Tuesday, October 25, 2016
My Date with the Grooms' Grandson at a Gay Wedding
One day in the summer of 2015, a few weeks after the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S., I get a wedding invitation in the mail, and a request to be in the wedding party!
Heterosexuals complain that they're constantly going to weddings, as their friends one by one tie the knot. I've never had that problem. Until recently, gay people were not permitted formal, official ceremonies, and they rarely had informal ones. The boundary between boyfriend and partner was too fluid, and besides, your parents and the other heteros often didn't know that you were with someone, sometimes didn't even know that you were gay.
A gay wedding! I can't wait.
Besides, it's from Lane, my ex-partner, so all of my West Hollywood friends will be there.
I've only met his partner Ben once, when I flew back to West Hollywood for a week-long visit. A week was way too long!
He was in his early 60s, tall, rather buffed -- he spent every afternoon at the gym -- with greying salt-and-pepper hair and a moustache. Attractive, but elitist, conservative, and a bit crotchety.
No sharing, no parties, no going out to the bars to cruise. I couldn't even invite a guy over to spend the night with me.
I pointed out that Lane and I went to every bath house in Europe, plus bear parties and sex clubs, and nearly every Saturday night we were at the Faultline or Basgo's, looking for someone to "share."
Lane shrugged. "I grew up."
Grew up, or got stodgy under Ben's tutelage?
And when I was asked out by a 20-year old, all hell broke loose:
"What are you doing dating a guy young enough to be your son?" Ben exclaimed. "Stick to guys your own age!"
"Um...I'm a twink magnet. I can't help it."
"Nonsense. You just like twinks because you can't handle the responsibilities of a grown-up relationship."
I almost walked right out the door, but I thought, this is Lane. You've been friends for nearly twenty years, and Ben will probably be out of the picture in a few months.
Guess he's still in the picture.
I check the invitation again. It's not even in West Hollywood. It's at Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Utah
A gay wedding in Salt Lake City? Homophobic redneck country? Whatever for?
I arrive at Salt Lake City International Airport at 3:00 pm. Lane picks me up and drives me directly to the church for the rehearsal.
"So, why are we in Salt Lake, and not West Hollywood?" I ask.
It seems that Ben grew up Mormon in Bountiful, a suburb of Salt Lake. He married, had two sons, and remained faithful to the church until he started trying to deal with his gayness in the 1990s. Saint Mark's was where he first felt accepted as a gay person, so it's got a special significance. Besides, his ex-wife, one of his sons, and many other relatives are still in Salt Lake.
Heterosexuals are invited to a gay wedding? I figured they'd be picketing and thumping Bibles, or Books of Mormon.
The wedding party isn't divided into bridesmaids and groomsmen, like in a hetero wedding. There are six people: Ben's sons and grandson, a lesbian couple, and the ringbearer, his five-year old granddaughter. And me, feeling out of place.
After the rehearsal, the wedding party and their husbands, wives, and kids are all going out to dinner at an Italian restaurant. "You're riding with us and Jan and her wife," Lane says. "It will be a little cramped..."
"Hey, Grandpa Ben, I'll drive him over." It's Brandon, the grandson, tall and thin with thick brown hair and "wholesome" movie star looks: blue eyes, dimples, a cleft chin.
Ben glares at me, probably thinking that I'm going to try to seduce the boy, but consents.
"I heard you lived in New York," Brandon says when we get in the car. "That must have been great, Broadway shows every night."
"It wasn't really like that. You spend so much on rent and food that there's not much left over for shows."
"Still, you were in New York! I'm moving there soon. I graduated from U.U. in May, and right now I'm doing choreography for Fiddler on the Roof at the Pioneer Theater. I've been interrogating Lane about Jewish folk dances. He was really into it, back in the day."
"Please! I haven't set foot inside a church since I was ten! I'm just Mormon for the culture -- and to get a starring role in The Book of Mormon!" He reaches over and grabs my knee.
Is this boy cruising? I know I'm a twink magnet, but...a friend of his grandfather?
I imagine flirting with one of Grandpa Prater's hunting buddies...and burst out laughing.
Brandon quickly moves his hand away, frowning.
"Sorry, I wasn't laughing at you. I just thought of something funny."
At the restaurant, Brandon tries to sit next to me, but Ben says "You're up here," and places me between him and one of the lesbians.
During dessert, Brandon comes up again and presses against the back of my chair. "Have you ever seen Temple Square at night? It's really breathtaking..."
Ben presses my arm. "Sorry, we need Boomer to talk over some details of the ceremony."
We drive to the hotel. To my surprise, I don't get my own room -- I'm sharing with Ben and Lane.
"The wedding is tomorrow at noon, and then after the reception we're leaving for our honeymoon," Ben says, "So this room will be all yours tomorrow night, for cruising or having orgies or whatever."
"And this will be the last time we see you until you visit again," Lane added. "So I thought we should share?"
"It's a special occasion."
I rarely finish more than once in an evening, but tonight it's two, then three times, and Ben is still ready for more, his mouth and hands everywhere.
The night before his wedding, he is way over-exuberant with another guy? Something is off here. Is he trying to tire me out so I won't "seduce" Brandon?
In the morning I'm too exhausted to go to the hotel's exercise room. We meet the lesbian couple for breakfast, have a brief tour of the city, and then go to the church.
Brandon catches me in the foyer. "Did you have a good night?"
Yes, I went down on your Grandpa! "It was busy," I tell him. "You'd be surprised how many details have to be ironed out."
"Um...." he begins, then stops. "Um...I was thinking, if you don't have any plans for tonight, you should see Fiddler. It's a great show. I'll be backstage, but we can hook up afterwards and have dinner."
"Sure, that would be great."
"Ok! I'll reserve the ticket, and pick you up at the hotel at 6:30." He looks around to see if anyone is watching, then leans in for a brief kiss. "I can't wait!"
But, after all, Brandon is not my grandson.
See also: 21 Surprising Facts about Lane; Cruising My Cousin's Son at a Funeral; and Picking Up the Best Man at My Sister's Wedding.