As published in my previous post (either scroll down the screen or click here), our nine-day visit with Aaron’s family provided two surprises. The first, David’s (Aaron’s oldest sibling) “coming out” as a dual gender loving (bisexual) social nudist occurred on Sunday, late afternoon. Later that same evening, in the privacy of my partner’s old bedroom, we agreed that news would probably be the most sensational aspect of our time with his family. Little did we know what was to come.
The following day, Monday, July 28, Aaron’s mother greeted us at the door as his father, David, Aaron and I returned from our traditional game of golf. She had just received the news that the U. S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina) had upheld a lower court’s decision that Virginia’s (our home state) ban on same gender marriage was unconstitutional. We all nodded approval and nothing else was said about the matter until our evening meal.
During dinner, the discussion surrounding the 4th Circuit Court’s ruling was general and supportive. Aaron’s father remarked that the overturn of the ban was overdue and offered a quote by Dr. Martin L. King that “inequality anywhere is a danger to equality everywhere.” All of Aaron’s immediate family had voted against the ban when it was a referendum initiative in Virginia in 2006. A little more was added and then the topic was put to rest (or so Aaron and I thought).
On Wednesday, David told us that the following day, Thursday afternoon, his parents wanted him to go to visit an aunt who lives nearby. When Aaron said that he would accompany him, their mother said no. She and her husband needed to discuss something with the both of us – in private. When Aaron quizzed her about this, she refused any details. David was similarly clueless.
The twenty-four hour wait seemed like an eternity. In private, we tried to imagine what the hell Aaron’s parents had to share with us. At last, Thursday afternoon arrived and David left to go to see his aunt. Aaron and I were alone with his folks. The anticipated/dreaded moment of curiosity and truth had arrived. His father knocked on our bedroom door and asked us to come down for lemonade and cookies in the dining room.
“The dining room is good,” Aaron signed to me as we descended the stairs. “If something was wrong, they’d talk to us in the living room.”
Once seated around the table, with Aaron sitting across from me so he could interpret in American Sign Language (ASL), Mr. Peterson started the conversation by reiterating their happiness with the two of us and with the fact that gay marriage probably would be available in Virginia within a year or so. Mrs. Peterson added that when we decide to get married (note: not if but instead when), we have their full blessing and support. “We want what’s best for you both and a complete wedding ceremony and reception would make us very proud,” she continued.
Another surprise, duly delivered, inside the Peterson home. Two within the matter of a few days.
Aaron’s father and mother kept this dialogue going for over an hour. It was as though it was a carefully rehearsed movie scene with everyone having a script except the two of us. The more the Peterson’s talked, their level of enthusiasm for our wedding increased, leaving little opportunity for Aaron and I to contribute to the discussion. We barely had a chance to express our gratitude for their acceptance and love before his parents revealed yet another aspect to this drama unfolding before our very eyes.
Throughout the entire discourse, Aaron’s father kept a close eye on his watch. The reason for this attention became clear when he opened his laptop and several minutes later directed the screen towards me. There were my parents, in real-time! He directed Aaron to move in beside me then he and his wife took their place behind the two of us. We all moved in closer, they so to hear my parents voices and I in order to see their signing.
Mama and Papa began by congratulating us both on soon having the freedom to marry. Next, they joined in the conversation offering encouragement and endorsement for a nuptial ceremony. At times, they repeated thoughts already expressed by the Petersons followed by opinions of their own. Almost immediately, it was obvious that this was becoming an exchange between all of our parents advocating legal marriage in a large, ceremonial setting, again, with practically no opportunity for us to share our feelings. I remember thinking to myself: Damn, will this ever end?
As if on cue, at almost this exact moment, Aaron reached over and placed his arm around my shoulders. As my fingers dance across this keyboard, I’m making a mental note to talk to him about his sense of timing. This affectionate gesture caused Mama to exclaim, “You both look so happy and we’re happy for you both!” This brought on another round of pro-wedding sentiments from all our folks.
Just before my parents signed off, my Papa added, “Your mother has some ideas to show you two when you come here (Greece) in two weeks.” In other words: This isn’t over. Great!
After my family went off-line, we thanked the Peterson’s and promised to seriously consider all the options presented to us. We then excused ourselves and took a nice, long walk outside.
Aaron and I both admire, love and respect our own parents and our in-law parents. At the same time, we’re also mature and responsible adults in addition to being an independent family unit, separate, yet still a part of our parents’ families. If there is to be a wedding in our future, it is our determination.
We understand our parents rationale for their actions. They’re seeing this entire picture through the worldview of their generation. For them, marriage is a major life event, a sort of right-of-passage. They only want the best for us and this includes matrimony with all the accompanying celebration. Both sets of parents are believers in equality for everyone, despite the opposition of their particular religions.
Naturally, we’ve discussed marriage before all this, privately between ourselves and among close friends. In all honesty, we’re not in complete agreement on this issue. Aaron wants to get married. For me, it’s not a priority. Although we don’t like being denied the right-to-marry, we differ on the importance of the actual act of a legal wedding.
Neither one of us are men of faith. A religious ceremony, whether inside a church building or in a separate facility and blessed by a priest, holds no significance for us. We are in harmony on this matter. If a belief system condemns who we are, why pretend otherwise?
Since our parental intervention at the Peterson’s home and the one facing us when we fly to Greece this upcoming weekend, we have talked about an option that we both find appealing. A nude wedding, conducted by an authorized person who is not ordained by any religion but legally endorsed, a civil ceremony. One witnessed by the required number, selected from our circle of gay nudist close friends. Perhaps David and Alex, my identical twin brother (Twin), both nudists and queer, could serve as our groomsmen.
The challenge facing us is how to assert our autonomy in this situation while remaining respectful and sensitive to our parents. We want to acknowledge and appreciate their love and support. We want them happy, too. This task isn’t going to be an easy one.
Regardless how we handle this matter, there’s no rush for an immediate resolution. This past Friday, the Commonwealth of Virginia formally appealed the 4th Circuit Court’s ruling to the U. S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The state’s Attorney General will not defend Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. If the high court agrees to hear the appeal, the earliest a determination on the case will be rendered is June, 2015.
In the meantime, we know our visit to my parents is guaranteed to be interesting (a deliberate understatement).
Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!