STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It is Friday morning, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. This project is traveling the country recording conversations between loved ones, like the conversation that we're going to hear today from two brothers. Paul Corbit Brown and John Brown sat down together in Charleston, West Virginia. Paul, who's the older brother, wanted to know something about John's life as a young gay man.
Mr. PAUL CORBIT BROWN: When did you first find your voice?
Mr. JOHN BROWN: Well, I guess I found my literal voice in 1993. I was driving to work scanning through the stations, and I landed on Joy & Praise, 101 something.
Unidentified Man: WJYP Praise 101. Good morning. Our time is 10:02.
Mr. J. BROWN: The announcer was saying all these terrible untrue things about gay and lesbian people and about how crude they are. And so I pulled off the side of the road, and I went to a payphone and I called him. And then I said, what are you thinking? If you're going to talk about gay and lesbian people, you should have somebody gay and lesbian, on the show to provide a balanced perspective in the very least. "Oh, we've tried many times to get somebody on the show," and I said, I'll be on your show. And he said no, you won't. People say that but they won't show up.
And I said, you tell me the time and the place and I'll be there. And he said, we're going to have a live segment. If you want to be here, we'll put you on the show for 10 minutes. I said OK. I hung up the phone, and of course, I was shaking like a leaf. And I went to the Hardees across the street and I got $5 in quarters, and I called everybody I knew. And I said you've got to call into this show because I'm absolutely petrified. So at any rate, I went up there, and we were in this little studio. And I remember there was just a bare light bulb hanging down from the ceiling.
Unidentified Man: We welcome you today to the Thursday forum. With us in the studio, we have John Brown.
Mr. J. BROWN: We went through the first 15 minutes. And he said I'm sure you won't want to stay. And I said no, I'm perfectly comfortable. I'll sit here until you're ready to turn off the microphone. And we sat there for another two and a half hours and talked about these issues. I was just as comfortable as I could be, because what I was there to say, I owned.
(Soundbite of radio interview)
Mr. J. BROWN: I don't believe I'm an abomination. I don't believe I ever have been or ever will be.
I just felt so empowered. Even though 99.9 percent of the callers who called in to that show just talked about me like I was a dog.
(Soundbite of radio interview)
Unidentified Man: The majority that are in the homosexual community have hundreds or even thousands of partners.
Mr. J. BROWN: That didn't matter. What mattered is that there was somebody out there in that audience who was listening who needed to hear it was OK. And that was the only person I was worried about. The rest of those people didn't matter at all to me.
Mr. P. BROWN: When I think about you, I think about all the things that you've done in your life and the way that you walk your talk. And I really admire that because I don't know very many people in my life like you. And my relationship with you has had one of the most profound effects on who I am as a person. There will never be words for it but thanks.
Mr. J. BROWN: I appreciate that. I really do.
INSKEEP: That's John Brown with his brother Paul Corbit Brown in Charleston, West Virginia. Their story and many others are in the StoryCorps book "Listening is an Act of Love," which is now in paperback. And by the way, we're going to be doing something special with StoryCorps Thanksgiving Week so stay tuned for that. StoryCorps interviews are also kept at the Library of Congress and at npr.org.