Aiseyman! Brotherly love triumphs in the struggle between religion and LGBT rights!

gay hands

Hi, NUS alumni here. I wanted to comment on your post using my Facebook account but chose not to for reasons I will explain soon. Like yours, my younger brother is gay. I know exactly your situation because not too long ago, I was in it. The only difference is that my family and I are Muslims, not Christians. I chose to reply to your submission anonymously for three reasons:

1. My brother isn't out to our parents;
2. Our parents condemn homosexuality; and
3. Our parents are our Facebook friends.

I first suspected my brother was gay some time last year. I had my reasons to suspect he was. My brother didn't talk much about girls. He's never had a girlfriend. He's never dated a girl. This puzzled me because he's had girls confess their feelings for him in his JC days. He was - and still is - a charming young man. I used to joke to my parents that he stole all the good looks. The only gene we had in common was our intelligence.

My brother and I were close since young. We went to the same religious school, handling workload from both madrasah and secular curriculum at the same time. We would encourage and challenge each other academically. We played soccer together as kids and even now as adults. We ate at the same table for every meal with our parents. There was no secret in our household or so I thought.

He had a male best friend that my family and I knew about. A Chinese boy he got to know in army. I didn't think much about their friendship until one late night when I saw from my study, the two of them walking towards our house gate holding hands. Much like you, I knew LGBT people. I'm even friends with some of them. I took a "live and let live" mentality. I thought that as long as they were good people, whom they date is not my business. But when I realised that my own brother was gay, I felt concerned and uncomfortable by that fact. Strange, huh? I was OK with having LGBT friends, but it became a problem when I realised that it was family.

I remained quiet on the matter for a long time, but believe me, I thought hard about it. I spoke to religious teachers. I read the Qur'an. I looked at Islamic historical records. But I couldn't find any answers I was satisfied with. I struggled internally between religion (what I am taught to believe is right and True) and familial ties (what I am taught to appreciate and love). I chose eventually to look at it from the latter's perspective. I knew I love my brother and I didn't want him to feel unwelcome in his own home. So one day, not long ago, I decided to ask him about the relationship he had with his supposed "best friend". I assured him that he could tell me anything and I wouldn't judge. I saw my younger brother, whom I knew to be a strong person, break down in tears when he came clean. I felt his pain. The kind of pain that comes from having to keep secrets.

My brother and I have a better relationship now. The respect we've has grown immensely. I've gotten to know his boyfriend. Nice guy, but speaks a little too fast and his pronunciation needs severe work. Not sure if my strong personality is giving him reasons to be afraid of me. I know that they're much in love. I know that my brother will achieve great success in his field and that he will live a fulfilled life. I know that he doesn't intend on coming out to our parents. I won't pressure him to do so but he knows I'll be on his side if and when he crosses that bridge.

When I was reflecting on this matter, what helped most in coming to a place of acceptance was to ask a simple question, "Do I love him?" The answer was obvious. You made a brief mention about gay marriage. Honestly I still struggle with it. Islam is and will always be a big part in my personal life as a Muslim and my professional life as a lawyer. I'm not comfortable by it. I'm unsure that I'd be vocal in my support for gay marriage. My brother is aware of this. At this time, at most, I'm for the repeal of 377A. My stance on gay marriage might evolve over time. I don't know for sure. But I believe I'm capable of change and so I'm leaving it as a possibility to re-visit, talk, think and reflect. As a lawyer, I care deeply about issues relating to minority rights - religion, race, gender and perhaps, not too far in the future, sexual orientation too.

 

Source: NUSWhispers