The most disturbing moment in a conversation with The Girl With Golden Hair came a while ago, now what with her being younger than me and a former Sociology student I do have these moments every so often but this one has really stuck with me. It went a little something like this:
TGWGH: Did you know that the term ‘family’ is used by the gay/alternative community to describe chosen family? Like as in friends and people within the community?
My Thoughts: Why are you implying this is something new to you? Oh wow…you’ve never done that? Oh gods I’m so non-straight/old
My relationship with the word ‘family’ is a curious one I suppose, though this supposition is mainly based on that conversation with The Girl and a further one about facebook groups. Back when Princess Lex, FJ, The Jellicle and I formed our interesting little foursome (polycule?) I happily used the phrase ‘Nearest and Dearest’ as ‘Family’ didn’t seem quite right, however I don’t automatically use the term ‘family’ to mean my, well, family, it’s had a broader context than that for some time now.
‘Family’ was introduced to me as meaning the gay girls I was hanging out with way back in the days of my first coming out, when internet forums were my only contact with the few lesbians I knew. When I moved away from home and started really hanging out with a lot of queer guys as well as girls then it became the obvious term of choice to describe our little group – ‘family’ were the people who knew me, who accepted me and back then they mostly weren’t related.
When I started out on LiveJournal I divided people into groups, my ‘Family’ group on LJ consists of The Big Beardy Soap Opera, Lexie, FJ, M-i-L, the Jellicle etc.etc. These are my chosen family – of course they are, why wouldn’t they be?
Then there comes the facebook conversation. The notion that I have a poly family seems quite natural to me, what else would I describe myself, The Jellicle, Weasel and LL as? However when I sugested adding them on facebook as ‘My Poly Family’ my suggestion was met with disturbed looks and distinct peturbation which I suspect may be shared by certain of my readers.
The word has ceased, for me, to mean people I am related to, it simply means those who know me and thus has in recent years ceased to bare much relation to my blood-family at all – my family includes my sister, and on occaision various cousins but as a word has nothing to do with my mother, father, grandmother or any of them really.
“Did I know that the term ‘family’ is used by the gay/alternative community to describe chosen family? Like as in friends and people within the community?”
Yes…did it used to mean something else as well?