I do not trust my family simply because they are related to me by blood; they are my family because they have shown themselves to be trustworthy with my true self.
To me, the words “family” and “queer” both connotate a commitment to beloved community at their very core. Otherwise, the specific definitions can be nebulous and vary greatly depending on who you ask. Neither are simple or easy all the time, but both concepts are integral to how I conduct myself in this world. The ability to fully co-exist in multiple spaces simultaneously helps me live authentically in myself as a queer person and as part of my family.
I believe that it is a great act of vulnerability to trust in another. Trust in a person, a belief, an institution means opening up yourself to being harmed for the chance to be known. I think of trust as a form of love. In my experience as a queer and transgender person of color, being marginalized makes the act of trust both harder and more necessary. I know that I am at my happiest and most resilient when I feel supported by my beloved community. Trust is antithetical to hopelessness; to trust is to believe in the power of something outside of myself. I trust that I am not alone, at the very least. I trust that nobody is ever truly alone because nobody has been untouched by love in some way. But when someone is busy dealing with being oppressed on the daily sometimes it can feel pretty lonely.
I could (and have) also talk about how working from home for a year combined with an inability to gather socially has left me feeling deeply lonely in a way I had not experienced before 2020. And I know I’m not the only one by a long shot. I have felt cut off from my community which relied so much on talking face to face. How do we return to that? Is that something we even want to do? It’s a conversation many of us are having at this moment, to different degrees. I am introverted enough that I never expected how much I would miss just being around people during my day. I was shocked when I realized it. My community turned out to be so much bigger than I had realized previously. When I was younger I thought I was so independent that I didn’t really need other people, and I was emotionally self sufficient, wrapped in the little bubble of my individual personality. Perhaps I was a tad self-absorbed. Either way I can unequivocally declare now that other people, in fact, matter a whole freaking lot. So when I say “family” I mean both relatives of the blood and of the heart. My family members have come from all over, churches and soccer fields and shared dinners eaten in celebration. Instant community, just add water and plenty of love.
When I came out as queer I wasn’t the first or the last member of my family to do so, and it felt like it wasn’t a big deal because I didn’t have to be the first. I trusted myself and felt safe enough because I knew that my family, and my larger faith community, would still love me. The experience really disproved my individual-as-an-emotional-bubble theory, because it was quickly made very clear to me that I very much needed other people. In fact another community was opening up for me. The act of coming out helped me feel authentically affirmed by both my family and queer community. Because I had trusted my family with my full self, that meant I could go about my business knowing that I am loved as a member of my family and as a queer and trans person. It pains me that my positive experience with my family is more often the exception and not the rule.
Unfortunately, sometimes (or often) life sucks and sometimes (or often) life sucks a lot. When I wake up to my morning alarm and my body and soul feel like they weigh a million pounds each, it helps to be able to trust that I am not carrying this burden alone. I know that I am loved and I don’t have to tackle everything by myself. When I can wake up and know that I am seen, it’s a little better. When I can wake up and know that I am beloved unconditionally, it’s a little easier. All together it makes me feel light enough to get me up and started for the day. I trust that there will be a floor under my feet and that helps things feel a little less hopeless.
Though at the end of the day, I just want to be a good ancestor and leave this world with a little more love in it than when I got here for my baby cousins and all the baby queers out there. I would not be here as the queer person-in-progress that I am right now without my family and I seek to live my life so that I can be that support for others on their journey. As I have trusted others with my vulnerabilities, I try to be the kind of person who can be trusted in turn. I trust that while we are anxious monkeys on a small and very lucky rock flying 67,000 miles per hour through the vacuum of space, real meaning can be found in the relationships we have with each other. There is much joy to be found in shared experiences and I am so thankful that I have the chance to give a little more love every day.
Ev Bacosa Pugh (they/them) is a chronic stress-baker and reader-of-historical-fiction originally from San Francisco, CA. Ev received their undergraduate from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN in 2019 and currently works for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. When they’re not fretting over sourdough starters they enjoy cozy cafes, cuddly dogs, and being a smart-aleck.