Wedding Woes

My 'converted' brother is getting married and I think it's a mistake.

Dear Prudence,
My younger brother and I (he’s 28, I’m 30) were raised in an extremely conservative evangelical household. When he was 18, my brother tearfully confessed to me and my parents that he is gay. I told him I would support him no matter what, but my parents made him listen to lectures about how being gay is a sin and how he could change if he really tried, and sent him to a “conversion therapy” camp. Since then, he has gone out with a series of young women and is planning on proposing to his current girlfriend. He appears happy on the surface, but to me, he seems broken and deflated, and I see no real joy in his relationships. It breaks my heart to see him so miserable. I’ve always tried to counter my parents’ preaching, but I’m worried it’s too late. She doesn’t know that he’s gay—my brother told me he’s never told her. Since all my pleas have fallen on deaf ears, I am wondering if you can tell me: Should I say something to his girlfriend? I am afraid that if he goes through with this proposal they will both be unhappy. I think telling his girlfriend about his confession might be the only way to save them.

—Saving the Beard

Re: My 'converted' brother is getting married and I think it's a mistake.

  • This just breaks my heart :(
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  • This is so sad. Sad for Brother and sad for his fiancé. I would try to take my brother out, maybe on a weekend trip, just to hang out, feel out the situation, and talk. I would have to tactfully but directly ask what he was feeling/thinking and state my concerns that it is not fair to FSIL if he is lying to her. He probably loves her so encouraging him to be honest to her as to not to hurt her more or waste her time might help draw out his true feelings.
  • I wouldn't bring it up to the FSIL.  I would start by having a really calm and supportive conversation with my brother.  Not so much to say "don't do it" but to point out how he has changed and how it makes me feel to see him so unhappy...etc.  Like leviossa said, I would end it on a supportive "I love you no matter what" way.  I admit it would be difficult to watch but some people need to take their own journey's in life.

    I would also encourage him to seek non-religious counseling before getting married.  Maybe someone outside the family would be helpful in guiding him along this path he on and provide him with support and tools beyond what his sibling can.

    If I was close enough to the FSIL that I felt she was my own sister, I would encourage her to talk to her potential FI about his changes in behavior.  But I wouldn't outright say, "Your BF came out as gay before you met, but he went to conversion therapy so he's just pretending to please his parents!" 

  • Yeah I definitely wouldn't bring it up to the fiance, but she should have a heart to heart talk with her brother. 

    And their parents are assholes. 
  • DrillSergeantCatDrillSergeantCat Oklahoma City, OK
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    I wouldn't talk to the fiancee. I'd talk to the brother, try to get him to be who he really is, and then support whatever decision he makes and be there for him if shit hits the fan in the future.
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    This is heartbreaking....and not at all what I saw coming.

    While I feel for the FSIL, it's not on the sister to out her brother - full stop.  She needs to be open and honest with her brother and tell him he has at least one family member in his corner regardless of this marriage.  And then do it.  If and when he realizes he can't live in the closet anymore, he will need friends.
  • There are a ton of ways for her to approach the subject without even going into the whole Gay aspect.  Chances are, if she sticks to the lack of joy and living his authentic self regardless of the parents, she'll get to the result and he won't resent the discussion.
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