Dear twelve-year-old Kit,
I’ve recently been introduced to the phrase “chosen family.” It’s meant to signify someone who means so much to you, that you consider them family, regardless of biological or legal relation. So when someone says, “I love you like a brother”, you’re their chosen family.
While often coined out of circumstance, chosen families are often conceived out of necessity. Thirty percent of LGBTQ youth don’t come out to their real family because they’re either unaccepting or homophobic - no wonder why term has become commonplace within the community.
Building a chosen family is a fragile practice, and the worst thing you can do is to hurt those in their process. If jeopardized, that person is highly susceptible to inflict the same pain on others to spite their abusers. Sadly, it’s almost become systemic for countless LGBTQ youth – which is why I urge you to always offer compassion to those seeking refuge in the community.
Speaking of chosen family, I’d like to introduce you to your sister, Millie.
In the years following your out-ness, a handful of fellow cyclists will privately reach out to share that they too are part of the community - one of them will be Millie.
You’ll be the first person she ever tells, which is an incredibly important moment for both of you. The lessons you share will help her excel into a desperately needed force for good within the community, so relish those late-night phone calls, texts, and Facetimes – because your presence is going to make all the difference.
Take pride in knowing that it’s energy well spent, because Millie has become the standard of what LGBTQ youth should strive to be. When not reaping the inherent benefits of the community, she continues to educate herself and her family about LGBTQ culture and history, actively participates in events, and takes swings at making it a safer place to be queer by defending and supporting her peers. We need more folks like Millie in the world.
It no longer surprises me why she continues to grow her chosen family. She’s not deprived of love from her real one, she’s just got so much love to give.
More to come,