Chosen: A Queer Family Thanksgiving

By Rev. Sis Raedorah Stewart

Newsflash:  “chosen family” dynamics and language is not the brainchild of LGBTQ persons! #gasp #clutchpearls  Now that I got your attention, I call our attention to ancient holy writ that is readily accessible for this conversation about giving thanks for our queerly chosen families:

Psalm 68:6a “God sets the lonely in families…”

To prevent the fallacy of proof-texting, let’s consider the context of this excerpt from Hebrew scripture.  In this Psalm, God is the Sovereign One is doing liberative work on behalf of everyone who is somehow oppressed. Imagine this, God knows that loneliness from being an outcast is oppressive; comparable to oppression of being incarcerated! God cares enough to ordain, to bless, to establish a familial dynamic which essentially replaces traditional family with intentional family!

Chosen family is a God-blessed grace of liberation from rejection! For this we give God— god of our understanding; and in my witness, God experienced by Jews, Africans, Greeks, Christians, artists, activists, and poets– thanks and praise.


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Sometimes, some LGBTQIx* people get to choose-again our family. I am grateful for my mother who has expressed all my life that she does not understand that I am queer femme lesbian while emphatically asserting a very timeless, tangible love for me. Mama used to tell me of her fears that I would go to hell for being lesbian while preaching everyone else into heaven. However, now she looks to me to explain scripture and sermons her pastor preaches, not only about inclusion, but all of the other texts which had been used to subjugate her mind to patriarchy and racism. My chosen family includes an evolved mother whose love I never doubted even when she doubted that she did anything wrong to make me queer. I wish this was all our story– of parents who love enough to figure out queer ways to love beyond the binary.


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The other, and sorrowfully familiar story for many, is of parents who sever heart ties with queer children and siblings (and sometimes children separating from queer parents) and prohibit setting a place at the table for them on Thanksgiving or any given Sunday. Trust this, their limited capacity to love and narrowly defined understanding of sex and gender is their choice. At the crossroads of every choice we are faced with fear or love.  Being queer persons causes fear to arise in those closest to us because they cannot comprehend why we would choose a life of persecution and rejection.  They cannot comprehend that we did not choose to be us any more than they chose to be them. Sure, we make choices as to how to live our authentic selves, daily; but we did not choose our authenticity.  Queer, for the likes of us, is being authentic.


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And we are the ones, for whom God created families beyond matrilineal and patrilineal bloodlines. “God sets the lonely in families…” For this we give God thanks and praise.


Chosen families within queer culture are organic to our basic human need for community.  Aunties in drag. Uncles strapped down and strapped up.  Sissy bois for little sisters.  Tom bois for baby brothers. Asexual moody teens. Gender variant lovers. Who we see when we look in the mirrors on the wall, in the closet, and in our minds. For these we give God thanks and praise.


Who have you chosen as family? Who has chosen you? Why did you choose them? Do you know why they chose you? How long have you been family? What plans do you have for your chosen family? As we sit around tables we set and tables to which we are invited this week, let’s discuss these questions. Even if you know the answers you might discover that your depth of gratitude for being family is reciprocated and celebrated, not just taken for granted.

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That’s it, the point of my thoughts here, let’s not take queer chosen family for granted! Afterall, being family is holy work — “God sets the lonely in families…”  and for this grace we give God thanks and praise.


Queer Thanksgiving Prayer–

Creator God, You whose origin queers the mind as mystery, thank you today for making families for refugees of love. May the families who reject us, miss us. May the families who receive us, need us. May everyone find the family which fit their need for affirmation, affection, and authenticity. Amen. Ashe. And so it is.



*x = my working theology of the Imago Dei, image of God, which sets a place at the table for gender variances known and yet unnamed.

Featured Image Photo Credit: NY Times

Rev. Raedorah (@revsisraedorah) is a queer femme lesbian womanist scholar preacher poet mother daughter sister aunt. Within her birth family she is adored and abhorred; loved and lamented; cared for and cursed.  Her chosen family include a ever-widening bosom for queer young artists and activists, trans sons and daughters, str8 women, and safe harbor men.  She gave birth to Jayy Dodd (@jayydodd) and supports him giving birth to himself daily. Rev. Raedorah is an ordained Pastor in a denomination that forbids her to perform same sex marriages; and is an ordained Elder in a denomination through which she worked to have same sex marriages and LGBT clergy affirmed. Check out her writing services at http://www.iWrite.Solutions

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