Someone to look up to

Junior’s political opinions change in light of her brother coming out

Junior+Ashley+Davis+shares+how+her+brother+coming+out+changed+her+political+opinions+and+world+views.+Seeing+people+struggling+around+her+shaped+how+she+sees+the+world.

Photo by Ayla Dean

Junior Ashley Davis shares how her brother coming out changed her political opinions and world views. Seeing people struggling around her shaped how she sees the world.

Story by Ashley Davis, Staff Writer

Growing up my brother Matt and I clashed a lot. He was the perfect kid who was great at football and always had a kind-hearted girlfriend. He never missed an opportunity when it came to helping our grandparents with cooking and, most importantly, construction.

We weren’t close because we didn’t care about any of the same things. He wanted to improve my softball skills, and I wanted to make Youtube videos with my dogs. We spent a lot of time apart due to our parent’s divorce which took a toll on our bond. 

When Matt went off to college on a football scholarship, it seemed as though he’d changed more and more every visit. His southern accent became less prevalent, and he began to care more about the way people were treated. 

Everything changed when he brought his “roommate” to one of our annual summer vacations. My suspicions grew when I’d see them secretly hold hands and hug when nobody was looking. Finally, I built up the courage to ask my brother if he and his friend shared more than a home, and he told me not to tell our dad.

When my dad and family eventually found out, I heard their opinions on Matt’s sexuality behind closed doors. “But he doesn’t act gay,” they said. “I’ll always love him, but I won’t attend his wedding.” “I don’t care if he’s gay, but his boyfriend is too feminine.” 

Seeing the way Matt was treated by our relatives through their not so well hidden homophobia hurt, but it also helped us grow our relationship on shared understanding. Before, I hadn’t thought about the LGBT+ community, and now I cared about their treatment and rights.

He taught me about politics, especially when it came to gun laws around the time of the Parkland shooting. We spoke until the early morning hours about the ethics of the death penalty and the way we felt about abortion. 

Having a strong influence like Matt while growing up really helped me find who I am today. Politics is one of my passions, and I truly want to make a difference in the world. Matt and I are a lot alike now. We enjoy the same artists, movies, tv shows and politicians. It goes to show that someone doesn’t have to shove ideas down your throat in order for you to believe in something. Finding inspiration through watching someone be great, and allowing that to shape you, is true passion.

Matt finally became proud of himself the way I was so proud of him. I attended my first pride parade with Matt and his boyfriend in 2018. It was a complete culture shock because living in Texarkana makes it so hard to express yourself. People are expected to look and act a certain way due to compulsive heteronormativity, and other social standards rooted in the conservative nature of the south.

Last school year, there were rumors that adults called alumni homophobic slurs in a room full of young impressionable students without any repercussions. This goes to show that we have a lot of work to do as people to surpass small-town ideologies, along with our need to hold staff and students equally accountable for their oppressive behavior.