This issue explores the many new ways that LGBTIQ+ people are creating and redefining family.
A few years ago, my chosen family and my biological family momentarily, and hilariously, interacted. The occasion was my partner Noel’s 40th birthday party, with a nautical dress-up theme. I dressed as a sailor, as did 90 per cent of the other gay men at the party!
My mum and dad, Hazel and Jim, visiting Sydney from Perth, came along dressed as retirees on a cruise, and had a great time even though nightclubs are not their natural habitat.
Hazel asked if the DJ took requests.
“Yes,” I said.
“Well, can you ask him to turn it down a bit!”
Jim met our friend Verushka Darling, a Sydney drag icon, and commented later, with a cheeky grin, that, “she had a very firm handshake!”
The next day, Hazel said her favourite outfit was the crop-top worn by our friend Pete (much to Noel’s annoyance as he’d gone to a lot of trouble with his excellent Captain Jack Sparrow costume), and Jim asked how we knew all those people. It was surprisingly difficult to answer that question. The concept of the chosen family, familiar to most of us in the LGBTIQ+ world, was tricky to explain.
In my experience, many LGBTIQ+ people build a chosen family of like-minded people who share experiences and values. As Ian Utterback, our cover model this month says, “They’re the people who come into your life and stay in your life.”
The chosen family becomes an interconnected support network of people who are closer than just friends, and who are there for each other no matter what, just like a biological family, hopefully.
Young LGBTIQ+ people particularly need chosen family because coming out and navigating same-sex attraction and gender issues is usually outside the realm of experience of their parents and siblings.
Increasingly, though, Assisted Reproductive Technology (or ART) is helping LGBTIQ+ people build biological families in a way that previous generations couldn’t have imagined.
Changing social and cultural conditions are also playing a part, particularly since marriage equality was achieved. Vinko Anthony of Beau Brummell Introductions tells us in this issue that, “Creating a family, having kids, is particularly important to younger clients… I’d say 60 per cent of all guys who come to us also want children. But it’s 95 per cent of guys aged 26 to 45 who want kids. It’s a prerequisite.
“Also, if someone comes to us wanting to find a partner and they already have kids, that’s a benefit, not a negative. Instant family works quite well here.”
Contributing to this issue is writer Ian Horner, who has been with his husband for 18 years and has two natural kids with his ex-wife, two adopted kids, and many short-term foster kids.
Ian’s stories this month include an interview with Dustin Lance Black about how he and husband Tom Daley have started their family using surrogacy, and an interview with Jarrell Gorgeous Gucci, a New York house dad, keeping the chosen family tradition well and truly alive.
We explore the many options we have to build our families in this issue, our first dedicated to the subject.
But it also occurs to me that the broader LGBTIQ+ community is a family – a huge one – and how lucky we are to have it.
The things we have in common make it possible for us to travel the world, visit places where we don’t speak the language or know a soul, and still find our people. Pride Events, Gay Games, Mardi Gras, World AIDS Day, ski weeks, cultural festivals… we can arrive in a new city, look for the rainbow flags and, well, there’s no place like home! Let’s make sure that our family remains an inclusive and welcoming one.
Stay safe, be kind, love yourselves.