There’s a word used among queer folk – family. It’s used by queer folk to refer to each other. Gays and lesbians and bisexuals, mostly. I don’t think trans folk are included.

Family is an odd name for it. I don’t know if it’s a common term – I think it is. But it’s funny to hear a lot. I got introduced, when I first moved to Lahore, as “This is Summer, she’s family too.” And later on, it was revealed that I was bi. Bisexuality confuses gay and straight people alike, but being Family clears all those things up. Family’s Family. When you’re here, you’re Family.

One of my closest friends here is this bi man I call Gorgeous George. He was talking to this woman, who doesn’t know about either my queerness or his, about how I was hanging out with his brother recently. And she remarked, “Oh, so Summer’s like your family.” And he replied, very very gayly, “Yeah, honey, she’s totally Family.” The woman didn’t get it, but oh well.

And I was sitting, meanwhile, with his brother, 200 miles away, and he said, “You know, I don’t see you very often, so you probably don’t realize this: but I love being around you; you and so-and-so and this other queer guy. I want to be around Family a lot. I feel easy around you.”

The meaning is interchangeable: Family as the code word for community of queer people and family as family. It’s a good word. It’s a better word than queer, in fact. Queer is a reclamation of a term of abuse. Family? Family’s family.

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