My brother is my hero, the one I look to for help and the one that is my constant. Except for silly phases when we were younger he has always been that for me.

When I was choosing universities I didn’t tell him but the reason I chose London was because he was living there and I wanted to be closer to him. I wanted the independence of being so far away from home, my friends and family, but I wanted that relationship with him where I could hang out with him and be his friend.

We would see each other every week or two, we would hang out, get drinks, go for coffee or just chill at his house. These were some of my favourite times in university.

In my third year of uni he went completely radio silent on me, he wouldn’t return my texts or calls. When he did respond he would just say I’m busy I can’t hang out and whatever else, this went on for about 2 or 3 months. I got so upset about this I called my best friend and told her he was shutting me out and I didn’t know why. I thought it was something I’d done or he just didn’t enjoy spending time with me.

One day I got a call from him asking if could we meet. Of course, although I was angry with him, I jumped at the chance to see him and make sure he was okay. I remember every detail of the day, we met in Starbucks and he went to the counter to get our drinks. He was pale and jittery. He came to the table, put the drinks down and told me he had something to tell me. I thought he was seriously ill or was in trouble with money and my heart sank. It took him a while to say it, “I’m gay.” I was in shock, I’d met his girlfriend, I’d seen him make out with random girls in bars. He asked me if I hated him, I stuttered yes because I didn’t quite hear him, and as soon as he repeated it I told him of course I didn’t.

I’m not good with words, as you can see by my writing here (very dyslexic). We spoke more about his struggle and why he hadn’t told me before then. I promised to keep his secret from our parents for as long as he needed.

We left and I got on the tube and for the first and only time I cried in public. I didn’t cry because my brother was gay, I cried because I could have lost him. He chose to stay, but he could of chose otherwise because of the fear and because he had friends that walked away because of who he chose to love. I sat on the tube and I wrote him a text to tell him how proud of him I was, and how much I adored him and how that would never change. That I was here for him no matter what.

A week later I got my biggest tattoo thus far in tribute to him. It has a little girl and boy holding hands with the words ‘forever my brother, always my friend’ written. I promised to stick with him no matter what and I’ve kept to that promise. The year later when he told me he wanted to tell our parents, I was there. I packed a bag incase it went badly in determination I would leave with him and follow him wherever he went. Of course my parents opened their arms to him and showed him more love than I could possibly hope for, for him.

I now have who I refer to as the best brother in-law in the world, even though they refuse to get married and my brother is happy and healthy. Love is stronger than what society thinks it shouldn’t look like, it’s bigger than what job you have, what car you own, if you have kids or not. Don’t let society show you what success is and what love looks like.

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Story submitted by Kirsty.

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