“I’m bisexual” was what he told me one day while we talked. We had been talking about our lives – things people don’t know – and he shared that tidbit with me.
“So am I,” I replied, “and I’m poly.”
I figured while we were trusted each other – why not lay some things on the table. He went on to tell me about the guy who he dated for a while – and I told him about my boyfriend.
Everyone he has been with, dated and otherwise, knew about his leaning towards both sexes. No one had an issue with it, even if his ex decided to use it against him or try.
Fast forward to today, I got a call “my ex-boyfriend came out this week, people have put two-and-two together, and now I’ve gotten about 40 messages from people who back in our home town calling me a fag, queer, and other things. I don’t know what to do.”
My brother who is trying to get his life back after going through a lot of shit. My brother who finally has someone in his life that isn’t just a passing fancy and is trying to build something with her. My brother who works for a homophobe.
His fear was simple and easy to see. He doesn’t want to lose the girl who is he serious about – and who he has not had “the talk” with yet. He does not want to test their relationship. He wants to keep things going positively. But what does he do about this. During the hour I was talking with him, he had gotten 5 text messages calling him a fag.
“You have skin in the game now. Now you can’t just shoot off your mouth, you have to do some risk assessment.”
He assured me that was not it. Then told me a story about being at a bar for the super bowl where the bartender said she wanted the Broncos to win because those n*****s wouldn’t win that way – her reference to the Seahawks. She ranted and raved about those black people – using that word – and my brother flipped out. He went off on her about her ignorance. Told her off. Told her she was the reason raising a kid scared the crap out of him – her ignorance. When the newly arrived people started talking the same way, he told them off too.
“I had to stand up for people who have been discriminated against – I had to do it,” he explained.
“Great,” I commented, ” now imagine what you would have done if you were black. Would you have called them out? Or would you have shut up to avoid any physical altercation? Because having some skin in the game, well, that makes it a different game. That is your challenge with this situation – you have skin in the game now -the risk is real.”
“But I should still yell at those fuckers calling and leaving those messages. It’s fucked up. They would never say it to my face.”
I explained that if he does that, they could “out him” and he doesn’t want that with his girl right now. “But I have to stand up for those who don’t have a voice.”
Yeah, easier to do when you don’t have anything at risk. But here we are – he and I talking about what he should do – say something or shut up knowing either could be the wrong answer.
“This isn’t easy because you are faced with outing yourself in defense of those who need standing up for. There may be a chance you may want to say “fuck you – I am bisexual and it’s not your fucking problem” – and then you are out there – your girl will know – everyone could know because it came from your mouth. Do you risk that?”
In the end, he was still conflicted. He is not comfortable being out himself. He isn’t comfortable telling his story in a way where it isn’t a big deal because if someone feels bad about it or feels guilty or feels like they are forced to handle it well even though they are conflicted themselves- that he is the ‘piece of shit’. And that – THAT is the real issue.
It’s easy to wax on about civil rights for all – it’s easy to stand up to the bully when they are not YOUR bully. But it’s a whole different ball game when this bully in front of you could be YOUR bully. Suddenly this could be your issue personally – this isn’t something you can walk away from. This is skin in the game.
And while he wants to fly off the handle – I pointed out to him , he is not because he knows – that in this case, turning the other cheek and saying nothing may be his only course of action.
That and blocking those fuckers on his cell phone.