A Handy Form Letter For That Relative Who Won’t Attend Your Gay Wedding

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]

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2877 articles for us.

199 Comments

  1. this is SO IMPORTANT.
    we don’t even have marriage equality in germany yet (although it’s probably coming soon – our government can’t justify its backwardness much longer, and also the main reason why chancellor merkel is opposing it is that she has a “bad gut feeling” about it, so that’s really good politics being made right there).
    but i feel like even if it was legally recognized here, NO ONE in my family would even consider it an option for me to marry my girlfriend. it’s just not on their radar that something like that could be possible. they think i threw any chance of having a family out the window when i started dating girls, and i’m not sure my nudging them toward being more understanding is helping in any way.
    so this letter was really important for me to read. particularly though this one sentence sticks with me: “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.””. because sometimes i’m really terrified that when i do end up marrying the girl i love, and we have kids, etc etc, it won’t feel that real – it will feel like we’re just pretending, like we’re playing at being a family.
    i know my feelings for my girlfriend are real and meaningful and we have a profound connection and the most amazing relationship. which is why it is SO SCARY to me that cultural ideas about what a marriage/family “should” look like have crept into my mind and, hard as i try to shut them out, still provide the backdrop against which i compare what i want to and may have one day. how can this shit affect me so much??? why is it so terrifying to venture into uncharted territory and define these concepts on your own terms?
    i also hate to accept that i have this drive to conventionalize my relationship. i hope i can get this internalized homophobic voice to shut up, whether social progress soon moves in our favor or not. in the end love should be the only thing that matters, and i hope it will be. (although yea some legal protection would be good for sure.)

  2. “Your marriage isn’t Biblical marriage, and aren’t you glad?”

    Yes, thank you! I wish I could tell this to everyone I know in the tiny Southern Baptist town where I live. I want this on a t-shirt. So many people create the religion they follow in their own narrow image, then try to say the view they espouse is unchanging and historic.

    As someone whose entire family has already stated they will not attend a same-sex wedding since they cannot in good conscience give “their blessing” to the union, it’s good (though still heartbreaking)to be reminded I’m not the only one who will or has gone through this. I’m someone who’s still very closeted around my family. Yet I already know the score. I know that ultimately it is most likely I will have to choose between them and a partner. It was a depressing thing to hear from them. I would have liked to think that though they’d be very uncomfortable, they would still choose to attend my wedding if I had one and could bring themselves to be happy for me. In the end, though, I don’t think that will happen. However, I am realizing more each day that I don’t need a blessing based on false premises, given with ill-grace. It’s possible I’ll send letters like this one, but more likely I’ll write off the loss and know it’s better they didn’t come and look miserable the whole time.

    • My late mom’s saying for this was “if you’re gonna go and have a puss on the whole time, don’t even bother.”

      Why spend good catering money on people who aren’t happy to be there/want to bless the union?

  3. This is great. Just a few little details for accuracy.

    Solomon was condemned for his number of wives.

    Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their treatment of the poor.

    The offering up of the daughter for rape was shown in a negative light. It is never praised.

  4. This is the only thing to come up under Google when you type “How to deal with family member not attending your LGBT wedding.” It’s the only thing needed. It speaks for us as my soon to be husbands sister is the only family member not attending our wedding due to “religious concerns”. I told her if my Pastor has no problem marrying us, and I’m sure he’s infinitely more aware of the Bible than her, how can she use religion as an objection. Thank you for this. It turned a relatively bad day into a nice one.

  5. I read this article when it came out and found it hilariously entertaining. I read it again now because I truly need help, but it’s not so funny this time around.

    My oldest friend (who has been helping me plan my wedding and shared in my excitement for the past few months) just surprised me in the worst way. I assumed her previous behavior indicated she knew I’d want her to be a big part of my wedding. Not to mention, I was just a big part of her uber-straight-and-Christian wedding last month. She made a big deal about setting up a time to call and once we were finally on the phone I was told she was conflicted. She loves me, but she cannot support me. This has never happened before! She has been so accepting and gracious. What changed? Did I cross a line? Did her marriage change her views?

    So far I have received two opposite lines of advice: 1) screw her – that is NOT OKAY. Which I take as cutting her out of my life entirely or 2) well, what did you expect? which I take as just pretending like it didn’t happen. And I cannot choose.

    My loving fiancée reminds me that I don’t have to decide and that a decision does not have to be binary, but I am still torn. If she is at my wedding, I fear I will see her and think of this moment and be upset. But if she isn’t there, I fear I will look for her and think of this moment and be upset. So that, at least, is a binary decision.

    I am fortunate enough to have not dealt with this kind of rejection from someone I love until now and I am hungry for dialogue regarding cuts this deep – not from strangers, not even family, but someone you can’t just cut out of your life and have to deal with in a way that lets you sleep at night.

  6. wow. this letter is about as tolerant as the person to whom it is supposedly written.
    talk about hypocritical – if they don’t wanna come because of their beliefs, how can I accuse them of being hateful while sending this letter?
    thanks but no thanks

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