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Topic: My Brother is a Homophobe

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Subject: My Brother is a Homophobe
Date Posted: 11/19/2007 4:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
Posts: 2,819
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I'm having problems with my brother but he doesn't even really know it.  I feel like I should approach him about it, but times have proven in the past that he doesn't understand where I'm coming from and won't understand my anger on this issue.  He's 47 years old but very emotionally and mentally stunted.  

The last time I saw him was at a family gathering.  He works at a health center, and he and his wife were telling me that they participated in this charity exercise day, where all the proceeds went to AIDS charities.  When he spoke to the local newspaper reporter that day, he made it a point to say that he was "only participating to help those people who get AIDS by accident."  And then he was angry that the newspaper didn't include this quote.

I was just so horrified when he said this that I was struck silent.  I walked away and avoided him for the rest of the party.  I haven't spoken to him since. (We're not super close in general, but we do see eachother a few times a year.)  I've known for years he's a homophobe, and it's bothered me, but nothing like this one comment. 

I'm not gay, and no one else in my family is gay, but as a whole we're quite liberal in nature and were not raised to hate people unlike us.  I take gay rights very seriously and hate living in a world where other people don't have the same rights as me.  I have a low tolerance for any kind of homophobia, but it strikes me even deeper when it's my own brother.

I don't want to talk to him right now, but eventually I'm going to have to.  As I said before, he's not a well-adjusted person.  I'm not sure how worth it is to even point out what a hurtful thing he said.  He won't understand where I'm coming from.   I get along pretty well with his wife overall, but on this issue she's just as bad - she was raised in a very strict Roman Catholic house with a hideous father, and she stood by my brother as he said this, nodding furiously in agreement.

Guess I'm just venting but would love to hear any advice!

Date Posted: 11/19/2007 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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Last Edited on: 8/11/10 5:01 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/19/2007 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 997
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Ah yes, the "good AIDS patients," as opposed to everyone else.  Haven't heard that one in a while.

Tell him to read his bible and he'll see that when God - and I imagine probably Jesus - talk about healing the sick and taking care of the unfortunate, they don't qualify it by trying to make some people more deserving.   Nor did God say "love your neighbor - but only if they're straight, white, and have never used drugs."

Date Posted: 11/19/2007 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 5/9/2006
Posts: 851
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Don't all people get AIDS "by accident"? I think your brother may be confused and could use some education about AIDS and how it's contracted. I would suggest starting with the assumption that he simply doesn't understand. If you start out explaining how AIDS is contracted by all different types of people in all different types of ways you could slowly progress to explaining why that kind of statement is inappropriate. From there, if things go well, you could try to address his homophobia. But honestly, his statement alone is more ignorant than homophobic. If I heard it out of context I would be more confused than offended.

Date Posted: 11/19/2007 9:22 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,665
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LOL, Lauren, that's what I was thinking....as opposed to all of those people who get AIDS on purpose.  ;)

Unfortunately, as long as there are people in government who feel it is acceptable to make these kinds of comments (remember Jesse Helms, anyone?), then people will feel that they are right in saying so too. 

I remember when I came of age to vote (I am a North Carolinian).  My Catholic grandmother said to me, "Manda Dear, if you ever vote for Jesse Helms you are out of the will." HAHAHAHAHAHA!  I told her no worries, will or no will, I wasn't insane!

Date Posted: 11/20/2007 6:46 AM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
Posts: 2,819
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Thanks for all the good feedback.

Unfortunately my brother isn't religious, and even if I did suggest reading the Bible, I'm sure his super-RC wife would bring up Leviticus in a nano-second. And because of his stunted intelligence, having a discourse about "what the BIble really says" isn't going to work well.

I also don't think he was confused about what he said.  He thinks gay men having sex is repugnant, so I think he was clear in separating out the "good AIDS patients" vs the bad.  (That was hard for me to type - it's just so ludicrious and sad.) He even had an example of blood transfusions. 

Anyways, at some point I do have to address this with him, because it's definitely under my skin.  My family understands my anger (and they are upset too) but also feel like it shouldn't be something that destroys our relationship overall.  I suppose they're right, but I make it a point not to surround myself with "haters" in my life, so why should my brother be an exception?  That's what I'm struggling with.

 

 

Date Posted: 11/20/2007 7:41 AM ET
Member Since: 12/1/2005
Posts: 1,023
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My brother is somewhat the same way - we are totally different in a lot of ways.  He doesn't seem to have a problem with DP & I, but last year when I mentioned to him & my mom that they could come here xmas day & spend it at the YWCA for a xmas potluck, with (gasp) gay people, he about threw a hissy fit.  Everyone has given good advice, and your family probably doesn't want a big confrontation btwn you & your brother.  You are going to have to be the level headed one, so try to stay calm when dealing with his misconceptions & prejudices.  And good luck...  When it comes to my brother, I just try to remember that I don't have to spend a lot of time every year with him, so it's just a blip on my radar in the scheme of things.

Date Posted: 11/20/2007 7:03 PM ET
Member Since: 11/10/2006
Posts: 2,954
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I might broach the subject by saying something like - I was thinking about your comment  "only participating to help those people who get AIDS by accident." and wondering how you are able to differentiate between those you feel contract the virus accidentally and those who don't? After his answer I would just explain that your feelings are that ANYONE who contracts the virus does so accidentally, seeing as no one would WANT to get a disease that is not curable ( though controllable today).

For someone working in health care he seems to have a very narrow view of the world.

Date Posted: 11/20/2007 10:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
Posts: 462
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When people (friends or family) start talking like that I usually will comment that it isn't very nice to talk about other people like that, that I don't like hearing it and I want a better example set for my daughter.  If it doesn't stop, instantly, I excuse myself very pointedy and walk away....

 

My DBF once asked me if I would really want my daughter 'exposed to that sort of thing'...I told him if he is talking about 2 people loving and caring for each other and treating each other with respect and empowering each other...then YES I want her exposed.  That is what I want her to learn, I don't really care what other people do in their bedrooms and it isn't anybody else's business anyway...Then I asked him who the heck was he, or anybody else, to judge other people for loving each other?! 

 

I DO NOT tolerate intolerance.   lol

 

I won't get into an argument about the issue with people...I simply say stop talking so meanly about others or I'm going...it usually works...and not just when people are talking about  LGBTQ's either...I hate it when my BF starts going off on how someone is stupid because they did something he doesn't agree with/approve of/whatever....ect..

 

 

 

Date Posted: 11/21/2007 12:58 AM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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Just remember that a lifetime of ignorance and intolerance wont go away with one conversation.  Good luck.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 11/23/2007 6:42 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Julie wrote: Just remember that a lifetime of ignorance and intolerance wont go away with one conversation.  Good luck.

Ament to that! 

I have actually decided to avoid certain family members because they simply refuse to give up racist  and anti-gay idologies and language long enough for us to visit.  I absolutely refuse for my child to hear hate language from family members.  Each time it has happened, I have called the person on it.  It's to the point where I will no longer visit them with my child present, and actually, have no desire to visit them at all.   It makes me incredibly sad. 

I have also cut one "friend" from my life because she said something incredibly racist to me.  I do not ever want J thinking that such ideas are ok.  It's one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but it had to be done.

But such experiences motivate me to raise a child whose lips will never utter such ugliness and hatred.

 

 

Date Posted: 10/8/2008 8:31 AM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2008
Posts: 109
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maybe your brother is closeted and gay. seems the rednecks (pardon the expression) down where i live, are that way....they are so against homosexuality in men that it isnt even funny..... and then later on, you hear of one of them being caught with another man.