We Are Family: A Totally Non-Incestuous Take on Gay Dating

We Are Family. You’ve heard this one – you probably secretly groove to it in your car when it comes on the radio. We are family, I’ve got all my sisters and me . . .

Like We Are The Champions: secret gay anthem. (“Dude, no way! Queen is totally manly!” Listen to the lyrics.)

But I don’t want to talk about secret gay anthems (and we’ll keep on fighting, my friends!), I want to talk about family – which seems appropriate, considering today is the Canadian statutory holiday known as February Doesn’t Have an Establish Holiday Day, or Family Day.

In a time when to be out was to be dead, the gay community survived by code words. If you’re a friend of Dorothy’s, you’re a friend of mine. And do you know Sally? She’s family. That was all it used to take – family was whoever was in the same shitty boat you were, gay in a world that hated gays.

I think “family” has fallen to the wayside in recent years in the younger gay community. As being gay has become more widely accepted, as it’s become easier to be out and safe at the same time, the need for secrecy and codes has decreased. I am almost stupidly out. I throw around the phrase ‘my wife’ in front of people who probably would happily bash me for it. I’m also one of those gold-star lesbians who doesn’t look in the least bit straight. I couldn’t blend in if I tried.

When I came out, my local gay community was focused almost entirely on mixing with the natives. Reassuring the surrounding straights that we were, in fact, almost exactly like them, no different.

A few days ago, after living out for five years, I was called family for the first time.

I joined a gym, and while filling out all the forms I mention – as I do, all the time – my wife, and the trainer looked up at me, startled, before smiling and mentioning her girlfriend. When my workout was over and I was leaving, she said to me, “I hope you stick with it. It’s good to have family around.”

It was funny what that did to me.

That one little phrase immediately did what Pride parades and dykes marches couldn’t do for me: it made me feel connected, connected to not only the people around me but also to a history. A proud history of Harvey Milk, of Brandon Teena, of blue collar butches and drag queens throwing bricks at homophobic cops outside the Stonewall Inn.

I think it’s time for family to make a comeback. It’s hard enough to meet someone these days even without the added landmines that can be the gay dating pool. I say that we give ourselves a bit of a break. If we all started off as family instead of as strangers, it can only be that much easier.

So go forth, my queer kiddies. Go forth and gay it up, meet your brothers and sisters, and fill up your little black book while you’re at it. Or not. Because whether you’re in it for the sex, the romance, or just the love, you know what? It is good to have family around.

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