Monday, March 1, 2010

More parallells with the GLBT community

My interview went great- crazy, intense, but great, and I think I did as well as I possibly could have. My doubts about "the mouth" have been put to rest, and out of the 2 assistant professorship interviews I've had so far, and the 2 postdocs I have a good chance at getting (I'm a finalist for one, and have a really good inside contact at a second), this one is now my #1 choice. I should be hearing back in a few weeks but cross your fingers, toes, eyes, feet for me, pray for me if you believe in that, send me positive vibes if you believe in those, because I really really really want this job to be my job.

Anyways, when I came home I went to a department party where I ran into an old friend of mine- we're in the same year in my grad program, but she works mostly off campus and doesn't hang around the department much, so I haven't actually seen her in over a year. She asked how things were going with my parents, and I told her about the graduation thing, and about possibly going to the wedding. This friend is Jewish- she's from a reform or conservative background I think, but pretty traditional/religious (my first year I drove over to her place for a traditional rosh hashana lunch), has some orthodox family, and her ex girlfriend grew up orthodox, so she knows a lot about the orthodox community values. Also, she is a lesbian (the ex girlfriend part should have clued you in), so we always end up having really interesting discussions about the parallels between my situation and the situation of many of her gay friends who have families that don't approve of their partners.

At this party we got to talking about coming out in general, and I was telling about my plan to go to the wedding without B (who doesn't want to go, so I've decided not to press for it), but wearing my wedding ring, and "coming out" to all my family about being married. Her insight which really struck me was this- a lot of parents who were hostile to her friend's partners (just becuase they are gay) have come around eventually. But that accepting their gay child is as much as a "coming out" process for their parents as it is for them, because in order to accept their children they have to publicly be the parent of a gay child.

I don't know why, but that just really struck me. Going to this wedding and coming out to all my family about being married to someone not jewish, will be 'outing' my parents as the parents of someone who married out, which to them is very shameful. With that in mind, I'm going to try to be sensitive to that, and make a special effort not to badmouth my parents to other relatives. It's tough for them. Heck, it's been super tough to me to deal with the reaction of people, and it's always really difficult to put myself out there and tell people about my marriage (there is always that really scary moment: will they be cool? Will they not be cool?), and I CHOSE to go out and marry someone not Jewish. They didn't have that choice, so I am basically asking them to have to deal with something similar if they are going to accept B as my husband.

With that in mind, by going around telling all my relatives about my marriage, that might actually make it easier for my parents- because then if they eventually decide to be cool with us, THEY don't have to go around telling everyone that I'm married, because I'll have gone through that tough part without them.

At the very least, going around telling everyone I'm married will mean I won't have the same issues next time someone gets married- because if they don't invite my husband, I'll KNOW it's deliberate.


  1. Be thankful you don't have to tell your relatives that you're married to a non-Jewish woman.

  2. yeah of course it can always be worse- I can also be thankful I'm not married to someone who is actively practicing another religion that I converted too. :) Either way, it's going to suck.

    Actually my mom once actually ranked how worse it would be. This is from a blog post I wrote about a conversation with my parents shortly after I started dating B, in which I first breached the idea of marrying someone not jewish to my parents:

    Also my mom compared marrying someone not jewish to being a murderer. But apparently being a lesbian would be worse than marrying someone not jewish, so by extension my parents think being a lesbian is worse than being a murderer.

  3. although how much "worse" they could have reacted I don't know. Maybe by trying to kill my partner or something? :)

  4. A lot of times it seems that people care more about what their friends, family, and neighbors think about their children than they do about their children. It's pretty sad.

    The good news is, coming out (or being outed) should be liberating for your parents in a way, even if they're not happy about it. And it'll be good for your extended family to know that they know someone like you. It's a lot harder to demonize the other when the other is your niece/cousin/etc. Maybe it'll open their minds a bit.


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