Choosing Your Gay Family

There are so many tricky parts about two femmes planning a wedding.  In the wedding industry, the word lesbian is never really expected.  Weddings are still undoubtedly very heterosexual.  Gay people are embarking on somewhat new territory reclaiming marriage and the rest of the world is still trying to catch up.  Even during Indie Wed in this gay ol’ city of Chicago, too many retailers assumed that Andrea (my fiancée) and I are having a double wedding rather than marrying each other.  Awkward, but a quick smile can wipe each vender’s face clean of their embarrassment, just in time perhaps to recover their sale.  It is a business, and Chicago can sell anything …including a big GAY Wedding.

If Andrea and I are breaking new ground with our ceremony, what wedding traditions do we actually follow?  Where do we even start?  Like everyone else, with the guest list of course.  Or my dress, Oooooo look at this dress.  On way too many nights I distract myself from the task at hand, “THE GUESTLIST,” and beg Andrea to look at this pretty one or that pretty one.  A dress can never be “the” dress because after all there are two dresses at this wedding.  Two women have two totally different ideas of their fantasy wedding dresses and those dresses almost never match in color.  Did you know how many different shades of white there are?  Because I certainly did not, I had no idea how many shades of white, or how many different materials are a “must have” for a cocktail event vs. a beach wedding.  Chiffon, silk, satin, rouching, ruching, single shoulder, A Line, Empire waist, halter …oh my god, the option are overwhelming.  At this point I can’t even begin to sift through all my dress variations – so – let’s move on to the guest list!

Making a guest list is a source of agony for all engaged couples, whether hetero or homo or gender neutral.  Family politics manages its way through every turn during our guest list.  Do you invite the divorced uncle of your aunt who passed away?  How do you decide who is allowed to bring a date?  Now consider that most people pay around a hundred dollars for each person, suddenly this list must become much smaller and there is no way to do that without scratching my head a half dozen times and sipping some serious wine while playing “rock, paper, scissors”.  There are always bound to be people who have to be invited, just to avoid hurt feelings, and knowing myself I am bound to have hurt feelings over who decides they cannot come for their own personal reasons.  I almost want to include on my invitations three different RSVP options.

– Yes, we love you and can’t wait to celebrate.
– No, sorry we can’t make it do to other obligations, travel, kids, etc.
–  No, “we don’t support this lifestyle,” please take us off your Christmas card list.

Why not use this time to really clear the air, and trim my family tree?  I don’t want people to come to the wedding out of politeness; I want a room full of guests eager to celebrate love in our lives.  My wedding seems to be the perfect opportunity to completely surround myself with only the people who really love and support Andrea and I.

The reality is I have to invite all, I mean ALL, of my family, many of which only now will be learning that I am gay.  As dubious as it seems the subject of my sexuality honestly just never came up.  Wedding announcement turns into a coming out party.  Perhaps it is easier to “come out” via wedding invitations, than calling everyone individually.  Maybe it is easier to have relatives passively decide not attend than struggle through an awkward discussion of morality and values.  Why did anyone ever assume that I would marry a man anyway?  Despite our recent news spotlight on gay marriage, the word “lesbian” just doesn’t seem to come up during wedding talk.  So I take a deep breath and begin composing our guest list knowing that maybe only half of them will actually attend our wedding.  But despair not my friends, because this only leaves room for the definition of my family to expand.  My BIG PHAT GAY FAMILY would not miss this celebration for the world, and they will be there every step of the way building a little fortress in my family tree.  That’s what is nice about this wedding. Andrea and I can choose who we consider our chosen family.  Plus you know we will totally throw  the best party in town.

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About Kim

Kimberly Rogers, LCSW. like many Queer Ohioans fled to Chicago when Issue #1 (most discriminating marriage ban in the US) passed by 75%. Now she works in the fight against HIV/AIDS as a psychotherapist and smarter-sex advocate. A Master’s graduate from the University of Chicago, Kim mixes her interests of gender, sexuality, queer politics, and mental health liberation into a her own Sex-Positive Psychotherapy Practice. She feels so fortunate to be working with such amazing and passionate people.


2 Responses to “Choosing Your Gay Family”

  1. Kim this is just so wonderful!
    It’s thoughtful and endearing and articulates a lot of questions brides to be (gay or…other) have but don’t say.
    Very nicely done. And that picture of you and Andrea: PRECIOUS!!!

    Posted by Casey | July 3, 2012, 4:08 pm
  2. Ugh, the guest list…I think we could write one hundred articles about it…

    Posted by Meg | July 3, 2012, 5:58 pm

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