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  • The Power of Chosen Family

    By Kathleen McMahon MA, LPC

    June marks Pride month – a celebration of LGTBQ+ rights, voices, and stories. During this Pride month, I want to celebrate and discuss the extraordinary power of community and the much needed experience of being seen and received with open arms.

    This article will be focusing on Chosen Family. As a therapist, I’ve witnessed and studied many powerful examples of human connection. Time and time again, I discover a dynamic that comes up in countless therapy sessions – and that is chosen family. Universally, friendship is experienced as being just as important as romantic partnership or familial ties. While this occurs across many races, sexualities, gender identities/expressions, and cultures, we see this constellation of care and concept of “family of choice” being especially prominent amongst the LGBTQA+ community. Today, organizations such as The Chosen Family Law Center are working to codify that care by “building the legal framework to support dignity and justice for all family types.”

     Renown Psychotherapist Esther Perel states:

    “But perhaps you also know this experience: the day you made a choice to look in the dark corner. Perhaps, you know the experience of eventually finding the parts of yourself that were aching to meet you, be loved by you, and to be seen and embraced by others. Or, perhaps you are still waiting for this, wondering if this experience can ever be yours. Despite the proliferation of Pride celebrations worldwide, many of us don’t come from places that are ready to embrace us in our fullness.”

    There truly is no strict definition nor hierarchy of “types” of relationships. Friends can become family; Lovers can become friends. Sometimes, the people we came from are not always where we fit. Ideally, your family-of-origin can see you as no less lovable or valid because of who you love or are. And if that never happens or hasn’t happened yet, know there is a family of choice waiting for you.

    Inspired and pulled from Esther Perel’s Newsletter:

    Let’s Turn the Lens on You

    Map your constellation of care.

    Who matters in your life today and how has it changed?

    Who is there for you? 

    For whom are you there? 

    What three words describe your expectations of close friendship? 

    What are the special gifts you bring to your friendships? 

    What do you feel you could do better?

    If you felt you could ask for more from a friend, what would you ask for?

    What holds you back from asking?


    The Chosen Family Law Center, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to cultivating equitable social and legal recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) and polyamorous families and individuals.

    Affirmations, an LGBTQ+ community center that provides resources, social opportunities, and support/unconditional acceptance to all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and cultures.

    Ruth Ellis Center, a non-profit that provides trauma-informed services for lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ+) youth, and young adults, with an emphasis on young people of color, experiencing homelessness, involved in the child welfare system, and/or experiencing barriers to health and wellbeing.

    The Marsha P. Johnson Institute protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people.

    As the world’s first HIV/AIDS service organization, GMHC is working to end the AIDS epidemic and uplift the lives of all affected.