In honor of the Feast of the Holy Family…
Throughout the years, TV shows and movies have reflected a variety of ways families are created, from the Brady Brunch to Different Strokes to Sex and the City to Phineas and Ferb. Over the last 20 years, many have begun to portray lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters in families and having families themselves (examples are Will & Grace, Ugly Betty, Degrassi High, Modern Family, etc)—a move that is encouraging many of us to look at what do we mean by family and who makes up a family.
For centuries, both church circles and civil institutions have tried to define marriage and family—from political alliances to matters of economic security to ensuring there were enough hands to work the land to upholding “traditional values” (while overlooking things like relational violence, infidelity, women’s rights, etc). Despite recent efforts that have attempted to limit family to “mother, father, 2.5 children, white picket fence, walk in closet, and a pet”, more and more our idea of family is evolving and expanding as we engage that our connections to each other transcend biology and “traditional”. The word “family” cannot be co-opted to marginalize and dehumanize those of us who live into the creation of families and homes beyond the norm. It is instead a reminder that in our uniqueness, our colorfulness, our diversity, and our queerfulness, a family is the coming together of people who are committed to living on the side of love, justice, and celebration of each other.
The New Normal depicts a same-sex couple having a child through surrogacy–an issue that is complex and to be explored in a future post. The family desired by Bryan and David (with help from Goldie) and the queer families depicted in other shows/movies (and in life) reflect that at the core of the family structure are people coming together for love to share love – lifting up that is not blood that makes a family but it is the mutual love, compassion, concern, patience, drama shared by those who come together regardless of biology.
If we look to Judaism and Christianity, both traditions are filled with examples of diverse family structures culminating in Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Are they not considered to be the Holy Family? Just like Joseph cared for Jesus despite not being his biological parent, the New Normal’s David and Bryan will care for their child with the same conviction, passion and love – because “love is love.” The word family itself embodies what is central: for all moments, I love you, period. Family is not a word but a continuous and evolving and inclusive action. May we always strive to embody, live, and give witness that we all belong to a queerfully beloved and holy family.
featured image found on: http://www.bigcitybelly.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Love-makes-a-family.jpg