All in the Family
Historically, weddings are a joining of two families. In the gay and lesbian community, most of us have struggled with our families about our sexual orientation at some point in our lives. Some are still struggling, either to keep it a secret or to encourage acceptance. The situation is different in every family, but we commonly hear of brides and grooms who hear disheartening comments such as "How can you get married? You're gay!" or "Why do you need to call it a wedding?" or "I think I've been pretty tolerant of your lifestyle, but this is taking it too far." or "Is that even legal?"
Our dear brides and grooms, you know the answers to these questions. You're getting married because you love each other and you want to spend the rest of your lives together. This is the ultimate sign of commitment in our society, and you want to take that leap of faith in front of each other and your family and friends. Your marriage may not be legally recognized in every state, but it isn't illegal to have a wedding. You're making a covenant with each other with the authority of your chosen officiant, your guests are your witnesses, and you will devote the rest of your natural lives to each other for a lifetime of wedded bliss. When your state recognizes your marriage, you will rejoice—and we will celebrate with you. But if your state currently refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, that doesn't have to be viewed as a road block to your path of love and commitment. And neither does your family's acceptance. Remember, this is your big day that you're planning. Surround yourself with positive people who love you and your fiance(e), and support your love—whether that's your family of origin or family of choice.
When speaking with your family about your engagement and wedding plans, remember these rules for conversation:
Remain calm. No one responds well to raised voices, threats and accusations.
Stay focused. Remind yourself that you are getting married because you love each other, and everyone deserves that right.
Listen. If your family members want to calmly speak about their concerns, show them the consideration of listening. Perhaps they'll return the favor when it comes time for you to express your wishes.
Explain. Deep down, everyone believes in love. And there's always a chance that talking about your love with your family will resonate with them like never before. Talk to your family about why this wedding is important to you. There's a good chance it'll open their minds.
Take your time. One conversation won't solve everything. People need time to digest information and news. We would love it if parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles of gays and lesbians are exuberant every time a same-sex engagement is announced, but sadly, it's just not the way it goes sometimes. Your family may be one of those that needs to have these conversations in small doses to get them comfortable with your wedding.