There was a brief lull of silence between my grandma and I, in between discussing recent movies, my job, and her favorite wine to drink with her friends.
It had been a good day. We went for a stroll in Seal Beach, CA, and shared a delicious lunch of sliders and onion rings.
The conversation never ceased.
When we returned to her house, we split a bottle of one of our shared favorite wines – Nobilo, a Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, as well as cheese and crackers and brownies.
We put Samin Nosrat’s fabulous Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat on in the background (and my mouth watered at the exquisite looking olive oil).
Conversation turned to people we knew – my cousin and her husband – and then eventually to myself.
That’s when the silence happened, only for a moment, before I asked: ‘Would grandpa have come to my wedding if I marry a woman?’
The frustrating need for acceptance
I believe family is made up of people you choose and who choose you in return. I don’t think it’s a steadfast bond created by blood.
Society, however, creates a different perception.
I struggled with this growing up, learning and unlearning so many different things about the people in our lives and how important we allow them to be. It was especially difficult navigating in tandem with my sexuality and accepting that people other than myself were going to have reactions to my identity.
It’s a lot easier said than done to say we don’t care what people think – especially family members, existing on a pedestal as dictated by societal rules and expectations.
I know there will be family members who won’t come to my wedding if I marry a woman.
It’s okay – I wouldn’t want them there, anyway.
But it still hurts, because it’s another rock thrown at my glass house, reminding me some people view me as wrong and that the world isn’t always safe or welcoming.
‘He loved you’
I never officially came out to my extended family. I simply began existing openly once I embraced my own queerness. My family gathered I wasn’t straight from the way I spoke and acted, the social media posts I wrote for National Coming Out Day and Bi Visibility Day, and eventually, when I started dating my girlfriend.
While I never directly faced any discrimination or homophobia from family members, I was aware of held prejudices and beliefs and skepticism.
It became a fine line to walk.
My grandfather always showed a booming and tender love to me. Though I never got to come out to him, I felt loved by him.
He passed away in 2014. I loved him and who he was in my life. I chose him as a part of my family.
When I asked my grandmother if he would have come to my same-sex wedding, it was an impromptu moment. It wasn’t something I frequently dwelled on nor something I felt I needed. I don’t believe in an afterlife, so seeking from the dead is counterintuitive to me.
I wasn’t seeking my grandpa’s acceptance through my grandma. If and when I get married, it will happen and be a wonderful, celebratory day regardless.
But part of being queer is understanding the reality of not always being celebrated or accepted. Though we can survive it, that doesn’t take away its pain.
I simply, suddenly, wanted to know about this person I loved.
‘Yes,’ my grandma responded to me. ‘He loved you, all of you.’