The Family You Choose

Photographic tiles against a grey wall.

Who are the people you call when you’re in need, elated, or down? Chances are, not everyone you’d name would be family. For some people, there wouldn’t be a single family member on that list.

I’m lucky. I’ve got a relationship with my family of origin. No matter the challenges, we’re there for each other. It’s not true for everyone, especially for people whose families refuse to acknowledge their identities. Though estrangement can happen for many reasons, queer and trans folks are more likely to have families that don’t accept them. It’s from these communities that the concept of chosen family arose.

A chosen family is one that you create, made up of people who love you through everything – difference, distance, and disagreement. The members of my own chosen family have subtly imprinted themselves onto the DNA of my soul. I’ll be celebrating those folks at the Chosen Family Picnic later this month. There are so many days of the year given over to celebrating our families of origin, it seems fitting to dedicate one to this less visible expression of family.

I’ll never understand how someone can look at a child, sibling, or parent and reject them for their sexual orientation or gender identity. (Maybe that’s because my own coming out processes passed almost unremarked by my family. As I said, I’ve been lucky.) Humans are resilient and connection surpasses biology, so people can forge new bonds with people whose love shows them no limit. It’s a matter of finding those folks when you need them.

If you’d like to see a really beautiful expression of Chosen Family, there’s still time to see the Chosen Family Portraits project at the Museum of Vancouver – the exhibit closes September 30th.

Check out my 100th post, too – I’ve got a little giveaway happening.