My family was not like others I knew or was related to for that matter. Because my parents divorced when I was two I never knew a traditional family day in and day out. We were different. It was a pulse I felt most days, most holidays, all my life growing up.
Family became important to me because of this fact. I desperately wanted a family that looked like everyone else’s. Especially when I found out Dad was gay, that realization was yet another heavy element that made me different. Later I would come to realize there must have been more just like me in my situation, but for decades I stood in a place that felt singular. A place where no one was speaking up, no one was admitting his or her differences in family make up.
In this state, my sense of family many times over felt hollow, shallow. Because my family was so different from everyone on my street block, at each school I attended, I stayed a bit in my shell. I stayed a distance away, harboring my secrets.
I have come to realize family is a core part of who we are. Even if we don’t have one we fit into we strive to find one. It is the sad aspect of the LGBTQ community – needing to find tribe and family because one becomes lost within their own. It’s the result of defining and embracing the social dynamic that makes up this minority group.
My dad discussed he had wanted a typical family. I believe he felt so because he knew how lonely it could be in this world – the closeted world he grew up in. Each and every day he had to put on a brave face, one that said, ‘everything is good and rosy.’ He didn’t speak full truths to the family he made because the times didn’t support that. As result we all felt the aches and pains of his half-truths, half-life story.
Family is what we are delivered into but what does it mean to truly have one? I think its true definition is a group that holds you, supports, and loves you. At its core they are patient to understand your choices and faults. I’ve strived to create that kind of family, one that is open, vocal, and loving. Doesn’t everyone want and deserve that? Family, I believe looks inside who you really are, looks in your heart and sees the good…regardless of ones sexual preference.
I wish my dad had had that all along. Because he could delight so many with story, conversation, and social grace I believe he had a fair amount. Still, I also know there was underlying judgment that trickled through each one of his days. It breaks my heart when I think about it.
My hope is that we all find family whether it be through natural blood relatives or groups that find common ground. I believe we all deserve that. Redefining family, evolving to include one another is maybe the genius of our next generations…the next great hope of tomorrow.