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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Let’s talk about the chosen families and the holidays.

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As a gay person who has been estranged from his family for years, I have moved in and out of what many people might describe as chosen families. I spent Easter with non-queer people who couldn’t afford to go home for the holidays. I spent Christmas day alone in an independent theater watching Moonlight. I had Thanksgiving with a girlfriend’s co-workers, including, as I found out once I sat down, a couple who met as missionaries and definitely didn’t realize we were gay before they invited us. I’ve been front and center in group photos where, I’m willing to bet, a lot of those people don’t remember my name or how I got there. I’ve also been in photos with people I talk to all the time, even years later.

In an ideal world, I believe that the chosen families would have the same rights (or at least, the possibility of the same rights) as those that are legally granted to the biological family; adding each other to your insurance plans, for example, or having no doubt that you could visit that loved one in a hospital. I also believe that, in an ideal environment, the chosen families would get the same kind of respect and social acceptance as the biological families. It is very common to “ghost” or put friends aside, or feel like you have to “leave behind” a friendship or group of friends and focus on creating a “real” family through marriage or having children.

In reality, all of those things can coexist – you can be a parent and still be close to a chosen family, for example, or have a partner or spouse and still spend time and effort maintaining connections with other people with whom you are not connected. by blood. You do not I have opting out of “optional” ties and communities just because people tend to let those relationships fade first in a busy world.

All that being said, the chosen families are still made up of people, and people, including myself, undoubtedly have many flaws. Chosen families can disappoint each other, cause harm, break ties, or be cesspools of drama, just like biological families or families connected by marriage. A knee-jerk reaction might be to say, Well, they’re not my royal family anyway, so I’ll never talk to them again, and that’s certainly something people could do. It may be that that route is precisely the best option for someone. But it’s also possible that these relationships are worth cultivating and working on, and that there’s nothing wrong with getting through a slump with someone you care about, even if nothing “official” ties them together.

If you’re comfortable sharing the comments (or in a journal of your own!), I’d love to hear what experiences you’ve had with your chosen families, be it happy memories, life-changing experiences, or pain points. that might need some support and reassurance.

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