Op-ed: The Importance of a Chosen Family

Andre Tompkins

The famous saying that “blood is thicker than water” can be interpreted to suggest that familial bonds will always be stronger than the bonds of friendship or romantic love. But what people don’t realize is that, while familial bonds can be stronger than most friendships or romantic relationships, this can only be achieved through unconditional love, acceptance, and support. With some individuals in the LGBTQ Community, having that unconditional love, acceptance, and support from your biological family is a miracle, a dream come true. Knowing that your family loves you for who you are and wants you to prosper throughout your life is a true blessing. And I’m happy for those individuals who have that support from their family.

Unfortunately, not every family is accepting of their loved one’s queer identity. In my case, my family is one of those families who isn’t accepting of me being LGBTQ. As a black nonbinary individual who grew up in a Christ filled home, I never realized the importance of having a chosen family until I came out as bisexual at age 16.  My aunt was the first person I ever came out to; and she didn’t receive it well. She told me that she won’t accept sin, that I was confused and was going down a path of destruction. My grandparent’s reaction was even worse, saying that no one will want me for a partner because of who I am. And for a while, I thought they we’re right. But it wasn’t until I got to college, joined the GSA there, met others who had the same story as I did, and was able to connect with them on a deeper level, that I began to understand the necessity of chosen family. 

I soon realized that I wasn’t alone, that I finally had a family who loves me unconditionally, is accepting and super supportive. I now have a family that I would do anything for, a family that I love unconditionally. And I know what some people might say that you can’t choose your family, your family is made up of people that you are related to. But here’s the thing, you know that quote that I mentioned earlier? The “blood is thicker than water” quote? Well as it turns out, that is the shorter version of the quote. The original quote states, “The blood of covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,” meaning that the family you choose is stronger than the one you were born into. What does it mean to have a chosen family? To me it means that even though my biological family or relatives aren’t accepting and are hoping that this is just a phase I’ll get out of and that I will someday live my life by Christ, my chosen family, my friends from school, my church friends, my co-workers, teachers, and the entire LGBTQ community, love me unconditionally, show up, and are there for me through the good times and bad. 

That’s why it is so important to have a support system, to have individuals who will stand by you, especially at this place and time in history. Having a chosen family who loves and supports you is a blessing and a bond that can save lives and last a lifetime.

Andre Tompkins is a Junior a Lindenwood University Studying social work and minoring in Psychology, Gender Studies, and Creative writing. Andre is also the secretary for Lindenwood’s Genders and Sexualities alliance organization. Andre uses They/Them pronouns.

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