Gender dilemma

I AM 25 and my brother is 14. Because of the 11-year gap between us, I played a part in bringing him up.

Our parents are wonderful people and our older brother is a sweet guy.

My little brother is closer to me and mum, than to our father and older brother. Everything was going smoothly in our family until I discovered that he had accessed 18 sex websites, since the time he was 12. I didn't make a big deal of this as I understand it's normal - part of the hormonal changes.

Now two years later, I've found out that he is interested in those of a similar gender. I came to know about this through his Facebook shoutouts, and his comments in other people's profiles.

Without any hesitation, I confronted my brother and warned him that it is not healthy to be gay, based on the family and social background we grew up in.

He admitted to being gay but promised that he would change himself. I didn't tell our parents or older brother about this matter. I was afraid that it would affect my parents' health.

I thought my little brother would keep his promise. But recently, we received a call from his school teacher, who said he had played truant.

As I know what he is up to, I'm very worried. Unwelcome thoughts are going through my mind.

I have no idea how to handle this issue. I'm definitely not telling mum or dad as I don't want them to get upset. I've told my elder brother but both of us are clueless about how to manage this problem.

Little Boy Lost

ALTHOUGH you love your kid brother very much and wanted to steer him towards the right path, warning him against homosexuality was not the wisest thing to do.

When a person feels lost and confused, he needs love and support. Dire warnings, guilt trips and stern advice will drive only him away from you emotionally. He will hide behind deceit and lies to avoid confrontation and showdown.

He knows that as his sister, you love and care about him. But at this point of his young life, he needs to find out the truth about his sexual orientation. Slamming a door in his face will force him to seek solace and understanding outside the family circle.

There is no need to tell your parents anything unless your brother decides to do so. Respect him as an individual, do not patronise him or take matters into your hands because he is your little brother. Gays are not abnormal people, just different.

Talk to him and guide him through this period of teenage angst. Let him know that nothing can shock you because of your love for him. Family support is important especially now that he is playing truant and showing signs of rebelling against the system of expectations and proper behaviour.

Be there for your brother. No matter who he chooses to love, he will always be the kid you love and want to protect from harm and hurt.