies. Keep the faith and please stay in touch.