In becoming Camila I’ve learned to see the way that chosen family has played a pivotal role in my development. I recall a moment a year ago when my cousin gave me a red card that said “Camila” for Christmas. With those sweet words embedded through ink on parchment and a beautiful Serafine shade of Anastasia Beverly Hills lipstick, I knew she loved me -- the real me. I fast forward to another moment with an old roommate. She met up with me at a gay club in Pomona and in the parking lot after a night of queer dancing she hands me a red and black reversible leather mask. This beautiful adornment for my face showed me the very way she knows me! I held the mask in my hand and gave her the biggest hug in the world. Her generosity showed me that she knows not only of the woman inside me, but of the artist I’m carving onto this Earth.
I speak of these moments to highlight the way that chosen family has meant a lot to me in my time of returning to myself during 2018. A year ago I was in a car full of amazing friends embarking to the great city of San Francisco. The very Earth knew we were there to share an experience with one another. It is in the moments I share with my family that I learn more about the world. Chosen family for me means more than a friendship -- it means one of family. The same annoyance, blood, sweat, and tears that one would have for their own family.
In my year with the center I’ve seen the way we are carving our own chosen family. Los primos y primas, la tia, the abuelitas and even that uncle who never is married but secretly you know has a whole queer life hidden from the world. The Center is our safe haven. 2018 was the year where we learned more and became more than when we started at the end of 2017. Our chosen family is one that is open to the San Gabriel Valley; with open eyes, hearts, and minds, we share a space to create and engage with our local community. My own experience is filled with love and of fond memories setting up for our large events, lots of laughs, and learning why people should get involved in our local community.
I’m writing about our Chosen Family so that you all can see why we do the work we do. The San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Community coincides with the energy of the suburbs. The very spaces we inhabit daily that are straight and use heteronormativity as a guideline. The very space we create at The Center is replete with intent, showing our most authentic forms to each other. As a board member, it is my own passion and extreme love for finding the Trans Peer Support Group that keeps me going. The family we are creating is a process in which we speak of our transition. Seeing how every member of the San Gabriel Valley finds their niche (and sometimes love) shows me that the work we are doing is here to stay.
“We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing” - Sister Sledge