Nine Rea­sons to Text Your In­signif­i­cant Other

Hello Mr. Magazine - - CONTENTS - Chad Hens­ley

Last year I was stripped of my ti­tle as The Only Gay in the Fam­ily. The de­mo­tion took me by sur­prise. Adding in­sult to in­jury, it hap­pened on my twenty-third birth­day when, danc­ing in a rather dash­ing one­sie, I hap­pened upon my elder sis­ter mak­ing out with her friend who, adding fur­ther in­sult to in­jury, wears the same glasses as me (I main­tain the op­tometrist said they were uni­sex).

At first I was bit­ter. I felt like a beauty pageant queen who had been stripped of her crown. I was the one who came out to our par­ents; I was the one who had to en­dure the awk­ward con­ver­sa­tions, the mis­guided sex talks, the con­stant re­minders about prac­tic­ing safe sex. I had done all the ground­work; I had laid down the foun­da­tions of be­ing “the gay one,” the child who would not de­liver grand­chil­dren, who laughed in the face of the heteronor­ma­tive life­style, who would pro­vide a new per­spec­tive on life and of­fer sage ad­vice. And then she just waltzed right in with her new savvy hair­cut and pulled the rug right out from un­der me! I couldn’t be­lieve it. It was be­wil­der­ing. I waved my fin­ger at her in dis­gust. I told her it was just a phase she was go­ing through. But she just shrugged me off and per­sisted with her ni­hilis­tic ways. Well, I wouldn’t stand for it; she wasn’t get­ting off the hook that eas­ily.

When my mother moved into a new house, I took great plea­sure, as self-ap­pointed in­te­rior de­signer, in rear- rang­ing her worldly pos­ses­sions while she was at work. Re­turn­ing home, she found me sip­ping her cham­pagne and beam­ing with self-con­grat­u­la­tions at the good­will I had per­formed. I took her on a tour, end­ing with the liv­ing room wall com­prised of fam­ily pho­tos con­spic­u­ously ab­sent of any fam­ily mem­bers but my sis­ter and my­self. I pro­claimed it the “Homo Wall.” “Why is your sis­ter on the Homo Wall?” she asked with one eye­brow raised. Oops, I shrugged, raised my glass, and gulped down the sweet nec­tar.

Later, my fa­ther and his hon­ey­mooned wife came to visit. We dined at a hip veg­e­tar­ian restau­rant that turned its lights off dur­ing “Earth Hour” so that we ate our meal un­der the am­bi­ent light of mo­bile phones. Tak­ing ad­van­tage of our fa­ther’s obli­ga­tion to pay for din­ner, my sis­ter and I or­dered gins with ev­ery course. Re­gress­ing in the com­pany of fam­ily and al­co­hol, I re­marked some­thing im­ma­ture about veg­e­tar­i­an­ism be­ing a by-prod­uct of les­bian­ism and gave my sis­ter a pa­tron­iz­ing pat on the head. “What have you got to do with be­ing a veg­e­tar­ian?” My fa­ther asked, in­ter­ro­gat­ing her with the light of his mo­bile phone. I re­treated in to the dark­ness leav­ing my blush­ing sis­ter to ex­plain her­self.

I found my­self slip­ping my sis­ter’s sex­u­al­ity into ev­ery­day con­ver­sa­tion – it just seemed to res­onate in the world around me. “No, I can’t come out tonight be­cause

I’m meet­ing my les­bian sis­ter for din­ner, the one that used to date men,” I’d tell my friends on the phone, or, “The suc­cess of a rev­o­lu­tion de­pends en­tirely on abol­ish­ing the ex­ist­ing po­lit­i­cal struc­tures, my les­bian sis­ter stud­ied pol­i­tics, you know,” I’d tell my lec­turer. My sis­ter would re­spond to my taunts by pro­vok­ing my pho­bia of vagi­nas with in­ti­mate de­scrip­tions of plea­sur­ing women.

I would pre­tend to start vom­it­ing and she would start shout­ing over the top of me and our ex­change would es­ca­late so forth (much to the horror of passersby).

It must have acted as a type of se­man­tic sa­ti­a­tion be­cause af­ter a few months I be­gan to be­come ac­cus­tomed to the idea of hav­ing a les­bian sis­ter. We spent New Year’s Eve to­gether, the three of us: my sis­ter, her girl­friend and I. We cheered our mugs of wine, danced to­gether, ex­pressed love for one another, watched the sun come up, and par­tied in to the next day. That night, see­ing how happy she was with her girl­friend, and how nat­u­ral it seemed, I be­gan to re­al­ize that her sex­u­al­ity in­deed had ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with me. Tak­ing so­lace in the fact that I was the first to come out and that she couldn’t ever take that away from me, I fi­nally de­cided to em­brace her sex­u­al­ity.

All of a sud­den be­ing gay never felt so close to home. We started fre­quent­ing the same par­ties, the same night­clubs, telling each other things we would have nor­mally re­served for friends that we could never be re­lated to. It has been just over a year now since that fate­ful birth­day. Upon re­flec­tion, I think that my an­tics were sub­con­scious ex­pres­sions of pride for my sis­ter. Yes, she stole my thun­der as be­ing the only gay mem­ber of the fam­ily and, yes, she gets to en­joy the ben­e­fits of my la­bor. But I think the way that I “outted” her to fam­ily and friends was my own way of mak­ing sure she was proud of who she is. Ev­ery time I heck­led her she would de­fend her honor and stand up for her­self. And I also re­mem­ber the sup­port she gave me when I came out, of­ten through light-hearted ridicule that would force me to ac­knowl­edge and speak about my sex­u­al­ity, so I’m re­cip­ro­cat­ing the ges­ture in that odd way.

My sis­ter and I no longer live in the same city be­cause she moved over­seas with her girl­friend (yes, the same girl from the party). We have be­come very good friends and I look for­ward to vis­it­ing them and out­stay­ing my wel­come soon. Both my sis­ter and my­self share a sim­i­lar sense of hu­mor, can both be in­cred­i­bly moody, and were given silly names that my par­ents them­selves for­get how to spell and pro­nounce – it’s nice to add same-sex at­trac­tion to that list.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.