My cousin Brad is a homosexual, always has been, since that’s how it works. Immediately after graduating from High School, he fled to Iowa where he worked a series of unglamorous jobs, but everyone in the extended family was very happy for him because he left his screwed-up homelife and never looked back. I haven’t actually seen him in over a decade, but remember him fondly because he was the cousin who was closest in age to me, and we used to have a lot of fun together.

At my brother’s high school graduation party, I was looking for any excuse in the world to not be there, so I volunteered to drive out to the Pamida and pick up film for my mother’s camera. My cousin Sara chose to ride along with me and about midway on our journey asked, “Do you think Brad is gay?”

“Who’s Brad?” I asked.

“Brad, our cousin, Bradley, do you think he’s gay?”

I pondered this for a bit, but all I could think up to say was, “I really haven’t thought about Brad in years. I know he used to be a janitor. Do you think he’s gay? What are you basing this on?”

“Well, I was just talking to his grandmother, and she kept going on about Brad and his “roommate”, and how well they get along, and what a nice boy he is, and how they’ve lived together for 4 years now…”

A couple years later, my brother saw Brad and his roommate at Brad’s sister’s wedding, and erased all doubt, “Brad is a gay man, and a little bit fabulous. Also, he asked about you, said you were sassy.”

It seemed to me like the entire family must have figured this out, but Midwestern Lutherans can turn a blind eye to almost anything that seems out of the usual. Brad’s roommate is from a small town close to where my parents live, and last time the two of them were visiting, Brad stopped by to say hi to my mother.

“He has grown up to be the nicest young man.” my mother gushed on the phone one night, “Especially considering what he grew up with. He is thoughtful, and polite, and I’m pretty sure he’s gay.”

She said this in a somewhat hushed tone, like maybe I didn’t know, or she shouldn’t say it out loud because that would make it real.

“Brad is gay, Mom, everyone knows that.” There was an awkward moment of silence and just to make sure she knew that this was not a bad thing I threw in, “and good for him!”

“Yes, he’s a good kid.” she admitted, “I really do like him.”

Now Brad and his roommate have purchased a home together, and Brad has made the career change to flight attendant. His grandmother could not be prouder, but still doesn’t have a clue.

Last weekend was the annual family reunion. I was unable to attend (and no one even offered to fly me out for it), but I guess fun was had by all. My mother’s cousin Mark was there, with a “friend”. Mark always brings a “friend” to family events such as these, and he has a penchant for short-shorts and tank tops with gold chains. Of course, no one seems to have figured that one out yet.

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