[Two Pronged] A brotherly kind of love
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
I have an older brother and we're both males. We are from a devout INC (Iglesia Ni Cristo) family. Our mother left us 3 years after I was born. Since we were kids it has always just been me, my brother and our father's side of the family. We have been living together as a tight-knit group.
My brother and I have always been close to each other and lately, it has blossomed into something more than that of brotherly love. It has developed into a deeper feeling and needless to say reached sexual nature as well.
We are now both of legal age, he's 31 and I'm 29. We are living together under the same roof. He invited me to join him after he got his own place. We no longer see each other as just brothers but more of a couple.
This has pushed some of our more nosy family members and churchmates to come and bear down on us with their gossips. Because of this, he wants to come out clean and announce to everyone what and who we truly are to each other. I am hesitant to do this for fear of being an outcast from our family. Yet I am ready to face that consequence as long as we face it together.
Should I tell my brother – my partner – to let the cat out of the bag and deal with whatever is to come or convince him to stay quiet and just be what we are now.
I would really like to know your thoughts on this,
Thank you for your very frank email.
So you and your brother (let’s call him Jim) are a couple, a variety of people are beginning to suspect, Jim is happy to make your relationship public and you are willing to go along with that, albeit reluctantly.
Attitudes to incest are ancient, mostly based on the Bible and other writings from times gone by. Religions have shaped civil laws in different ways in different countries but by and large most countries legislate against it. As in most instances dealing with sex, social mores are confused, with public utterances by the great and good reluctant to reflect people’s actual behavior or the advances of science.
While it is easy to argue that sex with minors should not be condoned under any circumstances, sex between related adults – especially in this era of contraception – seems far less easily condemned yet the reality is that society does condemn it, even if there is no specific law against it, and would be happy to argue that such conduct is against public policy and public morals i.e. the catch-all offense covering anything leaders don’t like but haven’t thought to forbid specifically.
Now you and Jim are contemplating coming out publicly with your relationship. I think you have to ask yourselves quite what are the pros and cons to this. You will presumably earn the condemnation of your church and civil society will not be far behind. There may even be those who want you put on trial "as a deterrent to others."
Of course, coming out will give you the chance to do away with the secrecy and hypocrisy of pretending to be mere siblings. Maybe it will have other benefits too though you haven’t enumerated any.
In short, do a cost benefit analysis and see whether that helps you see things more clearly. Either way, don’t be hasty because this is one genie which once out you will not be able to put back in the bottle.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your brave and wonderful letter. In a way, it is good news that your main concern is whether to come out or not because that means your relationship with your brother is good and strong enough to withstand disagreeing about such an important matter.
You ask: “Should I tell my brother – my partner – to let the cat out of the bag and deal with whatever is to come or convince him to stay quiet and just be what we are now?”
I guess the answer is neither. What you want is a joint decision para walang sisihan (there will be no blaming) between you. Talk things over, and if you haven’t worked out all the kinks, and one of you is hesitant about coming out (or about NOT coming out) talk things over again.
Please remember the following:
You need not come out to anyone; however, studies have shown that constantly having to pretend you aren’t what you are (merely a brother, and not also a partner to Jim ) takes up a tremendous amount of energy.
Coming out is not an either-or thing. You can come out in stages. You can choose to come out to just 1 or 2 people. You may want to come out to more people later or decide you are happy simply with the 1, or 2 (or 3 people, etc) you initially decided to come out to.
Coming out will affect not only Jim’s and your life, but also that of your father and perhaps other people you care about strongly. It will also affect your acceptance (or not) in the INC community. Might it also affect your father’s relationship with INC? Among other reasons, the decision makers in the INC may feel you are breaking not one, but two taboos: homosexuality and sibling incest.
Finally, if you decide not to come out, you can always change your mind later. Such decisions are not set in stone.
Gossipy people will never stop gossiping. Dead ma them nalang (Pay them no attention). Some gossipy person may speak ill of you and Jim at a party; but in the end, this just means that a gossipy person spoke ill of you at a party. And why should you let a silly thing like that bother you?
Dearest Luis, you have so many things to think about and deal with (as all people who engage in life do) and I wish you, your brother Jim, and your Dad the courage, wisdom and freedom to live your lives as you see fit.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.