There are countless ways to avoid coming out to someone if you don't feel comfortable, and no one should ever feel forced to discuss their sexuality if they're not ready to. One way, apparently, is to panic and just blurt out something totally made up.
That "panic and blurt" response has led to what must be one of the most infuriatingly awkward situations in one woman's life. Her gay cousin (who is essentially her brother, more on that later) was asked directly about his sexuality. He wasn't comfortable discussing it, panicked, and rather than just declining to talk about it or confirming that he was gay, he lied and told the person he was having an incestuous affair with her.
Word got around. Things got "intense."
By the time the story was over, she wasn't sure if she was the a$hole in the situation or not, so she turned to Reddit to get their thoughts on how she handled things in the aftermath of that moment of panic.
"This happened to me like 8 months ago but has been weighing on me. I've always been a lurker here, so I made an account to see what others think."
"My brother Tim isn't technically my brother. He's my cousin. My parents became his guardians when he was 3 then eventually adopted him. He and I are 4 months apart in age and we grew up very close. We were best friends. He's gay and felt comfortable coming out to me when we were 12-ish, our parents a little while later and then to everyone on his 16th birthday."
"Fast forward to last year. His biological father, Ray. reached out to him and they met for lunch after not seeing or talking for 25+ years. When I asked Tim how it went, he didn't want to talk about it. So I let it go, figuring he would open up when he was ready."
"Within a week, I started hearing from family that my brother told Ray that he and I had been having an elicit affair for years. After asking Tim about it, he said Ray asked him if he was gay and he panicked - that's the lie he blurted out to try to hide being gay for some reason."
"Somehow the lie made it to our friends. They were horrified and angry and wanted to know if it was true. I explained to them what happened with Ray and why Tim said that. They got it and felt bad, and apologized for coming at me so aggressively."
"Tim was furious that I told them the truth and said I was the "most selfish, evil person" for telling them his "private story."
Mind you, I didn't out him to my friends. They already knew he was gay. The "private story" (his phrase, not mine) was that I told them about the conversation he had with his biological dad. He said I should have told them it was a joke that didn't land or that his biological dad is crazy — which I didn't think of at the time, and I don't like lying to my friends.
"Our parents said they understood why I did it, but said I shouldn't have. I'm still upset he said the lie in the first place. AITA?"
The AITA subreddit works with a sort of voting system. The original poster (usually abbreviated as "OP") explains the situation from their perspective and then Reddit users vote about whether or not they were the one who was wrong.
People cast votes in the comments by using the following abbreviations:
- NTA - Not The A**hole
- YTA - You're The A**hole
- ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH - No A**holes Here
But before we even get to the votes and comments, let's address a few things we know you were thinking since Reddit asked them so much that OP had to make updates.
You wondered "Wait, how did everybody find out if he only told his biological father who he hasn't seen or spoken to in 25 years?"
"For how my friends found out about this, my parents have a large group of friends, and they've all known each other since they were in their early 20s or so. Ray was in that friend group."
"Some of my friends are the children of my parents' friends. Ray came back into town for the first time in a while and decided to reconnect. He told one of those friends and the lie spread down to one of my friends. So that's how they found out."
Now let's address those of you who read that and immediately went "Florida." Turns out, nope! (*sigh of relief from Floridians*)
"I'm a girl, sorry that wasn't clear. Also, we live in a pretty liberal area in the northeast US, not the south."
People hit the comments section hard and fast. The whole story just felt wrong for a lot of folks.
"NTA. I am confused why he thought that having an illicit affair with a blood relative is better than saying he is gay. And it's not like you outed him to his dad. You said that he came out to everyone at 16- so your friends that thought you were having an affair with him know he is gay. If it ended up getting back to his Dad, that's unfortunate-but him involving you in his lie is not "his private story." - Lahzerban
"He roped you into it when he started the lie about you two being in a romantic relationship, this lie made you look bad and would've affected you horribly and ruined your relationships with others if you went along with it. You had every right to do that, how can incest be worse than being gay" - TheGreatAnxiety
"NTA- if he was going to lie why couldn't he just say he had a girlfriend? or that he was, y'know, just not gay? Why would he lie about sleeping with his cousin/sister?? That's so weird? And to call you an evil person because you don't want people to think you're sleeping with him? super weird!!" - SugaredSnickerdoodle
"NTA. I'm a lesbian. Usually in the LGBT community, outing someone is the number one most a-hole move you could make. However, this is one of the few times I think this was justified."
"His lie put you in the position of being painted as being in an incestuous relationship with your cousin who was raised with you as your brother. You didn't out him as revenge, all you did was tell the truth and clear your own name from his lie."
"He made a big mistake and ruined your reputation. He got caught, but instead of laying in his bed he wants to paint you as an a$hole." - phoenix25
"NTA. Your brother lies about an incestuous relationship and you're supposed to go along with it for his sake? Hell no. He should've come clean with what was a pointless lie to begin with." - emaji33
"NTA. It stopped being Tim's private story when he cast you as the villain in it without your knowledge and against your will." - wittiestphrase
"NTA! His lie could genuinely ruin your life if it got outside of your friend circle and even if it stayed in your friend circle. The truth was necessary to protect you from that."
"He could have just said he had a girlfriend and left it there if he HAD to lie, saying you were having an incestuous affair with him and dragging you into a life-ruining lie was way over the line and justified you clearing the air." - MaggieNetism
"NTA. It's not a private story because it involves you, AND it reflects poorly on BOTH of you. How is having a weird incestuous affair better than just admitting he's gay, which all of the family knows about and might get back to his biodad anyway? He doesn't get to start spreading rumors that involve you and then turn around and tell you not to set the record straight and defend yourself."
"If anyone's a selfish, evil person he is for wrapping you in a terrible lie and expecting you to go along with the reputation hit because it suits him. Why should you have to suffer with your friends and family thinking you fcked your cousin/brother to spare his feelings?" - atomseeker
"NTA. His fcked up "private" story included you and literally started rumours that you were in an incestuous relationship with your cousin/adopted brother."
"Being queer I can't even sympathize with him about panicking when being asked if he was gay. Out of all things why would he choose to say this, instead of just "no" if he was afraid of coming out? And even then are you the only girl in the village or something and there was no one else to pretend to be in a relationship with?"
"There's just so many wtf's about his story and personally I'd step back from him for a while.The fact your parents also somehow rather everyone think you're banging your cousin instead of defending yourself is also just wild." - whatthefrelll
As comments flooded in, OP did her best to answer the questions. Evidently Tim has a history of lying and causing trouble with his lies as well as some mental health struggles. He has been mean and malicious towards OP since she moved out of the home a few years ago. Tim did not move out. Instead, he opted to remain living at home with their parents - a home he has repeatedly told her she was no longer welcome in.
OP has lied to cover for Tim in his teen years before he was ready to be out, saying she had met his "girlfriend" or whatever else was needed to keep Tim protected. She, at first, believed he had just panicked and blurted something out. But after some digging, she is beginning to believe his lie was purposeful and malicious.
Tim allowed the lie to continue, and for their friend group to confront OP with yelling and disgust. He did nothing. She, while being yelled at, told the group that Tim made up the story to tell Ray. Tim has treated OP terribly and with intense anger since she told their friends he lied to his biological father, Ray.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that Ray resents the adoptive parents for raising Tim. As far as he is concerned, they "took" Tim from him for no reason. OP's mother, however, is Ray's sister and everyone is adamant that Tim was much better off with her than with Ray.
The confrontation between OP, Tim and their parents was intense. Their dad screamed about how absolutely awful Tim's lie makes them all look. Mom cried. Tim cried. In the end, the parents basically told OP it would have been better for her to tell their friends Tim was just kidding or that Ray was "crazy" because those things wouldn't have made Tim look bad or feel bad and all of this could have been avoided.
OP strongly disagreed, feeling like it wasn't her job to lie to all of their friends and family over Tim's bonkers story. Since then things have only gotten worse. OP no longer has a close relationship with her mother, who sided hard with Tim.
Tim sent an email early-on in this months-long saga in which he admitted the story was made-up, but then he spun the situation to make OP and their family look terrible to pretty much everyone. The situation has been ongoing for more than 8 months at this point. According to OP, she had not shown anyone the email because she assumed either the ridiculous story would die down, or Tim would eventually tell the truth.
After going through the comments, OP decided it was time to take action and clear her name. So she showed that email to the relevant people in her life. She also showed them some of the Reddit comments. She really wanted her family to understand how much it hurt her that they sided so hard with Tim and chastised her for telling the truth.
That sharing led to some much-needed conversations and revelations.
"I forwarded the email last night to most of our immediate family members, and some distant family and friends who are known to be big mouths. My BF and aunt also helped out by forwarding it. I sent it in full and unedited, which is relevant because in the email he also said mean things about other people. For example, calling someone fat, nastily referring to someone as infertile, and making fun of someone else for being poor, which is rich considering he pays his bills by going to the bank of mom & dad. There was a lot of outrage all around to say the least."
"Someone pointed out to me that they believe he has narcissistic personality disorder. I've done a lot of reading about that today and wow, yeah. He must."
"I also sent this thread to our parents. I wanted them to know how much their lack of support hurt me and our relationship, and that a lot of people on here commenting think they handled this situation horribly. Maybe they have a better understanding of this now since you're all objective strangers who don't have a dog in this race."
"Dad did say Tim needs to get his life together or else he'll end up just like Ray and that he wouldn't be around to watch it happen. He also said that he doesn't think Tim will ever give me a genuine apology since he's convinced he's right and we're all wrong. Mom is convinced he's suffering from mental illness. Apparently Tim has been behaving bizarrely lately and at first she thought quarantine was to blame, but after reading the email, she doesn't think he's "in his right mind". Could be, because he lost his job under weird circumstances last year. Even so, it may explain his behavior but it in no way shape or form excuses it."
If this is a mental health crisis, now that everyone has a full understanding of what is happening, maybe Tim can get the help he needs. If this is not, and is simply born of malice and jealousy, then we hope OP and their friends and family can begin to heal now that the full truth is out.