Guest blog post by Nicolas Seip, True Colors Fund
Like many in my generation, I didn’t grow up in the so-called “nuclear family” unit. My parents split up before I can remember. While divorce certainly didn’t make my childhood any easier, it did expand my understanding of the word “family.” To me, it never meant a mom, a dad, and a few kids. It meant two homes, two Christmases (which was a bit of a perk, I must admit), and eventually a stepmom and three stepbrothers.
I’m not gay, and I’m not transgender. I only know what it’s like to be a straight, cisgender male. But I also know what it’s like to be rejected by one’s family. In my case, it wasn’t due to my sexual orientation, but rather stemmed from my dad and stepmom’s own infighting, mixed with a very (how can I put this?) by-the-book interpretation of the Bible. I bore much of the brunt of a messy marriage. And I don’t doubt that if I were gay, it wouldn’t have been at 19 that I was kicked out, but at a much more tender age. And while my own family might’ve rejected me, I could at least find solace in knowing that the whole of society didn’t. That isn’t always the case for those whose identity or experience (be it sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, or something else) differs from my own. My history doesn’t give me a firsthand understanding of identity-based rejection, but it has made me keenly aware of one thing: that it’s never the kid’s fault.
40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness in the United States identify as LGBTQ. When you compare that to the 5-7 percent of the general youth population that identifies as LGBTQ, it’s pretty clear that there’s a big issue on our hands, and that we’re failing to address it as a nation. When you consider that most of these kids are kicked or forced out of their homes simply because of whom they love or how they identify, it should come as no surprise that many LGBTQ youth redefine the meaning of “family” for themselves.
When I was on my own, my friends became my family. I owe them a great deal for supporting me at my lowest. I’ve heard similar stories from my LGBTQ friends who’ve experienced rejection from their own blood-related families. And it usually comes back to one thing: your friends chose you and love you for who you are…. the way your parent ought to (minus the “choosing” part, I suppose… though love is always a choice).
I also had a lot of support from my faith community. And, though I’m not so religious anymore, one of my biggest dreams for 2024 is that my LGBTQ family members and friends can walk into any place of worship and feel that same love and support I felt. I firmly believe that if we’re going to end rejection and prejudice against LGBTQ people in our world, acceptance needs to start in our homes and in our places of worship. And as I read over the inspiring and challenging visions for 2024, I believe we can do it, because so many others want the same thing:
Here’s one that offers one way we can make this dream a reality:
That last one really speaks to me. Because the only radical thing about love should be the emotion itself. I don’t know about you, but I think love is pretty rad. All love. And I can’t help but believe that in 2024, our families and faith communities will agree.
And why not have hope? If you haven’t spent much time reading the dreams on this website for the future of this movement, I challenge you to do so – and to share your own! I bet that after you do, you’ll feel the same hope too.
With radical love,
Guest blog post by Nick from True Colors Fund.