Whenever I hang out with Andy I feel like my blood pressure is going to explode. Sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself but when you are friends with someone and they are the brother of someone it takes a lot to say no. You can’t always be washing your hair after all. But as an open-minded pansexual man it takes a lot of strength to go for the weekend to see my bestie Jim’s bigoted brother who has a bigotry against anyone who isn’t a white heterosexual cisgender man. The fact that I’m slightly in love with Jim is the reason I’m sitting in the passenger seat of Jim’s car on a lovely sunny Friday afternoon making the hellish journey to see the bigot who doesn’t like to be called or thought of as a bigot. What a surprise! Most bigots don’t like to after all. It’s apparently his religion or whatever the latest excuse he can dig up is. Jim has 98FM on as we continue along.
“Andy’s new wife Alma will be there. She’s nice.”, Jim informs me.
“Cool.”, I reply although I’m secretly wondering if Alma is as evil as her new husband.
Jim seems to sense this.
“They have their beliefs …”
“Did I say they didn’t?”
“No but when Andy says things you get into it with him. He’s entitled to think what he wants. It’s freedom of speech.”
“Those old chestnuts. I’m entitled to think what I want too and last time I looked I had freedom of speech too. So if Jim wants to say something and I say something back to him, what’s the problem exactly?”
“But you could let it go.”
“Jim, I’m pansexual and normal-thinking. I couldn’t let it go. Anyway why are you trying to shut me up? Isn’t your brother 36? Don’t let Andy face any consequences sounds like he’s 2 and in a playschool.”
“He doesn’t mean it. He doesn’t understand.”
“As I said, is he 2? Of course he understands. Look I adore you Jim but you haven’t got some sympathising eejit in this car with you. I have no problem with him been heterosexual …”
“But that’s different.”
“How is it different?”
“Because … because it just is.”
“What a great answer? It just is.”
“Heterosexuality was thought of as the one true norm …”
“Well it no longer is. The sacred cow has been dismantled. Look I’m not going to have a row out of nowhere with him but if he says something I’m not going to baby him. I’m not in the habit of doing that with men ten years older than me.”
“But it’s his religion.”
“And it’s my sexuality. At the very least mine exists.”
“Oh my god Ryan.”
“Oh my god what exactly Jim? Does he know you kissed me twice?”
“They were once-offs.”
“I’m aware. And I’m fine with that. But he’s not more important than me.”
“I didn’t say he was.”
“Yeah, you kind of did.”
“Well he can say what he wants but if I challenge him then I’m a troublemaker. I would have thought when he unleashes his poison first that would mean he was the troublemaker.”
“Can’t you two just get along?”
“Not while you and him and Alma now are treating me like a second-class citizen?”
“What are you all treating me as then?”
“Ryan, you are been too much about this.”
“My point proven.”
“What do you mean?”
“If I’m been too much standing up to someone having a problem with my sexuality who I have no problem with their sexuality then what exactly would you be saying? Jim, you want me to make compromises to him. What else would you be thinking?”
“Don’t be pulling the sexuality card. You know I love you man.”
“The sexuality card? There’s another old chestnut. Should be a fun weekend.”
When we arrive Alma has tea and buns on the table for us. Andy comes in and gives each of us a hug. I can see in his eyes that he doesn’t see me as Ryan. He sees as pansexual Ryan. So for the hell of it in my head I see him as heterosexual Andy. By 6pm when the tea is over, Andy is talking to me about the Bible. He’s quoting things about homosexuality been a sin, women should be submissive and protests are wrong. He asks me what I think? almost with eyes that say he wants to help.
I don’t need your help thanks very much mate. But I think you need a lot of help.
“I think it’s all shit Andy.”
He looks hurt.
“But this is the Bible. Came from God …”
“But did it really? I mean I’m more thinking somebody who was rejected for sex or something by someone in a minority group went home and ranted and raved.”
“You need to bring God into your heart …”
“I used to be Catholic. I always believed God didn’t write it anyway because a good person wouldn’t. Now that I’ve looked into Science more I’m seriously worried what type of yolk wrote it.”
Well he wanted to know what I thought.
“God can save you …”
“I don’t want to be saved.”
“This is what God taught …”
“I don’t want to be saved by a bigot … non-earthly or earthly.”
“That is blasphemy! God is your saviour!”
His veins are bulging out of his neck.
“He ain’t mine.”
You want to save someone pal, go and save some endangered animals. Send petitions with me on the web or something. Stop trying to save people who don’t need to be saved.
He forces himself to relax. He goes back to the good Christian act.
“You might end up in hell.”, he says with a serious face.
Out of politeness I don’t laugh.
“I don’t believe in it. Or heaven or purgatory. I think they are just things to try and rule how people live.”
“So you have a problem with Catholics?”
“Dude I haven’t a problem with anyone of any religion or lack of religion. I have a problem with people who are prejudiced of any religion or lack of religion. My ex boyfriend Carl was a Catholic. Not him or his family who were also Catholic had any problem with anyone. It’s funny how some people who are Catholic do and some people don’t, ain’t it? Same with older people. Some do, some don’t. It’s sad really how everyone sometimes is tarnished with been prejudiced when they may not be because so many put up shields.”
“I’m not prejudiced. It’s the sin, not the sinner.”
“Do you want my opinion?”
“With prejudice the sin shows you who the sinner is. But do I think they go to hell? No, there’s no justice. We all end up the same. Bones and grains of dust. A group of insects nibbling at our clothes if we are buried. All there is is now.”
And you won’t take my now away from me.
“Are you in love with my brother?”
An unexpected question. He’s left God and rejoined the earthly world.
“He’s a good friend …”
“Have you been corrupting him?”
Corrupting? Is he serious?
“I haven’t fucked him if that’s what your asking.”
I’d remember that! By god I would!
“He’s a good young man …”
“And if he was with me he wouldn’t be?”
“He needs to be led to the right path.”
For five seconds I stare. The right path? For another five seconds I wonder if I’m in the presence of an evil man or a man who is very unwell. I decide he’s both.
“There’s no such thing. Everything’s the right path.”
“In these modern times things have gone all wrong …”
“You’ve lost your power to decide peoples’ lives, is it?”
“Since our parents died, little Jim is all I have.”
“Little Jim is a man of 25 well capable of making his own decisions. Is that what scares you?”
“He has confessed to having strong immoral feelings for you.”
Halle-fucking-lujah! I’m so on a shocked high that the old bigot’s words are barely audible.
“Well they ain’t immoral but does he?”
“You have been changing my brother. He used to be a wholesome man …”
“Andy, people fall in love, people like sex. He didn’t stand in the way of you and Alma, why are you trying to stop his happiness? I will make him happy if he wants me.”
And I fucking love him too. That’s why I’m sitting here with you you plonker!
“It wouldn’t be right. You both need to learn the right way …”
“No, you need to learn the right way. Educate yourself. Learn that there is people different than you and that’s ok. Stop hiding behind that goddamn book and destroying your brother’s life in addition. He loves you. He wants you to be a proper older brother, a proper fucking adult but you can’t bring yourself to be. Everytime you have a problem you blame God. Heck, I have more respect for God than you and I don’t even believe in him. I am going to ask Jim to marry me. Maybe he’ll refuse out of loyalty to you but I’ll ask him.”
A voice came from behind the wall.
“I wouldn’t refuse.”
I looked up to see Jim looking from behind the wall of the room. He looked terrified.
“That’s why you wanted us to get along?”, I found myself saying.
I turned to Andy.
“If you could find it in your heart to try and accept …”
“No, stop. Ryan you don’t need to do that for me. Andy, I’m bisexual and I am in love with Ryan. It would be nice if you were alright with it. But you don’t need to be. I have hiding who I am, denying it to myself because you told me it was wrong. But I can’t do it anymore.”
“He made you this way …”
“He didn’t make me anything. He just made me realise who I am. You and Alma aren’t more right than us. Or anyone of any sexuality. Just different sexualities. If you think yous’ are that’s problems yous’ need to deal with. In the meantime I’m marrying my boy if he’ll still have me after pulling him down here so often.”
I’d have you no matter what.
“Ah I suppose I’ll still have you.”, I said casually and Jim laughed.
He pulled me into his arms and kissed me. While Andy was still trying to pull the tired old Christian act of keeping us up in the house despite what he called the “immorality” of it all, we left before the night was out to start our future together. Ah maybe it was a good weekend after all.