I’ve been thinking a lot about the composition and meaning of family recently.
For me, it has always been those who I know I can count on when things are very bad at a particular moment and those who share my joy at the happiest of times, my sorrow at the darkest moments, and the mundane for everything in between. For me, despite the distance between me and my biological family, I know they are ‘there’ and hope they know the same holds true for me. Obviously, my husband has been my daily family tie since we fell in love, and his gigantic family has welcomed me with the warmest of arms. But, my ‘family’ has also consisted of ‘my tribe’—a small group of several individuals whom I love and who love me back unconditionally in that way that only families can. None of this really has to do with any specific identity or sexual preferences. The most important qualification is love. Simple, honest, persistent love.
My pontification of ‘family’ recently has been more related to politics (of course) and how others find it so simple and necessary to define the meaning of ‘family’ for people they do not know. I’m a fervent supporter of marriage equality for all, largely because I see the desperate sadness of those who are denied that joy of defining their family for themselves. I also find it unconscionable that there are individuals who find it so repulsive. Largely, I’ve found that those who object to same-sex marriage are the very same individuals who deride LGBT rights in general because of the ‘promiscuous lifestyle’ of gay men whilst dismissing extra-marital affairs of their own as irrelevant and a ‘private matter’. Nevermind that there are plenty of examples of gay men and women who have been in decades-long relationships with their partners and never had an affair. Not that it is anyone’s business but that couple’s.
I don’t understand preventing couples in loving, committed relationships from enjoying the same legal rights as heterosexual couples vis-a-vis a recognised civil union. If a church wants to prevent it, fine (although I find fault with that as well). And, if the couple’s only ‘difference’ is that it is a same-sex couple, who is it hurting? Not the gay-bashing homophobes, surely. If they are concerned with examples of solid, loving and life-long relationships — e.g., preservation of ‘the family’ — why prevent two individuals who have lived together in good times and bad from publicly declaring that union and granting it the same legal protections?
I don’t get it.
Perhaps that’s why initiatives such as The Devotion Project are so incredibly important. Quoting their Facebook page, ‘The Devotion Project is a series of short documentary portraits of LGBTQ couples and families, chronicling and celebrating their commitment and love’. Couples and families.
The third video in their series, ‘Listen from the Heart‘, follows the lives of the Fitch-Jenett family. And, what a family it is. You need only listen to them to hear their devotion. Watching it and seeing the love and commitment is not only a shining example of how families should be, but should thaw the heart of even the staunchest opponent to same-sex marriage.
Simon is an incredibly lucky boy. If more children had parents as devoted to him and to one another as his are, the world would be an infinitely better place. And, many a heterosexual couple would do well to learn from their example.
We sometimes forget that family is experienced differently by everyone. Great piece.
Thanks for posting this!