Our wedding is an experience that as been so overwhelming, we’re both in shock. Never mind any of the important details that you hope to get just perfect. Never mind the fact that it’s a DIY sort of wedding that we’re throwing in a foreign country where language and general style and communication can be a barrier. What has been overwhelming to both of us about our wedding is the affirmation we’ve received from the most unexpected people both far and wide. Last night James and I sat at his parents’ AirBnB in Puerto Vallarta and opened a barrage of cards and small gifts his Mum had brought over from Australia. There were messages of people wishing us a lifetime of happiness and joy. While it is typical to received these types of messages during the week of your wedding—what is a-typical is to see these messages come from devout Christians, Catholics, traditional families, 80 + year old church organists, grandparents, teachers, pastors, clergry, children and many others. It wouldn’t seem like a big deal to those in a heterosexual relationship, but the fact that all of this effort and energy has come from those you would least expect makes our wedding even more special. For those of you who have been following me since the beginning, (and some well before America’s Got Talent) you would know that it hasn’t always been that easy. My parents and I didn’t see eye to eye about my sexuality when I was in my twenties. I was a little brat to be quite frank and they needed time for the shock and awe of my news to settle in. I understand that now. I’m old and wise! Ha ha.
It still isn’t perfect. My eldest brother will not be attending. He unfortunately decided not to acknowledge the invitation we sent to him and his wife. In his defense, he mentioned he was doing it because he didn’t want to stir the pot. With that said, it was hard to come to terms with the idea that my very own brother couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge such a joyous and important occasion in the life of his immediate family member. I was there for his wedding. I sang at it. I was there for the birth of his two beautiful girls. I can’t tell you how much it made my heart hurt though to find out that he chose to ignore this. We exchanged a few emails about the situation. He said he felt bad for me that Satan has such a hold on me that I can’t see that what I’m doing is a complete mistake. Some of you may be reading this and wondering why I’m throwing my brother under the bus. I don’t believe I am. I think it’s important to highlight the good and the bad. That’s part of the commitment I made so many years ago to be authentic and transparent. When you are authentic, you are able to reach so many more people who need to hear your story, because guess what? There’s a great chance they are going through the same thing. While I disagree with his theology, (Jesus Christ went out of his way to help and love and support those whom he considered sinners) I will find a way to respect that he has a deep faith, albeit a deference from what I learned what being a Christian meant as a kid. But as much as it hurts, you just have to let that sort of stuff go. There’s nothing else I can do about it and I would never expect anyone to conform to my views. I would however, love to be able to mutually understand each others views. I hope one day we’ll get there just as I have with my parents and many others in my family. On Christmas morning, I sent my brother and his wife an email: “I’ve been performing this song (The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanics) a lot this season and it made me thing of you two. While you well and truly hurt my feelings by not acknowledging my wedding, I believe that life is too short not to forgive, make meds and love the ones that are important to you. It doesn’t matter how you feel about me or what your views are: I love you guys. Merry Christmas. I hope one day we’ll be able to see eye to eye and be a proper family”
His wife responded immediately: “Branden, I am truly sorry for the hurt I made you feel. I love both you and James like brothers and wish you nothing but the best.” My brother responded a bit later and wrote, “We are going to just have to agree to disagree on this subject. Nothing changes the fact that we love you and wish the best for you. Merry Christmas!”
What can I say? I’m overwhelmed. I grew up feeling like I was less than human-confused as a kid in church when they’d say that the bible teaches us that homosexuals will go to hell. I remember having conversations about this with my Dad and brothers and being terrified that indeed, it would happen to me. It’s been a long road. But I’m getting married AND turning 40 years old this year! I’m grown up and I can handle what life hands to me. I’m also the luckiest guy in the world to be able to spend the rest of my life with James Clark. I’ve been having random crying fits this week-tears of joy from realizing just how blessed I am. Our Mom’s are walking us down the aisle. James’ Dad recently filled out his ballot on the gay marriage referendum in Australia for his very own son. My Dad will be standing up in front of our 60 friends and family members and saying a prayer at his sons wedding. Our families have come so far and so have we. We have so much to be grateful for. I’m going to be an emotional blubbering idiot on Saturday at our wedding!