I Feel So Guilty
Dear Cousin Butchie,
I was going to write to you before, but I was so totally bummed out that I just couldn't get it together enough to write. I don't want to add to the problem by writing details people might recognize, so I am presenting things with a few major changes.
My younger brother was gay, and I am gay. Younger Bro came out to me when he was twelve years old, and I was fifteen. I listened to him tell about bullying and abuse in school. Right or wrong, he and I messed around a lot. We shared a bedroom, so I guess it was bound to happen. I told him that I wanted to make sure that he really was gay and that he understood the mechanics of it all. I wasn't just being the kind Older Bro. I enjoyed the intimacy and the fun we shared. I'll also justify my actions by telling you that I taught him about safe sex, and I helped him realize that being gay was not a choice. My brother then got involved with a girl and he thought he was in love with her. I don't know if they ever had sex, but my brother told me they didn't. We were having a heart to heart conversation, and I could tell he was confused and very upset. I told him to be very careful about marrying for the sake of marrying-- that it was unfair to the girl and that gay men who marry like this don't stand much chance of happiness.
I am very guilty about two paramount things. First of all, I committed incest with my own brother. More importantly, my brother took a lethal combination of pills and alcohol when I was away for a few days on a camping trip. Had I been within reach, my brother would have called me and this would neer have happened. And the incest was something I totally encouraged. I know it's illegal and I think it might have tipped the scales and made him decide on a gay.
I hope this makes sense to you. My little brother has been gone for over a month, my parents are both acting like walking zombies. And I feel like a total tool for introducing him how to act on his gay feelings. It would be bad enough doing this with anyone, but starting my brother having sex with me was an unforgivable sin-- incest.
As I sign this, I have tears in my eyes, and I don't know how I will ever tell my parents about this horrible sin I forced him to commit with me. Then when he needed to really talk it out with me, I was nowhere to be found. Our religion frowns on suicide and this one action could be the end of my brothers chance to experience eternal life.
May God forgive me!
Dear Feeling So Guilty,
I thank you for writing and giving yourself a chance to get a better perspective on the tragedy you experienced with you brother. I will try to be as clear as possible. Dude, this is no time to heap more pain and guilt on yourself. You are obviously suffering a great deal working out your own emotions now.
First of all, I believe that a very high percentage of early teenagers and younger (of all orientations) are known to have had sexual relations with a sibling. Speaking only for myself, Cousin Butchie sees no harm in this type of "playing around" unless it is against the one sibling's will or if the younger child has little or no ability to consent. It's important to understand that the real reason incest was forbidden in the bible (and in society today) was the fact that very serious medical consequences result when two siblings have sex and their genetic chemistries become mixed, often resulting in the conception of a child with extremely serious birth defects. It is this final result of what was intended to be almost a case of "playing doctor" but the chromosomes result in a seriously, often fatal, outcome for the baby.
The good news which attaches itself to the above paragraph is that siblings of the same gender can, and often do, have some experimentation with sex and it can be considered part of the maturing process. I've heard of this type of sexual situation being a healthy "practice time" which will make you feel better and more able to perform sexually when a partner comes along.
The surviving relative often blames himself/herself for not being there for their sibling when this presence would have stopped the tragedy of suicide. DON'T ALLOW YOURSELF TO TAKE THE BLAME FOR WHAT ANOTHER PERSON DOES WITH HIS/HER LIFE. It's reasonable to believe that your brother had sufficient time to consider how he wanted his life to go, the friends he chose and the final outcome of his choices. Sorry to say, but your little brother made his own choices, did not reach out to you for the more serious help he needed. Well, he waited until you were on a camping trip and could not be reached. However we talk it up, your brother finally has the peace which he just didn't find in life.
I can only guess the type of religious background which offers little solace to your parents in the case of a suicide. Many clergymen and women of all faiths will tell you that suicide is the unfortunate action of a person whose mental state of mind seems to offer him/her no choice. Cousin Butchie (and many priests he knows) believes that the person in a state of great anxiety, depression, self-condemnation. etc. makes that person his/her own victim and blameless before his/her Maker. Since I believe that your feelings of guilt also evolve from the incest taboo in the bible. I'm not a scripture scholar, but I can tell you that the forbidding of incest, like so many parts of the ancient "holiness" code was based on health concerns. Inbreeding has been an unfortunate result of opposite sex incest. The eating of meat and dairy in the same meal was meant to prevent serious illness at a time when the refrigeration of meat and dairy was impossible, serious illness was prevented by not eating both types of food at the same meal. Even circumcision was required because of the infections which occur when the foreskin is not thoroughly washed.
AND JUST FOR REFERENCE, WRITE DOWN THE TELEPHONE NUMBER OF THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE. KEEP IT ON HAND IN CASE YOU OR A FRIEND NEEDS SOMEONE TO LISTEN AND TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. THE NUMBER IS 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255.