SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2005        Personal Memory Ethnographies

CC (all names have been changed)

Borderland Rollercoaster Journey

My older brother Adam has worked for a golf club manufacturer for quite a few years. One of his colleagues named Jake, who was also a good friend for several years, confessed one day that he wanted to be a woman and a lesbian. This was a real shock to me, I had known Jake for some time and he liked guitars and music. He had a wife and a nice home in Chandler, for him to suddenly want to quit everything he had ever known because he was “living a lie” was strange. Adam called me and asked me what I thought about it. At the time I wasn’t to sure what to think. This was only the beginning.

Adam is second born of four children. Our father was and is still to this day, an abusive, ignorant bigot named Lester. Adam was born with colic, a stomach disorder; he had trouble digesting and keeping food down. He cried a lot and this angered Lester and thus began a campaign of physical and emotional abuse towards Adam. Our parents divorced when he was 11. As he got older Adam experimented with drugs and alcohol and befriended a kid named Slim. Slim had no daddy either. As Adam and Slim got older they began experimenting with homosexual activities, such as sodomy and fellatio. They had a relationship of sorts. However Slim was emotionally abusive, much like Lester. This is perhaps why they carried their relationship for so long. Eventually Adam married a woman and he and Slim drifted apart and ultimately lost contact with one another.

It would be Christmas time a few months after Adam told me about Jake. My oldest brother Eddie would come down form Denver to spend it with us at my second oldest brother Adam’s house. Eddie is a session musician and music instructor; at the time he lived alone and never really seemed too happy. I always figured he needed a lady. Eddie shows up with a young man named Mario and tells the family this is his soul mate. Once again my head was spinning. I didn’t know what to say or how to act and was out of my comfort zone. Mario is a nice guy, liked to drink a little as did I, except I was having trouble putting all of this into perspective.  Jake was also present for this holiday shindig. Jake was by this time “Jordan,” in make-up and high heels to boot. Everything went well and everyone seemed to have a good time, except me.

A few months later it was Adam’s birthday. His wife had a few homosexual friends from work and they had all gotten along first rate. They were all present at the birthday dinner, as was Jordan, my wife, daughter and myself. By now I was able to handle Jordan much better and we all had a great time. After dinner Adam gave my daughter and me a ride home. He asked me what I thought about Jordan, he then asked me what I thought about Eddie. I could sense there was something he was leading up to, so I asked him to please tell me. He then broke the news that he is also homosexual, he had experimented with things and people and it was the only time he every felt liberated. This was more than I could take and I wasn’t as willing to accept this. I recall looking at the clock on the dashboard, I didn’t even notice the time; I took in the information and just stared. I have a tendency to retract my emotions when I hear something disturbing.

In my own life, I was struggling with school and work. I was about to lose my job and go through vehicle repossession and a nasty bankruptcy. To hear that both of my brothers had decided to come out was a challenge. I appreciate and respect what courage it took for them to tell the family about their life style change. However, I don’t think they really considered how it would affect everyone else. What was significant at the time of my incident was the gay marriage ban. At least this is what I recall the most. I didn’t really pay much attention to it at the time. Of course looking back I see its importance.

Adam and his wife had a great relationship, loving, understanding, and even accepting. His wife was condoning of his experimental homosexual exploits. She even participated on a number of occasions. This caused Adam a lot of confusion; he turned to professional help and began therapeutic sessions for a time. The therapist told him he needed to confront his father about the past. He also needed to put himself first above anyone else and find who he really is. The only time Adam ever felt real liberation was when he was with another man. Adam had married for 8 years had a nice home, two cars everything, yet it wasn’t what he wanted.

He divorced his wife and has since moved in with a pastry chef named Daniel. Daniel is an executive at an exclusive resort in Scottsdale and has been on such shows as Julia Child. Adam appears to be happy when ever he contacts his family. To this day he has never told Lester what the abuse and anger did to him. This leaves me to believe that this change is motivated by the lack of a positive male role model in his life. He is desperately trying to fill the void.

I have since learned to be accepting of others and understanding of things that I myself cannot feel. I have never walked in the shoes of others and therefore how can I possibly know what people go through. There is a long road to acceptance that we all must travel. Mine as well as Adam’s, has only just begun. Along this road I have gone thru many changes, some are progressive, others are steps back. What is important is that the journey continues.  

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