Our chosen families

“The thing I regret is that I raised you as if you were straight. I didn’t know any different. I am so sorry. I’m so sorry. I knew… well before you did… that your life was going to be so hard. I knew that, and I wanted it more than anything in the world not to be the case. And I know I made it worse, because I wanted you to change because I knew the world wouldn’t.”

– Hannah Gadsby quoting her mother, in the Netflix special “Nanette”

A while back, I asked my Instagram followers a couple of questions. One of the questions was if they would be interested in seeing more gay content on my feed. Out of the 300 people that answered, 91% said yes, without even knowing what I meant by gay content. This partly proves the point I was trying to make with my last post about gay friends. We crave community and relatable content, even when we’re not exactly sure what relatable content actually is. (That, or people just want me to send nudes… But I prefer to believe that’s not it!)

Following this, I created a very simple and brief survey with three questions. 

  1. Do you identify as LGBTQIA+? (Yes/No)

  2. How many of your friends (that you meet up with on a regular basis) belong to this community? (All, More than half, Less than half, None)

  3. Do you wish you had more LGBTQIA+ friends? (Yes/No)

Obviously, this survey can not be used for scientific research. I can only reach people who follow me, most of whom are 20-34 years old, living in Europe and the Americas. Maybe the results would be insanely different if I could ask people in e.g. Iraq, Uganda and China. I have no idea. Just the fact that most of my followers live in countries where being anything other than straight is actually legal, and some of us even get to marry and have kids, that changes a lot for a survey such as this one. So I’m definitely aware that there are better ways of conducting these things, but I wanted to get a simple overview of how my followers feel. I wanted to know if they’re like me, if they feel like I do. And it seems the majority of the people who answered the survey do feel the same. 

150 people answered the three questions in 24 hours.

  • 82% identify as LGBTQIA+

  • 78% wish they had more LGBTQIA+ friends

  • 7% have no LGBTQIA+ friends

Two straight people answered they don’t have any LGBTQIA+ friends and three straight people don’t want any LGBTQIA+ friends at all. I’d love to know why you feel like this, if you’re one of those people who think labels are overrated or if you’re just homophobic. Either way, write me!  

Following this tiny survey, I started googling and researching the subject of ”gay friendships” even more. For example, I found this article citing a study saying that ”despite all the talk of our ’chosen families,’ gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women.

Why are we so bad at finding friends? Why are we bad at keeping them? Is it our insecurities because of our backgrounds and upbringings? Something I really teared up with while watching Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special was when she told that story of what her mother said to her about raising her straight. It resonated with me and so many people I know. 

Being brought up in a straight world, where the constant reminder is that if you’re not straight, you’re not normal, you’re different, you’re something else, a minority. You’ll eventually put yourself down too. Be it openly or just inside your mind, you’re worth less. You’re telling yourself you’re worth less. It takes its toll on you. And in a way we come to hate ourselves, and as a consequence also avoid other gay people because they’re worth just as little as we are. It takes years, sometimes half a life or more, to realize that we’ve been wrong all this time. 

And even if your parents are cool, society is a constant reminder that we’re not the norm. We’re different. And that likely won’t change. It’s hard to accept, but we just have to be OK with it. And we need to keep together. Our so-called ”chosen families” are more important than we might think. 

I’m going to quote this article again (I really recommend reading the whole thing!):

”It’s easy to ignore, roll your eyes and put a middle finger up to straight people who don’t like you because, whatever, you don’t need their approval anyway. Rejection from other gay people, though, feels like losing your only way of making friends and finding love. Being pushed away from your own people hurts more because you need them more.”

I couldn’t agree more. We all need to make our ”chosen families” bigger. And we have to take care of those families and friendships. I personally always want more gay friends. Lesbian, gay, trans, it doesn’t matter. I just need people who understand me because they’ve been through what I’ve been through. 

What about you?