"We Met In Prison, And Been Together Ever Since": Queer Folks Are Revealing How They Met Their Chosen Family, And It's Eye-Opening

·11 min read

Note: The post contains a mention of suicide.

The craving for deeper connection in our LGBTQ+ friendships is important to many of us, especially since many of our biological families are not accepting of our queerness. And while it can feel isolating to see Instagram pics of other queer folks with their own friend groups, it's crucial to realize that chosen families are not built overnight — they take time.

"fire island" cast
Hulu

That's why I reached out the BuzzFeed Community and asked my fellow queer folks, "How did you find your chosen family?" The responses were incredibly moving, and it's truly my honor to share them:

1."My family is the chosen family for a number of people. My mom jokes that they’re all her honorary children and grandchildren. She has seven biological children, so gets our names mixed up frequently and ends up calling us by our number. When we all got our numbers tattooed on us as a joke, so did two of the honorary children who have been a huge part of our family for 35 years and 22 years. It made my mom cry knowing they love her as much as she loves them."

photos on the wall of a chosen family from "Fire Island"

lww

Hulu

2."It took years to get to a solid place with my biological family after coming out, and during that time I met someone who became my chosen family. She came in during the middle of my sadness and truly rescued me. Since then, we have become like brother and sister. She’s gay, too, and we’ve talked about having children together once we get our lives on track and become co-parents. She’s the only true friend that I’ve ever had, and more like family than some of my own. We live together, and I wouldn’t want it any other way."

gay man and his best friend in "My Best Friend's Wedding"

"If I was straight, we would likely be married." —jeremycady

Sony Pictures

3."Honestly in college, I don't think I understood the term 'chosen family' quite yet. Back then, I just called these people my BFFs. But over the years, these friends have literally become my family. As a South Asian person who could never have that relationship with my biological family, the unconditional support is something I didn't even know I was craving. It began with reclaiming holidays — my roommates and I held a 'Queerwali' to reclaim all the times that we felt uncomfortable during Diwali (being judged by aunties, etc.). When I first moved to New York, I had very few people here. But through them I met new friends that are queer, trans, and people of color — I am honestly shocked, and so, so grateful for my chosen family. They give me solace and peace and comfort in a queer space that oftentimes can feel really, really alienating. I genuinely consider them all my siblings."

two friends in a bar laughing

"Even last year when I broke my leg, they were the ones there supporting me and helping me get back to health." —Anonymous, 29, New York

Holly Falconer / Getty Images

4."I carpooled with someone — who I consider to be a sort of adoptive brother — to middle school cross-country practice, and that's where I met two future members of my chosen family. We all became close when my 'adoptive brother' dated my best friend at the time, helping me reconnect me with my best friend from elementary school who I'd lost touch with because she switched to homeschooling. Them, and a few others in our family, were the people who got me through some of the worst times in my life. One of us describes our little group as 'family with benefits,' and it’s perfectly accurate. At least six of the nine or so of us are out as queer, and the others have this ally thing down to a tee. I genuinely love all of them, and consider them family just as much as (and some of them more than) my birth parents."

friends in a photobooth
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

5."Nine years ago, my partner and I moved from our small Southern hometown to the San Francisco Bay area. We were both so excited to be in a place that we thought would align more with who we are, and where hopefully we would feel safer to be more open and authentic. I'll admit, it took me longer to get comfy than it took them. Two years into our new life on the West Coast, I was still mostly quiet and private about my queerness. My partner, however, was loud and proud! At a weekend work retreat for their new job, there was a social hour, in which they opened the event by having everyone share a fun fact about themselves — my partner enthusiastically announced that we were queer and polyamorous to the entire room. Their openness paid off, as another coworker approached them later that evening to share that they, too, were queer and polyamorous. That fall, we attended a party at their home, where we met the people who became our chosen family."

"We eventually moved cities to be closer to them. It's been about six years since then, and our crew is still together. We've done all our holidays together, have taken trips, and celebrated new jobs. We've had marriages, divorces, and even welcomed babies to the family. Throughout it, we've always had each others' backs, even in hard times. I never could have imagined I would build a community like this, one that allows me to feel safe, supported, and loved exactly as I am. We step up to take care of each other, and put in the hard work to get through tough emotional times together."

people partying with sparklers on the balcony

"We share our time, energy, and resources in such a selfless way. I am infinitely grateful for my chosen family. I'd never be as happy and fulfilled as I am today without them." —Anonymous, 30, California

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6."We met 16 years ago in prison. We've been together ever since."

two older men on the beach

—Anonymous, 44, South Carolina

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7."It may sound a little strange, but I met my chosen family through my OnlyFans work. With my sex work career, it can be quite hard for me to find people who don't judge me, or want to just get in my pants. I get that many people will be put off that I've had sex with the people who I'm closest to, but I don't see it being that different from feeling like a spouse is part of the family you've created — I just don't want to marry my friends, or date them. We may have met through work and collaborating in videos together, so there is some history of physical attraction, but that doesn't dilute how close we are today. It can be isolating as a non-white creator, and that's why I lean on my friends. We support each other. We get each other."

two friends take a selfie together

"And we don't care that we've seen each other naked. We're comfortable, and our group dynamic works for us." —Anonymous, 26, Washington

Jessie Casson / Getty Images

8."I met my chosen family when a friend of mine invited me to a summer retreat trip with his group of friends. They're a group of nerds, 'gaymers', and ravers that I ended up really getting along with. I grew up bouncing from friend group to friend group and not really feeling like I fit in. This was the first group of friends I felt like where I could truly be my nerdy gay self and not feel judged. I was going through one of the darkest moments in my life before meeting my chosen family, and spending time with them really helped me pull through. My chosen family really means everything to me, and I always make an effort to make sure our annual summer retreat trip happens every year."

group of queer friends
Jesse Cao

9."We don't keep in touch anymore, but for a moment in time, I felt close to the chosen family I met through participating in AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile, 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to fundraise for HIV/AIDS healthcare and research. The first time I participated, I did it alone. It felt great to be a part of something, but I felt lonely and my body ached. Since my motto is to 'Try everything twice,' I signed up again the following year. And that's the year I met the group of queer folks who I've felt closest to my whole life. I was tent mates with a friend from college, who I'd sort of lost touch with — I was happy to reconnect. Through him, I met another rider who I'd seen on a practice ride, and he introduced us both to his four other friends. We stuck together. I laughed so much during our dinners. I remember gossiping and painting each others' nails in the glow of a phone light at night. I'm thankful I met them."

older cyclists chat during a bike ride

"On the fourth night of the ride, they invited me to leave with them to a bar off our camping grounds, and I'm so glad I did. We danced that night away, and it was under the disco light of some dive bar in central California is where I thought to myself, So this is what family feels like. That night, they even gassed me up to approach my ride crush and shoot my shot (he had a boyfriend).

I miss everyone from the ride, as I've kind of lost touch with most people over this pandemic. Writing about them makes me want to text them. I hope they're doing well." —Anonymous, 29, California

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

10."It’s been eight years since I met my best friends. I was 12 years old, starting at a brand-new middle school. I quickly became friends with a girl on the bus because we had so much in common — we looked alike, liked the same things, etc. Two weeks later, I found her Instagram with hearts arranged in a bisexual flag. That started a week of, 'Are you thinking what I’m thinking...?' before we finally both came out to each other. In addition to that, I met another girl at school who identified as gay and asexual, and we hit it off instantly. Through her, I met another bi person, who also used she/they pronouns. Their cousin is pansexual and uses they/them pronoun. These people are the love of my life."

two people on a bicycle with their friends around them

—Anonymous, 20, Oregon

Maskot / Getty Images/Maskot

11."I found my chosen family in elementary school. I knew I was gay, and I came out to them. I knew everything would be fine when they said, 'We know. Happy you told us though!' About two years later, I was outed to my family, and my parents were not the most accepting. I attempted suicide because of what they said. My friends were there for me through it all. A year later, literally every person in our friend group came out as somewhere on the queer spectrum. We have been friends for seven years, and I can't imagine my life without them. I probably wouldn't be here without them."

college graduating seniors

"I love them with everything and more." —Anonymous, 18, New York

Spiderplay / Getty Images/iStockphoto

12."It took me a decade to realize it, but my best friends since high school are my chosen family. I was really closeted in high school, and my two friends are the ones who constantly brought me out of my shell. One is a straight woman who was the kind of person who'd go right back to eating their Hot Cheetos after beating the ass of someone talking crap about her friends, while the other is a gay man who helped pave the way for me to come out myself because of how willing he is to be vulnerable. We all met during our freshman year after volunteering to be more involved with the pep rallies, the most important thing about high school. And when I think about who I want to spend the rest of my life with, I don't think about a husband or kids. I think about the three of us."

three friends watch a video on the bed together in "Genera+ion"

"It's harder for us to keep in touch since we live spread out across the country, but our bond is still there." —Anonymous, 31, Texas

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If you're also queer, how did you find the close friends that you now call family? And how long did that journey take? Please, share your stories with us in the comments.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Pride month may be over to, though you can still engage with queer content all-year round — check out all of BuzzFeed's posts celebrating Pride 2022!

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