Family.

With all the holidays happening this time of year for many people, there’s definitely a lot of pressure to be around family. Or at the very least, that’s how it has been for me. And being around my family can be really hard and especially lonely. During the years where I was completely in the closet, it was alienating and upsetting to hear the subtle microaggressions from my parents. And even now, being mostly out, I still feel alienated and upset.

Even with my parents being the walking definitions of liberal white middle class, there were and still are microaggressions. (Shockingly, being liberal doesn’t absolve you from being problematic.) My dad mentioned that he was tired of trans people being in his face about their identity (when in reality, they were just existing) and that Trayvon Martin was just as complicit in his death as George Zimmerman (I wish I was kidding). My mom has made numerous comments alluding to the belief that bisexuality is a fad or something that can be chosen.

There’s this pressure to always forgive family, that we should accept them and spend time with them. Familial obligations, for me, are always ways for guilt to override any concerns or feelings that I have towards my family. But in reality, I don’t think it’s necessary for people to consistently be forced with others regardless of familial ties. James St James wrote about realizing what family means and what it means being able to walk out on abusive people regards of their legal or biological claim on your life.

Chosen families are so lifesaving, especially for LGBTQ kids and people who are thrown out or disowned from their own families. I can only write about my own experiences being a white queer person with everything including families but Hannah Giorgis wrote about chosen families in unsafe spaces as an Ethiopian American writer and student, including:

Chosen family do not only exist among those of us in the trenches of college campuses; they are also found in the battlefields of low-wage work, domestic labor, citizenship classes, white-dominated activist spaces, and among those who do not have the option of attending universities that teach us words like “intersectionality.” Chosen family rally around one another, forge deep bonds while moving through difficult circumstances, and recognize that self-actualization isn’t actually just about one’s self.

What I’m really trying to get at is that family shouldn’t be limited to the people related to you by blood or law and that you don’t have to stay with abusive people simply because they are family. It’s okay to put up boundaries and expect people to respect them and you. We all have our own secrets, our own experiences, our own lives that we have to deal with and sometimes family can be too much to deal with. Plus, family doesn’t have to be that usual definition and chosen families are just as important (if not more in some situations). There are people out there that will love you and support you, even if right now it doesn’t seem or feel that way. And that family is just as valid and important.

And during this holiday season (at least for some), it might be hard and stressful and overwhelming but remember that you are wonderful and loved and made by the universe. (Yes I know – cheesy but still true.) Give yourself time and space to recover and deal with everything during the stressful time because you deserve that.

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