By Aicila Lewis
Family are the people who, when you need to go home, have to let you in. My uncle used to say this. He lived it as well. When my mom lost everything she owned in a bad business deal, he and my aunt took us in. They had already raised their children and were moving into their retirement years. I can imagine having a depressed middle-aged woman and her loud, obnoxious teenager come to live with them had its challenges. They teased me about my eating habits and made me wash dishes and never made me feel unwelcome.
Fast forward to 20ish years ago. I was a young lesbian in Provo, Utah. When I left my husband for a woman, and thereby left my religion and everything else, I carried this value of family with me. The women I was close to in that experience are definitely family to me. I haven’t talked to some of them in years. We haven’t gathered as a group in ages, life has taken us in new directions. And, still, if they had to come “home,” I would take them in. Being queer, for me, means I am aware of the people who have weathered the difficult moments of life with me. I have discovered myself in relationships as lesbian, then bi, and embraced terms like queer, poly, and kinky. The people who need me to be a fixed object to orient their own experience have fallen away. The people here today are the ones who can live in a world of possibility. They are the family that has to take me in when I come home. They have chosen that.
I can’t really say I chose them in the traditional sense of the word. It didn’t feel like a choice as much as a truth. We shared something terrifying and magical. The bonds of discovery and oppression tied us together as strongly as years of turkey dinners and pine trees in the living room. Life made them family. I choose to acknowledge their place in my life and my heart.
Aicila’s self-description: Organizational strategist for dreamers and underdogs. Community builder. Geek. Minion Fan. Bibliophile. Ginger. Apocaloptimist. She/her/hers.