Before diving into the real reason for this letter, I felt as if I have to apologize for some things growing up. I'm sorry for the time I tried to gouge your eyes out when we were 6 and 9 respectively, and then try to stick your hand into a moving fan. I would blame that on the fact that we watched too much WWF growing up, but, the truth is, I was just being a hot head.
I also apologize for taking confronting our father's alcoholism to a new extreme. I remember filling up with rage as I threw his beer across the room, pouring some down the drain, and even taking a few sips out of one. He stood in horror as I screamed, "You love this more than your family." When he drunkenly lunged at me, he couldn't go anywhere because you were there to make sure no harm was done to me, holding him back although I did provoke him. Once again, just being a hot head.
Looking back, you've always just been my protector, even if I was the little shit who made fun of your "big-boned-ness" growing up and your 1960s-inspired Beatles mushroom haircut. In my defense, I didn't know how much I would look to your bigness to help me get out of situations growing up or the fact that the Beatles were so amazing and mom made you get that haircut. Let's just say, thank God you found out about the beauty of a barber with a fancy set of clippers.
But, you were never only my protector. There was that period of your life, when I was being a self-absorbed high schooler, when you gave up going back to college to help out around the house while our grandmother, who we called Abuela, was bedridden.
As I worried about SATs and what tie to wear to prom, you worked at Outback Steakhouse to make extra money for our family at night, while, during the day, you sat with Abuela watching reruns of Supernatural, cleaned her diapers, and lifted her in and out of her bed. I always knew you were physically strong, but it was during that time that I realized the strength of your heart and how jealous I was of your selflessness.
With all that said, you were still one of the last people I came out to. I guess I always felt intimidated by your masculinity, especially how it would turn up a few notches around your friends. I didn't know how to read you, so I never trusted just saying it out loud to you. When I finally did, it was matter of fact. I knew you loved me, but I still felt like our relationship existed better if we just didn't talk about it further.
That changed when, for some odd glitch in the Matrix, our lives converged in the heart of Times Square at the Copacabana in NYC. You were taking security odd jobs here and there until you got a regular gig working at the club, including its gay Friday rooftop party at the time, Penthaus Fridays.
"It was all a bit confusing. It got to the point when I didn't know if I was talking to a boy or a girl," you said to me after working one of your first gay nights. "There were some crazy looks too. Like one of them had a bone in her... his... head."
I couldn't help but laugh at your first encounter with gender outside your binary perspective, but I also used similar moments like this to educate you in regards to your understanding of the LGBT community. I looked forward to our Saturday morning debriefs about the crazy stuff that would go down as well as our discussions about how not to talk to a trans person, treat trans people, and generally how to make me, as a gay person, feel safe getting handled at a club.
I remember going to Copa one Friday and getting to see you in action. I knew you had taken our conversations to heart while chatted with Paige Turner, one of New York's resident drag queens, about you. "Which one is your brother," she asked.
As I pointed to you, she smiled. "Aw. He's one of the good ones. He's always been so nice to me and everyone."
A lot of times, I get the sense that gay men are scared to be close to their masculine, heterosexual brothers because they don't know how they will handle stepping 100% into their world. I know I was. But, I'm one of the lucky ones whose brother was thrown in our world yet went beyond his job requirements to learn how to better serve the LGBT nightlife community.
During Pride this year, as many members of the LGBTQ community prepared to party as a sign that we would not be silenced by the shooter who targeted a gay club in Orlando, you had a job to do. On Facebook, there were posts after posts from hosts and promoters making the community aware that they were working with the best security teams around. For those throwing rooftop ragers at Copa that meant you would be putting yourself out there to make sure the party was safe for people like me.
This brings me to the purpose of this letter. I don't have a fancy golden umbrella like the one they gave Buffy Summers during her prom, but I do want to say thank you for doing what you have done for me and others your whole life. Thank you for being a protector. Your job and the jobs of others like you entailed making sure no physical harm came to me or others in my community as we celebrated our Pride, our freedom to dance in spaces where we felt free without fear. For this, I am proud to be your brother.
Still Mom's Favorite