By Shaun Lunga
Chosen Family is out of necessity. Chosen families are non-biological kinship, whether legally recognized or not, deliberately chosen for the purpose of community, love and support. You actively chose the people who will carry you through life. Who will love you as you are, embrace you and root for, where imperfections and differences are celebrated.
Who will not shun you or make you feel lesser than because how brave you are. You came into this world and lived exactly how you were meant to live, but forces of patriarchy and homophobia are threaten by the feminine spirit. When it presents itself in a body that is masculine. Questions start rising? How people think of gender and family has always been in a linear way. Blood is blood, or these self-praising saying that people say “blood is thicker than water”. Suppose that is not meant to be questioned? Male or female, there’s no in between. Even when family use language of violence, patronize, ostracize and demonizes you on how you choose to live? We cannot chose violence in the name of family. It made me think that sex is dangerous. Sex is powerful. Men go to war for sex, they rape because of sex. It is not something to be disturbed? You must dare not disturb the traditional order of society?
“When someone has rejection from their mother and father, their family, they – when they get out of the world – they search. They search for someone to fill that void. I know this for experience because I’ve had kids come to me and latch hold of me like I’m their mother or like I’m their father, ‘cause they can talk to me and I’m gay and they’re gay. And that’s where a lot of that boldness and the mother business comes in. Because their real parents give them such a hard way to go, they look up to me to fill that void” – Pepper LaBeija, from Paris is Burning, a queer movies that demonstrates chosen family, as young queer black men, and women were kicked out from home by their parents and shun upon. Pepper was a mother and father to those queer kids.
In the 70’s being gay was seen as a mental disorder, where aversion therapy was performed on homosexual men, whereby the patient was subject to chemical or electrical aversion therapy upon being stimulated. This method was supposedly to “fix” homosexuality, which failed and these methods to “fix” homosexuality they continue to fail. Conversion camp. These methods are brutal, unconstitutional and dehumanizing. By the 80s there was a rise to the AIDS epidemic, where queer people were accused of coming up with the virus and spreading it. Imagine this, in a homophobic world, where Christianity is the leading religion? In a world where it clearly does not approve and support same sex marriage. Chosen family exists because, we as queer people are powerful forces, disrupting modern society norms.
Chosen family exists because of hate crime towards queer people. Violent hate crimes against a person mainly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Chosen families pull people together, to exist freely, to be loved, natured and a sense of belonging and community building.