My sister coming out wasn’t what hurt our relationship

In hindsight, I think I knew my sister was gay before she did.

She was older than me, and I loved her uniqueness and her style. I admired her passion for softball, football, basketball and handball. Not to mention, she really stepped in to run our family business when my dad became ill with and later passed from colon cancer. She was the one who took on the funeral arrangements with my older brother.

She was a great listener. She was that “tough” person on the outside holding in all of her emotions, but I always seemed to get them out of her when we spoke and turned into this delicate person that not many people saw. But when, in our teens, I wanted to talk to her about boys, she didn’t want any part of it, despite the fact that she had many male admirers. I realized that she didn’t really give them the time of day. The defining moment was when she kissed a guy in our teens, and it just seemed awkward for her. “That was disgusting,” I remember her saying. “I’m never doing that again.”

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We were extremely close, so I noticed when she began distancing herself as high school continued. She would go out and wouldn’t share where. I became really concerned when she lost a substantial amount of weight. Whatever it was, I knew my sister was having a problem coming out and I felt I needed to step in.

One day, I sneaked up behind her when it was just her and I told her: “It’s OK if you like girls. I still love you because you’re my sister no matter what!”

She melted into tears and asked, “How did you know?”

We laughed and hugged for a long time. I could see the huge relief as the pressure came off her shoulders. She found the courage to share her true self with the rest of the family. After that, we grew closer. We’d talk on the phone four or five times a day. We laughed a lot, and she visited me often. She was a great titi (aunt in Spanish) to my son, buying him every single Jordan sneaker, even in a size 0. She often said, “I will spoil them because I know I won’t have any of my own.”

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My sister was a great “silent” encourager. When I made up excuses for why I wasn’t writing, she showed up at my house with a small laptop as a way of saying, “What’s your excuse now?” She encouraged me to be more of myself and do what I loved to do.

Her coming out didn’t hurt our relationship, but life did. It’s been over five years since we last spoke. She began dating someone new, and I felt pushed away. We were both too stubborn to pick up the phone. Now that I’m older, the resentment has left and I think of her often. But I just don’t know how to fix it. One thing I know for sure: I still love her. Because she’s my sister, no matter what.

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