Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Ethical Quagmire

A decision rife with ethical potholes came into Betty's orbit yesterday.

Then she checked her calendar and realized the decision couldn't apply to her. But she'd like to return to the situation here and solicit some of your responses.

Betty's friend Dan is gay. His immediate family knows, and is ok with it in an awkward kind of way (the whole family are practicing Catholics). But the extended family is congregating in New Jersey for his cousin's wedding (to a Taiwanese woman) next weekend and they've asked him to "Come, and bring a date."

Dan does not want to go alone because of the questions it will provoke, including inevitable questions about when he will be getting married and having children. He obviously does not want to go with a male date because that would be super awkward at best and upsetting at worst. What he wants is to bring a girl friend and pretend she's his girlfriend. So he asked Betty.

If she could have gone, Betty would have been perplexed. She would like to support Dan and make the day easier for him. She respects that he is the best person to make the decision about what to do and whom to bring in this situation. But does she want to participate in basically sucking up to a family that can't bear that one of its members is gay?

Ellen, Betty and Dan's friend who may very well end up going to New Jersey in the role of Dan's girlfriend, thinks the whole experience has the potential to be subversive, or at least promises to serve up good anthropological material. True as all this may be, these "fun" aspects feel solidly secondary; Betty would still feel queasy about going.

What do our gentle readers think?


Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

Does Dan read this blog?

First of all, if you want the help of Hollywood, I think there have been several sitcom episodes and romantic comedies centered around this exact plot.

But personally, I'm surprised that your friend would want to pull you into his family drama. Sure, it would be an uncomfortable afternoon for him if he went alone, but I don't think the risk of an uncomfortable party is worth roping a friend into an extended, if benign, ruse. I think Dan's potential discomfort would end up being transferred onto you as you are forced to maintain your invented identity while making chit-chat with the family. Not to mention the fact that his immediate family, who knows of his sexual orientation, would be forced into complicity.

Onscreen, it's a French farce; in real life it sounds kind of seedy.

Betty & Bimbo said...

Good points, Nancy D. I was happy to have an out, let's put it that way. Furthermore, who enjoys a wedding where they don't know anybody, let alone a wedding where they assume only the worst about everybody?

Montserrat Nicolás said...


and who cares what kind of reactionary values might be at hand at the wedding?

as long as the close company is happy, drinks and food well-executed, and music fab, have a merry good time!

if anybody asks highly personal questions, just answer "well, my girlfriend is sick, and we just thinking of having Dan's baby..."

life's too short to acknowledge less-than-modern thoughts...

have a good one!