SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2011       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Albert Sandoval

Coming Out by SMS

In 2008 I worked at an elementary school as a health tech assistant. I was filling out some paper work at my desk, when all of a sudden I received a text message from my sister. When I first saw that it was my sister, I did not think anything of it, and figured she had just texted me to see how I was doing, as she normally did. When I read the text, she said that she had something really important to tell me. I immediately felt worried and wondered what it could be. When I read the text message, I found out my sister was a lesbian. I would only imagine what she was thinking:

My heart is racing. Today is the day I am going to finally get things off my chest, and come out to my brother. I wonder if I should call him or text him. What if I tell him in person instead? I should just text him, so things won’t be as awkward when I see him. I just texted him, and he is in extreme shock.

I was in complete shock. At first I thought she was joking, because we are always joking around. She told me she had always known she was a lesbian since high school. The only thing I could think of, was what if our parents found out? We were raised Catholic, so they always told us that being gay or lesbian was against our religion, but I didn’t expect it to find it in my family.

I knew this was going to happen. I just hope that he does not look at me any differently. I am starting to tear up; this is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. I am so terrified of what he is going to think, say, or if he is still going to talk to me. I had to do this though, I cannot keep hiding what I am, and I cannot keep being scared of who I am. My family is the most important people in my life, and it will kill me if I would have kept this a secret forever.

The temperature in the office was always below 75 degrees because the person that I shared the office with liked it to be freezing. But now, I could not even feel the coolness. I remember feeling warm because all of the activity I was doing. Walking around the office, stepping in and out, I could not keep still. All I could think of was my sister, since we weren’t talking face to face. I pictured her big glossy green eyes filling up with tears.

I just told him everything. About me and my girlfriend, about the time I discovered that I was a lesbian, about what is going on at this moment, and about how much he means to me. I feel so much better, I think he took it better than I expected. After the shock, he was freaking out a little bit, and thought I was joking. But he calmed down, and is taking it very well.

Afternoons at the office are usually slow, and calm. This afternoon however, was not slow for me, nor was it calm because I was shocked and distressed about my sister coming out to me. I felt like running out of the office, and getting far away from there as possible. I stayed however, because I needed to focus and get a hold of myself. I didn’t want everyone pestering me with questions.

He told me that he would love me no matter what, and that as long as I am happy, he is happy. I told him not to tell our parents, because I am not ready for that bigger step. I wanted to let my brother know first, because he is also my best friend. I took care of him when he was younger, so over the years we have developed a stronger bond. I felt that this was a good time to let him know because he is an adult now, and I knew that he was going to understand things better now, than when he was a teenager. Some of the weight has now lifted off my shoulders.

I always have my radio playing in the office. I love music, and I always have to be listening to it while I work, even to this day. That day I had it on an oldies station. Oldies get me in a good mood, but that day I had even tuned out my feel good music. My sister and I have a lot in common, including the love for music. I bet she was listening to music as well, probably a rock station, and I bet the volume was low because she was focusing on how to tell me the news.

I asked my sister why did she decide to tell me now, and was she in a relationship. She told me she felt that it was a good time for me to know. She could not hold it in much longer, and felt she had to tell someone, and she wanted to tell me first because I am more than a brother, I am also her best friend. She also said that she was indeed in a relationship, and that she had been for a few months.

I never had had a problem with gays or lesbians. I’m not saying this in any negative connotation, but until my sister told me she was lesbian, I thought that an issue like that would not happen in my family. I guess I never really cared about the subject, until it did happen within my family. I’d always heard about gay pride parades, and new laws being passed in states about gay marriages, and the discrimination against the gay community, but I never paid attention to it.

A few years before my sister told me the shocking news I had been in a two year relationship with a girl I met in high school. I was madly in love with this girl, only to be dumped because she told me she was a lesbian. Because of that situation, for a long time after that I kind of resented lesbians. When my sister told me about her sexual identity, it was a real eye opener for me. I put myself in her shoes, and realized how alone she must have felt for all those years, and she continues to feel ostracized from our family because our parents to this day still don’t know. It took a lot of strength and courage to come out to me and our brother, and I am happy that she did. My sister is one of the best human beings I know. She has always been there for me when I needed her the most, and I will always be there for her. I cannot even fathom the emotions my sister feels when my parents talk about homosexuality, and for her not to say anything because of the fear of what my parents would say, and what actions would come upon them.

One of the reasons that my sister’s coming out to me was so meaningful was because it was a wakeup call. A loved one is a lesbian, one who my religion is against; she likes the same sex, which my parents told me that was wrong and most of society is not comfortable with. It is good to know however that there is progression with laws affecting the gay community. In 1996, Colorado removed “special rights” for gay and lesbians in amendment number 2. They are ordinary civil rights to a free society. In 2000, Vermont became the first state to legally recognize civil unions between gay or lesbian couples. In 2006 civil unions became legal in New Jersey but Arizona rejected same sex marriage laws. In February 2008, New York allowed workplaces to recognize same sex marriage licenses from other states. In April 2009, Iowa issued marriage licenses to same sex couples. In June that year, New Hampshire allowed same sex marriages.

I have accepted my sister for who she is, my love for her which is not affected by her sexuality. I hope that different sexual identities within families do not break families. People should accept people for who they are, and not what they are. This event made me realize that people all over the world are going through what my sister is going through, and even worse scenarios. I wish the best for my sister, and to all those that are in her shoes today.

She is my sister, so I threw everything negative away that I was taught about gays and lesbians, and love her for who she is.

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