Please Feel Free to Keep Your Bullshit Apology

11 Oct

So, I was on Facebook (granted, I know that was my very first mistake) and I came across a homophobic comment posted by my youngest brother.

Back story: my little brother and I have the same dad but different moms. I don’t use the word “half-brother” because to me if feels like it somehow delegitimatizes our bond. Even though we grew up in different homes, we have a very strong history and have created many loving memories. Needless to say, I love my little brother very much. I am often saddened by the fact that we didn’t grow up in the same home. I think that maybe if we had, he wouldn’t put such dumb shit on a public forum like Facebook. Maybe, just maybe, he would think twice.

I wasn’t born in this country. English is not my first language. I wear a size twelve. I’m also a queer woman of color.  Clearly, I have had to develop thick skin. I’m used to seeing manifestations of intolerance everywhere – in public policy, society, at work, in the media … you get the picture. I am also very private and because of that keep my Facebook circle really small. The folks on my friends list are progressive and agree with me on the importance of silly things like social justice and equal rights. This is why this post hurt so terribly. I was being attacked on Facebook, but, most surprisingly, by my own brother. He knows that his sister is gay. It is no secret. He knows this. He also knows that his sister is smart, strong, opinionated, giving, caring,  and, most of all, human.

So why, why, why would my little brother post a homophobic comment? Why would he of ALL people promote hate and intolerance? I don’t have the answers. None of the ones I came up with seem to make much sense or make the situation any less painful.

After pulling it together, I sent my little brother a private text message asking him why he said those things and whether or not he thought those things applied to me, his gay sister.

We went back and forth for a bit. His responses were even more disheartening and basically along the lines of ‘but you’re different.” My all-time favorite response was, “If I offended you, my bad,” followed by a Facebook post of the music video “Sorry I Can’t Be Perfect.”

Really, homie?

Due to the fact that I am an educator (and I love him), I‘ve decided to use this as a teachable moment. In the future, I want him to have the proper tools when he messes up and needs to offer an apology. Feel free to use this in your own circles.

  • I want to apologize for what I said/did. I didn’t think about the power of language or how my words/actions can truly affect and sometimes hurt others. I love you and would never want to (unknowingly or purposefully) hurt you. I understand that it may take some time for you to forgive me, but I hope that you can find it in your heart to do so, because I care about you and the future of this relationship. I’m sorry.

So, little bro, this is what an actual apology looks like. You are now in your 20s and, by all accounts, a grown man. It’s about time you started acting like one.

If this offends you, then, my bad.

To everyone else, Happy National Coming Out Day!

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9 Responses to “Please Feel Free to Keep Your Bullshit Apology”

  1. Margaret Scarborough October 11, 2012 at 9:49 AM #

    I have a brother and if this happened to me, I would feel the same. I’m so sorry this happened to you, especially since it came from your brother. I hope he starts to see how he was wrong to try to hurt you. I know, for a fact, this kind of rancor can cause a permanent split.

  2. Tiffany October 11, 2012 at 10:21 AM #

    Ha! He dug deep with that video :-) Seriously though you wouldn’t believe how many times people have given me weak apologies and excuses after using a homophobic slur. My favorite so far has been, “I’m not talking about you so why are you getting so mad?” o_0 I’m sorry for being a decent human being that likes to treat people the way I want to be treated. Makes me wonder how they really feel underneath it all.

  3. March October 11, 2012 at 10:29 AM #

    that’s really hurtful. please take extra gentle care of yourself while you heal from this trauma. and your brother is blessed to have such a courageous and patient sister. thank you for sharing your story, and for living out and proud. happy national coming out day!

  4. wrenever October 11, 2012 at 10:51 AM #

    Amazing article and a fantastic example of a well worded and sincere apology. Thank you.

  5. Tameka October 11, 2012 at 11:52 AM #

    By all means please accept my apology on behalf of your brother. I’m sorry you had to endure this. People fail to realize words still hurt and they hurt even more from loved ones, than strangers. Just because you are different doesn’t mean you don’t feel the same as the next person. If you choose to be gay, then I accept it. I have family members who are gay and I accept them. Some people ask “Why” and my response is “A hemosexual relationship is no different than a heterosexual relationship. It is 2 people who choose to be together in a relationship, just the same sex. If someone told you, you were wrong about how you felt, how would you feel?”

    • Margaret Scarborough October 11, 2012 at 12:04 PM #

      People dont choose to be gay.

    • Anni October 11, 2012 at 7:02 PM #

      “If someone told you, you were wrong about how you felt, how would you feel?”

      I think that’s part of the problem. Everyone (although obviously to totally different degrees) gets told that how they feel is wrong in our society. The way you want to look is wrong, the people/food/life you want are wrong, the food you eat is wrong, the way you want to raise your kids is wrong. You don’t know what you want, but don’t worry we’ll tell you. And people are taught that the proper response to that is to accept it. To put aside their (wrong) desires and insert the right ones. And queerness says, no, I know what I want, or at least better than our social constructs do. People who don’t understand why someone would choose to live queer probably haven’t said no to the pressures in their life before. They probably can’t relate to that choice.

      PS: The choice I’m refering to is living queer, not being queer, the second of which I would agree is not a choice.

  6. justanotheropinion October 11, 2012 at 10:51 PM #

    Thank you for your honesty. YOU are comfortable with who you are and your sexuality – your brother is not. No matter his age, he has some growing up to do. His comment “but your different” speak volumns. Those are the same folks that like to point out when saying a racist joke “I’m not a racist, a guy/girl I hung with in college was black”. Huh, excuse me? Sadly, you will have to keep educating him. But there is hope in the fact that he see’s you as being a “positive queer” – it might help him realize that “queer” doesn’t mean not-normal or strange.

  7. Sharon Johnson October 12, 2012 at 12:56 AM #

    This inability or unwillingness to apologize is demonstrated over and over in our society from celebrities to politician to sport figures. You provided an excellent example of what an apology should include. Let’s hope your brother can accept your instruction.

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