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Why Chosen Family Is Even More Important During the Holidays

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www.advocate.com

(CNN) -- A version of this story appeared in CNN's Race Deconstructed newsletter.About halfway into the winter finale of the workplace sitcom "Abbott Elementary," we learn why the corny history teacher Jacob, played by Chris Perfetti, is a Christmas killjoy: "Look," he says, "Christmas is not my favorite thing, OK?

I don't have a lot of good memories around it."Jacob, who's gay, never elaborates. But as I watched the scene, I thought about how lots of queer people feel a similar unease around Christmas.

The holiday often centers conventional dynamics in the home and biological family: Good tidings we bring to you and your kin, goes part of the refrain of one classic yuletide carol.

Yet for queer people who aren't out to their biological families, or who are but have been rejected by them, Christmas can be fraught.This tension underscores the importance of relationships beyond traditional kinship bonds -- of those crucial connections known as chosen family.The New York Times recently interviewed the members of five chosen families and snapped into focus the "sense of hope, and home," they've found in one another.Lenny Lasater, 65, told the newspaper that when she was 19, her mother found love letters from a girlfriend."'I would literally rather see you lying dead in a casket than to know this about you,'" Lasater recalled her mother seething.In her early 20s, Lasater, largely estranged from her biological family, moved to Georgia, where she found her chosen family: the Bickersons, a group of queer women who gather for holidays and other occasions and who just generally stick up for one another."We didn't have to censor," Lasater told the New York Times.

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