In our nine-part series, Queering Family, we meet people across North America who are redefining what it means to build and sustain a family. Whether supporting a trans teen coming out, creating a drag family from scratch or caring for queer seniors, these parents, children and caregivers illustrate the myriad ways that fostering loving networks might just be a queer superpower. Previously, Em Norton, a non-binary and transmasc nanny, shared how their work life and gender journey intersect and even enrich one another. Below, families across Canada and the U.S. allow us to glimpse into their home life.
We asked Xtra readers to give us sightlines into how and where their families live, and the pressing issues facing their wider communities. The resulting photo album, as delightful as it is insightful, made us want to see more. So we’re keeping the call for submissions open. If you’d like to send us a photograph of your family, please go here. And don’t forget to check back later to see who we’ve added.
Mono (40) and Jo (34), with Millie
MONO: This picture was taken at Hastings Park in Vancouver’s Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood, where we rent a two-storey, one-bedroom laneway home. We don’t own a car and we mostly bike or take the bus; Jo, who uses she/they pronouns, works for the B.C. government on clean transportation programs. I’m non-binary and work as a college English prof.
As a queer and trans family, we’re fortunate to live in a province where there’s subsidized access to gender-affirming care, and also strong rights for parents of children conceived through donorship. Because we’re planning to start a family, we’re currently applying to co-ops, which are a good fit for our values and our budget, given Vancouver’s high home prices. But we worry that the financial and material resources required of queer family-making limit the possibilities for our communities in such a costly city.
Vivian (17) and Lis (42)
LIS: I’m a university lecturer and my family includes my daughter, Vivian, and our cat, Gracie (who sometimes thinks she’s a dog). My husband died in 2020 of a heart attack, and last year I was able to buy the house that we had shared together.
I probably paid a bit too much for it, but I wanted us to have stable housing. Vivian and I have various disabilities and I am still working through trauma around housing and food insecurity that I experienced as a child and young adult. I never want my little girl to know that pain. Now that it’s our place, I’ve added a small garden to our backyard, and Vivian and I are able to welcome other trans young adults into our home for a few months at a time while they get back on their feet.
Adelaide (8), Gabrielle (37), Tea-Lynn (38) and Arya (9)
TEA-LYNN: My wife, Gabrielle, is a high school teacher, and I work in IT. We live in a small town in Ontario, with my in-laws. We’ve been married for almost 15 years and I came out as trans more than three years ago. Somehow, we’ve made our marriage work and thrive—thankfully!
While the area where we live is rather rural and conservative, I’ve been met with an acceptance and love that I never dared dream of. A local law office even provided their notary services for free when I was changing my name and gender marking.
Joanna (36), Kaily (34) and Thea (1)
Scranton, Pennsylvania, area
JOANNA: I’m a social worker, Kaily works in non-profit management and Thea is a nap master. We live in a split-level home just outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania. We’re avid activists, so living in a red area does come with certain concerns. But we’re hoping that by the time our daughter starts school, having two moms won’t be a big deal.
Tony (75) and Alain (71)
TONY: I’m a teacher and academic, and Alain is a librarian. This photograph was taken in front of a painting by the Quebec artist Marie-Claire Plante that we purchased to celebrate our 35th anniversary. Our son took this picture of us when he and his three children were visiting our condo, which overlooks the Rideau River and has a view of the Parliament buildings.
Coming out in 1981 meant significant rejection from family members, friends and colleagues. But our love has sustained me and it helped me prioritize parenting my two children. They are now wonderfully supportive of our relationship!
Matt (38), Kael (28) and Pryderi (15)
Red Deer, Alberta
MATT: This photo was taken on May 29, 2022, the day that my husband, Kael, and I got married. Our teenager, Pryderi, who is non-binary, served as our best man. The civil ceremony (with Pastafarian overtones) was performed by noted local ally Dianne Macaulay.
Kael is a U.S. citizen, Pryderi and myself are Canadian and Pryderi is also Métis. When Roe v. Wade was repealed by the U.S. Supreme Court last June, that opinion also deeply threatened queer and interracial marriages in the future. That’s why we decided to marry in Alberta instead of New York—we wanted to be protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Peter (55) and Tom (55) and their dogs Jasper, Jada and Jedi
PETER: We have been together for 15 years and are both farmers. We raise sheep, pigs, chickens, goats and turkeys on our land, which includes 187 acres and a 220-year-old homestead.
Living in an isolated farming area, we don’t have access to an LGBTQ2S+ community. We have been the pioneers here; in many cases, we’re the first gay people our neighbours have gotten to know.
Diane (75) and Jan (75)
JAN: My wife, Diane, who is Métis, and I have been together for 23 years, but we’ve both been out for five decades. We’re retired and rent an apartment near a walking trail we love.
We continue to educate others about 2SLGBTQ+ realities and see that as part of our life journey. One of our current concerns is the hatred manufactured by a few trustees at our local school board against us and the local trans and drag communities.
Bill (76) and John (75)
JOHN: We’re retired and live in Boston’s Roxbury neighbourhood, in a 14-room Greek Revival house that was a fire-damaged shell when I bought it in 1983. Bill and I have been lovers for almost 15 years.
I came out and joined the city’s nascent LGBTQ movement when I was 22, a few months after Stonewall. Boston and Massachusetts have become more pro-LGBTQ over the decades, in large part due to our community’s efforts. In 1989, our state became the second one in the U.S. to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment and public accommodations. These same protections that were also extended to trans folks five years ago. Massachusetts was also the first U.S. state to establish same-sex marriage in 2004.