Omar Naseef, regular contributor to Huffington Post and an American Muslim
According to my brother, my nephew (from my brother) told my niece (from my sister) that when he grows up he wants to be like me. She replied incredulously, “You want to be gay?”
When I first heard the story, it broke my heart in so many ways, not least of which is why my niece sees me that way and what it says about how others will perceive and interact with me.
My nephew doesn’t know that I’m gay, and from everything he’s been taught, being gay is a terrible thing. So he got angry on my behalf and asked her why she’d say something like that about her (and his) uncle. That’s another reason my heart broke ― that my nephew will see me differently because of this.
As my brother relayed the conversation to me, he noted that he had to figure out how to spin the conversation to his son so that his son would come away thinking that my niece wasn’t being literal. It was yet another reminder of the shame that my family insists upon projecting onto me. In my adulthood, I’ve always tried to be loving to my brother and supportive in tangible ways.
Why is my same-sex attraction so much more important to him than all the ways I’ve tried to be a good brother to him? Why isn’t he proud of my goodness rather than ashamed of what others might say or think? It hurts that he takes me for granted, and it hurts that he is so judgmental. It also hurts to know that his son, who I’ve observed is loving and gentle and kind, will be raised to be less compassionate than he might naturally be inclined to be.
I feel honored that my nephew wants to be like me. It feels like an affirmation from God, because though I’ve tried to be a positive influence in his life, I have no idea what impact I’m making on him. To hear that he looks up to me is an honor. I hope it’s because I’m worthy. I hope it’s because I show him love and affection. I hope it’s because I make his life better. I hope it’s because I try to support him in his dreams and show him that he can be so much more than even he might imagine and definitely more than I am now. Read more via HuffPost