The chosen family – TB BB

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editorial

This season, we traditionally reminisce about our past, draw close to those we love, and act kindly in a holiday spirit. For many of New Jersey’s LGBT people, however, the ones we love are not always defined as part of our “traditional” family. I’m not just talking about our parents, of course. For many of us, our family is one that we choose throughout our lifetime, not necessarily the one into which we are born.

The LGBT experience is unique among the disempowered minorities for many reasons, most specifically that one’s LGBT-ness is not necessarily shared by anyone else in their family. Some of us were kicked out of our homes at an early age. Others have become estranged in more subtle ways. Perhaps more than any other group, LGBTs gravitate toward their chosen family during the holidays. Our families, built from our friends and significant others, comprise relationships bound by similarities, common interests, shared struggles, and most important, love–not by mere blood ties. 

So, while some of us will go to our parents’ house or visit our relatives in good ol’ Wisconsin, others will gather in friends’ homes and apartments, church basements, and social clubs to share food, wine, and stories with our chosen families, families just as real (and maybe even more so) than those based on shared genetic material. These are the gatherings to which we eagerly look forward, not dread–the way popular culture often satirizes going “home for the holidays” to the blood relatives.

Everyone needs to be part of a family. This past election, like any other, reinforced the notion that LGBT families are frequently on the brink of dissolution by those who are mean-spirited or ignorant. They attempt to tear us apart from those we cherish. We gain our strength from our chosen families, reveling in the support of those with whom we share mutual love and affection. We feel safe in saying that our chosen families, whether legal or not, will be there to love and nurture us through trying times.

This holiday season, I ask that you think of those among our community who are struggling to create a strong family like that. Think of our homeless LGBT youth, many of them evicted from their “traditional” families and left to fend for themselves. Remember that there are many less fortunate than you and that they deserve the chance to find happiness. Think about how you can support our disadvantaged young people, do a little research and enroll a few friends, and act on your ideas.

This season, I’m thankful for my family, whether blood or not. I’m also thankful for you, dear reader, for bringing Out In Jersey into your home and making us a part of your chosen family. Happy holidays.

editorial

This season, we traditionally reminisce about our past, draw close to those we love, and act kindly in a holiday spirit. For many of New Jersey’s LGBT people, however, the ones we love are not always defined as part of our “traditional” family. I’m not just talking about our parents, of course. For many of us, our family is one that we choose throughout our lifetime, not necessarily the one into which we are born.