Author Topic: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?  (Read 8647 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« on: October 10, 2012, 09:57:57 am »
Dave Cullen posted the following advice-column letter on Facebook, saying, "I love Prudie, but this is shocking, offensive advice. It's OK to hide gay? To erase them from their own families? Shameful."

I don't even particularly like "Prudie," but in this case I find myself leaning at least partly toward her side. David's best friend should attend his funeral only if she really wants to -- she shouldn't force herself to go just to perpetuate the ruse. And normally, it's not OK to hide gay. But it's also not OK to subject people already enduring unimaginable grief to even more upset, however misguided. Nor is hiding sexual orientation tantamount to "erasing them from their own families." So if she does go to the funeral, I think she should do her best to keep quiet.

What do you all think?

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/dear_prudence/2012/10/dear_prudence_my_gay_best_friend_died_and_now_i_have_to_pretend_to_be_his_fiancee_at_the_funeral_.html#comments


Quote

Q. Not Sure—Family? Etiquette?: David and I have been best friends since we met in undergrad. When we were accepted to grad programs at the same university, we got an apartment together. Two days ago, David was killed in a car accident. I have been devastated ever since. When I looked up David's online obituary, I was shocked to see myself listed as his fiancée. As close as we were, there was never anything romantic between us. David was gay. The only person I really know in David's family is his brother, and I called him to ask him why I was listed as his fiancée in the obituary. His brother explained that his parents are ultraconservative and very religious and, even though they knew David was gay, they never quite accepted it. I guess people in his hometown town knew he was living with a girl, and his parents explained away this "sin" by saying we were engaged, rather than saying we were just friends or even just roommates. The funeral is Tuesday, and I don't know if I can go or not. I know David would have hated the lie his parents told, but I also know he loved them very much and wouldn't want them to be hurt. I'm not sure what people would say if his "fiancée" didn't show up for the service. But I am also not comfortable accepting condolences from people for something that is a lie. I know how much David struggled with coming out to his parents and how he fought for acceptance. There is a part of me that would like to demand a retraction and correction of the obituary. Another part of me says to let it go because David is beyond hurting now. What should I do?

A: Go to the funeral and quietly accept people's condolences. You have lost one of the dearest people in the world to you, and however mixed your feelings about his family's behavior you should be at his funeral to pay your respects and be comforted by those who loved him. The immediate aftermath of the sudden death of a vibrant, young person is not the time to be making demands on the grief-stricken family, however misguided their actions. I agree it's terrible that his family felt it necessary to make up a lie in order to present a more acceptable face to the world. Fortunately, that world is changing and had David lived it's likely that over the course of his life his parents might have been able to accept a partner of David's. But that chance is gone and his parents are suffering the worst torment imaginable. Go to the funeral and hug and cry. If there are people insensitive enough to ask you for details of the "wedding" just shake your head and say you hope they understand it's something you can't bring yourself to talk about now.



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2012, 11:09:27 am »
Dave Cullen posted the following advice-column letter on Facebook, saying, "I love Prudie, but this is shocking, offensive advice. It's OK to hide gay? To erase them from their own families? Shameful."

I don't even particularly like "Prudie," but in this case I find myself leaning at least partly toward her side. David's best friend should attend his funeral only if she really wants to -- she shouldn't force herself to go just to perpetuate the ruse. And normally, it's not OK to hide gay. But it's also not OK to subject people already enduring unimaginable grief to even more upset, however misguided. Nor is hiding sexual orientation tantamount to "erasing them from their own families." So if she does go to the funeral, I think she should do her best to keep quiet.

What do you all think?

I agree with you and Prudie. Cullen is overreacting and off the mark. The deceased is not being "erased from his family." The funeral is not the place for this young woman to out her friend. She should go if she wants to, politely accept any condolences offered to her, and "do her best to keep quiet." I might also add, Leave as soon as possible afer the funeral to avoid being involved in any lengthy conversations with people to whom her friend might not have been out, so she doesn't have to lie and also doesn't out the deceased.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline milomorris

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2012, 11:29:43 am »
I agree with you and Prudence. This woman was best friends with David. She earned a place at his funeral. Its not her job to "out" him post-mortem. Nor is it her job to perpetuate a fiction invented by David's parents. She can be at the funeral, and express her grief without getting entangled in any issues regarding his sexual orientation. "He was my best friend" should suffice.
  The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2012, 12:09:56 pm »
Now that I reread my own post, I realize I don't even fully agree with Cullen that "normally, it's not OK to hide gay." Maybe not in an ideal world, but this world is still far from ideal, and whether to be out or not should be a personal decision for each individual, not up for judgment by others. Even if the world were ideal and everybody was completely OK with every sexual orientation, it would still be up to you to decide what you want to say about your own.

Apparently David had his reasons for not coming out to his family himself years ago. However reluctant or frustrating his decision may have been, it's not his friend's place to override his choice when he's no longer around to make it.




Offline southendmd

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2012, 01:05:42 pm »
Well, the letter says he was already out to his family.  But they didn't accept it. 

She shouldn't have to perpetuate their lie, either.  Of course, the funeral is not the place to confront the parents about that.  The parents need the beard, not David. 

I think she should go, and use the "we was good friends" comment and leave it at that. 
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 01:24:58 pm »
Well, the letter says he was already out to his family.  But they didn't accept it. 

She shouldn't have to perpetuate their lie, either.  Of course, the funeral is not the place to confront the parents about that.  The parents need the beard, not David. 

I think she should go, and use the "we was good friends" comment and leave it at that. 

I agree. I think, however, my own concern for her has less to do with the deceased's parents as it does with interactions she may have to have with cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, high-school classmates, and others of that nature. How to avoid perpetuating to them the family's disagreeable lie and also to avoid outing the deceased?
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline southendmd

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2012, 01:33:40 pm »
I agree. I think, however, my own concern for her has less to do with the deceased's parents as it does with interactions she may have to have with cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, high-school classmates, and others of that nature. How to avoid perpetuating to them the family's disagreeable lie and also to avoid outing the deceased?

If pressed (which would be pretty rude) she could simply say that they weren't engaged ("Must have been a misunderstanding...").  That alone wouldn't out David at all.
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2012, 02:14:24 pm »
If pressed (which would be pretty rude) she could simply say that they weren't engaged ("Must have been a misunderstanding...").  That alone wouldn't out David at all.

Good thinking!

She could blame the newspaper or the funeral director for an error in the obituary, but I guess that would be lying. ...  8)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Monika

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2012, 03:53:23 pm »
I´m all for exposing the truth. I can´t believe that - even in death - the parents can´t accept their own son.

I wonder if this dad is a stud duck, too.

Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2012, 04:30:06 pm »
It bothers me that this ultra conservative family would need to involve someone in a lie, and not even bother to consult with her first. It would have been better had they not said she was his fiancée, but now that they have I think it is their duty at the very least to say this was incorrect information. They do not have to tell people their son was gay, that is no ones business, but they have no business forcing her into their subterfuge when what she needs to be doing is grieving for her friend. Granted, people in shock do some crazy things, I have been there myself, but IMO they are the ones that needs to set things straight.

 
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Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2012, 05:16:41 am »
I voted Yes, but she should say nothing specific about their relationship, if possible.

A funeral is not the place to confront anyone, out anyone or behave in any way that might add to the grief of close family or friends. That's just cruel, regardless of what the grieving family did, or did not.


I was in a somewhat similar situation at my father's funeral. My parents had been divorced for long years, yet had become friends over the last years of my father's life. But they also still had big differences, there was a reason why they were divorced.
Imagine my surprise when, at my fathers funeral, the sermonizer (not sure about the word, he was no clergy) announced to the whole community that my parents had planned to marry again! I knew for sure that this was a plain and simple lie on my mother's side.

I let it slide and was happy nobody asked me for details. I just let them believe whatever they did. A funeral is not the place for such things. (Much) later, when family members asked me if that was true in a one on one talk, I told them it wasn't true, but let be, let be. So through the grapevine the family knows what's what, and who does it hurt when some old collegues, neighbours and other acquaintances believe they were about to marry?

I know the situation is not the same as in the Prudence letter, but the principal is the same. And you do not disturb a funeral, period.

Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2012, 01:24:05 pm »
I like that word Sermonizer, I am going to use it from now own. Thank kew.  ;D
"It was only you in my life, and it will always be only you, Jack, I swear."

Offline ifyoucantfixit

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2012, 01:37:06 pm »


   Well I realize I have come rather late to this article.  However I am a very big pragmatist.  I believe that the thing that works best is the
proper thing to do in most cases.  The truth should have been known all along.  He told his parents, about being gay.  However they were
unable for whatever reason to accept his truth.  They obviously wanted him to be straight even though they knew the truth.  He lived his
life knowing that he was not what they wanted him to be.  He accepted their unacceptance.  He knew how they felt about it full well, I am
sure.  He probably would not care any more what they thought of him.  He wanted them to accept him alive.  He is no longer alive, so it is
a moot point. 
   The young woman should go to the funeral, knowing the misunderstanding and just let it go.  She does no one any good for the long term
by outing the whole affair at the funeral.  It will only make him seem an object of contention.  He should not be made an object of gossip and
snickers by the company in attendance.  Let be, let be...  She could say something in the way of "I am going to miss him tremendously, if asked."



     Beautiful mind

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2012, 01:39:52 pm »
I like that word Sermonizer, I am going to use it from now own. Thank kew.  ;D

Lol, my dictionary offered it. I knew it sounded strange, why I put the qualifier to it. :laugh:

I meant someone who does the same as a priest/preacher during a funeral, only without the religious stuff. Someone who talks to the family before, learns about the deceased and then holds the speeches and conducts the ceremony.
How do you call that in English?

Offline southendmd

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2012, 01:45:24 pm »
Maybe "eulogist"? Or "facilitator".
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2012, 02:17:29 pm »
Maybe "eulogist"? Or "facilitator".

I guess if he delivers a talk about the deceased, he would be a eulogist.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Should a gay man's fake fiancée attend his funeral?
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2012, 11:43:26 pm »
I voted

Yes, but she should say nothing specific about their relationship, if possible.

If the woman was the gay man's friend, she should go to his funeral.

I voted the way I did because I went to a wedding with a gay friend.  The wedding of his ex-lover to a woman.  My friend was his best man.

I was welcomed warmly by the groom's family.  They just knew that I would be 'good' for my friend.  It finally dawned on me that like their future daughter-in-law, they had pleasant ideas that I had also 'turned around' my gay friend.

I just smiled and didn't enlighten them about our relationship.  I let them make their own conclusions.

I'd do the same at a funeral.  It's not my place to correct anyone.