My sister Nina came out of the closet this summer. She dropped the bomb via text message: “BTW, I’m gay.” After Nina sent the texts, she stonewalled us for two days (no pun intended). She turned her phone off. Smart girl. None of us had suspected, and we had two days to process. She didn’t hear any of our immediate reactions.
Let me tell you a little bit about the person Nina is. Nina wants to save the planet. When Nina was 15, she bought boxes of energy-saving lightbulbs and put them out on the street. She wrote “Free Lightbulbs” on the boxes, hoping people would take them and make their homes more energy efficient.
She wants nothing for Christmas. For years, it’s been a problem. Christmas comes around, Nina has no list, my Mom freaks out. My Mom vented about it the other day, “You can tell your sister, that when she says she wants nothing for Christmas, she is withholding her love. I get joy from validating her as my child and when she says she wants nothing for Christmas, she is depriving me of that joy. You can tell her her mother said that.” So what do we get Neen for Christmas? We donate to charities and tell her that we did so. “I don’t want anything! Buy some trees.”
For my birthday, she sent me $40 worth of Sprinkles Cupcakes even though she definitely couldn’t afford to. She bought my Dad vintage harmonicas for his birthday. She’s an entirely selfless person.
Nina refuses to buy clothes from department stores. “Do you know how much water is required to make a single T-shirt?” She buys most things used, but she waits a hell of a long time to buy anything at all. She wears her shoes until there are holes in them. She shops at thrift stores because buying something second-hand is much better for the environment.
She forces us to sit down in front of the computer and watch YouTube videos about consumerism and mass production. When she comes home from college, she turns the water heater down to save energy. This means colder baths and showers for us. Nina changed all of our bulbs out and the light is not the same, no matter what she says.
She’s a great artist. I don’t have a lot of her art, but some of her art is pictured.
She flies on a longboard.
Nina’s beautiful. She’s got a smile to die for, and she’s the spitting image of my Mom, a very pretty lady. My sister is sunshine. She’s hope. She’s inspiration embodied. And she’s fucking resilient. She is a gentle soul.
I’m the oldest, and a bit more of a mother-figure than a sister-figure. Nina and Kimmy will mock me, “Okay, Mom.” “Whatever you say, Mom.” But that’s how it is with the eldest. I’ve always been protective of my sisters. Worrying about their safety, wary of their choices. When Nina came out, I didn’t suspect it. I cried, but not why you’d think. I cried thinking about hate she would be confronted with. I thought of her being in put in harm’s way. I thought of the inequality she’d face.
When you think your sister is a better person than pretty much anyone you know, it’s hard to listen to the bigotry. I understand that those people just don’t understand. That they have their viewpoint and I have mine. But for someone to say that they can’t live in the same apartment complex as someone like my sister, because of who she is, the person she was born to be, that’s not easy to understand. Nina wouldn’t be upset at this person though. I’m the one who is upset.
We tend to think we all have more differences than we really do. Differences in age, race, skin color, gender, sexuality, economic status, and so on, serve to create this illusion that we’re all very different. But in fact, we are all very similar.