By Scot, (a father, husband and gay Utahn)
My in-laws are staying with us again (“In-law”, the best word to convey the right idea, is literally wrong here in Utah :-)). But, contrary to what sit-coms have taught me to expect, I actually look forward to their visits. We all love them dearly, and they are wonderful grandparents.Things weren’t always so clear, though. I remember standing next to my husband, when he was only my boyfriend, as he wrote the letter to them coming out. I was there when they made the unbearably brief call a couple days later, saying only they’d need some time before they could talk to him again. I waited with him, and did my best to consol him, and felt anger towards them without knowing them or what difficulties they were going though. I was elated when they finally called, and frightened when we learned they’d have us over for Thanksgiving.Thanksgiving! Not only without my family, but with big scary them! In Provo! My father in-law was a Bishop and I didn’t know what to expect. Would we be drugged with tainted funeral potatoes and carted away to some shock therapy facility deep beneath BYU?
I made clear their address to my parents… Just in case.
We entered their home braced for anything. But I had nothing to fear (dare I make an unfair mother in-law cooking joke here? Best not :-)). Anyway, we all miraculously survived Thanksgiving, and I can say never once have they treated me with anything but kindness. I hope they feel the same.
Over the years, we’ve grown much closer. They even came to our marriage, over ten years ago. We did not make a deal of them coming and certainly did not ask them to play a part that could be construed as “condoning”. Nonetheless, they came, though in looking at the photos, it’s clear they were more stoic than joyful. My parents were jubilant on that day, and I’m grateful they were, but it meant something extra to us that my in-laws even came.
Over the years since it had been painful to think of how they may regard our home. An abomination they merely tolerated with pleasantries? Something God would someday tear apart? It seemed best not to ask.
Then one day a couple years ago, we were talking to a friend while my father in-law was visiting and curiosity got the better of him. He asked outright how he felt about our family.
My father-in-law replied, “All anyone needs to know is: This is my son, and I love him. This is my son in-law, and I love him. And these are my grandkids, and I love them.”
I had to compose myself; remembering it still gets to me. That, of course, gives little theological explanation, but who cares? We couldn’t ask for more.
Then last month they were in a terrible vehicle accident. We rushed to their hospital in Idaho Falls to find they were, thank God, alive, but in terrible shape. They needed to be cared for and came home with us.
They were immobile for about 2 weeks and in that time the missionaries came by. I actually was hoping they would, as I knew we were going to ask to get the sacrament brought to our home on Sunday, and had no idea how. Unfortunately though, they stayed a little too long and said some things that upset R (I think I’ll just refer to my significant other as “R”, for now).
After they left, R told his mom it hurt him to have them in the home, his sanctuary, when the “Proclamation on the Family” pointedly leaves his family out, and with all the political attempts the LDS church has made to harm us legally. You debase and undermine another’s family and such resentment is inevitable.
But she explained she had never thought of it that way. She told him she never had because she knew our family was wonderful and meant to be. She told him that she didn’t know how in the afterlife it would work out, or how the apparent contradiction would be solved, but she knew it would be for our family.
When I got home I was first a bit upset. I suggested we should instead keep our emotions regarding the LDS church’s actions to ourselves when his parents are here. I felt bad that she, being a guest and in her condition, was put on the spot, and I don’t want to ruin a good thing. But, in the end, I was wrong. Just letting things go ignored keeps them from growing and allows for assumptions that may be far too pessimistic. That talk clearly brought her closer to her son, and all of us closer to these wonderful grandparents.
Are they compromising their LDS faith? Would they be chastised by the LDS leadership, if they found out they, in fact, stay at their gay son’s home, treat his partner as family, and treat our children as they would any other grandchildren? Maybe, but I, for one, am more than happy they are able to keep their faith and us in their lives too, however they justify it.
Er, I was going to end with a joke complaint about them, but I honestly can’t think of one.