I grew up without a brother.
All my life, there was no one to play with, no one to struggle with and alongside, no one to stand up for me, no one to protect me, no one to protect, no one to reflect, sharpen, define what being male-identified was about.
All my life, there was no brother such as this for me.
That is not the case today however.
In addition to two half-brothers I would enter into relationship with only in the last decade, I gained a brother—Konrad Ribeiro, or K as the family calls him—through marriage. A few years ago, one of my sisters met and then married a remarkable man who for all intents and purposes has become that brother—by law and in heart—I always desired for my entire life.
From the desert to the dance floor to #frugs, we recreate and play.
Through ideas, projects, and my musings on the world and life and action, he struggles with me and my ideas. My work has improved having been filtered through his unique lens.
On multiple occasions, he has gone the extra mile to show up for and support me, stand beside me, and protect me.
K reflects, sharpens, defines what it means to be male-identified and yet also wholly balanced between and along dimensions of the sacred masculine and feminine.
In the short time we have known each other, my relationship with K is characterized by so many notable moments, musings I had carefully collected for this post to be published on this day in the first version written on but not backed up from my recently stolen computer. With great chagrin, I nonetheless release those recollections (including but not limited to our conversation on top of a camper looking over into Black Rock City, when he showed up for the Gender Summit at Glide and then for EKKLĒSIA and dancing until 4a, when he invited me to be a part of his wedding and when he stood beside us at mine, and on and on) to the universe to recall on another occasion.
But here’s the singular experience with my brother K that sums up who he is to me.
Having retired from my corporate gig in July 2014, I found myself eight months later discerning whether my call would actually lead me to Berkeley for seminary. As my future husband and I were working through what such a move would mean for us, I was talking often with my sister Jenn, whom K was now seriously in a relationship with. Naturally, she was sharing the heart of my conversations with her most significant other as one does. Loving her as deeply as he did meant that he was coming to love and care for me as well. [This behavior, I know from experience, is not often the case with “in-laws.”] One particular day in March, she emailed him a blog I had written after visiting the seminary. Her framing to him was thus:
Not sure if you saw T’s latest blog post. He’s (finally, I think) at a pivotal point in his quest to leave Texas and start his life anew. I am beginning to believe his move to the west coast could actually happen. ….He’s getting out of his comfort zone and facing things head on more than he ever has before. This is something. Below is what I wrote to him after reading the post. Would enjoy hearing your thoughts on it after reading it as well. Although we most likely will have similar responses based on our shared outlook of life, our expressions of those thoughts may differ. You being a friend to Todd, and me being his sister. Let me know what you think about the post.
His clarion response was swift and minced zero words. It would characterize the depth of relationship we experience today.
That is the brother I always hoped for but never in my wildest dreams imagined would stand for and beside and with me. Telling me the straight truth, pushing me,“sharpening one another,” as the ancient text says, “as iron sharpens iron,” being a powerful agent of the very light that obliterates darkness—light that our hearts share and inform who we are and how we walk in the world.
In that email and in many conversations and messages since—proclaimed on desert floors and shouted on packed dance floors where we stood chest-to-chest and cried—this forever-brother-of-mine tells me the truth.
And he sees me.
So today, K, as we celebrate the anniversary of your birth, I want you to know just how deeply I love you and how grateful I am that the Universe destined us to be brothers, friends, comrades so that I might be exposed to your great light, your power, your unadulterated joy.
I am a better human because you are my brother.