After four years together, my same-sex partner and I got engaged and wanted to share the news with my family. But it did not elicit joy. Instead, I got "there will be no gay wedding" from my mother; my father said, "at this point, I do not know if I will participate"; and my tearful grandfather said, "I never want to hear about it again." Ironically, we are not a religious family and I have been out for more than 10 years. Despite talking to or seeing my parents at least once a week, I have not spoken with them about the wedding since. My partner and I are setting the wedding date for the fall (her large Catholic family has been extremely supportive, but her aged parents have said they may not come). What do I do next? I feel that my parents ought to be kept informed at least, yet I dread talking about it with them. This is supposed to be a happy day.
Maybe it's a blessing in disguise.
Look at it this way: You have the world's first "self-weeding" wedding. All the crabby crustaceans who might otherwise have spoiled the ceremony with their pinched faces and snappish cracks have "outed" themselves in advance and declared they won't be coming.
"Beautiful! More smoked salmon and champagne cocktails for the rest of us! We'll send you a copy of the video and here's the address where you can send your presents and cheques!"
Seriously, though, or at least semi-seriously, I've always felt you can gauge a person's spiritual development by how well they understand that if you're not the one getting married, then it's really not about you.
Whenever a crackpot cousin or unhinged uncle waxes divalicious in the roll up to a wedding, I want to grab them by the lapels and say: "Hey. It's not about you. For one day, stop squawking and flapping your feathers. Shower, shampoo, show up on time. Don't get too drunk, keep your comments and observations to a minimum and everything will be just ducky. Crystal?"
And I do not say this as if from on high. Your humble columnist is not immune. Recently, I was horrified to catch myself in a slight divagation from my usual ultra-gentlemanly comportment.
My friend's getting married in Mexico, and in a festive prenuptial gesture he promised to set aside the biggest, juiciest palapa, the primo palapa in the vicinity, for my wife, Pam, me and another couple. All I had to do was drop my credit-card digits on some lady in Colorado and it was ours for the week.
But when I went to rent it, it turned out that one of his uncles had already scooped it. We wound up with a lesser palapa! Three kilometres down the beach, away from all the action.
I phoned the groom and started chewing on his hindquarters like a termite on a totem pole. "You promised you'd set aside the primo palapa, but it was already taken, what's up with that?" and la la la.
"Hey, I'm doing my best, man," he said, sounding genuinely stressed. "You have no idea ... the logistics of this thing."
I felt like a jerk. I had one of those out-of-body moments where you almost see yourself objectively, and I didn't like what I saw: a 6-foot-5, 240-pound baby going wah-wah-wah and throwing his rattle out of the crib.
So I apologized. "Sorry, Jesse, I don't know what I was thinking. The other, backup palapa will be fine. We're going to have great fun."
And that's how your relatives should be behaving. I mean, I know palapas and sexual preferences are apples and oranges, but the principle is the same: When a wedding comes to town, everyone should stow their prejudices, preferences, politics and opinions, and have a good old time.
But since your family has chosen to go the other way, and at least some of the fractious faction who've declared they're not coming are Catholic, why not try to harness the wondrous power of guilt?
Guilt's like plutonium: A little goes a long way. And the way you harness its awesome might is by being serenely, divinely all-forgiving and above it all. With a beatific glow, gaze upon your relatives with Virgin-Mary-like understanding and say: "Listen, it's okay, I still love you. We wish you could be there, but since you can't, we'll think about you and let you know how it all goes."
If that doesn't melt their frosty crusts, then you're better off without them.
But don't succumb to bitterness or anger. Be like Jesus on the cross: "They know not what they do." They're a product of their time and upbringing. When my brother announced he was gay, my mother cried. Not because she's intolerant - she's the most tolerant and open-minded person on earth.
But she was brought up on a farm near a town called Blooming Prairie, Minn. When she was little, they didn't even have electricity, and if anyone in the vicinity was gay, she was unaware of it. So it was an adjustment to have a gay son, to say the least. But she made the adjustment, and I'm proud of her.
Hopefully, your relatives will likewise come around in time. In any case, there's no point in having confrontations, starting feuds or stirring up bad blood. Because you can never shake your relatives. You will always have to deal with them, one way or another. Relatives are like Whac-a-Moles: No matter how much you may think (or wish) they've disappeared forever into their little holes, they always pop back up again.
So just pour a little of your drink on the floor "for absent homies," get the DJ to spin the turntables, pump up the volume and get jiggy. I'm sure you'll still raise hell and rock the rafters without Mr. and Mrs. (and Grandpa and Grandma) Poopy Pants.
Anyway, end of sermon. Hallelujah. You may now kiss the bride.
David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.
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