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[coming out stories]

Josh Mendelsohn
Attorney, Washington, DC
October 11, 1997


I was not looking forward to my winter break. My older brother, Aaron, did not yet know that I had come out of the closet. To make things worse, he did not know that our father had, too, come out several days before I did. I tried to think up ways to gently break the news to Aaron about Dad and me both being gay, but I kept imagining my brother collapsing into tears and hollering, "Why? Why? WHY!?" Aaron did know that our parents had separated for unexplained reasons, and he also knew that I had broken up with my girlfriend.

Even though Aaron and I both lived in Los Angeles at that time, we were traveling to Washington, D.C., our parents' home, separately. I drove across the nation, and he took an airplane. Having the advantage of several more hundreds of miles per hours, he arrived several days in Washington before I did. Mom picked him up, and took him to the house. Dad, who was living in an apartment not far from the house, came by and picked Aaron up for dinner.

Dad told Aaron over dinner about him having come out of the closet. Aaron, for a brief moment, was too stunned to speak. He finally said, "Uh, well, good thing Josh's straight!" My father winced, but did not tell him that I, too, was gay. They talked about gayness for hours, and then Dad dropped Aaron off at the house. Aaron made a bee-line to his bedroom, and saw a note on the bed. "Come up and see me," the note said in Mom's handwriting.

Aaron staggered up the stairs to Mom's bedroom (which had been until recently the bedroom of both our parents). Mom was in bed, with a book open in front of her. Aaron sat down on the bed and started crying. Mom held him for a moment, consoling him, and then said, "You know, Dad's not the only one in the family who is gay."

Aaron, with a horrified expression on his face, drew away and said, "Oh, no, not you too, Mom!"

Mom was startled, and then said, "No, not me. Josh is gay, also."

"Josh? Not Josh!?" Aaron exclaimed. Then he started crying in earnest. Mom hugged him close.

That was five years ago. At that time, Aaron felt like the world that he thought he had known had been destroyed under his feet. Since then, he has become a very close friend and a dear brother to me. He had found in himself the capacity to accept and even be comfortable with Dad's and my gayness. We have spent much time together with our respective significant others, and Aaron has come to many gay parties hosted by either Dad or me.

Indeed, Aaron has proven himself to be stronger, more accepting, and more supportive than Dad and I had expected. I'm glad Dad and Mom told him about Dad's and my gayness.



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