Straight Mom Says There’s Nothing Like A Holiday Greeting Card To Foster Pride And Make the Yuletide Gay

GPH-LG.jpg“My mom,” he said, “always includes a mention of me in her holiday letter, but she never mentions any other aspects of my life, including my partner.”
Kathryn Hamm, daughter of Gretchen Hamm, the straight mom who founded &, “mother-approved” shopping boutiques for same sex weddings, shares this anecdote of a friend who finds his family’s holiday missive to be anti-climactic, if not downright disrespectful.
It’s a mother’s behavior, which Gretchen Hamm can understand, as she remembers when it was difficult for her to share the fact that her daughter intended to marry a woman.
She’s come a long way since then, founding two online boutiques for same sex weddings in 2000, and becoming an active spokesperson for the equal worth and dignity of all persons. When she’s not minding the store, Gretchen works to remove the cloak of shame engulfing straight parents who aren’t quite sure how to respond to, let alone embrace, their children’s disclosure that they are gay or lesbian and involved in a life-long commitment to someone of the same sex.
“The more same sex couples [and families] are front and center with their loves and lives,” she says, “the faster change will happen. This is how the cultural landscape will eventually change for same sex couples, enabling them to have legal rights along with their commitment to one another.”
Not all couples are lucky enough to have a supportive parent like Gretchen. In “Psychotherpay with Lesbians and Gay Men,” Kristen A. Hancock suggests that many families find it easier to lessen the importance of a family member’s gay or lesbian relationship by referring to the couple as “friends” or “roommates” rather than acknowledging the romantic aspect of the relationship.
One might speculate that defining a romantic same sex relationship as a friendship deprives the couple of the validity and importance it deserves, damaging the self worth of both partners and thus potentially creating fission between the couple and the family.
And, this is exactly what can make the annual holiday mailing such a painful thing for so many gay adults whose parents want to send a letter out to friends and family without full disclosure.
This is the time of year when Kathryn and Gretchen remind the same sex couples who have shopped at & about two important things: 1) they’ve got a great address list with which to work thanks to the guest list from their wedding planning; and 2) even if a family member isn’t sure how to include them in a holiday letter, the couple can take matters into their own hands and develop a holiday greeting for themselves.
“Something as simple as sending holiday cards from both partners to family, business colleagues and friends can open the door to more genuine and honest discussion,” says Gretchen. “Two names joined by that ever-powerful conjunction ‘and’ offer an undeniable assertion of unity and devotion to the recipients of the card or note.”
The holidays are also a great time for supportive families to “come out” to their friends and extended family. Including partners in the discussion in holiday letters, or in holiday photos or photo cards of the family, says Gretchen, is an easy way to show support and pride for a gay or lesbian family member.
For help on this, she and Kathryn turn to their line of products from OutVite, with whom they’ve worked since the gay-friendly product line debuted in 2003.
“It’s a simple matter,” Kathryn says, “of making the Yuletide a bit more gay while also embracing every member of the family. It’s a little bit that goes a long, long way.”

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