In the end, Bride & Prejudice: The Forbidden Weddings star Chris was stood up at the altar … just as he feared he might.
Yet the rejection came not at the hands of his fiancé Grant but his parents Geoff and Yvonne, whose resistance to his impending nuptials—and his homosexuality on the whole—became the Seven Network reality series’ main story arc in its first season.
Despite leaving them round-trip tickets to his wedding in Palm Springs, California, neither Geoff nor Yvonne ultimately made the trek; just before the ceremony, Chris watched a video message his mum sent along, explaining that her faith (she became a Jehovah’s Witness when he was young) prohibited her from being present.
Nearly six months to the day since he and Grant exchanged vows, Chris talked to WHO and shared some surprising updates about his parents.
Chris, have you had any contact with your parents since your wedding day?
I’ve had really limited contact. I received an email from my mum just prior to the show going to air, and [it] really just consisted of what she put in that video message. She was afraid it might be edited or something… and the fact is that the video I saw was exactly what she wrote to me. Dad, on the other hand, did reach out to me after we did Sunrise and said he was proud of us—that we didn’t sensationalise what was going on and told the truth. He actually did offer to, next time we were on the Sunshine Coast, meet Grant and have a drink with us.
Do you see that as progress?
Partially. But I also see it as Dad having that conversation with me and not necessarily making my mum aware of it. It’s nice, but I would prefer for him to say to my mum, ‘No, I’m going to have a relationship with my son—and that means including his partner. Get on board or don’t stand in my way.’ I’m making that assumption based on previous interactions, and the fact that I came out to my dad and he didn’t tell my mum for three or four years. So I don’t know whether or not he relayed that to her.
Between your mum’s video message and the e-mail, did it feel as if she was twisting the knife?
I saw it as totally unnecessary. She’d made her points quite clear as to why she didn’t want to participate, and to reiterate that and slap down the offer of airfare … it was, yeah, a bit of the twist of the knife. We also received a text message shortly after [I watched] that video, and it said: ‘I hope those tickets were refundable.’ [Laughs] What really crosses my mind now is that the reaction the public had after our first meeting is going to be magnified [now they’ve seen] the video. I was absolutely gobsmacked she even spent the time to do that. But I refused to let it get to me and ruin the day. And shortly after watching it, I remember saying to Grant a weight had really been lifted: now I don’t have to worry about it. It’s clear. I’ve done everything I can to reconcile with them.
So are they out of your life completely?
I’m always open to spending time with them, but it’s on the condition they include Grant. He’s a permanent part of my life now. I won’t exclude him or make him feel less than to make them comfortable. He needs to be looked after. I’m not going to shut the door on them but I’m also not going to continue to struggle to try and get them to come round. The opportunity is there. Another motivation for doing the show is that both mum and dad had health issues and it really drove home that the time they have here is finite. I wanted to resolve it before time ran out. And in the face of that, their position still didn’t change. It’s disappointing.
The public backlash against your parents has been swift and it has been harsh. Has that been hard for you to see and hear?
It was. Both of them are good people. Dad will take elderly people shopping, Mum will spend time with people in difficult circumstances and make sure they are helped. On this particular issue, they are not in line with the majority of Australians. But they said it. With cameras there. They had an opportunity to paint a different picture but they stuck to their guns. And there are consequences for that. I wanted to defend my parents, but how do you defend an indefensible position? So my answer to that is that I would try and give people some context as to why; when it boils down to it, they chose their beliefs over their family. It’s more important than their relationship to me. I understand people’s anger, but they don’t have context. And you put more hate and anger into the world, you only get back more hate and anger. That first conversation with mum, I could have sat there and gotten angry, screamed and shouted… but I had to respect I was in their house.