4 min

We are family

Xtra West presents: a cross-section of our community’s families for the holidays.

As the holidays engulf us and Hallmark cards abound, let’s take a moment to celebrate our queer families and cherish their uniqueness. From gay friends and lovers, to lesbian moms, from loving bio-families, to loyal pets, and that uniquely gay unit, the fag hag and fag-Season’s Greetings, from our families to yours.

We had an excellent Christmas party recently. We had a gift exchange and we fought over gifts. A lot of our friends and family don’t live in town so all of us get together at Christmas.

I spend more time with these boys than I did with my family growing up, really. We spend like three or four nights a week together. We are an extended family, absolutely.

We’ve found things other than the fact that we’re gay that keep us together. Our sexuality has united us but it doesn’t define us.

We all come from stereotypes that individually seem to directly oppose each other, but we all seem to get along just like in a family.

Our identities are based on opposition to what we see around us. What we like about each other is that we all sort of feel disenfranchised by it all. That sort of brings us together.

We don’t always see a lot of the gay community challenging themselves to be something other than just gay people who go out to the bar.

Rob, Tyler, Caspar

We’re spending solstice and Chanukah with our chosen family, and Christmas with River’s family of origin-or biological family or whatever-and then just some time together.

The thing that makes us a little bit different than most families is that I carried Ronan, but it was River’s egg. So it’s drawn or knitted our families together in a special way. My family, who doesn’t live around here, has special feelings for Ronan because I bore her. River’s family can see their likeness in her as well.

River tried to get pregnant first, but she had a condition that required a hysterectomy, but they left her ovaries. About the same time, I had an ovary removed. They found my other ovary was blocked.

In a matter of about 30 days, it went from us looking like we were going to have a baby, to neither of us was going to be able to have a baby. We went to a clinic and they said, “No, we can take River’s egg and put them into me.” So we went from looking like we were totally healthy, to a situation where we wouldn’t have kids, to being parents. Now we’re planning to try to get pregnant again in May.


My sister’s a tranny and I’m gay. My dad and my other sister aren’t in our picture, but they’re part of our family too.

Living in my family is fun. For me, it seems we’re more open to talk about anything. That’s what I like about it. We laugh about it. We’re not “don’t talk about it” or that kind of thing. It’s open. It doesn’t feel like we can’t say what we want. That’s a great thing for me.

This holiday, for the first time ever, we’re going to be far away from each other. I’ll be going to Hawaii and my other sister just moved away.


Family to us is not limited to flesh and blood. While our real families live on the other side of Canada and are dearly missed, we have become each other’s support system. We are Grade 8 buddies who reunited in Vancouver.

My favourite straight girl took me in when I had nowhere else to go and we discovered a sense of family that grew over the past five years.

What I admire most about Elke is that she calls me on my bullshit. As a result, she has helped me become the man I am today. To me, family means trust, safety, understanding. Most importantly, it means having someone to bitch to.


We were married Sep 5, Labour Day. It’s five years that we’ve been together now. We’re going to be spending the Christmas holidays with Tyson’s parents in Victoria. Both my brother and sister and their kids will be coming over as well.

I guess the thing we’ve noticed is that there is no hesitation from our families-siblings, cousins, or anybody-as to our relationship as a gay married couple. I don’t know if that’s unique or not, but it seems to be.

They love both of us equally-all of the family, cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters-without question.

I wish everyone could have friends and family who are involved with them and able to share in the journey through Christmas and the whole year.


This year I’ll be travelling to see my parents and my brother’s family in Alberta.

Baxter just recently turned six. He’s a huge, huge part of my life. I really don’t make a decision until I know he’s part of it or well looked after.

He has lots of energy. He’s a fantastic dog and fantastic companion. He’s like my best friend in many ways.

The best thing about being single is that you have a lot of freedom. There are no obligations. Sometimes that can happen at Christmas: you bring together two people so there’s two sets of traditions and two obligations. You can be pulled in different directions.

When you’re single, you have the complete freedom to go where you want to go and do what you want to do, which is great. There’s no forced visiting and no in-laws you have to travel to visit. You don’t have to share your time, Christmas morning with that side of the family and Christmas evening with that side. You don’t have to do any of that.


Produced by TJ Ngan.