It’s All in the Family
“Keep it together in the family
They’re a reminder of your history
Brothers and sisters they hold the key
To your heart and your soul
Don’t forget that your family is gold.”
– Madonna, from “Keep It Together”
For those who may oppose or who may not understand LGBTQIA culture (which often includes ourselves, those in-community), it can be easy to forget we are individuals who come from families. Who make up families. Who make up families of choice.
As we seek out kin, allies, a tribe, BFFs, support, resources and fellowship, because it is so common for LGBTQIA persons to experience marginalization even for supporting queer culture (as well as of course for being in it), we forget about our extended family. We don’t realize the broad spectrum of resources made available to us for finding connections, assistance, and even family-focused entertainment or advantages (such as social, educational financial or medical help).
We may then perhaps lose hope for reconciliation with our birth family, and/or don’t seek alternatives for creating new and more empowering familial networks.
Partying, playing and freedom of sexual expression is all well and good: it’s a blessing to have an opportunity to fully express all sides of ourselves (and fight for our rights in places where this is not yet a reality).
When it’s time to come down, gather together, find home and hearth, your family/family of choice is your go-to place to touch down, reboot, chillax. Find peace of mind.
But what happens if you don’t have a family, your community doesn’t support your family, or you don’t have a stable family?
Here are a few helpful resources, for finding family support and structure, below:
Get Help, Find Fam, Keep It Together
PFLAG / Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – http://www.pflag.org
In addition to education, outreach and public speaking, PFLAG provides regionally-based support groups for queer and questioning persons (including youth), as well as for people who are trying to understand their LGBTQ family members, or people who do not have family support.
Family Equality Council – http://www.familyequality.org/get_involved/programs
Per their website, “The Family Equality Council is a community of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren who for 30 years have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.” While they do quite a bit of advocacy work, they also sponsor Family Equality Pride events and regionally-based family outreach programs (such as support groups and activities for queer parents and the community).
COLAGE – http://www.colage.org
For people with an LGBTQ parent: focused mostly on kids and teenagers, COLAGE unites peer-based networks and helps youth find support. Their specialty, in their own words is to help: “nurture and empower each other to be skilled, self-confident, and just leaders in our collective communities.”
Transforming Family http://transformingfamily.org/about-us
Championed by Chaz Bono. With a trans* focused outreach in its purview, Transforming Family is a Los Angeles based family support group creating a positive environment for children, adolescents and their families to explore issues of gender identity.
Our Family Coalition http://www.ourfamily.org/programs
This is a community of leaders who provide family-based policy and advocacy for change as well as sponsoring various family functions and social events.
Gay Parent Magazine –http://www.gayparentmag.com
A leader in gay parenting resources – founded in 1998.
API Family Pride http://www.apifamilypride.org
The mission of Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride is to end the isolation of Asian and Pacific Islander families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members through support, education, and dialogue.
Soffa Support – http://soffasupport.tumblr.com
An online zine that helps to connect people with support and advice for significant others, family, friends, and allies of the trans* community.
National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov
The National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth is an information resource of the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They help to provide various resources of support for many, including LGBTQIA-specific assistance, referrals and education.
Support Groups and FAQ (For FAQ, Click FAQ Link on this page) http://www.isna.org/support
The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) was founded in 1993 in an effort to advocate for patients and families who felt they had been harmed by their experiences with the health care system. From these scrappy, brave, and confrontational beginnings, ISNA evolved into an important resource for clinicians, parents, and affected individuals who require basic information about disorders of sex development (DSDs) and for how to improve the health care and overall well-being of people with DSDs.
R Family Vacations – http://www.rfamilyvacations.com
R Family Vacations is an LGBT vacation entertainment company that provides luxury cruise ship trips with a focus on inclusive activities for children and services including same-sex marriage ceremonies.
National Resource Center on LGBT Aging –http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org
Resources include – Caregiving services, Aging in Place Providers, LGBT Organizations, referrals, help for LGBT older adults or caregivers.
JQY / JQYouth – http://www.jqyouth.org
JQY is a nonprofit organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Jews and their families in the Orthodox community.
A Word About Finding Local Resources
If you find these suggestions aren’t close to you, don’t be afraid to shout them out on social media, email or call them, and ask for help finding resources that are local for you. Should they be unable to, they’ll be able to provide other alternatives for you. Never give up.
There are many more resources where these came from. Have you got a good recommendation? Please let us know.
When times get tough or you’re looking for support, who do you call your “family?”