Queer Black Man To Grandmother: “He’s My Fiance And If You Don’t Get That, You Don’t Have To Come To The Wedding.”

by Terry

My name is Terry. I’m from Baltimore, Maryland.

Growing up, I was really close to my grandmother. I lived with her for times. My mother and I lived with her for months or maybe a year or so. And we had a very close relationship. It would be us going to the store, going shopping, cooking breakfast together, her card games that she would have with her girlfriends – which were my favorites because I wasn’t allowed to gamble but I knew how to gamble because I would sit around and watch them, but also cook for them, so I was like their private chef. And they would always tip me, be like, Here’s five dollars for the sausage that I burnt because I like burnt sausage.

But we had a great relationship where we could pretty much talk about anything. I talked to her about how school was and how I enjoyed school. We never really talked about sexuality because it was just something that my family never questioned with me, really.

And then I went away to college and I remember we would still stay in contact. We would talk at least once a week. Or she would call me or I will call her – most of the time, I could call her – and just, she’d be like, “Oh, how’s classes? How’s this… have you met anyone?” And I’d be like, “Yeah, I met this person… I met that person…” but  never really about meeting… meeting someone in a relationship-type way.

After leaving college, I was living in Philadelphia and I would go back and forth to Baltimore to visit my grandma and spend days there and help her move her furniture around, because that was something that was important to her. Like, she needed to reorganize her apartment constantly. So I would do that a lot but then I moved back home to Baltimore where I would see her more often and drop off waters and things like that. And at that time, I met… I met someone. And they were a really close friend I started introducing them to my family more and bringing them to family events.

So when I brought my friend that I met home for I think Fourth of July, it wasn’t like a big deal. I introduced him as my boyfriend at that time and I remember my grandma met him and she – I remember her making a face but going along with it.

I kept introducing him and bringing them together and she started liking him because it wasn’t just like – she’d talk about him as like, How’s your friend, Aaron doing? Ask about him without me having to bring him up because we were also living together at the time. And it was always very welcoming. She was a very welcoming person. But then she would also introduce him always as “How’re your friend doing?” And I’d always hear this black “How’s your friend?” And I’m just like, okay, that annoys me but whatever. At least you identify him as a friend because we have a friendship before a relationship.

I remember once we got engaged – I proposed to my fiancé and I knew I wanted to spend my life with him. And then I introduced –  like, my family had already met him over the years. But then we had an engagement party and I remember we shared our engagement footage because we got engaged – we went skydiving and so we had the skydiving footage and at the bottom of it I had laid out, “Will you marry me?” And it was a surprise for the family watching the video because actually his mom was in town too that same time that we showed the footage. So it was them getting to meet his – one part of his family, while she getting to meet my family and meeting my grandma.

And my grandma is just a personality but I remember her being like, “I wish I got to see this first,” or something like that, but then it washer way of lovingly being thankful to be a part of me showing how – my form of love and what meant to me.

And then I remember a little bit of time after that, I went to visit her and she said, “How’s your friend doing?”

And I was like, “Grandma, like, he’s not just my friend anymore. He’s my fiancé.” And  she made a face of like, Well, you know I feel about that. And I was – and I made a face back to her, like, You know how I feel about THAT.

And she was like, “Well, I just don’t agree with – with your decision.”

I was like, “Well, my decision is still my decision and my decision is not going to change because you disagree with it.”

And she’s like, “Well, I still I still love you but I don’t agree with it.”

And I was just like, “Well, he’s not my friend. He’s my fiance and if you don’t get that, you don’t have to come to the wedding.” And I remember her face completely shifting and it was like a moment where I was just – like, I knew I shouldn’t talk to her like that because it was rude and not how I was raised. But at the same time, I felt like it was – it was just as rude for me to allow her to continue to see him as just my friend.

She was like, “Well, that’s not what I said. That’s not what I meant. I’m coming to the wedding.” And then we just laughed about it and it was a moment of her moving past it but also hearing me and then me also hearing her but not agreeing with what I heard. So for me it was a moment where I honored myself and who I was to make someone I love even honor me as I saw myself.

My relationship with my grandmother is really great. We still talk once a week. When we talk, she asks how’s my partner by his name. She also sends my partner birthday cards, Christmas cards every year, and she remembers their birthday. And it’s kind of funny because even if I’m in a memory gap, she’d be like, “So what are you all doing for their birthday next weekend?” because she knows we also like to travel.

She now asks me, “So when are you getting married?”

And I’m just like, “Well, after school.”

And she’s like, “Okay, I’m excited for it and I can do this and I can do that.” So our relationship has only gotten stronger really.

We as humans, we believe that everyone is supposed to understand us and agree with us but the reality is we have to understand and believe in ourselves enough to be militant with how we love ourselves enough to just say Fuck that, no, like… and a “no” – it could be a respectful “no” but it could be “fuck that” too. But we hold ourselves accountable for how we allow ourselves to be seen and allow ourselves to feel because, yes, my grandma loves me but at the end today, how she was making me feel by calling my fiancé “my friend” was not a form of love in that moment. So it’s important to be able to tell people how you want to be loved and to walk away from not being loved in a way that you want to be loved.

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