Thanksgiving is a particularly problematic holiday. I mean, not only do people try to cram the whole extended family into Grandma’s 900-square-foot house, but the holiday promotes the story that the Indians and the pilgrims used to party together and everything was cool (not so much, in real life). But as long as you can ignore that part (and most people do), Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of, well, being thankful. And for some reason, we celebrate thankfulness by buying and cooking and eating and then throwing away a shit ton of food.
Sadly for a lot of LGBT folks, Thanksgiving can also be a holiday of exclusion. If you want to send a strong message of “we don’t want you” to an LGBT family member, just tell them that they are welcome to come to dinner, so long as they don’t bring their significant other.
It’s a dick move, as the kids say. But it’s the right move, says living museum exhibit Pat Robertson.
On the Oct. 16 episode of “The 700 Club,” a viewer named “Jim” submitted a question regarding whether or not he should allow his gay grandson to bring his boyfriend to Thanksgiving dinner.
“We have made it clear in the past that we love him and he will always be welcome to be a part of our lives, but we will not be a part of the lifestyle he has chosen,” the viewer writes. “I have told him before that the presence of his sex partners would not be welcome in our house.”
First of all, I would like to point out the wording of Jim’s question. He says that the grandson “will always be welcome to be a part of” Jim’s life, but Jim makes it really clear that he does not want to be a part of his grandson’s life. He dismisses it as a “lifestyle” and makes a point to use “sex partners” even though Jim indicates that the grandson wants to bring one particular person.
Robertson’s response? Right on, Jim.
“I just believe that you’re taking the right stand,” says Robertson. “Otherwise, you become an enabler and you’re condoning that.”
And God forbid a grandpa “condone” his grandson trying to find love in his life.
“There’s a real good chance that he might come out of that so-called lifestyle, but if you’re going along with it, he says, ‘Well, Mom likes it, so it’s OK,’” Robertson continues, apparently unaware that moms don’t usually refer to their kids as “grandson.”
And, no, there isn’t “a real good chance” that the grandson will one day un-gay if only his family continues to reject him.
“He’s trying to force you to do something,” Robertson adds. “I mean what if your son is dating a stripper and he wants to bring her home for Thanksgiving dinner and the family says, ‘No! We don’t want her in our house.’”
Well, the simple answer is they’re a bunch of terrible, judgmental people and fuck them forever.
The real answer is, of course, more complicated. Relationships of all kinds, whether they’re with your grandfather, your mom or your boyfriend, are messy and difficult. And in this situation Robertson is the enabler, telling “Jim” and all of the people like him that they’re exempt from doing the hard work of being a part of a family. Robertson is basically saying, “Reject someone you love rather than question the belief that God or anyone would demand such a thing of you.”
Robertson believes that “religious freedom” trumps all, even reality. But Jim can pray all he wants and his grandson is still going to be gay. And chances are his grandson isn’t going to spend his life begging Grandpa to be treated as an equal. What Jim needs to decide is if he wants his grandson to think of him as a grandfather or remember him as a ghost.
D’Anne Witkowski has been gay for pay since 2003. She’s a freelance writer and poet (believe it!). When she’s not taking on the creeps of the world, she reviews rock and roll shows in Detroit with her twin sister and teaches writing at the University of Michigan.