Issue Four - Collective Queerness: A Personal Reflection on Family within LGBTQ Communities

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By: Kyle Parker

I was born with a lavender spoon in my mouth and while my immediate family always loved me, I knew I was different. I navigated the world with a “smoke-and-mirrors” approach when trying to get to know people. As I got older, I realized that my authenticity was more important than being likable. I began to realize that having a birth family simply wasn’t enough to help me navigate a world that I didn’t choose to be in, but wholeheartedly love.

Thriving with my queer identity, I surrounded myself with friends I would eventually consider family. A beautiful assortment of beings with personalities that would help me grow and become who I am today. They’ve been there for me when I’ve floundered and needed guidance. They’ve been shoulders to cry on. They’ve been creative collaborators. They’ve encouraged me to explore my identity in ways I might never have considered and always push me to connect my queerness to my art.

Now, I soak up every lgbtq related thing that comes across my path. With a lot of my chosen family identifying as queer, we’re constantly showing each other different media that was once considered taboo or simply wasn’t available to us. In a way, it’s our collective queerness that insights us to dive into our history.

One of my favorite films is PARIS IS BURNING (Jennie Livingston, 1990), a documentary about the ballroom scene in the 80s, and early 90s New York. When I first watched this film, I didn’t understand how this cast of characters could gather themselves into a family unit, even calling the head of the house “mother”. Eating together, living together, preparing for the ball - everything was done with their “house”, their chosen family. It took a long time, but I now understand how vital it is for queer people, or anyone else who is marginalized, to create or find a community that will love you, no matter who you are.

My patchwork family has been essential in my journey to become who I am today. And I know that they will be by my side as I continue the adventure of finding my truest self. My birth family raised me, but my chosen family has done the important task of being steadfast in my life. Through the secrets, confessions, devastation. In the hardest times, we love each other no matter what.