When it comes to the movement, as it has been dubbed, we forget and often times leave out our allies. We also forget when we come out that it’s not just us but our families that go through the crap that we do, especially if you live in a rural area like I did growing up. It’s been said that having a gay boy in a country family is like having a flute at a honky tonk. Hi, I’m that flute, I’m also the oldest of 3 boys.

For those of you that don't know I have two younger brothers. Levi is 20 and Ethan just turned 18; I sit at the top at 22. We were all raised in a small farm town in Southern Ohio. Levi is attending trade school in Orlando and Ethan is currently a senior in Criminal Justice at the local vocational school. Ethan and I growing up never saw eye to eye on the gay thing. He was your typical country boy who was not a fan of the queers. I was 14 when I came out which made him 10. We grew up in the land where John Deer and flannel rein supreme so being gay was, and still is, a big deal. As my younger brother he had to put up with as much, if not more, shit from the other kids at school than I did. He had to hear the kids making fun of me, he got made fun for having a gay older brother, and a time or two to fit in he joined in with the rest of crowd and poked fun at the school fag.

Over the years we have talked about my being gay and what that means but I never thought something like what I’m about to share would happen. When I was talking with my mom the other day she told me of an altercation Ethan was in at school.

Mom: hey just thought you might be interested Ethan got in a fight today at school.
He stood up to some kid making fun of a gay guy at school.
Me: Really?
Mom: Yep. He even brought you up. One thing he told the kid was that Dakota and any other gay guy would be more of a "man" than he ever would. They have to take crap every day and they don't let stupid people get them down - they let it stir them to action to try to make the world better. He said "my oldest brother is gay...and if he had a mind too he could snap your ignorant little neck” He ended up throwing a milk carton at Ethan as he was walking away and then jumped on his back.Apparently Ethan threw him over his shoulder and penned him. Till the teachers got there the kid is getting suspended and possibly expelled...they have a new principal and they have a zero tolerance policy for harassment..I'm guessing you've had a bit of an influence on your younger brother there, dude.
Me: Sounds like it. Tell Ethan, I’m really proud of him. REALLY Proud.

I never thought I would see the day when my baby brother would turn around to be my biggest ally. When I called him to talk to him about it he said "I learned that being gay doesn't change who a person is at all." For him to stand up like that meant the world to me this was my brother and we were on the same page again. I know that back when I was a young budding queer kid to have someone stand up for me, like my brother who is a member of the football team and all around good ol’ boy, would have made me feel like I had someone in my corner and not so alone. I know that it was not only the kid that my brother was standing up for but for those who heard him, either at the scene or by word of mouth, would feel that maybe it was okay to come out and be who you are.

At the end of day I still don’t get the world I grew up in as it pertains to gender roles and the like. I still don’t understand how I came out, relatively, unscathed.

One thing I do know for certain is that we don't give our allies enough praise or recognition for what they have to go through. For my brothers it was a small town middle and high school being the labeled "the gay guys little brother" and taunted by those who did not like me just because I was gay. Our male allies have their sexuality questioned all the time and our female allies get labeled just another angry woman.

This is for all the allies out there, thanks. I appreciate you for standing up in ways that only you can and letting your voice be heard. I want to encourage all of you out there to take some time and honestly thank our allies for standing beside us and with us on the front lines. Thanks for moving our movement forward because without you, we may not be where we are today.

So, thanks Ethan, I love you bro.

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