Dear Etiquetteer: My gay husband and I have been invited to the wedding of a very close straight family member and his bride. While the destination has not been officially decided, they are seriously contemplating booking it in a Caribbean country that is extremely unwelcoming, inhospitable, and anti-gay toward gays (to the senseless point of beatings, harassment, castrations, and even death). In fact it is the number one homophobic nation in the western hemisphere, with numerous organizations putting out dire travel warnings and advisories to the gay community.
While we wish to attend this family wedding, we have hinted to them about the extreme anti-gay nature of the country, and that we were worried a bit for our safety.
The dilemma also comes with the fact that my husband is upset with me, in that I am willing to boycott the trip to not-quite-Kokomo and miss the wedding of a family member, if it were in the destination being considered. To tell the truth, I am saddened by the prospect of not going to the wedding, but there are not enough fences around any gated beach resort community to provide me with a sense of protection, and let alone a piece of mind for what should be a joyous and relaxing day for all.
While their decision process is still going on, my fear is that, in further stating that I might not be going, that it might take away from the couples' intended destination, and I really don’t want to be responsible for them changing the destination of their dreams (and my potential nightmare).
What would be your suggestion for approaching this situation, and the proper response, for when the invitation arrives? Are there any other subtle ways of directing the destination, in their decision-making process, but still save myself from angst and fear?
Dear Wedding Guest:
Etiquetteer has never really cottoned on to the idea of the Destination Wedding. Their chief purpose sometimes seems to be to gratify the whims of the Happy Couple at the greatest expense and inconvenience possible for the largest number of people. Etiquetteer takes a dim view of Happy Couples who care more about the setting of their weddings than they do about their guests.
Many factors are considered when choosing a "resort" destination for a wedding: location, availability, weather at the time of year considered, facilities and amenities offered, and of course cost. Safety for all attendees should be at the top of the list, though it's not something often thought necessary to consider. Your valid concerns about your safety underscore its necessity in the planning.
A frank but kind conversation between you, your husband, and the Happy Couple needs to take place. Without hinting, explain that you don't in the least want to take away from the special joy of their nuptials, but that the public record shows that you and your husband would become targets of harrassment. And any harrassment of any wedding guests would certainly put a damper on the joy of the wedding, which you do not want to compromise. Explain that, should they choose to hold the wedding in this Homophobic Nation, that you feel the best way to preserve that good time would be not to go.
While Etiquetteer does understand why your husband is upset with you - to miss a wedding has become open to all sorts of interpretations - Etiquetteer hopes and expects that he will support you in this discussion. Etiquetteer also hopes that the Happy Couple will understand how sensitive you are to making sure that they have a positive experience for their wedding. Deciding not to go to the Homophobic Nation will be the Best Possible Decision; to do otherwise will merely peg them as Selfish.