Pride 2022: My chosen family

For many within the LGBTQIA+ community, family is something you choose.

This year’s Pride campaign features three families from different parts of the world. One was created on the dancefloor in South Africa, another began with the story of a famous Spanish trans woman, and the third took shape in London’s creative scene.

On the surface, they may seem very different. But these families have one important thing in common: they chose each other.

Reeta Loi, Tori West, Jamie Windust and Sakeema Peng Crook are The Dreamers, a family of activists, writers and creators from the United Kingdom.

A chosen family, also known as found family, is made up of people with non-biological bonds who have intentionally chosen to love and support one another. Some families of choice have defined roles, like a mum or dad, based on age, personalities, or relationships. There are even gender-neutral family titles such as “moddy” (a mixture of mummy and daddy), “sibster” (a combination of sibling and sister) and “sprog” (a neutral word for child). But many chosen families are more loosely defined without any clear labels. 

The concept is not exclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community — anyone can be part of a chosen family — but it’s intertwined with the queer experience. Why? Well, if someone’s rejected by their biological family or society (which, sadly, many within the community are), they seek others to fill that void: A chosen family.

Nash Mariah, Jana Babez, Martin Magner and Mavuso Mbutuma are The Angels, a South African family who fell in love on the dancefloor.

Studies have shown that youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ are more likely to be homeless. Family rejection is often the key reason why they feel compelled to abandon their homes, making chosen families especially important to this group.

Even though some chosen families are a necessity rather than a choice, many come from a place of joy. They're not here to replace your biological relatives. Chosen families come from the desire to communicate openly about shared experiences. They exist to expand the definition of family, making it more inclusive and pulling people together.

Javier Calvo, Lola Rodríguez and Javier Ambrossi.

In the end, you’re the only one who can define what family means to you. Family isn’t one-size-fits-all. But whoever you decide to include in yours, make sure they love you — no matter who you love. 

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