Family

Wedding Aisle or Line in the Sand ~ Acceptance?

Romance-Gay-Wedding-Cake-Topper-CLONESome things start out so easy, so clear. Then life intervenes and makes a mockery of all that precisely bordered black and white.

In my last post, I wrote about getting a wedding invitation from a family member whose parents didn’t attend my wedding in 2000, because I was marrying another man. I wrote in the piece that the only way I would be able to attend his wedding was if I received an apology from them. No apology, no attendance. Apology, attendance. Black, white. Easy peasy.

Enter: gray.

Well, I spoke to my mother’s cousin at length, and I got my apology. An absolutely heartfelt apology, yet one given without any understanding of the offense committed. He explained to me something I already knew. They couldn’t attend because of his wife’s religious beliefs. My wedding would have made her “uncomfortable.” Uncomfortable. This was our first impasse, because her discomfort is the root of the offense, yet it is a fact. A plain and simple fact. I can judge it, I can rail against the ignorance and hypocrisy of her church, I can call her names and wonder about her remarkable lack of introspection and inability to question the fact that her faith amounts to nothing more than bigotry, but the stubborn truth remains: she was uncomfortable. Fact.

My mother’s cousin also told me that if I found that I could not come to his son’s wedding, he would be neither hurt nor offended. It was at that moment that I realized the precise depths of our impasse: If he would not be angry or hurt that I couldn’t bring myself to go to his son’s wedding, how could I possibly expect him to understand my anger or hurt? Emotionally, we were speaking two entirely different languages. To him, not attending is a no harm, no foul situation. For me, it is a deep harm and serious foul. So then what? What do you do when you realize you will never understand one another?

Until it happened, it hadn’t dawned on me that his apology might be very, very genuine and still be hollow. It hadn’t dawned on me that his apology could only go as far as his understanding of the situation, which isn’t very far at all.

As a gay person, I spent a great deal of my youth tormented by the question, “Will I be accepted for who I am?” What a surprise to find myself in a position where it is I who has to ask: can I accept them for who they are? Can I accept their ~ well, his ~ honest apology? An apology that was as deeply felt as he is capable of feeling? Can I do that and go to their son’s wedding?

The answer turned out to be yes, and no. More gray.

After being consumed with soul searching for the better part of two weeks, I realized that I can, and will, go to their son’s wedding.

No, I do not accept their casual bigotry. No, I do not accept that they still can’t fathom the hurt they inflicted. Frankly, I’m having a difficult time accepting the fact that while I have spent sleepless nights and had countless conversations trying to figure out the best way to clean up the mess they created, I’d be willing to bet money that they haven’t spent a single moment worrying about it.

Yes, I do accept his apology for what it is. I do accept that it is not them getting married, it is their son. (Important to note: the bride and groom made the guest list. They were the ones who invited us.) And I do accept that while I had wanted to go with a completely open heart or not at all, again, I have discovered shades of gray. I can go, but not for them. I will be there for the groom. I will be thrilled for him. I accept that in the place of the no-holds-barred hug and mazel tov I had hoped to give his parents, a simple “I’m happy for your son, I’m here for him” will have to suffice. I accept that there will be borders around my celebratory spirit. It’s not my first choice, but as I said in my previous post, I didn’t start the fire.

And what will happen when the mother of the groom tries to dance with me? When she attempts to celebrate her son’s happiness with me? Well, I’ve come to accept that that won’t be possible either.

I would be remiss, however, if I told this story without mentioning another aspect of it: my parents and my brother. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the hundreds of phone calls back and forth between us. How could I not talk about how we, as a family, parsed each detail and explored every emotion brought up by this situation? This piece would be incomplete if I didn’t mention their anger, their discomfort at how I was treated. How could I not mention that my mother took all the onus of healing a family rift off of me and told me not to consider her at all in my decision, that once we all weighed in it was my decision and they would go or not go based on the dictates of my heart? She made very clear to me that I should not compromise my dignity at all, not one iota, for anyone, including her. How could I not mention that during all this bullshit, my family loved the hell out of me? They had my back.

I have never, ever questioned their love for me, nor their complete lack of ability to see me as anything other or different. But I have to admit, it was nice to hear them say, in unison, “Oh, hell no. You can’t do that. Not to us.”

When I look back on this entire episode, that is what I’ll remember. I will not be burdened by the slight, I will be buoyed by the love.

Stay tuned for part three – it will be a play-by-play of the wedding, likely told through scotch-filled eyes.

This is the second in a three part series. Read the first part, When a Wedding Aisle Becomes a Line in the Sand.

FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT: WEDDING COLLECTIBLES

Tags: , ,

3 Comments

  1. I love your family. Just saying.

    • Thank you. I am incredibly lucky where my family is concerned. I am reminded of that daily, when I listen to friends and acquaintances talk about their experiences with their families, or when I look online and see the hurt inflicted upon the LGBT community, frequently from within our own families. That was a large part of why I wanted to write Part II of this series. I wanted to publicly acknowledge my family.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment!

      ~r

  2. Pingback: Choosing love over family

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.