They say that blood is thicker than water.
But in the case of the LGBT+ community, it is often our biological family members that are causing us the most grief.
The LGBT+ community however, is remarkably resilient. Instead of forcing acceptance from family members, many choose to build their own families.
That is how the phenomenon of chosen families came about.
Dear Straight People,
Chosen families are loosely defined as a group of individuals who intentionally form a non-biological family to play significant roles in each other’s lives. One prime example of this are the six protagonists of the classic sitcom, ‘Friends’.
In the LGBT+ community, chosen families aren’t just common. They are essential.
Many in the LGBT+ community have struggled with coming out due to fear of family rejection. In some cases, family members choose not to accept their queer kin after they decide to come out.
When that happens, it can be crushing. After all, everyone needs a support system and people to lift them up.
As a result, many proactively build their own families. The benefits to having a found family are many. But some perks include:
- Unconditional support
- Community connection
- Expanding your resources
- Empathy from others who have experienced similar situations
How to Find Your Family
Even if you’re willing to form your own family, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Where do you look? How can you get started? How can you ensure you’re connecting with the right people?
1. Put Yourself Out There
If you want to meet people, you need to get out there!
It can be scary to put yourself out there. But that is really the best way to find other people.
Utilise different local resources to find your community.
- Volunteer for local LGBT+ advocacy groups.
- Attend LGBT+ events and talk to everyone, not just people you find cute.
It takes a while to build up your comfort levels and confidence, so don’t hesitate to go at your own pace.
2. Make Friends Online
If attending events alone at first sounds too daunting, start online. Connect with people on social media before meeting with them in person.
Apps are a great way to meet people. While most apps cater to romantic love, there are plenty of apps built for platonic relationships. Bumble is one great example.
Alternatively, use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to find other LGBT+ friends. But don’t randomly start adding people. Instead, post more actively on social media platforms and who knows, your posts might attract the attention of potential mates.
If you’re closeted, Twitter is a great platform for those who wish to stay anonymous. Tweet about topics related to your hobbies and interests and chances are, you will attract followers with the same interests as you.
You can even start a blog to share your story. Or join a few message boards.
Finding Your Chosen Family
This is a no brainer. But once you find your chosen family, put in the effort to maintain those bonds. Like any relationship, friendship is a two way street.
Some of the best ways to foster healthy connections with your found family include:
- Spending quality time together
- Asking genuine questions
- Showing vulnerability around them
- Providing emotional support
Once you’ve found your chosen family, you’ll reap the rewards. Positive connections can reduce stress, encourage healthy behaviours, and even boost your longevity.
So, while it will always be difficult to “lose” biological family members that struggle to accept you, don’t let it keep you from forming new relationships with those in the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond.
There are people out there who will love you exactly as you are, and that’s what we all deserve.
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