What is family? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the main definition of family is “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children”. A family, in traditional societal ways, consists of two people who willingly join forces to become parents of children they want to have; as we know though, this is not always the case.
For the purposes of this article, I would like to focus on another definition of family, also given by Merriam-Webster “any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family”.
This second definition gives us the opportunity to create and define a family in various ways. This includes single parent households, multiple parents’ households, households guided by other family members, and households made up of people who found each other through life’s diverse circumstances.
It’s not uncommon for people to form multiple connections with others that are outside their blood relatives, but when those connections turn into deep, loving, caring and supportive relationships that equal or surpass those that society has taught us to cherish with blood families, they are usually referred to as “found families.”
A found family, as the term itself will allow you to understand, is a family that one finds with people who are not blood relatives. This term is one that originated from the LGBTQ+ community and, according to Jeremy Nobel, it was first used to “describe early queer gatherings like the Harlem Drag Balls of the late nineteenth century.” Also known as “chosen families” this terminology was created with the purpose of letting others know that having a loving and supportive family could always be possible, even if it wasn’t one stemmed from blood relatives.
Although connections with next of kin are important, we have to face that sometimes they simply don’t work out. Sharing blood with someone will not turn them into a loving and caring being. Blood families are viewed as something that is mandatory, as people you have to always love and support, but as many would know, especially multiple members of the LGBTQ+ community, this is not the case.
Parents, brothers, sisters and other blood relatives will simply reject someone for their gender identity and/or sexual orientation without giving it a second thought. Yes, there are moments where the family can work through this and accept that their family member is not a part of heteronormative culture and support them no matter what, but sometimes this doesn’t happen.
And for the instances where one only faces constant rejection from their next of kin, it is vital to know and remember that those people do not have to be your family. If a person tries to change you or blatantly rejects who you are due to their personal beliefs, and refuses to acknowledge who you are or identify as, they don’t deserve you.
You don’t have to be with anyone that can’t genuinely support you, and it doesn’t matter what society might have let you to believe: you can form your own family.
Every human on this planet deserves to have people who support and love them. A found family is one that isn’t with you because they feel obligated or forced; they are people who choose to be with you because they want to. They will love you and support you throughout your whole life, and even if you don’t share blood, your relationship will be stronger than those that do.
A found family is a family in every sense of the word, through good times, hard times and even harder times, will always be with you. They will genuinely love you for who you are, even in moments when you can’t love yourself.