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What makes a family

Commentary: Queerly Forward


The nature of family is inherently unique, despite a snapshot from the 1950s and numerous conservative groups claiming otherwise. My favorite course in college was an American Studies class simply named: Families in America. Already out and proud, I reveled in the way our professor educated about family structure throughout history, disproving the nuclear family – with its straight, cis married parents and 2.5 kids – as the historical norm. The course taught from the foundation of our country, with its communal childrearing, all the way through the present, where “normal” doesn’t exist and defining family is a deeply personal act.

When defending the way I define my own family, my brain immediately jumps to a quote from the TV show Bones: “Are two people a family?” “Isn’t that how every family starts?” In my life, two people – and a tiny three-legged dog – make a family. We are no less or more of a family than any other. Our little family is defined by love and commitment, by building a future together one day at a time. While my family of origin and extended family do exist, scattered throughout the country, they are not who comes to mind. On the day I took my wedding vows, my family became the family I chose, the family I continue to choose each and every day.

Like many of our fellow LGBTQ community members, we continue to build a family through love, not blood. I have a big brother who was once my roommate, three sisters I first forged friendships with as a teenager and countless other friends whose hearts have wrapped us up in kindness and support through the most difficult of times. We will one day become aunt and uncle to the children of our closest friends, a position carrying so much more weight as we seek to determine if children of our own is something we want in our definition of family. On the days we lean toward adding tiny humans to the mix, the conversation is often about fostering or adoption, instead of pregnancy – a testament to our hearts loving so much more deeply than through the bonds of blood.

We have been truly lucky in finding an incredible chosen family. We have people to call in the middle of the night, people who will lend us an ear or couch, people who will have our backs and understand our hearts through the good times and bad. Finding these people has not been easy. We have weeded through friends who have broken our hearts and surrogate family members who have revoked their promises of home without second thought. But through the fire, we have found beautiful souls who are deserving of being the family we choose.

For those lucky enough to have the continued support of their family of origin, it is crucial to remember that some in our community do not have that joy. Some are left feeling orphaned, when their sexuality or gender severs a relationship that is supposed to be infallible and the promise of unconditional love is broken. This is why support within our community is essential. We have a responsibility to love and care for one another, as we exist in a world where we are so often mistreated and disregarded by those outside of our community.

In a time when what we care most about is constantly at risk of being ripped away, it will be our family, it will be our community, who carries us through.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=82707

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Latest Issue, Queerly Forward. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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