Friday, January 15, 2016

A Gay Man's Letter To His Parents After They Refused To Attend His Wedding

When Patrick Bradley, a food writer and founder of the blog,, married his partner three years ago, his parents refused to attend the wedding. Naturally, this caused a riff in their relationship but Bradley, who has managed to stay in contact with some members of his family since the wedding, has written a letter to his parents to set the record straight about how they’ve made him feel and he sent it to his entire family so they all will know his side of the story.

It’s brilliant and sad and heartbreaking, and here it is …
Dear Mom and Dad,
It’s been 890 days since the day that you both decided not to partake in my wedding. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to say anything about it. Perhaps I’ve been afraid of what the family will think, what the family might say. Or perhaps I’ve been afraid of losing even more of my wonderful, beautiful family, whom I think about day and night.
But the time is now because I’ve finally grown too tired of the 890 days and nights of being haunted by your presence — by your lack of presence, to be more precise. I’m tired of night after night of dreaming of you. And tonight, I had the most unpleasant of dreams — one that jolted me from my sleep and disallowed me to return to it. So at 6:22 a.m., after little more than three hours of sleep, I’m writing this letter to you — knowing that it is taking from my opportunity of getting a full night’s rest before work; but I’d rather work on little sleep than on little dignity.
As not to keep anyone in the family excluded (any longer), I’m sending this letter to everyone involved. I want everyone to know what had happened on my last visit to you, before my beautiful, wonderful wedding. I’m not writing this letter in an act of vengeance (even though it feels like it is), but rather, I’m doing it because I’m tired of walking on eggshells around my siblings, godchildren, nephews and nieces. I’m tired of having to be “civil” with both of you, “for the sake of the family.” I’m also tired of the unwanted holiday and birthday gifts, and I’m tired of you having the audacity to speak to my husband (and myself) as if nothing has happened. Have you no shame?
I think it’s time that I told my side of the story to the family, as I’m sure you have already told yours. I want everything to be out in the open, so that I can feel like I have all of my dignity with me when I will undoubtedly see you at family gatherings — gatherings which I now would rather avoid if it means that either of you will be present; I have other ways of seeing my family.
On May 13, 2013, I made the trip out to New Jersey — the day after Mother’s Day — to take you out for lunch because I had to work the previous day. You picked me up at the train station and we stopped at A & P to pick up a birthday card for one of the boys. On the way there, I told you about how Michael’s extended family, who’d be traveling from Georgia, Colorado and beyond — in part to meet you! — were so excited about meeting you. You simply replied that you both would not be going to the wedding. I tried my best to retain composure, thinking that I’d be able to change your mind before the big day.
By the time we left A & P, you started citing the bible, while unsuspecting shoppers were bustling about us, running their afternoon errands. And by the time we got back to the car, you’d mentioned your fear of an angel appearing to you, saying, “Stop praying for Patrick! He’s already in hell!” I knew then that it was time to go to my last resort and give an ultimatum which I never expected would be fulfilled.
I explained to you, simply and calmly, that if you (both) did not attend my wedding, you would not see me again after the wedding: no holidays, no birthdays, no hospitals, no funerals. What I heard next put me into a state of mild shock. You followed up, quickly and readily, with, “We know that! I talked to your dad last night and we already accept it! We said that we give you back to God!” I recall other things being said, which I’ll omit here. As I sat in shock — shock that you would rather never see me again than attend my wedding — you simply moved onto your next subject: “Well, I guess you don’t want to go to lunch anymore.” As I opened the car door to walk back to the train station, you offered, “Let me drive you back to the train. Let it be the one last thing that I do for you.” If there was any doubt in my mind that I’d misunderstood what you’d said to me previously, you had clarified your intentions then and there.
Mom and Dad: By not attending my wedding, you rejected me, and you rejected my husband, who is my own immediate family. I, in turn, reject anyone that rejects my family — out of dignity and respect for it. But I am offering resolution.
I will forgive you both for what you have done, if you, in front of the entire family (from youngest to eldest) admit that what you both did was wrong; admit that you both should have been at the wedding. Because I do think that what you both have done is shameful. You’ve torn a family apart. But what breaks my heart most is what this has done to the youngest in the family — the ones who were too young to know, or too young to understand what was going on. The ones whose only conclusion was perhaps “Patrick must be bad” or “He must have done something wrong because Grandma didn’t go to his wedding.” That is where I think you both should bear the shame, not me.
I want everyone to know everything. And maybe tonight, I’ll finally be able to sleep the whole night through.
With Best Intentions,
I read this and I wept, for all the Patricks still out there, and for the fact that, when Carlos and I decided to get married, and changed the location from New York City to Bellingham, Washington, so my Dad could be there, my father said one word in response:



anne marie in philly said...

patrick's parents have only themselves to blame. they would rather quote their imaginary friend than to love their own son. mean people suck.

the dogs' mother said...

Anyone who asks that you forsake your children is not talking to the right Deity.

mistress maddie said...

Wow. I good letter and well put. I agree with TDM above. When I was with the ex boy toy this could very well have been a letter to his family.

Blobby said...

I get he's angry. I get he's sleep deprived. I still wanted to take a red marker to this and edit out all this redundancies. He took so long getting TO the point, I'm guessing his parents tossed the letter or hit 'delete' before the end of the 2nd paragraph. Hey, but if it helped clean his mind, so be it.

Frank said...

Yes, I think it's wonderful when your family attends your wedding and shares in your happiness. Leon and I were so fortunate to have that.

But it is obvious that had Patrick's parents attended his wedding reluctantly or grudgingly, there would have been little joy in that for either his parents or for him and his husband, or the other guests. Patrick needs to heal his hurt and anger but this letter should have been written and put in a desk drawer for a few years - or for a few days or weeks at least. I think then he might have had different sentiments upon re-reading it.

Sadly even those we love and those closest to us may hurt us by expressing or acting on their irrational beliefs. These are attitudes we strive to change by our example and courage, but cannot do so with ultimatums about "I will never see or speak to you again."

Such ultimatums allow neither party the graceful response of reconciliation or forgiveness, but only freeze us into hurt and resentment for years, or sadly for lifetimes. Yes, the letter is sad, but for entirely different reasons, I believe.

Toni said...

Sad. I can't imagine not seeing my children or not being in their lives as long as I am breathing.

Raybeard said...

Shocking (what she said to him), heartbreaking and brave (what he said to them).

Mitchell is Moving said...

So heartbreaking. I had a therapist who told me "A mother's love is unconditional"; despite being a bit of a mess myself, that was the last time I saw that therapist. I wish Patrick Bradley and his husband many years together. I don't expect that his parents will have seen the light as a result of his empowering and intelligent letter, but I hope he's able to sleep better. I had to work at my relationship (with my mother especially) after coming out, but I never experienced anything like this -- although many of my friends did.

Helen Lashbrook said...

Not long before she died, knowing that she was thinking of going back to the man who'd hurt her so very badly, I told my daughter that whatever she decided to do I would always love her and always be there for her. As long as she was happy that was the most important thing for me. And then I lost her forever; to not go to her wedding to a man I disliked would have been unthinkable; I'd have danced and hoped for her to be happy ever after, no matter whom she married.

Debbie said...

You're so lucky Bob. My dearly departed cousin Arnie always had the love and support from most all of the family, including his dad. Everyone never treated Arnie any differently after he came out except for one cousin. He had major issues with the fact that Arnie was gay. I told him I could not believe that he could feel that way when we all grew up on the same street together, fought together and played together, went to the same school together for our ENTIRE childhoods. I just couldn't understand how he could erase someone from his entire life because they're gay. I will NEVER understand it.

I feel for Patrick and all the others out there who have been cut off from their families because it is beyond cruel.