Dad Won’t Come to My Big Gay Wedding

Dear Robin:

Hello from Palm Springs!  I found you on Bulldog’s show and can’t wait to hear you again so when will you be back on?

Here is my problem…my dad won’t come to my wedding because I’m gay and he said he doesn’t believe gays should be married.  He has actually been very supportive since I came out ten years ago so this shocked and surprised me and I am deeply hurt.  We have always had a great relationship and he is a great dad.

My mom and two brothers are also very upset Dad won’t attend.  My fiancé’s entire family will be there supporting him and I am dreading seeing an empty seat where my father should be.

Do you have any clever words that can convince him to come to my wedding?  I love my father and need him there.


Dear Brad:

Mazel on your engagement!  I’m not sure about the radio show but once my new website launches I hope to be back on.  Stay tuned as that will be happening very soon!

I’m thrilled we live in a time when so many states are seeing the wisdom of equal marriage rights.  The old system was discriminatory and deeply unfair towards heterosexuals: why should heterosexuals be the only ones to suffer through marriage and divorce?


Thank you for messaging with me over the past few days.  You told me several things of interest:

1. Your father was raised in the Catholic Church and his family took it very seriously, attending their church every weekend where he served as an altar boy.  Interestingly, he no longer attends church.

2. He told you when you came out that he had always suspected you might be gay but didn’t care and loved you no matter what.  Score one point for Dad!

3. Over the years he has acted deeply uncomfortable and awkward, sometimes even rude, when you brought boyfriends to his home.  Hmmm.  Take away one point from Dad.

4. His relationship with your fiancé was OK until you moved in together two years ago, at which point it became strained.  Since your engagement last September, your father has refused several invitations with no excuse.  Deduct another point for Pop.

5. You found out he isn’t coming to the wedding through your mom – your dad hasn’t even told you himself.  Dad loses another point for being a gutless coward and now stands at -2.

I’m going to go WAY out on a limb here so be prepared to be shocked:

Your father attended a Catholic church in the midwest that was notorious for child abuse during many of the years his family attended that church.  It is possible he was abused and therefore has very conflicted feelings about his son’s homosexuality, despite his earlier support.

Whether or not he was abused, I think his initial positive reaction when you came out may have been based upon a hope you might be confused and later change your mind.

I think this is why he reacted so negatively to your relationships, especially your most serious one: it’s clear you aren’t confused.


Brad, please follow my step-by-step advice for how to handle your father’s reluctance to attend your wedding:

1. Get some time alone with him.  Send your fiancé out for bridesmaid dress shopping with your mom and make sure they are gone for at least a couple of hours.

2. Wine.  Duh.  But not communion wine – that may bring up some bad memories.

3. Tell him you did some research on his church and you couldn’t help but wonder if he was one of the victims.  If he denies it, move on.

If he admits he was abused, encourage him to seek help (assuming he has not done so already) to deal with the horrific memories he must have from being so terribly taken advantage of at a young age by someone professing to work for God.

If your dad steadfastly refuses to discuss this subject, I think you can assume he may have suffered at the hands of that disgusting priest who ended up dying in jail.

4. Thank him for being supportive of you when you came out but point out he has seemed uncomfortable with your boyfriends over the years.  Ask him why he thinks that is.  Remember: this is a conversation, not an inquisition, so try to keep your tone non-judgmental and somewhat unemotional.  You are on a fact-finding mission.

5. Cite several times during your life when your father played a pivotal role in your development into a happy and healthy adult.  Get specific and bring back some memories he may have long forgotten and which stand out to you as examples of what a great father he was and is.

6. Tell him that while you understand he has religious beliefs that clash with gay marriage, you need him to put those aside for one day and be there for you.  Tell him this is the most important day of your life and his absence will be heartbreaking and humiliating for you.

7. Ask him point-blank: will you please come to my wedding and be a part of my happiness and this commitment to my partner?

That’s it.

I think you can turn this around with your father but please keep this one thought in mind: don’t let your dad’s absence ruin your special day.  You need to develop a mindset that allows you to be happy no matter what your father decides.

I know that sounds too simple, but when Mr. Patience and Understanding and I were struggling with a very serious problem almost completely outside our control someone made that point to us and it was incredibly enlightening.

“Assume the worst will happen,” she said.  “Can you still love each other and be OK?” The answer was an unequivocal “yes” and an enormous weight was lifted from our relationship.

Get yourself there and realize that your father’s indoctrination from birth and possible abuse is not your fault.  If nothing can be done to change his mind, have the best day you can possibly have and know that you are loved and supported by all those who are in attendance.

I’ll expect my invitation soon…


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. YouCanLeadAHorticulture

    Congratulations to Brad! Hopefully even if his father can’t feel comfortable participating in the wedding in time he will feel like his new son-in-law is part of the family. Reserving judgement and letting the father work out his own issues will only allow him to return to the fold sooner.

  2. Laura

    I’m sorry Robin, but I think you took a big left turn into Crazy Town on Pt 3. You are making some wild assumptions that have absolutely no evidence.

    I’m pretty sure that Dad is ok with his son’s life, and loves him, just as he said earlier. BUT Dad is not comfortable with his friends, buddies, hunting partners, and business associates knowing his son is gay. Especially nowadays with all the hullabaloo in the news about people being very offended by gay marriage. A wedding is throwing his son’s gayness out into the public forum for all the world to see. How does he handle that? He doesn’t attend the event so that the world can see that he doesn’t condone this type of marriage. But in private, he still loves his son.

    Try giving him some advice based upon this more probable scenario. Not advice based upon, “Oh he was probably molested by a priest”

    Just my 2 cents. Normally I find your advice to be spot on.

    1. askdescamp

      That’s why I wrote it both ways – either he was or he wasn’t but the advice remains the same. There were other facts I did not include in the piece, by the way, which raised the issue in the first place but which the letter writer did not want me to include. But thanks for your comment!

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