How do you deal with homophobic wedding guests at your gay-friendly wedding?

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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?

Comments on How do you deal with homophobic wedding guests at your gay-friendly wedding?

  1. I have a similar dynamic with my super conservative family but my approach is just to trust that no one will say anything either way because they are all super polite. I only have a couple of openly LGBTQ friends and no family (that I’m aware of) so it’s not a big problem for us. If someone is openly rude though, my wedding party has my permission to come to me with the problem and I will most definitely evict them for being rude. I’m not the evicting kind at all but I don’t like bullying and I won’t have my friends/family treated badly. But again, my family is painfully polite no matter how they feel and so apparently is FH’s family.)

    I think it gets more difficult if you are dealing with more extremes on both sides: as in if you had drag queen friends and then like Westboro Baptist members for family. (I have to admit I wish I was friends with a couple of drag queens because how awesome would that be during the dance party portion of the reception!!) In that case, maybe being open about it BEFORE the wedding. As in putting something on the Wedsite about it might help to put out any drama before it starts. Something nice and polite but along the lines of, “Everyone is required to be polite and get along if even if you can’t agree or you will get tossed.” Or you could just come out and write, “We support marriage equality and support our LGBTQ friends/family and will not tolerate any rudeness, etc….” If people think they might have a problem with this, they will hopefully just stay away.

  2. My wife and I were married 6 months ago – and this was a big fear of mine. We did have some folks decline likely due to being uncomfortable with a woman marrying another woman – but since we didn’t ask for a reason for the decline…who knows? The day of…politeness won. If anyone had issues or was uncomfortable we had absolutely no idea – and there was plenty of LGBTQI lovey-ness besides the two of us…the feedback we received was about how welcoming our non-Roman Catholic Mass was and how good the taco’s were!

  3. I’m having a similar issue. I’m bisexual and my fiance’s family is unaware of this fact and rather homophobic. FH and I have simply decided that I don’t want to tell them as I don’t think that it’s their business which genders I’m attracted to. If and when it comes up in the future, as I’m sure it will, I’ll of course own up to it. But until then, there’s the wedding, which will include several same sex couples. For now, I’m just going to assume that their penchant for keeping up appearances will help keep their tongues tied on the subject, at least for that day.

  4. It’s been about 7 months since the husband and I had our wedding. 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”.

  5. I recently went to a relatives gay wedding and had exactly the opposite experience! As one of the brides parents went out of their way to make snide remarks trying to call me out because of my conservative religious background. It was very uncomfortable but I think I handled it appropriately when what I wanted to do was to slap the person!

    • As a conservative person it bothers me that many people assume conservative = anti-LBGT. I understand why this happens, but it is frustrating sometimes. My fiance and I are having a Catholic ceremony however, several of our guests are LBGT. We appreciate their love and support of our relationship, just as we love and support their relationships. At the end of the day all that matters is Love and Respect.

  6. I think your concern is good – it’s good to be aware and do what you can to make everyone comfortable. Good for you!

    But I also think – that at my wedding nobody wanted to spoil my big day. Adults acted like Adults – and a ton of stuff happened that would have really worried/bothered/annoyed me but everybody acted like an adult and didn’t bug me with ANY of it. My day was perfect – and everything went off without a hitch – or so I thought. I heard about a few things about a year later…and by that time everybody was laughing! And it was too late for my worry to do any good at that point so I didn’t worry!

    Anyway, that’s just how it worked out for me, and for most of my married friends also… I hope that sets your mind at ease…that’s all I wanted to do…

    Best of luck on your big day, and for all the days there after…. 🙂

  7. My husband and I invited several of our LBGT friends to our wedding, I myself identify as pan. A lot of these people are more family to me than my own family.

    Nobody seem to have a problem with this or really noticed. Even my somewhat homophobic redneck family members my mother forced me to invite were too busy having fun to care. It was awesome!

    But as I was making my rounds, one of my aunts(who is only 2-3 years older than me) asked me about some of my guests. Specifically she pointed to one of my lesbian couple friends.

    “Who’s that?” pointing to my friend M, who was dancing with her partner V.

    “Oh that’s M.”

    “Are you friends? How do you know her?”(Because I’m totally into inviting strangers to my wedding?)

    “Um… Yes. I work with her.”

    “Oh. And who is that person?” pointing to V.

    V is a totally hot and adorable drag king and tends to dress very dapper and masculine even out of drag. Even though she’s a very convincing king, you can tell she’s a woman when out of drag. She was in full blown Buddy Holly-mode that night.

    “That’s V.”

    My aunt gives me a “Why did you invite such a weirdo?” look.

    “Are they… together?” looking at me like – “Did you really invite some of “THOSE” people?”

    “Yeah, they’ve been together for four years.” I looked her right in the eye and gave her my best shit eating grin and a “Oh honey, you have no idea how many of “THOSE” people are in this room right now, and I would sooner toss you out over any of them any day.” look.

    “…”

    “…”

    “Oh… Well… I… I went to the bathroom, an’ they were in there an’ they were totally makin’ out!” Like she was a child trying to tattle on them.

    I smiled.

    ” Oh. Okay.” Then I walked away.

    A few weeks later I told M about what happened, and she had no idea what my aunt was talking about. She and V aren’t really into making out in public and they probably gave each other a quick kiss at most.

  8. Tell guests that it’s a gay-friendly wedding and that if they have a problem with that, they need to keep it to themselves or stay home. I hope you’re not afraid to offend them They SHOULD be called out for their comments and if they aren’t going to make any, then you haven’t “offended” them. Your fear of offending them is a privilege of your straightness. We didn’t have that privilege at our wedding. Make the homophobes uncomfortable for having awful beliefs, not the people who constantly hear that crap from them just for existing. – A Lesbian

  9. I am similarly worried about this issue. My boyfriend and I are not engaged (yet), but barring anything totally catastrophic, we will be within the year. Both sides of his family are VERY conservative Christian, including his parents (his three sibs not so much). My dad’s side of the family is quite liberal, but my mom’s is mixed and leans pretty conservative, especially among the older members. Pretty much everyone on all sides of the family believes in some sort of God, with the exception of my parents, who are agnostic. Boyfriend and I are both Atheists, and I, more specifically, identify as an Atheistic Pagan. Any ceremony we have will reflect this. On top of that, our likely officiant will be one of my best friends, who is FTM. He passes for the most part, but he also is very alt-looking (tattoos, varying hairstyles and so forth). Families are both about as “boringly” normal as you can get. Of everyone, my parents are, and always have been, wonderfully accepting people, and I am not worried about them at all (they may actually be a lot of help handling all of this). But I am worried about both of our extended families reactions and responses. I am making sure that people all know that Boyfriend and I are Atheists (he informed his parents recently, which went…okay; probably as well as could be expected) ahead of time to try to cut down on shock factor, but I’m worried it won’t be enough. :/

  10. My officiant at my wedding has been my best friend since middle school, she’s a wonderful speaker, and was accepted to seminary this fall. She also happens to be gay. To top it off, she performed a godless wedding ceremony with untraditional vows at our request.

    She was the only gay person at our small wedding. I also had one of my good friends and her husband attend. She was the only black person there.

    Now, most of my family is pretty conservative. They’re all very religious and I often walk out of family reunions to get away from the racist jokes. At my cousin’s wedding, I sat in silent discomfort as her priest talked about the “Godly” definition of marriage.

    But I give each one credit for repaying the favor, and not saying anything unsavory at the wedding (at least not that I’ve heard of) about my best friend, or about the beliefs me and my now-husband have about equality. At the next family event, the unsavory came back, but it was nice to have a break.

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