Monday, December 05, 2005

My Brother Exposed

I've exposed myself now its time to expose my family. Last Christmas Brad and I went to Brooklyn to spend the holidays with my family there. My mother is a teacher at a high school in Brooklyn. During the school year my dad and her live in the garden level apartment of an old brownstone in the historic Ft. Greene district of brooklyn owned by my brother and his partner. When school lets out they escape to Scottsdale, AZ for the summer. Trust me the dryness is much better than the humidity.

My brother, Paul, and his partner, Allen, have been together since I was about six or seven years old. That would make them at about 18 years now. Take that Joe.My.God.! My brother is a lighting designer and his partner is a set designer. They have worked on numerous broadway plays, NYC Operas, soap operas (the few that are still filmed in NYC), and commercial displays.

Because they do production design they both have knowledge of how things ought to look according to period. When they bought their house in 1998 it was a wreck. The stairway was falling off the wall. The kitchen was tiny and bathed in the tasteless elegance of the 1970s and many of the home's historic features had been covered up by poor design trends. They are both extremely talented individuals and they now live in a world of unparalleled beauty.


Although their house is not what I would call comfortable or my taste whenever I visit I am in awe of how amazingly elegant their home is. This is my favorite room in their home, the dining room. The mirror is a restored antique from the ante bellum period of which the home was built. Let me just say that everything in this room is of the period that the home was built. The fireplace was made to their specifications. The table and chairs they acquired at an auction in Georgia and were from a plantation home. The wallpaper was custom designed by a friend of Allen's who does wallpaper for theatrical productions. The chandelier was a piece of junk when they bought it but they had it professionally restored.
Wait there's more. Nothing in their house is fake. The garland that you see on the fireplace and the chandelier for the holidays is a string of cranberries that Allen made. The oranges that you see in a crystal bowl on the top of mantle were also hand studded with cloves by Allen. All of the pine garlands that you see are also real. They have such an acute attention to detail that they make Martha Stewart look like a country yokel.

Here are some other photos of their kitchen which is equally impressive. Paul is on the left, Allen in the middle, and my mom is making fresh cranberry sauce. Jellied cranberry sauce in the shape of a can in my brother's kitchen?! NEVER!! Did I mention that he's an accomplished chef as well? They have all the latest modern amenities but have managed to hide them very well.
Being that my brother is so many years older than I am (forty years older than me) I don't have that much of a relationship with him. The year that I came out to my family I spent the holidays in NY, the house had not been finished this much yet. When my dad picked me up from the airport he told me that my brother was upset that I had never spoke to him about my sexuality or my relationship with Brad. I guess he wanted to be there for me but I honestly never knew. That year he and I trimmed his tree together and I was nervous as hell. I was nervous firstly because I wanted to be a good assistant with the decorating. Secondly I was nervous because I so desperately wanted to say something to him about Brad, about my sexuality, and how I was touched that he cared. I didn't say a word to him and we trimmed the tree in utter silence.

Last year he gave Brad and I tickets to see Twelve Angry Men on broadway. He and Allen were the head lighting and set designers respectively. The production had a star studded cast and the sets and lighting were phenomenal. I was so proud of the both of them that I was anxious to see them the next morning after the show and tell them how beautiful their work was. I did but I couldn't possibly express in words to him that I was so proud of his and Allen's work that it brought me to the verge of tears.

My brother is a tempermental provincial New Yorker who thinks that everything outside the city is the hinterlands. My mother is always getting on my case to call him and to have more of a relationship with him. I think in the coming year I'm going to make an attempt to do just that.

I didn't intend this post to be so long or go in the direction it did.


Blogger Sheri said...

I'm sorry I did not find my way to your blog sooner. I arrived via Scotty and am very impressed. Wow - your brothers house is fabulous. What talent they both have.

I'm going to link you if that's ok.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Sheri, Of course you can link to me. Thanks for letting me know. I'm going to check your site out now too.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Spider said...

All I can say is WOW!

8:21 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Not my style either, Adam, but you cant help but be impressed by the work they've done -- true talent.

Glad you decided to invest some time in relationship, you'll probably find the age difference isn't much of a barrier.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Wow, their house is magnificent. I am so in love with it.

Don't let hesitation stop you from having a relationship with your older brother. I think it's great that you have a gay brother to relate to :)

9:54 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

The house is quite impressive...and not my style either. And how awesome is it that you have a place to stay in NYC!!! All my friends who lived there moved away to other cities. Take time to rebuild that relationship. I'm rebuilding my relationship with my little brother....and I'm glad we did. We're closer than we ever have been before.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Nice house!! It is TOTALLY my style. Maybe someday I will have that. You should definitely reach out to your brother. I only have one brother and he is extremely red neck straight. So much he is just missing the gun and rack in his pick-up truck. I do talk to him thou, but we share absolutely nothing in common. But we respect each other and our lives.

10:44 AM  
Blogger tim said...

Okay, loves loves loves the house. And the kitchen!!!! I would sleep in that kitchen. Oh, and as per Joe.My.God, I kinda resent the fact that he thinks we all want to cheat, have cheated, or will cheat on our partners. Wow, painful.

11:09 AM  
Blogger GayProf said...

Wow, Adam, your brother's house looks like a museum (in a good way). Still, your living room seemed more comfortable to me.

We all love Joe.My.God, but I have to say his post on commitment left me a bit blue. Thanks for a tad bit of counter narrative.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Knute123 said...

Great pictures Adam! I've never seen Paul's place before, and it's gorgeous.

You're such a good brother for trying to bridge the gap a bit. Like you said, put the ball in his court and see how he responds. You two probably have the same fears being closer to each other.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I'd be willing to bet that the reason your brother and his partner are still together after 18 years is that they have processed through the illusory reward but very real repression of monogamy. Are you close enough to ask them? Are you certain you'd get a truthful answer? Can I ask them myself? They're local, I don't mind calling.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Joe thats ok. Its probably because my parents, who have been married for forty five years, instilled and demonstrated to each one of their children that marriage is not always easy, it takes work, its about two people not individuals, and isnt for those that have weak constitutions.

10:40 PM  
Blogger . said... I am embarrased at my little picures of my falling down house. We try! :) Interesting that both you and your brother were gay. How many siblings do you ahve?

11:36 PM  
Anonymous dolittlemd said...

Paul & Allen's home is beautiful. Lovely to see what their hard work into fruition. I hope you do strengthen your relationship with your brother. It's an important part of your life.

Send my love to the parents! I'm in the mood for some *good* fried rice :P

1:36 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

GayProf- What does "committment" have to do with monogamy? Do you honestly believe that non-monogamous couples are not committed to each other?

None of you are seeming to consider the larger question, which is why are you so convinced that monogamy is inherently better? Cheating or the desire to cheat or the fear of being cheating on, is the number one stressor on relationships, resulting in fights, lying, dangerous sexual behavior and even sometimes (not unimportantly), violence.

This is why the longest and most successful gay relationships I've ever known, in my 29 years of being out, are the non-monogamous ones. Not one single exception in the hundreds of couples I've known. If you do not believe this then a) you are too young or too new to gay culture to have witnessed it personally, or b) you live in a relatively small town where options are limited anyway.

If monogamy is what you need and you and your partner agree to it, fabulous. But you aren't better, you didn't achieve anything, and you certainly have no statisical probability of having extended the duration of your relationship.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Jesus Joseph and Mary Joe! Your experiences are not the ultimate final word in gay experiences. Tell your tales but don't think for one minute that I feel bad that I'm missing out on your life. I've been more than satisfied with mine and I do not feel a need to model myself after you. Your sweeping generalizations and ivory tower philosophy on gay culture are short sighted. People exist outside of New York and our experiences are just as valid as yours. It is insulting that you use such pejorative statements so as to marginalize those of us that don't live in your sphere of consciousness. If we are happy then that is all that matters so why must you continue to tell us that we are deluded?

Furthermore I don't wear my monogamy on my sleeve so as to say that its "better" than sticking one's dick in every wet hole that passes them by. If thats what makes you happy then great! I'm not being the judgemental one here.

10:24 AM  
Blogger jjd said...

hey joe, come back to my blog, why'd you leave? Did I frighten you off? :-0


ps - sorry for the shameless self promotion adam. Your brother's house is GORGEOUS. Not my style because I couldn't AFFORD for that to be my style, but really, quite beautiful. Does he accept strange bloggers for overnight visits? :>

10:49 AM  
Blogger jjd said...

Joe writes:

-If monogamy is what you need and you and your partner agree to it, fabulous. But you aren't better, you didn't achieve anything, and you certainly have no statisical probability of having extended the duration of your relationship.
as opposed to non-monogamous people? It seems that's your implication? How are non-monogamous relationships better, achieving more or extending the duration of their relationship?

I do disagree that you didn't achieve anything by staying monogamous. I say this because over time, most everyone in a relationship is tempted to wander, to look, to wonder. Resisting temptation is a testament to something, just like cutting off an ear and mailing it to your lover is a testament to something. A tangible expression of love. Self-denial or repression of emotion (in this case carnal desire) does mean "something". I'm not saying its BETTER, but it IS something.

ps - your logic is observationally based. "In your 29 years of being out there" Deductive logic is the weakest, most uncredible basis for drawing a conclusion. If I observe 20 black birds in my 20 years of looking at birds, does that mean all birds are black?

11:22 AM  
Blogger GayProf said...

Just a note of clarification:

Sorry, Joe, I didn’t mean to conflate “commitment” and “monogamy.” I think everyone should be able to negotiate their own relationships regardless of the pressures of family/church/society/media, etc. Without doubt, I believe that people can be committed to each other and be in a non-monogamous relationship. Nor do I think that monogamy implies some form of superiority over other people.

So, I think that it comes down to what the two (or more) people in a relationship think they mean by love and commitment. For me, I had expectations about commitment that included monogamy, but also included making each other the major priority in our life. In the end, I think that the ex’s decision not to honor the latter hurts more than the former (for me).

So, Joe, I am not sure I technically disagree with you. Rather, I think it is the realization that your are probably right that made me blue. Despite all of my hopes of shaking off socially constructed assumptions about love and relationships, in the end I had misguidedly hoped for commitment and monogamy.

12:55 PM  
Blogger farmboyz said...

Not too long. I read every word. Let us know the next time you are in Brooklyn

6:39 AM  

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