LGBT folks and their “chosen families”

The New York Times has a touching article up about the concept of “chosen families” and the desire to find a place of belonging when your own family can be less than welcoming:

When Lenny Lasater moved to Georgia in her early 20s, it didn’t take long to find her family. She quickly met the Bickersons, a group of queer women scattered across the South who met through mutual friends and banded together. Each Bickerson had given herself a name that started with the letter B — Ms. Lasater eventually became known as “Big Star,” because she was active in the local theater scene and played in a band.

Over the last 35 years, the Bickersons have become a family with its own set of rituals and traditions — fishing trips; holiday parties at a farm in North Carolina; an offshoot affectionately known as “Butch Club,” during which some of the Bickersons could sit around a firepit, sipping Crown Royal and pinky-swearing each other to secrecy.

“We didn’t have to censor,” Ms. Lasater, now 65, said. “We were real, we were honest, and we could expect to be met with compassion and understanding.”

The Bickersons stepped in at a time when Ms. Lasater was barely in contact with members of her biological family. When she was 19, her mother found love letters she had saved from a girlfriend in Tennessee. “I would literally rather see you laying dead in a casket than to know this about you,” Ms. Lasater remembers her mother saying.

She broke off most communication with her family after that, visiting only once or twice a year. They eventually reconciled, but Ms. Lasater said she never felt fully connected with her mother, who died in 2020.

Ms. Lasater lists members of the Bickersons as her emergency contacts. Maybe, she muses, they’ll form a retirement community together; for now, she’s grateful to them for stepping in where her birth family did not.

“That’s how I found myself, my place in the world,” she said. “Where is my tribe? Right here, with the Bickersons. Where is my family? Right here, with the Bickersons.”

You can read the rest here.

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