My future husband and I were recently trying to pare down the guest list again (for the 3000th time) and decided to eliminate some non-essential people that we feel have acted homophobic in the past. I like these people, but I don't want any guest at my wedding to feel uncomfortable because some drunk guy in the corner is having a hard time with LGBTQ people dancing and making merriment together.
It's not that I think these bad-belief people would cause a scene, but I would be heartbroken if one of them said something as a side comment that was overheard by one of my friends, or if I overheard something like that — because I would be angry, and sad, and possibly throwing things.
So the homophobic-tendency people are off the list, and I can live with that — but what if this happens anyway, because I missed someone on the list with views I didn't know about?
I know I can't control the moral judgements of all of my guests, but I am not sure what to do if this situation arises at the wedding. I hope I am being anxious for no reason, but I guess I want to have a plan if this really happens. Ordinarily, when I hear someone say something homophobic, I respond. I get that I will likely be too busy to notice, but it would crush me to hear about it later.
Has anyone else ever had a problem like this happen to them? How did you handle it? Do you have family that is prejudiced, and how did you handle knowing about their issues, and reconciling that with your wedding guests? -delicateflower
This is an important issue — we all want ALL our guests to feel comfortable, avoid awkwardness, and enjoy the wedding. Previously, we've addressed the concept of actively supporting marriage equality at your wedding. But now it's time to have a conversation about curbing homophobic discussions amongst your guests.
We decided to ask two readers to weigh in. First let's hear from SparksinKY who has some awesome suggestions from an ally perspective…
I would say at least a quarter of my family coming are anti-gay rights. They will see some of my friends and family with their same-sex partners, but I also expect that they will have the tact not to say anything about it. At some point, you may just have to let go of worrying about who will end up offending whom and protecting guests from other guests.I wrote several months ago about how I was going to use this idea next to a guest book. I will write a similar gay marriage support letter, place it next to the guestbook, and then have a sheet for them to add their names as a petition. That way they can choose to do it or not. To avoid making the conservatives feel unwelcome, I will probably not make a big announcement about it. Just place it there and let people either acknowledge it on their own or not.
So maybe if you make a declaration in some way about it at your wedding, it will serve as a point to these guests that any negative comments will not be received kindly. -SparksinKY
Now here's reader AnotherMystery (author of our Dress shopping and gender bending: why I'm wearing a suit and a veil) to give us an LGBT perspective…
First of all, thank you for being such a fabulous ally! Us queer folk face hurtful comments (and worse) all the time, and I can't tell you how valuable it is to have friends like you who aren't afraid to speak out on our behalf.There are plenty of things you can do to make it clear to all your guests that your wedding is a queer friendly event, The posts SparksinKy linked to give some great ideas. Most people will get the message, and keep their homophobic beliefs to themselves.
However, you should resign yourself to the possibility that there might still be someone who says something offensive to someone, and the best advice I can give is to let it go.
I've been on the receiving end of those unsavory comments (even at friend's weddings), and I really think your LGBT friends will just appreciate what a great ally you already are, and they know that your guests views are not your views. -AnotherMystery
Offbeat Bride Rorsun asks you to trust your guests to be adults (your mileage may vary):
The best advice I can give is trust that your guests can be adults. Life is full of people who have opposing beliefs (I refuse to call it a “point of view” when it comes to homophobia). If a guest can't handle that not everyone shares their belief systems, the onus is on them to act like an adult and kindly remove themselves from the situation.
If you're truly concerned about someone who's less-than stellar about queer issues coming to the wedding because they've been “stealth” on their beliefs, I would put it out there that the event is welcoming to ALL people who're invited and that you know there may be some values and cultural differences, but trust that all invited will show respect because this is YOUR tribes coming together, from all walks of life. I'd put it on the website for the wedding, if you have one, and, also, in any escort table/dining tables/gift table you may have. It puts the onus, more firmly, onto the guest to be an adult and realize that they made the choice to be the way they are regarding different people, but it's not about them.
If worst comes to worst, kick 'em out. Tell them exactly why, how inappropriate you find it, and boot 'em. You don't need the hate parade and your queer friends will (hopefully) respect you more for sticking to your guns and choosing their side over glossed-over niceness for the sake of “the day”.
And Cassie had this guidance:
While I think it's great that you care so much about this issue and you want to protect your friends from insensitive comments (and protect yourself from the heartache), I think what you really need to focus on is your own anxiety. No matter who you invite, there will be conflict. There will be people who don't like the opinions of other people at your party. And as other people stated, you have to hope and trust that the people you love will respect you enough not to cause problems at your wedding. I had eight guests at my wedding, and two of them offended at least one other. If problems can arise in a reception of ten people, just accept that problems will arise between guests at your wedding/reception, and learn to deal with the stress on you. They're adults; they can handle their own problems. It's not your job to police people's behavior, try to head it off at the pass, or get upset over it later.
What do you think? Share your advice about how to deal with homophobic wedding guests in the comments.
Declarations in your vows? Mentions of marriage equality on your wedsite? Asking a cousin to rein in your homophobic aunt? What ways are you dealing with possible homophobic wedding guests issues at your event?