Being the youngest of three siblings–my sisters are ten years older than me–and being a boy, I hit the ground running in my family. My dad was the guy who showed up at dinner time to say grace and mum always just looked stunning. My parents never bothered to teach me right from wrong, as it was not needed–my sisters took care of that. Retrospectively I think the girls were just playing house, and my parents were too exhausted from raising the sisters from hell to bother with me being taught how to grow up to be a real man. I don’t think nurture prevails over nature, but it might just have tipped my scale.
My oldest sister went off to study Japanese languages and culture in Leiden, a relatively big city in the west of the country, and I managed to persuade her that it would be fun if I stayed at her place during all school holidays.
I remember one day when I was 13 and she was 23, we were sitting in her worn down room in the center of Leiden, and the scent of Yves Saint Laurent opium was overly represented, and still she lit an incense stick (patchouli). She told me she was a lesbian, and that I had to figure out a way to deal with it. She sounded so angry and bitter, and most probably expected me to run off scared, but I didn’t. I came out to her that same moment, or so I like to think I did at that moment, even if I didn’t say it out loud. But since that moment in May, 1986, I gained myself a sister in stead of a surrogate mom, and a confidence that lasts until this day. I’m unsure if she fully appreciates that her coming out to me paved the way for me to be who I am today, and that I owe her my eternal gratitude. I should probably tell her that, with actual words. My sister, now 46 years old, is a hero. A groundbreaking, inspiring, fantastic, way-paving, amazing hero. Our parents seem to agree, even our dull heterosexual “caught in the middle” sister thinks so. Thank you, Sister, for being my sister in all ways imaginable.