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A Brother, A Sister, And Two Lifetimes Of Acceptance

Patrick Kreifels and Michelle Kreifels grew up on a farm in Omaha, Neb., with their five other siblings.
Patrick Kreifels and Michelle Kreifels grew up on a farm in Omaha, Neb., with their five other siblings.

StoryCorps' OutLoud initiative records stories from the LGBTQ community.

Michelle Kreifels knows she's different from her siblings. The 51-year-old is the fifth of seven children, and was born with an intellectual disability.

"You're different, too," Michelle tells her younger brother Patrick, 48, during their StoryCorps interview in Omaha, Neb. Patrick and their sister Marlene are Michelle's legal guardians.

"And how am I different?" Patrick asks.

"Gay," Michelle says.

Patrick asks her how she felt when she found out he was gay, and Michelle says she didn't want it to be true. "I just think ... wife and husband should be together," she says.

But, she tells her brother, she came to accept it.

"Just thought about it," she says. "And I thought, 'He can do whatever he wants,' " she says with a laugh.

"What made you decide that you were going to be gay?" Michelle asks her brother.

"It wasn't something that I decided. I was just kind of born that way," Patrick tells her. "And I tried to not be that way for a while and I wasn't happy. So I just accepted who I was. I'm glad I did too. I'm a happier person."

"Yes, you are," Michelle says. "Fun to be around."

"I've learned a lot from you over the years, that's for sure," her brother says. "I remember in the summer before I went to college, I did the same job that you did, at the plant, and you had to train me. "

"Yep. And you had a hard time," she says.

"I did have a hard time. Took me a while to get the hang of it — but you were a good teacher to me," he says. "You're patient and you're really good for me and I appreciate you accepting me and all my differences too. It means a lot."

"Thanks. I love you," she says.

"I love you too," Patrick says.


Produced for Weekend Edition by Allison Davis.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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