I’ve long believed that many queer people have two families: The family consisting of blood relatives and the family we create through bonds to one another as we work through our identities together. Usually this second family comes about as a result of our blood family disowning or deserting us after we come out of the closet/are outed. When I first heard of queer families, I was immediately reminded of the Hawaiian cultural tradition of hanai children, or adoption into a new family (Hanai comes from a Hawaiian word meaning “to nourish”) Blood didn’t matter as much as a different, less tangible bond that’s difficult to put into English.
It’s with this spirit I deliberated upon the idea of “family” today. I made a very difficult decision to break off contact with my immediate family, for the sake of my mental health and my safety and autonomy. I won’t be speaking to my mother again until she concedes on a particular issue which has driven a huge wedge between us for a very long time.* As I sat back thinking about how much it hurt, but now necessary it was, I thought about all the times in my life when I’d felt especially lonely, listless, and without guidance, and had longed for, with a smidgen of guilt, someone like a parental figure in my life I could depend on to offer me advice, and comfort me when I was feeling blue.
I realized though, that I’ve found it in my blog readers, my professors, and other people in my life who have become my extended family, who have been kind, wise, and always ready to comfort me. I’m very grateful to them and I’m especially glad for them now. They’re reminding me that I am not alone.
* Not my sexual identity or my girlfriend, in case you’re wondering.