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[personal profile] oxymoron67

I knew I was gay by the time I was ten or so. I think my family suspected, and they were not happy about it. Frequently, they would interpret something I’d do as “too queer” and react badly.

By the time I was eleven, my family was busy the way families with teenagers are. Mom was busy with teaching and all the extra work she did for the school district and my siblings were 14, 15 and 16 respectively, and were busy with extra-curricular activities, leaving me home alone some evenings.

Normally, I didn’t do much: I’d do my homework or read while listening to the radio or playing an album on the stereo.

My family had a huge record collection. One of my favorites was the soundtrack to Grease. When I was alone, I’d put the soundtrack on and sing along and dance to it.

One night, I had the album on the stereo and was singing Hopelessly Devoted to You along with Olivia Newton-John. I was really into it: I was making facial expressions, swaying back and forth, the whole nine yards.

That’s when my brother walked in. Band rehearsal had ended early and he had gotten a ride from a friend. He was horrified at what he saw. He started yelling, saying things like, “That’s faggot music and you shouldn’t be listening to it!”

He took the album off the turntable, while telling me that he was going to have a long talk with mom about this. This music might have been okay for our sisters, but I needed to listen to real, masculine music.

He chose another album and put it on the turntable.

“Listen to this. It’s real man’s music,” he said.

It was the opera The Student Prince.

Because when one thinks, “Masculine, heterosexual, he-man music genres”, one’s thoughts ALWAYS go first to Opera.

My brother stood there with this really satisfied look on his face, like he had actually accomplished something.

Then, the phone rang and we went to the kitchen to answer it.

The minute he left the room, I changed albums. I was furious. Who the Hell was my brother to make these decisions for me? So, I decided to play the gayest music we had: Y.M.C.A. by The Village People. Of course, I was singing along and doing the dance where you made the letters and all. In fact, I was deliberately singing much more loudly and dancing much more energetically than I normally would have.

My brother rushed back into the living room with this look of abject horror on his face, screaming about how this was also not acceptable he-man, rampantly heterosexual music. (I’m paraphrasing here: he was much less coherent.)

So, instead, he put on Jesus Christ Superstar.

Let’s pause for a second here. In my brother’s attempt to butch me up through music, he first chose an opera and then show tunes.

Huh?

I’m not sure what he was thinking. My best guess is that his homophobia short-circuited his brain.

Anyway, he again said that he was going to talk with mom about this and that I was going to be in big trouble. The music I liked was too gay and I should never listen to it.

At this point, I was exasperated, and went to the basement and started to put together a model rocket. Honestly, I was also concerned. Mom was about as homophobic, and had berated me about behavior that was “too gay” in the past.

Mom came home a bit later and my brother immediately pulled her aside to discuss my gay, gay, GAY music choices, but she wasn't all that angry. However, mom decided that my brother and I needed to spend more time together. This was probably an attempt to “straighten me out”: having me spend time with an older, heterosexual male relative, so I could model his behavior. You know, like how ducklings imprint on their parents.

I was… less than thrilled. What younger brother wants to spend time with his older brother?

Yes, I’ve heard that younger brothers are supposed to idolize their older brothers, but I’ve never actually met one who does.

So, on mom’s orders, we went bowling. Only it wasn’t just my brother and me. It was the two of us; his two best friends, and their younger brothers. My brother spent most of the time yelling at me. See, my brother and his friends had made a bet about which team of brothers would win and, frankly, I could not have cared less. After a few frames, I started deliberately rolling gutter balls.

This made my brother’s friends angry and THEY started screaming at me because I “wasn’t even trying” and, if I wasn’t willing to try, why was I even there?

I was there because mom said I had to go. I was not there to enjoy myself and I CERTAINLY was not there to make my brother (or anyone else) happy.

After one game, I wandered off to eat chili dogs, and to play disco songs on the jukebox in an attempt to further annoy my brother. Then, I found a newspaper and read it. My goal was to stay away from my brother and his entourage for the rest of the night.

When mom picked us up, she asked about our evening. My brother was upset because I didn’t listen to him and we lost the bet. I was upset because I had to waste an evening with my jackass brother, his douchebag friends and their white trash younger siblings. (Last I heard, both of said younger siblings were in jail.)

This whole brother bonding thing? We never tried it again. And I continued to listen to whatever Goddamned music I liked.
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oxymoron67

October 2013

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