I’ve never written a letter like this before but I heard that there’s a Jewish help column for questions about LGBTQ stuff and I figured I try it out. The thing is that my brother, who’s in 11th grade at a local Hebrew School, is gay. I go to the same school and am in 9th grade. I’m the only one he’s shared this secret with. Our parents don’t know and he’s afraid of what they’ll say or do if they find out. He’s very popular and on the baseball team, but is afraid of getting teased by his teammates and even losing friends. I’d like to help him, but I don’t know how. Can you help?
Wow! You’re a pretty impressive brother. Your brother chose you as the one person he trusts and you’re taking a very adult step to try to be helpful to him. Being such a great support is a tremendous way to be helpful, so you’re doing that right from the start. It must be extra difficult if you are both worried about your parents’ reaction if they were to find out that he’s gay. Obviously, neither or you want to do or say something that might result in a huge family blowup, or worse. I wonder if there is some adult, maybe a teacher at your school, a counselor, or your synagogue’s Rabbi or youth director, who you and he could trust. That would be a place to start. Also, since there’s so much in the news these days about LGBTQ issues, perhaps you could raise one of these issues and see what your parents say. It might be a way to see where they stand, at least in general, without telling your brother’s secret. Another possibility is for your brother, privately, to get in touch with Keshet, the Jewish LGBTQ educational organization at www.keshetonline.org or JFCS’ LGBTQ Initiative at www.jfcsphilly.org or one of the LGBTQ youth organizations, like The Attic, and speak with a member of their staff. A great online resource is www.trevorspace.org for LGBTQ youth and their allies.
Your brother is lucky to have you in his corner. However, this is a big responsibility and a lot for you to hold all on your own. You might want to get some support as a family member and ally; you can also contact Keshet for their family support program. Good luck and let us know how it goes or if you have more questions.