A Straight Parent’s Honest Question

When a child comes out, a parent must eventually come out and the experience can be equally difficult for both parties. We frequently get questions from parents who haven’t ever attended a same-sex wedding ceremony and are trying to figure out how to handle their first — on the occasion of their gay child’s ceremony.
One Mom wrote in and asked us this:
“My daughter is having a commitment ceremony this weekend-I’ve not a clue what to expect – she asked her stepfather to walk her down the aisle and I’m to light a unity candle with the other mother. My husband asked what happens at the end of the ceremony???”
And, here’s what I said:
“I’ve always thought that there are such a wide range of emotions any parent experiences at his or her child’s wedding; I know that these emotions can often be heightened at a gay or lesbian wedding ceremony if one has not ever participated in one. I think my family also experienced some trepidation — especially my grandmothers — because they weren’t sure what to expect.
“I can tell you that most people — straight or gay — I’ve met and spoken with after their first gay/lesbian wedding, say that they were blown away by the experience because of the genuineness and honesty of the ceremony. A gay wedding is really no different than most straight weddings — it will contain some readings from the heart, some familiar rituals, an exchange of vows, perhaps some music… It just happens to be two men or, in your case, two women you’ll be honoring that day.
“If I may be so bold as to make a prediction: you will be amazed at the outpouring of love you receive from your daughter’s community. They will all be so thankful and moved to see you and your daughter’s step-father participating in the ceremony. Those of us who are gay & lesbian don’t take parental support for granted and thus are always grateful to find some, like yourself, you aren’t afraid to open your heart and be there with us.
“As for what happens at the end… I assume there will be a fun party & dancing & good eats! But, perhaps this is the simple answer? Perhaps your husband is expressing anxiety about whether or not there will be a kiss to seal the deal? I would assume so, but don’t know. Whatever will happen at the end will be a natural outgrowth of the ceremony and love and commitment exchanged leading up to the Recessional, at which, I suspect, there will be lots of smiles and clapping.
“I hope this answers some of your questions. It’s OK to feel apprehensive and I’m glad you and your husband have each other to speak to. I encourage you to keep your hearts and minds open and enjoy the weekend; I think you’ll be moved more than you ever expected to be and that you’ll understand and appreciate your daughter’s union in ways you never imagined. The open arms & hearts of parents goes miles you can never overestimate.”

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