Monday, December 1, 2008

Family of Choice

The LGBT community has been fortunate in its adoption of the idea of creating one's own family of choice.

The concept is that we create our own families, i.e., we form them from people we care about, regardless of whether they are biologically or legally connected or not. They are the family we choose for ourselves.

I was reminded of the importance of that this past Thanksgiving.

The ENC staff spent its time with various members of our biological/in-law families. My partner, kid, and I were with my partner's parents in Garner. Ian time-shared his holiday with his family and his partner's family. Kay traveled to New York to be with her parents. Rebecca spent the holidays with her husband's parents.

On Saturday, Craig and I reinstated a tradition we call our "Friends Thanksgiving," where we invite friends to come over. One of my best friends (who I consider my non-bio brother) brought his new boyfriend.

While we were all talking about what we actually did on Thanksgiving, it turned out that this new guy had spent his Thursday alone. His family lives up in Pennsylvania, and since he is estranged from his mother, he basically never gets to see them.

This struck me as incredibly sad. In fact, it's almost tragic. How pointedly lonely to spend a holiday based on fellowship solo.

It's terribly how homophobia and discrimination have isolated so many people in the gay community, whether it be because their family rejects them for being gay, they lose their job for being HIV-positive, or their church deserts them for being an abomination.

I'll certainly be going out of my way to include this new guy in future events. It's trite to say, but truly, love is what life is about, whether that love be philia or agape (or yes, perhaps even eros).

Being able to share affection with someone else, and in turn choosing to spend time and special occasions with them, is the surest positive affirmation of life we can make.

Let us all make the choice to include people in our lives who we care about, or simply like or are fond of, whenever we can. It's the simplest message, but also the most basic, primal, and necessary one.

What is more quintessentially human than our capacity for love?

-Shawn Long

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