Jordan, a young man engaged to his soon-to-be husband, asked for advice in the Affirmation Community Conversations Facebook group on how he should handle inviting his family and friends who have expressed their discomfort with the idea of attending their wedding. There were many great responses offering advice and perspective. We wanted to share what Jacob Newman had to say.
By Jacob Newman
First of all, congratulations! You and your husband-to-be deserve a lifetime of happiness. This is a really great question (and a timely one considering the Church leadership’s track record on LGBTQIA+ issues) and one that I can relate to since I got married in August 2016.
Getting married to a man was hard for my family, but they were really great. I invited all my siblings and even some of my extended family. That being said, I was selective about who I invited. I didn’t feel the need to invite people (especially some of my extended family) that I didn’t feel particularly close to or people that I felt wouldn’t be supportive/ happy on the day. My parents were still on the fence about things a bit, I think, but they were willing to come to support me and now they love my husband a lot.
If I hadn’t invited the people that I love to the wedding (or if they had made the choice to not attend), they would have regretted it. But at least I extended the invitation. I think that if they reject your invitation, you won’t regret inviting them but they might regret not coming. And they would tell you at a future point that they did regret not coming. My suggestion is to extend your love and kindness to those who reject your invitation. Empathy can go a long way in changing hearts. When they are conditioned to believe that same-sex marriage is an act of apostasy, it’s hard for them to imagine attending an event that might be seen as them endorsing apostasy. But if you show true Christ-like love, their hearts can change even if they don’t attend the event itself. When they do reject your invitation, I would suggest just saying that they are welcome no matter what and that you respect their decision.
Before I share my own experience, I want to let you know that the sting of rejection is very real. I have felt that countless times on my gay ex-Mormon journey! I also want you to realize that however you decide to react is okay. My advice isn’t the gospel truth, but I think it offers an interesting perspective.
One of my best realizations about rejection came when I had a cousin who attacked my marriage on Facebook. It stung. Really badly. Her family is pretty homophobic and awful to the LGBTQIA+ community at large.I was amazed at the people who came out of the woodwork though to defend me: mission companions, TBM friends, etc. I decided after that attack that I had a choice to make. I had to decide how I was going to react to her personal attacks/ rejection. In the end, the ones who will hurt more from their rejection of me is them. This cousin has to live with the awful things that she has said to me. I reached out to her and told her how I felt and recommended that she read a book by Carol Lynn Pearson about accepting our gay loved ones. She never responded even though she saw the message. I unfriended the entire family on Facebook and I don’t engage with them in person because they have treated me poorly. I have a decision to react how I want to and to show the kind of person that I want to be with these people. Refusing to engage is an act of self-care.
So my advice is to extend the invitation, to reach out with kindness if they reject your invitation, to understand that if they have a track record of treating you well that their decision to not attend isn’t a personal attack, and to enjoy your special day! Those who are able to see past their religious beliefs to attend your special day also deserve special kindness. Things are rarely black and white and those who are able to see the grays and love you for you are true friends indeed!