Sexcapades: A Late Pride Month Tribute to My Sister

In my quest to include the LGBTQ+ community in Sexcapades it dawned me that I should write about a lesbian icon that has impacted my life.

I wanted this to be posted for pride month which is the month of June but I’ve had terrible writer’s block. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to write a post for the LGBTQ+ community but it was hard finding the words to. I didn’t want to offend anyone nor did I want to perpetuate stereotypes.

My sister Justine is one of the two greatest sisters that I could have ever asked for. My sisters and I have travelled together through many lifetimes and I am forever grateful that they chose to be my sisters in this one. I’m sorry Grae but this post isn’t about you, but I have to show some love for my big sister. 

At 5 feet 3 inches, she is covered head-to-toe with tattoos. She has a full sleeve on both of her arms, full sleeve in the process on her one leg, her ribs, neck, back and head, and even the initials of our sister Grace on her butt. She is a walking promotion for our cousin who has done all of her tattoos. Everywhere we go people stop her to talk about her tattoos. They stare as she walks by working up the courage to say nice ink. With her bright blue eyes and short, brown hair she is beautiful. Her natural beauty is outstanding that she doesn’t need makeup (not that she would know how to even apply it). 

Justine is the most caring and loyal person I know. Her love for dogs, her family, her friends show with everything she does. She is the sister that drove six days with me across the country. She is the sister that helped her youngest sister start a dog walking business. She is the sister that patiently helps her brother move in and fix his house. She supports her friends throughout all their achievements, engagements, new jobs and businesses. She is there for her parents when they need her the most. She constantly tells our mother that she can live with her and her future wife when she gets old. Justine is so caring and so passionate that when a dog she walked had to be put down while the family was on vacation, she stayed with dog so it wasn’t alone. 

Justine and I driving in Chicago on our road trip.

At just 7 years old my sister would wake up in the middle of the night to me, a crying infant. She would change me and carry me to our mother so she can feed me. As we got older Justine would babysit Grace and I. I remember always being around her and her friends when our parents went out. She told me that sometimes when she would watch us she would get afraid that we were dead she so she’d wake us up when we were sleeping. Basically, Justine was a second mother sometimes.

I guess I had always known that my sister was a lesbian; she never had a boyfriend. Obviously, she was never interested in boys. She didn’t come out until college when she brought home a girlfriend. The way it seems to me is that as a family, we didn’t see it as a big deal. However, to her, I think it was a big deal. Although my sister’s coming out story was much more lighthearted when compared to others, this isn’t meant to say that everyone’s experiences are the same. My family was just fortunate enough to be accepting and loving of the fact because, like I said, we all knew. We were raised to love someone beyond their sexual orientation.

In fact, when my hometown raised the Pride flag for the first time this past June my mother and sister went there to express their support. And then, my mother posted on Facebook a series of hashtags that made my siblings and I hysterically laugh. I can say that on behalf of my family that we will accept you no matter what you identify as. There is always plenty of room and food if you want to join the Cappiello Clan. 

My mom’s facebook post about the Pride Flag Ceremony in my town.

Having my sister be out and proud makes me reflect on how different it can be for other people. It creates a false reality for me because I can’t comprehend how people can be homophobic. In my eyes, we are all the same and no sexual orientation or identification can change the fact that we are all human beings and that deserve love, respect, and happiness. So when I walked into my living room on June 12, 2016, to my older sister crying on our couch. My heart immediately sank. I went over to comfort her and she asked if I had seen the news about what happened in Orlando. I had. Forty-nine people were killed in a mass shooting inside Pulse Night Club. My heart immediately sank for my sister because it hit so close to home for her. I don’t know if she shares this memory but I remember being sick to my stomach that she was so affected by it.

The following year my sisters and I went to the Pride Parade in New York City. That experience was so exciting for me because millions of people from all over were there to celebrate one another and love. I felt so honored to be there to celebrate my sister. It is upsetting that I cannot be there this year to celebrate pride with her this year but I will be celebrating her and right to love whomever she chooses in San Diego.

To my sister that can quote almost every Will Ferrell movie: I am so proud that you feel safe enough to openly express who you are and confident enough to wear your heart on your tattoo covered sleeve. I couldn’t have asked for a better role model in my life. “I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more.”

Written by: Julie Cappiello 
Justine and I’s selfie on the first night of our road trip to San Diego.
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Julie Cappiello