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I Don't

I Don't


Why one Californian, delighted with his newfound right to marry, won't dare walk down the aisle again.

As thrilled as I am about marriage equality in California, I'm not getting married again. I had a lovely garden wedding two years ago. It gave me memories that will last a lifetime, but I would rather put a lit cigarette out in my cornea than gather my entire Filipino family in one place again. Everyone in my family is a tortured creative genius of some kind, which I can attribute only to hundreds of years of colonial Spanish inbreeding and poor diet. My mother, the only person for whom we all collectively behaved, passed away 16 years ago. Without her around to keep everyone in check, my wedding day was a fucking free-for-all.

My husband's family arrived hours before the ceremony began and immediately assisted the caterers in arranging chairs and tables. My family arrived half an hour late and immediately started to complain. "I'm cold. We're hungry. Is this free?" My father, a diabetic with a million food restrictions, clicked his tongue at every verboten canape and proceeded to eat them all before they were passed. My brother, a recovering alcoholic, got a little too manic at the sight of all the Veuve Clicquot. My younger sister suffers from chemical depression, so while guests were gathering out back for the big cocktail meet and greet, she sat in the living room watching Tomb Raider. Mercy, my stepmom from the Philippines, showed up with five people I'd never met before and a baby. I spent eight months meticulously planning the seating assignment for each table, and in two seconds she turned it into a barrio fiesta. She compensated by toting her wedding gift: a blue velour blanket with a Siberian white tiger on the front and an eagle in flight on the other side in an enormous see-through plastic bag labeled "size queen".

I spent the morning barricaded in my bedroom with my maid of honor, my lesbian sister, Monica. She and her partner, Marie, had planned their own City Hall ceremony in San Francisco in 2004, but those plans came to a screeching halt when the state supreme court pulled the plug. As an overcast sky proceeded to drizzle on my guests and my horrendously overpriced wedding cake, I started to feel like she and Marie had dodged a bullet. Four years later, with the supreme court's reversal, my sister's wedding is back on. She's planning a very simple ceremony. A small gathering of witnesses at City Hall, followed by a house party with home-cooked food and a tight-knit group of loving friends. As her maid of honor, I'm helping out with the guest list.

"You're not inviting Pop and Mercy?" I ask. My sister is my emotional opposite. I'm a hypervigilant people pleaser desperate for approval. She's a dry-eyed control freak. "I don't know," she responds. "I want to have a good time. I just don't know if I can with my father and that woman. She might show up barefoot with 20 people and a roast pig under her arm." I'm incensed. "No fair! If they almost ruined my wedding, they have to almost ruin yours too!" She speaks slowly, as if aiming a rifle: "I'll think about it."

In Western culture, the minute a child is born, you owe that child everything. In Filipino culture, the minute a child is born, that child owes the parent everything. It's all about obligation, emotional blackmail, and fried food. To go against your parents or to be disloyal or disrespectful in any way is the worst possible sin. My sister and I went against everything we knew the minute we both came out. Our lives would no longer be about what our parents wanted but who we wanted to be as people. This defiant individuality has always made my father proud and wary.

"Don't hate me, but I already invited them both," I admit.

"What?" I can actually feel that imagined rifle aimed at my head.

"I told them they can't bring anybody else. And they have to be on time. Mercy already bought you guys a blanket. It's green with dolphins on it.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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