Hi. My name is Jessica and I’m from Boston, Massachusetts.
I grew up in a large Vietnamese-American family – of immigrants, actually. And growing up, we were the only one that was like us. Everyone else was affiliated with a party, political or church, and our family just wasn’t. And so everyone I knew that meant something to me was my family. And growing up I thought that’s where I was supposed to be.
Puberty hit. Things started to change. I realized I wasn’t quite like them. I was definitely queer. There was something different in the way that I saw people, the way that I saw how romance and how people can be towards each other. Coming from a family like that, I just know that I just could not come out to anybody in my family except for my gay uncle. He was the only other person that could even understand. He was the person that I really wanted to bring into my world into all these huge steps.
I had the time finally to go and grab dinner with him. And on this trip, in this car, in Boston, Massachusetts, just casually on our way to dinner, I looked at him and I told him, you know, “Hey, I have something to say. You know, I think it’s really important.”
He’s like, “Yeah, you can – you know, you can always tell me anything.” I told him I was queer. And I told him that I was specifically not straight, not gay. And I don’t remember the exact wording, but I made sure that he knew that I was not straight or gay – that I was into people.
He looked at me, he frowned and he said, “You have to pick one.” And my heart sank. I just couldn’t believe it. I thought he would – out of all the people that I knew, try to understand where I was coming from or at least accept what part of me that was and then ask more questions later.
What came out afterwards was more questions that were asking me, you know, like, how would you feel if you were, you know, dating a girl she started seeing a guy? And you know, I didn’t – I didn’t care. That didn’t matter to me. And all these questions that he had for me were not questions more about me, it was more like just statements that made me feel like I just didn’t belong.
I just could not believe that the only person I really wanted to be a part of my life just didn’t understand, couldn’t understand and did not want to understand.
That’s when I realized I wanted a chosen family, a queer family, that purposely will talk about these things that we value. I started looking into it more about the different things that are happening in New York because I had friends who were here. I had, you know, just more contacts that were out here doing stuff. And I bit the bullet. I took the leap and I moved to New York City right after I graduated college.
So through just dating other queers and people who are more oriented to the same events and, I guess, musicians and things like that, I, you know, met a lot of people through that. I was dating somebody and their roommate seemed to be really interesting. And then one day, the person I was dating, they were not feeling the best and I wanted to go to a club and I asked her instead. I was like, you know, I think… I think she would like this. And she agreed to it.
And that was the first night we spent like one-on-one with each other and it was fantastic. We had a – we had a blast. We didn’t have to worry about anything. And we had the same experience of getting hit on by these guys from Long Island, so we had a story to tell after that, too. Before I knew it, you know, we just got along so well, it was just almost unexplainable how we could just say something. It was just magical.
And we talked about, you know, our own families and I was asking, like, “Do we have – do we have this same kind of like sibling dynamic? Is this something we want to continue?” It’s kind of like when you’re asking someone, you have that feeling of “I think we were on the same page” and so I asked, like, “Can we – I would like to be your queer chosen sibling?” And she agreed.
She was like, “I know – you’re like the family I’ve always wanted. Like, I’ve always wanted, like, a sibling that could you just talk to. They do their own thing but you can always come back to each other, no matter what. And that you always have the other person’s best intentions in mind.” It felt so great because it felt like you’re part of a team. You felt like somebody was rooting for you. You have somebody that’s supporting you in any way that they could.
I’ve talked to people who have had similar experiences and we’ve created our own queer family. Of our own chosen queer family, I have, you know, a sister, a brother, you know, a gay mom and a gay dad because we chose to be there for each other in this way and be able to lean on each other in this way. Not just because, you know, we’re the only gays in town, it’s not because we’re the only Vietnamese not-Catholics in town, etcetera etcetera. We’re people who want to be together because we enjoy each other’s company and we’re after the same goals. And seeing that now I understand more about myself and where I’m going because I have set myself up to be the best version of me that I can be with people who want that same thing.