Nine Reasons to Text Your Insignificant Other
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.