Attending the wedding of a friend against gay marriage
December 10, 2014 4:56 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend's wonderful, kind, generous sibling is getting married, hooray! But they think gay marriage is immoral, and as a queer person with many queer friends I don't know what to do now.

My partner's sibling is great. They're funny, smart, and have always been unfailingly generous and kind towards me. They've had to go through a lot of crap and have faced these trials with grace and strength. I'm delighted they've found a good person with whom to share their life. So on the one hand, I very much want to attend this wedding and support them.

On the other hand, they found religion as an adult and have become progressively more socially conservative the longer I know them. They changed denominations when their original denomination decided to allow gay and trans* people to serve in the church. They believe gay marriage and pretty much anything related to LGBTQ relationships is immoral. This has caused them internal struggles because they had (and to some degree have) gay friends from their pre-religion life. But ultimately they feel God has decided these "behaviors" are wrong and unnatural, so those are the tenets they need to follow. To my knowledge the have never actively campaigned against gay rights (or even proselytized their beliefs to anybody), but would probably vote for laws that restricted them.

In the past I've said I would never attend the wedding of someone who felt this way about gay marriage. Not just out of principle, but because I'm queer (the sibling does not know this) and have many LGBTQ friends. I may be in a heterosexual relationship now, but that doesn't mean I've ruled out same-sex relationships and a wedding in my future. And I have friends who have faced a lot of shit for their sexual orientation, and the inability to legally marry in many states is yet further proof of their status of second-class citizens. So: solidarity.

However, it is pretty easy to hold that line when it's a distant or hypothetical acquaintance. This person does not fit the bill. As I said, aside from my disagreements with their political and religious beliefs the sibling is fantastic and has always, *always* been good towards me. The wedding is a ways off, so there's no plausible excuse I could provide to not go. If I didn't come and said truthfully why, they would be deeply hurt and I'd probably be writing them--and the other members of my partner's tiny family--off for good.

So that's where I am: trying to choose between maintaining an otherwise enriching personal relationship and expressing solidarity with other friends and the rest of a demonstrably oppressed class. Am I making too much of this? Would anyone be able to offer insight?
posted by schroedinger to Human Relations (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You say they have always been good to you. You also say they have no idea your are queer.

Would they still be good to you if they knew you were queer? Would you still be invited to the wedding?

Why haven't you told them?
posted by Dynex at 5:06 PM on December 10, 2014 [59 favorites]


I have friends who are very conservative and I find them lovely and I have good relationships with them. They know better than to express opinions that would offend me and vice-versa.

I would say attend the wedding if you're invited.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie swore they wouldn't marry until everyone could, and then they did anyway. You don't have to be an absolutest about these things. Boycotting the wedding won't grant anyone else the right to marry any faster.

If you want to, make a donation to an LGBTQ organization in their names, just don't tell them about it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:08 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


You're in a tough situation, and personally I don't think you have a moral obligation to boycott this wedding. I would at least gently but clearly state my own opinions on the issue if you haven't already, but with family-of-partner situations it's understandable that you might not want to rock the boat. You're under no obligation to come out to them, or to make a pointed stand over this specific thing (their wedding).

That said, you should be realistic about just how close and enriching a relationship you'll ever be able to have with someone who holds such views about you.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:09 PM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Is there any way you can ask them, face to face, if they still want you at the wedding given that you are queer?

I'm not queer but I gather that the theory about coming out is that it makes it easier for people to support equality for everyone when everyone knows that a bunch of the people they like or love are LGBTQ.

Have no idea what you should do but silence (secrets) does not seem ideal. Unhealthy for you, unhealthy for the sibling. S/he should know the full cost of his/her particular religion and the people that religion hurts, which includes you. IMHO.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:16 PM on December 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


I would probably go to the wedding. Not going sounds like it would cause a rift. That said, Dynex makes a good point: Would they still be good to you if they knew you were queer? Would you still be invited to the wedding?

As a lesbian, I had some very (not so) wonderful (after all) family members treat me with love and kindness -- until they didn't -- when they found out my orientation.

Not saying you have to come out to them, but it is something to think about. As you're a kitty! noted, be realistic about this relationship. It may not be what you hope if you revealed your queerness.
posted by Lescha at 5:22 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


You are not going to the wedding for you. You are going to the wedding for your partner. Your partner wants you to go, so you go. Because you love your partner.
posted by mochapickle at 5:52 PM on December 10, 2014 [34 favorites]


I'd say come out, explain your issues, and put the ball in their court - are you still invited once you're out? If so, go. If not, don't.

There's one other thing that's really bothering me here though, and I write this not knowing your partner's orientation or what their views on being out and visible are so take this with an appropriate sized salt portion: where's your partner's support through this? Is your partner expecting you to be closeted in order to not make waves? What do they think? Do they have a larger expectation that you conform to hetero norms when being out would be inconvenient for them, regardless of what it costs you in terms of your community?
posted by bile and syntax at 5:59 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


In my mind, boycotting this wedding doesn't actually advance marriage equality, or LGBTQ equality overall. These particular people don't have the power, other than their individual votes, to end same-sex marriage or enact discriminatory policies. This particular event is not a rally in support of anti-LGBTQ policies. In my mind, it's kind of the reverse of the "Same-sex marriage doesn't hurt straight marriages," in that this particular straight wedding doesn't hurt same-sex marriages. And boycotting this wedding wouldn't help same-sex marriage.

If it were me, I'd go, and spend half the wedding-gift budget on a donation (not in the couple's name, just in yours) to an LGBTQ advocacy group.
posted by jaguar at 6:06 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Not going won't prove anything to them, except perhaps escalate their concept of "otherness" about queer people if they learned your orientation.

However, going and being classy, charming, funny and gracious might prove to them that queer people of all persuasions are fully human, and thinking back to your presence in wishing them joy in their life together might help their hearts grow just a little bit when they think about gay couples who want to feel the same joy.
posted by mibo at 6:11 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Would they still be good to you if they knew you were queer? Would you still be invited to the wedding? Why haven't you told them?

I'm not hiding it, it's just never come up. Their family never talks about this stuff. In my family someone will make a crack about politics at least every 15 minutes. In his family, the only reason I know the sibling's politics at all are from occasional re-posts of obnoxiously conservative memes and articles. The feelings about gay people I know from my boyfriend, because they mention that sort of thing in as much as it comes up in their personal life (for example, their mixed feelings over leaving the denomination). We've never discussed past relationships or sexuality or literally anything that would involve an opportunity to mention my status. There is not really a not-awkward way to drill them about their political beliefs, or who's invited to the wedding, or how they feel about my queerness because those topics would never, ever naturally come up. I will say I don't believe they're the sort of person who would change their behavior because they found out I like women. They'd just think I was going to Hell, probably.

Do[es your partner] have a larger expectation that you conform to hetero norms when being out would be inconvenient for them, regardless of what it costs you in terms of your community?

He doesn't give a crap about me being queer. He disagrees with his sibling's beliefs and is somewhat taken aback by their increasing conservatism and religiosity. He's never argued with the sibling about this stuff though because in their family nobody gets into debates like that. If I didn't go he would be hurt and sad because his sibling is important to him and he wants me there.
posted by schroedinger at 6:38 PM on December 10, 2014


In my relationship, you don't hurt the other partner in order to prove a point to someone else.
posted by animalrainbow at 6:48 PM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


In the past I've said I would never attend the wedding of someone who felt this way about gay marriage.

This is why they say "never say never."
posted by John Cohen at 7:38 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


love the sinner, hate the sin

(go to the wedding)
posted by Bwithh at 8:27 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


So... I was on the other side of this; this past August, I married another woman. Most of my family was on the spectrum of "yay rah I'm so happy for you" to "I'm not always sure what I think of this, but I'm happy for you because you seem happy and I like her."

But. I had that aunt and uncle who are super against queerness and same sex marriage and everything else, but luckily (as you put so well) they're of the I will say I don't believe they're the sort of person who would change their behavior because they found out I like women. They'd just think I was going to Hell, probably camp.

So, at a family reunion this summer before the wedding, they asked for a couple minutes of my time. We sat down and they started out, "So, you know, we're against this kind of marriage."
"Yea, I knew."
[silence]
"But, you were there when [cousin] got married last fall1, and we really appreciate you being there for that, and family is important to us, and we'd like to be at your wedding."
"Well, I don't want you to come if you're going to be uncomfortable."
"No, no, it's okay, and we want you know that she's always welcome here too."
"Well, if that's the case, then come out and eat some bbq and celebrate with us, if you're okay with that."
"We think we are."

And that was that. They came to the wedding, they celebrated with us (so much bbq, good gods, there's still some in the freezer), they're smiling in our wedding pictures, and they seemed to be genuinely glad to be there (unlike a couple of my 'friends' who were late and borderline rude to my wife's partner). I look at my wedding pictures and I'm so glad that my aunt and uncle were there, even with their private feelings about my marriage.

It is so hard, loving folks whose beliefs differ from ours, especially when those folks hold beliefs that impact our lives - when I love people who believe that I shouldn't have the what is it, 1500+ rights and responsibilities that marriage brings, with the person whom I've decided that I want to spend the rest of my life with, and they believe that just because of our respective plumbing. But I don't find myself looking at them with resentment; they're my aunt and uncle, and I'm married (I'm lucky; maybe I might not feel so kind if I didn't live in a marriage equality state.) We love people who believe things we can't even fathom, and it's hard to get why they can't just see things the way we do. It is totally okay to acknowledge that that is hard, and to deal with that hardness by doing things like driving separately from your partner in case things do get too rough and you need to bail.

But, if you love them, and they've been kind to you, and you feel kind towards them, and you're delighted that they've found someone to love, and you're pretty sure that you're not going to have to listen to a sermon about the sanctity of marriage (and it sounds like their beliefs are more private than that), then go and celebrate with them. Maybe their hearts will change one day, maybe they won't - but we can love folks whose beliefs are problematic to us, for whatever reason. I'm not saying that it's unconditional - if I'd known that they were going to come to the wedding and stir up trouble, that would have been different. But they aren't like that, and I'm glad my aunt and uncle's love for me and family, and my love for them, let us bridge that gap and that they came to see us marry.

1. In another country, to a woman of a different race; thank you, cousin, for paving the way there.
posted by joycehealy at 9:23 PM on December 10, 2014 [33 favorites]


He's never argued with the sibling about this stuff though because in their family nobody gets into debates like that. If I didn't go he would be hurt and sad because his sibling is important to him and he wants me there.

Well, then, I recant. Now that I understand more fully, yes, go to the wedding. Stand by your man. Have a great time.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:57 PM on December 10, 2014


Life is long (if you're lucky). Their political views may well change, but refusing to attend their wedding would be something you couldn't change.
posted by salvia at 10:20 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


We didn't get married till everyone could (here in the UK) but that was my thing, not my husband's particularly (he's an ally, but I'm the more overtly political one, that's all). Didn't mention that at the wedding because some older folks would have been confused by it. I echo what the other people are saying: if it's important to the sibling and important to your partner that you're there, go there. By all means offset by making a donation to an LGBTQ support charity, but in your name. And enjoy!
posted by LyzzyBee at 12:57 AM on December 11, 2014


Be prepared for the marriage ceremony being excruciating - if they are in That Sort of church, the priest/officiant/whatever may take the opportunity to give the congregation a lecture about what marriage truly is. Not saying this to put you off going, only letting you know so that you can be forearmed.
posted by Acheman at 2:26 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


oh goodness yes, I went to an evangelical cousin's wedding where the vicar gave us all a good talking to on the evils of gay marriage, and the role of women in married life (the word "helpmeet" probably featured here) and I wish I had anticipated this so I could reason through in advance what level of yuck I was willing to sit through and whether I would walk out.

I didn't walk out and that was the right decision for me (although ewww), but if there is some level of this that you're not able to sit through then maybe that needs to factor into your thoughts. Or at least, your choice of seating position.
posted by emilyw at 5:05 AM on December 11, 2014


A couple years ago, one of my nieces chose to schedule her wedding to be on the first anniversary of her grandfather/my father's death..... They were getting married on a friend's farm, so it wasn't like they were picking the only open date at some reception hall: no, they purposely chose that specific date, solely because it was convenient for a craft fair they planned to also attend that weekend. Yeah, their decision hurt: it hurt like the dickens.

I quietly mentioned it to the couple exactly once, when they announced the wedding date about six months beforehand, and telling them how badly it made various family members (including her own mother!) feel; their reaction was a rather cold "too bad, that's the date we want". Okay, they were pretty inconsiderate about the date, but we her family showed up and wished them well.

My point is, quite a few of us (most definitely including myself) had a strong objection with this wedding, but we sucked it up and attended. Yes, several years later I still consider it a thoughtless thing for them to have done, but making it into a battle wouldn't have helped.

Go, smile, congratulate them and wish them well.
posted by easily confused at 6:04 AM on December 11, 2014


I'm always torn on this. (I have one coming up soon and it's tricky.)

The rules are:

1. If my partner tells me he is absolutely going and wants to go and he needs me there, I am going.

2. If anything else, BAG OUT and throw a party.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:39 AM on December 11, 2014


We've never discussed past relationships or sexuality or literally anything that would involve an opportunity to mention my status.

Are they on Facebook? Are you on Facebook? Do they read what you post on Facebook? Could you post something on Facebook mentioning e.g. a past relationship?

Nthing that you should attend the wedding.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:18 PM on December 11, 2014


I think this is a conversation to have with that sibling at a later date (if you so choose), regardless of how the answer would affect your decision to attend.

I'm struggling with the right way to phrase this, but basically you are not important enough in this family to introduce so much potential family conflict right before a wedding. If the sibling says "Oh no! You are queer? Well, don't bother coming after all!" and you are (justifiably, rightly) hurt and disgusted and upset, your boyfriend is going to either have to choose to support his sibling in their marriage knowing that they are repulsed by you ... or he will have to choose to support you and miss their sibling's wedding and probably get into some sort of terrible fight with them right before their wedding.

That is simply not a fair thing to do. Decide for yourself whether or not you want to go (I would go in order to support my boyfriend and his family), and have the conversation about your sexuality and their prejudice at a different time. Otherwise, you make it all about you.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:39 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


In my relationship, you don't hurt the other partner in order to prove a point to someone else.

Being a good ally to my partner would be a higher priority to me than avoiding social awkwardness that arises out of other people's bigotry.
posted by bile and syntax at 4:05 PM on December 11, 2014


You are not going to the wedding for you. You are going to the wedding for your partner. Your partner wants you to go, so you go. Because you love your partner.

If my partner asked me to associate with people who believed that I was an abomination, I wouldn't, no matter how much I loved them. I'm their partner, not their pet or inanimate support blanky.

In my relationship, you don't hurt the other partner in order to prove a point to someone else.

In my relationship, you don't hurt your partner by making them mingle with people who think they should burn in hell for eternity just so you can avoid some social awkwardness.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:50 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Supporting your partner because being there means a lot to him doesn't make someone a pet or a support blanky. It makes you an adult: someone who is capable of balancing complex feelings and mature enough to sometimes put your personal feelings aside to support someone you love. Just as your partner might do for you were the roles reversed.

OP already described the sibling having the wedding as "wonderful, kind, generous." If OP hated the sibling full stop, I doubt anyone here would say to go to the wedding.

I have fundamentalist family who cancel out my every vote and think they are opposed to people like me (little do they know), but I go and I celebrate their weddings because the wedding isn't about my beliefs. It's a conversation for another time.
posted by mochapickle at 5:48 PM on December 11, 2014


If you feel comfortable going, then go. It seems like you do like them as people so you don't have to feel bad about going just because you promised yourself you would never go to weddings of people like that before. Circumstances change and if you don't feel strongly opposed in your gut I'd go since your partner wants you to.

HOWEVER, I do disagree with everyone above who is saying that you "should" just go because of your partner, or to prove to them that queer people are great (wtf), or whatever. If you feel deeply uncomfortable, don't go. Even if it makes your partner sad. These people are fundamentally against who you are as a person. That, to me, cancels out any "shoulds" you need to do in this situation. I would personally not feel comfortable going, but since I am not in your situation, it doesn't matter what I'd do. I just don't think you should really feel obligated to suck it up and ignore their bigotry if you don't want to.
posted by hejrat at 6:52 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I suppose I'd go to the wedding but I would have a heart to heart with your boyfriend and also his sibling. It's awkward, sure, but if your queer identity actually means a lot to you, then I don't understand why you'd hide it (and yes, you are hiding it if you've never brought it up).

I'm also wondering where your boyfriend is in this. What does he have to say? Why would he want you to attend the wedding if it's against your principles? Is he supportive of your being openly queer with his family?
posted by Gray Skies at 8:48 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just as your partner might do for you were the roles reversed.

If my partner 'balanced their complex feelings' - which sounds like a weasel way of saying 'became a moral sellout and curried the favour of bigots to avoid rocking the boat' - they'd fall a fair way in my estimation.

Where might you draw the line? Is there any group of people with whom your partner would associate for whom you'd be unhappy to wear a mask of politeness and civility? Westboro Baptists? Klansmen? I'm just eating their potato salad and smiling in their photos, what's the problem?

There's nothing 'adult' about utterly subordinating your moral duty because "d'aww but wuvs". Adults are morally courageous. They take a stand. They speak out.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:43 AM on December 13, 2014


I think it's worth keeping in mind that it's "marriage equality," not "wedding equality," for a reason. Yes, the wedding is symbolic of the marriage, but unless you intend to avoid any function at which these people present themselves as married (meaning, any function they attend together), then you're still going to be involved in their marriage. If you're at the point where you want to cut them out of your life completely (and it does not sound like you're anywhere near that point), then protesting just the wedding is rather pointless (and is likely to have them cut you out of their lives, anyway).

Yes, people stand up for what they believe. They also make intelligent choices about what's an effective protest versus what's being a compassionate person in the world.
posted by jaguar at 7:39 AM on December 13, 2014


Where might you draw the line? Is there any group of people with whom your partner would associate for whom you'd be unhappy to wear a mask of politeness and civility? Westboro Baptists? Klansmen? I'm just eating their potato salad and smiling in their photos, what's the problem?

I've already decided to go, but I want to make something clear. My partner is not the type of person to associate with Klansmen (Jesus!), and if he was we wouldn't be dating. He is much younger than his sibling, their dad was out of the picture early, and he has little to no association with extended family. His sibling spent a good chunk of their childhoods helping their single mom raise him because she was working her ass off to support the three of them. They are very tight-knit and these relationships are important to him. When he got into a serious accident and could not live alone the sibling happily took care of him for over a year, and his family remains his primary non-romantically-based support system. As I said before, the particular extremity of these beliefs around for five years or less. He is tremendously uncomfortable with their beliefs, but yes, he still loves them, he's still close with them, and he still wants them to be happy and support them. This situation is not the equivalent of him grabbing popcorn and standing off to the side while they light crosses. Jesus.

Anyway, thank you very much for those who offered advice and helped me put it into perspective.
posted by schroedinger at 10:42 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


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