Monday, February 16, 2015

Family Day

Family Day.

That's what today is in Ontario.

I remember the discussions around this day being created, essentially so we'd have a holiday in February, and the decision to have it be a day that celebrated 'Family.' While I love having a day off in winters like this one that is deep and dark and cold, I wasn't really warmed by the 'family' aspect of it.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of 'family' ... I love all kinds of families ... biological families ... intentional families ... community families ... I think the idea of a group of people, however they are connected, define themselves as 'family' is a wonderful and powerful thing. I do not deny the social benefits and social power of 'family' - however that family is constructed and defined.

But, for me the word 'family' has such baggage. For a long while 'family' got married to 'values' and gave birth to hate and prejudice and violence. Family values, the ones that require love and acceptance and tolerance and generosity of spirit and kindness of mind, are wonderful values. But the 'Family Values' that were preached from pulpits, plastered on placards, and compressed into sound bites weren't about those things, they were about hate. They aimed at doing something that seems outrageous if you have any belief in the 'human family.' They aimed at redefining lgbt people as 'other than family,' 'other than welcome,' 'other than valuable.'

Suddenly we were no longer sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. And, of course, if we were parents our children should be taken from us. Family Values gave people a way to use two words that individually had positive meaning as a way to cloak their movement, a means to motivate people to fear for their own families and their own values - because we were now not only 'others' but 'threats to their way of life.'

I still see bumper stickers from that era, 'Hate Is Not a Family Value.'

I agree of course.

But for a long while, those that pretended to be defending the family, ended up by defiling the whole concept of family. Those that said they were defending 'values' ended up by simply attempting to impose their own.

It was a dangerous time, family was a dangerous word.

But I celebrate family day because I want family to become a dangerous word again. A word that says, 'we are family' 'we protect and love each other' 'all are family and all are welcome.' I want families of all kinds to respect families of all kinds. I want families of all kinds to fight for the rights of families of all kinds.


As much as they tried to convince me I wasn't, I am, and always have been, family.


Belinda said...

Well said Dave. And this comes from someone who is honoured to have you in her family of friends. For me you are "Family Valued."

Anonymous said...

Amen and amen. I just wish that hateful version of family values wasn't still rampant down here in the states.

Tamara -