What family means to me

Angela Hucles is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time World Cup Bronze Medalist. On top of being an international athlete and sport development ambassador, Angela is the founder of the Empowerment Through Sport Leadership Series and the US Soccer Foundation’s 2009 Humanitarian of the Year, working to support athletes transition from sports to life after, as well as individuals and organizations empowering women and children to live strong, healthy and powerful lives domestically and abroad.

We live in a modern society where frequent communication between one another is limited to 140 characters or less on Twitter and status updates on Facebook, or picture sharing on Instagram, that when posted, anyone can look like a professional photographer.  Our modern society also offers variety on the description of home life; working moms and stay at home dads, mixed races and ethnic backgrounds, married and unmarried, couples who decide not to marry but raise a family, two moms or two dads, or grandparents raising their grandchildren all constitute and make up examples of today’s modern family.  While the look of a family will differ from one household to another, the consistency and foundation of what makes up a family remains constant and in my opinion boils down to two words: Love & Support. 

We have heard the phrase, “It takes a village” in regards to raising a child.  For many of us in the LGBT community that phrase holds tremendous value and strength.  By most peoples’ standards I was very fortunate and blessed to be raised in a family with two loving parents, committed to each other and their family.  In addition, my extended family was always a very present and supportive group that I could rely on and turn to.  While I have a younger brother, my cousins are like siblings to me, as well, and I am happy that despite the difference in ages on both my mother and father’s side of the family, we all stay in touch and see each other pretty frequently. 

My father is one of two children but my mother is one of six so the family gatherings are always quite the festive affair.  I remember growing up hearing stories of family members that I didn’t know very well and that distant relative who had a “roommate” all of her life, but to the best of my knowledge I am the first person in my family to openly live my life as a gay person.  In my personal process of coming out as well as identifying as lesbian / gay, I discovered that my family was much larger than I could have ever imagined — or at least how I would come to define family. 

Playing sports for over twenty-five years and being a professional soccer player for ten years, my team became another family.  However, I underestimated the strength of my other extension to the LGBT family that was created once I started discovering another part of what makes me me.   The irony was that once I started becoming more comfortable and aware of my true self, there were so many people who extended their friendship, support, and love to me.  I know that these individuals are there for me just as much as a blood relative and that they are such an important part of who I am.  This is another family that I never would have been able to quantify and define by the traditional means, but just as important and, at times, even more so. 

Many cultures in the world define family further beyond “mother, father, and child.”  In light of the movement that we are currently in the middle of, with passing legislation of same-sex marriage, it’s important for us to remember that anywhere love and support flourish is where a real family, a true family exists.