Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Saying Yes to Family: My LGBTQ Family Story

June 1 is Blogging for LGBT Families Day, and I thought I would take this moment to write about my queer family. 

Now, my queer family is not just any family. And it's not just anything I would have called family 10 years ago. As a bisexual woman who came out at 20 and promptly got ousted from my family of origin, the term family is not one I had wanted to embrace at all. I spent years running from this idea, laughing at the suckers who spent hours talking to parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, etc., on the phone-- or traveling to reunions yearly. 

I knew what was real. I knew it was all smoke and mirrors, part of the heterosexist trap that  seeks only to recreate itself in constant solipsistic longing, the ultimate masturbatory fantasy-- every man has their woman, every woman in her place, every baby in their correctly colored bonnet. 

I was enraged. Enraged at the family that rejected me. Enraged at the media that sexualized me. Enraged at the religions that demonized me.  Enraged and spitefully jealous of all the friends with different stories to tell. 

In short, I worked hard to kill the love in me. Every reminder of what I didn't have, what had been taken from me by my family's denial of my deepest and most vulnerable part of me-- who and how I love-- became a weapon of my own self-disgust. How dare I care about the world's recognition of my life? How dare I want what others had? How many people never know love, acceptance, comfort? What right did I have to want these things that my family of origin obviously did not want for me? 

I worked harder still, as the years went on and the desire for children became conscious. No one would think you were a good parent, I would tell myself. Look at who was the role model! You're too f*ed up. You're too big for parenting. You have too many other things to accomplish-- you don't need to be a mother, partner, lover. 

But here's the rub (though I have to write that this is starting to feel like an 'it get's better' post). Despite my best efforts to kill this love in me, I found myself making choices to put myself in the way of love. The most significant move for me I think along these lines was moving to a neighborhood in Philadelphia, PA, where freaks abound and love in all its variance thrives (and struggles, and sputters, and grows). Letting myself begin to reach out to others like me-- even those so different as to be like me only in their variance from some imagined norm-- was not so much a risk as a relief. That I was met-- by friends, lovers, compatriots, community orgs, churches, gardens, houses, streets, ferns and hostas growing like weeds on well kept tiny front yards-- was a revolution of healing and growth. 

And so, my family began. It's been a decade since I moved there, and have moved away since. But my wild and wooly family-- now comprising of a partner and a toddler, in-laws(who are sitting reading in the room in which I write this post), sisters and brothers and uncles and aunties (traditional and chosen-- a few in the wedding photo on the right) in CA, MA, NC, NY, OR, VT, distant relatives who feel like close friends when we see each other every year, queers and breeders, zealots and atheists, dreamers and cynics-- is the center of my life. My queer family is where I express the love that was denied me, the love that travels between us, the true and deep, challenging love of authentic connection. My family is strong enough for the love that I have to express and share, and is strong enough to hold a new and expanding sense of what family is and can be.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a beautiful family. I'm glad you found your place!