The phrase “family reunion” seems like a humungous waste of easy alliteration—why wouldn’t you just call it a relative reunion and add that little bit of color to your day?
The subtle distinction between “family” and “relative” says it all: relatives show up on your ancestry.com account, whereas the definition of family is more expansive and complicated. Family and relatives can overlap—and often do—but that bond is not guaranteed by shared heritage. Many folx are lucky enough to have wonderful, healthy relationships with their relatives, but others find family in partners, friends, and community.
Despite the gains our community has made in the 50+ years since Stonewall, LGBTQIA+ youth still experience strained relationships, estrangement, and homelessness at disproportionate rates. True Colors United, a non-profit organization that studies youth homelessness, estimates that “7% of youth in the United States are LGBTQ, while 40% of youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ.” These statistics don’t include all of the arguments, spats, and discord that happen when youth come out in a non-affirming household.
For those of us who have struggled with our relatives, we can find peace in the love and support of our chosen families. These are the folx we came out to before anyone else—the people who made us laugh until we cried, regardless of our gender identity, sexual orientation, or lack thereof. They are best friends, spouses, sisters, brothers, grandpas, aunties, and everyone in-between. Even when the month of Pride is over, they are the ones who are still proud of us for being our authentic selves.
So, take a minute to tell someone you love how much you appreciate them.