Every Thursday on Twitter @jdesmondharris, Dear Prudence asks readers for their thoughts on a question that has her stumped. She’ll post her final thoughts on the matter on Fridays. Here’s this week’s dilemma and answer:
I am getting married next year and we already have our bridal party set for the event. My bridesmaids are incredibly diverse and include two people who identify as LGBTQ+. Recently, one of my fiancé’s groomsmen had a spiritual rebirth, following going into recovery from serious substance abuse. He is now incredibly devout, and is not shy about his feelings—including re-posting pictures and quotes on his Instagram Stories that are anti-choice, and “pro-traditional family.” Several of my friends have seen these Stories, including my Matron-of-Honor, who identifies as bisexual. She personally confronted him, and he blocked her without any response. She is now going around saying that he should be disinvited from all group events. I have personally never had any negative experiences with this person, he is a great friend to my fiancé, and I don’t believe he has acted outside of re-posting these Stories. However, I want everyone in my bridal party—and at my wedding at large—to feel safe and comfortable. What do you think we should do?
—Bridal Party Panic
Dear Bridal Party Panic,
This part isn’t advice. It’s more of a lecture. But I can’t not say it: When you marry someone who is cool with being good friends with a bigot, don’t be surprised when a few years down the line he decides he’s cool with political candidates who are bigots. Next thing you know, he’ll actually be quite passionate about the bigotry part, and soon after he’ll believe in “doing [his] own research” but only on weird forums. In due time, he’ll terrorize your family with conspiracy theory rants at every gathering and you won’t be able to figure out how the man you married is someone you don’t know anymore.
I’ve heard countless stories about women who are shocked, just shocked, to find out that their husband, with whom they’ve always had “some political differences” (where “political” means “fundamental ideas about how other humans should be treated”) holds views that totally devalue them and people they care about and/or are not based in fact.
Don’t marry someone who doesn’t share your worldview and then be surprised that you’re married to someone who doesn’t share your worldview.
When I tweeted out your letter, some people agreed with me:
If I were the groom, I would not want to continue a friendship with this man, let alone have him as a groomsman at my wedding. (Not useful as advice, I guess, but… I would not want to marry someone who wanted this man in our wedding.) —@verbalcupcake
Dump him! her loser fiancé isn’t holding his friend accountable and he’s not going to magically become better about this in their marriage. Either he holds his own friend responsible or: DUMP HIM!!!!!!! —@Scaachi
But I live in the world. And I try to be practical. You are most likely not going to reevaluate your relationship with your misogyny-and-homophobia-tolerant fiancé. The cake has been ordered and you have plans for a cute spinning photo booth. I get it.
So. What to do? Once again, I turned to Twitter.
A lot of people thought you would be well within your rights to ask your fiancé to disinvite this guy or at least kick him out of the bridal party. They gave some good reasons why:
This sorta kinda happened with me. It wasn’t even a question…naw, you gone. I don’t care how close the friend is or was—they were friends at a different time and the rebirth is now a person that I HOPE the groom wouldn’t be friends with, so homie gotsta go! —@DeeshaDyer
This! If the groomsman was “reborn,” it could be fair to say he’s no longer the person the groom originally befriended. There’s no reason to keep him in the bridal party. He’s shown he doesn’t care if people are hurt by those “beliefs.” —@Aloe9678
If she can’t see how it’s wrong from a moral perspective, she could also think of it this way: At your wedding, you’re sending a message to your friends, family and community about who you are as a couple and what your values are. Does this guy represent that? —@JessicaValenti
The bride seems proud of her diverse bridal party; so she should protect those people she has asked to support her and support them back. If the guy’s become a bigot, his values maybe don’t align with hers anymore! I wouldn’t want that in my wedding. —@akmattos
It’s never excessive to disinvite bigots from an event. Any event at all. Any kind of bigotry. The religious/spiritual angle is just a different hat the bigotry wears. Where is her fiancé at on this, though? The two of them need to be in lockstep. —@WiseWyzard
(@WiseWyzard also pointed out the BS embedded in the story you’ve bought into about how and why the groomsman changed: “I know this is off-topic but the LW should not buy into this sequencing of: Substance Abuse -> Spiritual Awakening -> Substance Recovery -> Bigotry. Nobody forced him to take drugs using the power of LGBT mesmerism; these things are not connected.”)
I thought @ajc84 made a very important point about how to frame this and how to think about it—the issue is, hopefully, not that your friend has made a request, but that you personally do not want someone with these views to be a big part of what will be a very important day for you.
I’d disinvite, and tell him why—using my own words, not attempting to speak for my friends. “You’re being anti-queer, and as a queer-affirming person with queer friends that goes against my values.”
There’s an argument that it’s on your friend to decide if she wants to be involved. But, if you put the burden on her, don’t be surprised if your friendship isn’t the same after. And honestly, your waffling on this might already be causing her to look at you a little different:
The friend who was offended is really the only one that needs to make a choice here. If you have to “convince” people to stand with you against bigotry then an awkward wedding is the least of the problems between her and this bride. —@egemini618
Some readers wisely pointed out that “I have not had any negative experiences with him” is not something you should say to her, whatever you decide. It definitely seems like you’re sincere about being a good friend, so you should spend some time thinking about why you had this thought. Why would her experience with him not be enough?
“I have personally never had any negative experiences with this person” is a shitty response to a friend who is having her rights as a human being called into question! —@JessicaValenti
I think what it comes down to is: Are you more like your fiancé (a person who can tolerate bigotry if the bigot is nice, or confines the bigotry to social media) or more like your friend (a person who is actually bothered by bigotry and doesn’t want to associate with it)? You have to decide who you are and the decision about the guest list will follow.
My sister’s daughter is getting married, and I’ve been invited. However, I sense that the invite was somewhat disingenuous. It is far away and would be an expensive trip. On the other hand, it might be fun, and there are other guests I’d like to see as well. Another relative mentioned that my sister is afraid I won’t dress well.