by Riese & Heather
The Senior Editors rarely exist in the same physical location, but this week we do, because this week is our annual Senior Editors Gather In The Same Location Week. Last night we got to talking about gay weddings and the various family members who refuse to attend them and although I (Riese) am very blessed to have family members who are stoked to attend my wedding, most queers around our age or older (including Heather) are not so lucky. It’s rare these days to hear about a same-sex wedding in which both parties had full families in attendance. So we thought we’d create a really easy-to-adapt letter for you to use when addressing family members who refuse to attend your hella awesome LOVE PARTY.
Hello, dear [relative who won’t attend my wedding]!
It made me so sad when you told me you won’t attend my wedding, and I’d like to talk about why.
Growing up queer back when I grew up queer wasn’t always easy. I was socialized, like most women, to believe that “finding a man” was one of my life’s true purposes. I learned that the type of man I was able to snag would reflect directly on my own worthiness as a woman. I learned that women were, on the whole, slightly “less than” men, and if that’s the case, then what are two women together, you know? Nothing, is what I learned. I learned what “lesbian” meant when I first heard it used as an insult. I learned that most women thought my feelings for other women were gross and even dangerous. I grew up though, [relative who won’t attend my wedding], and when I did, I met other people like me. So instead of feeling alone and outside of things, I felt outside of things but not alone, which was definitely better than when I didn’t have other people to hang with. Sometimes we called each other “chosen family,” which is about the family we choose but also about the family that chooses us. You know, like how YOU ARE CHOOSING NOT TO ATTEND MY WEDDING.
So, for the past ten or so years, I’ve been to quite a few weddings. I’ve seen you at a lot of them. You were there for [relative]’s wedding and also for [other relative]’s wedding. You helped pay for flowers, you gave them lavish gifts, you cried in church. At times, your enthusiasm for these nuptials was, honestly, a bit overboard, almost as if you lived entirely for this kind of thing? But you know what? That’s okay. That’s a great thing to live for (love!), but I’ll get back to that point in a minute.
I’ve also been to another type of wedding over the past ten or so years, weddings held by my friends. The kind of wedding that people sometimes call a “wedding.” The scare quotes are there ‘cause it “wasn’t real.” I mean, we all acted like it was. We said “wife” and “wife” and we said “wedding,” even though we all knew that it wasn’t the same kind of wedding that straight people get to have and legally, those weren’t “our words.”
Even though we knew our commitments were just as real as yours and our marriages just as worthy and beautiful, it’s hard, [relative who won’t attend my fucking wedding] to quiet the internalized self-loathing and homophobia that we grant even ourselves, that voice inside us saying “this isn’t real. nobody but you thinks this even counts.” We saw women walked down the aisle by their gay male best friend because their father didn’t want to be there. We saw wedding receptions paid for out of the wives’ pockets not because their parents couldn’t afford it (which is real and okay), but because their parents didn’t really consider this thing to be a REAL wedding worthy of expense. I mean, it wasn’t even legal! AMIRITE, LADIES? LADIES?
Things have been changing, though, [relative who won’t suck it up and sit in a fucking folding chair while this amazing girl tells a room of people how goddamn breathtakingly special I am], over these past five years. A smattering of states, and then the majority of states, began offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples. DOMA was struck down. Public opinion shifted in our direction. Our weddings started getting taken a little more seriously once they became “legal” and once gay couples stopped being so mysterious and became commonplace. You got used to imagery of two women getting married because you’ve probably seen at least one pic of Ellen and Portia’s wedding at this point. Just two women, being enough. As of two weeks ago, same-sex marriage is now legal across the United States, which the Supreme Court has declared just. It’s really not often that the government is nicer to me than my own flesh and blood!
So, back to me: I met this girl a few years back and this girl, dear [relative who won’t come to my wedding], damn, she is something else! The love she gives me, in fact, is what enables me to have so much love to give even to people like you, [relative who seriously what else are you doing that weekend, all your friends are gonna be at my wedding!]. We have decided to spend the rest of our lives together and maybe even start a family one day, just like you always wanted for me. I mean, yes, the exact gender of my partner is not what you always wanted for me, but is that really SUCH A BIG DEAL? So we’re having a wedding. You know what a wedding is? It’s a love party. IT’S A PARTY FOR LOVE. We are throwing a big giant party to celebrate ACTUAL LOVE. It’s a LOVE PARTY.
WHY THE HELL WON’T YOU COME TO MY LOVE PARTY?
Here’s the thing about you not coming to my love party, [relative seemingly uninterested in eating FREE FOOD]: IT’S SO MEAN.
WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN TO ME?!!!??
I am so happy and in love and you are being very, very, very, very mean. I’ve been so mean to myself for so long [relative who claims to believe in love but PROVE IT ALREADY], and I don’t need this. But you know what I do need? You. You’re perfectly okay with having lunch with me, with letting me babysit your kids (as long as I don’t talk about myself!), and attending all of your things. But you won’t attend my LOVE PARTY. Are you aware that [relative who is a good 45 years older than you] is attending the wedding? Are you aware that [your favorite niece] drew me a card and wrote WE WISH YOU ALL THE BEST in crayon next to a creative but colorful illustrated interpretation of our love and likenesses? Are you aware that [relative who still belongs to the homophobic religious institution responsible for much of my self-loathing] is coming to OUR LOVE PARTY?
Don’t even start with that Bible stuff, [relative who should re-read the bible]. First of all, everyone picks and chooses what they want to believe from the Bible, including you, because the Bible is a collection of texts written and assembled thousands of years ago and some of those rules and regulations just don’t hold up to our present day understanding of the world. Do you eat shellfish, wear clothes made of multiple kinds of fibers, and sit on your couch while you’re on your period?, [relative who claims to believe every word of the Bible]? Of course you do! But the Bible says you shouldn’t!
When you say you believe in “traditional marriage” because of the Bible, do you really know what you’re saying? You’re saying a bride who cannot prove her virginity should be stoned to death. You’re saying a man can marry a 300 women and have 700 concubines. (Ask King Solomon!) You’re saying it’s okay for a guy to rape a woman as long as he marries her afterward. You’re saying soldiers should be able to take virgin women as prisoners of war and make them their wives. You’re saying husbands own their wives, and God’s cool with it. You’re saying husbands can rape their wives, and God’s cool with it. You’re saying if a person gets divorced and remarried, they’re committing adultery.
Would you attend a person’s second wedding but not attend their wedding if they were marrying five people at once? Because the Bible condemns remarriage but encourages polygamy! Biblical marriage, [confused relative], is weird! Your marriage isn’t Biblical marriage, and aren’t you glad?
Anyway, do you know what the Bible says about gay people? Do you really? Did you know the Bible only talks about gay people in six different places, and Jesus never said anything about gay people at all? You know what Jesus talked about more than anything? LOVE. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Jesus would have been so psyched about an a whole entire LOVE PARTY. Do you know what Jesus talked about second most? Money. And third most? How much he hates when pious religious people use scriptures to justify being mean.
The Bible does comment on gay people, [relative who isn’t following Jesus’ teaching], so here’s the run-down. Two times Moses says being gay is wrong in Leviticus. (That’s the Old Testament book where Moses also bans burning honey, tearing your clothes, harvesting crops near the edge of your field, trimming your beard, permanently selling your property, getting tattoos, or eating fruit from a tree that’s not at least four years old). One time God gets really mad about gay people in Genesis, in the same story where he gets really happy when a father offers his daughters up to be raped. (No, really, re-read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, [so-sure-of-your-Bible-knowledge relative].) Modern day Biblical translations have Paul condemning “homosexuality” three times, but previous translations said the Greek word Paul used (“arsenokoitais”) meant, among other things, “male prostitutes,” “child molesters,” and “abusers.”
In addition to being thousands of years old, the books of the Bible were written in ancient versions of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek! It would blow your mind if you knew how many words and phrases and teachings have been changed in English translations of the Bible over the years. Oh, [relative]! Don’t you see? You’re viewing ALL the Bible’s teachings through a 21st century lens, except for its teachings about gay people.
You’re using the Bible to justify your bigotry! Do you know how angry that would make Jesus? SO ANGRY!
The gender of my partner has no impact on you at all! Seriously, explain to me how who I love has any impact on your life or who you love or your marriage? I’m not saying this to be snarky or rude or because it’s part of the gay agenda, but like, are you a little gay? I cannot think for one other explanation for why this whole thing WEIRDS YOU OUT so bad.
In conclusion, [relative who apparently prefers Touched by An Angel reruns to attending my LOVE PARTY WITH FREE CAKE], please stop being mean to me. I’m part of something really special — a relationship that inspires me to be a better person, something to grow into and build and live inside forever, full of love and more love — and instead of being happy about it, you’re being ACTIVELY MEAN. I’m confident Jesus agrees with me. Jesus would love my love party. Jesus LOVED love.
And I love you,
[RELATIVE WHO YOU SHOULD BE NICER TO]