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This Is What Family Means To Us

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(Photo: Nick Wong Photography)

On Feb 10, 2017, we had a very interesting evening. We were in our basement when we heard a knock at our front door. We thought it was the dinner we ordered but instead Frank opened the door to find five teenage boys who told him they were doing a school project. He thought this was odd as it was almost 7:30 in the evening, but as a high school teacher Frank listened to what they had to say.

They started to sing a silly song, and they became very rowdy. I came upstairs as I became concerned as to what was happening. In the meantime as I ascended the stairs, they asked Frank, "What do you think of the LGBT Community", Frank asked them, "What do you mean?" and they said, "Never mind!" then ran away and wrote the following on our vehicle:

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I immediately called the police, and they responded quickly and efficiently. Things could have been worse, and thankfully, for our sake, it was not. The police apprehended three of the five boys, and brought them back to our house in the back seat of the cruiser to apologize for the incident and for their behaviour. We are thankful to the police for helping us and we hope the boys learned a valuable lesson. We hope this is the first and last time that they decide to do this -- to us, or to anyone.

We are very fortunate that we live in Canada, more so Toronto, where we feel it is a progressive, open, accepting city. It is legal for gay people to live freely, marry whomever they love, and start a family. Other countries in the world still treat the LGBTQ+ community as second class citizens, where they are denied basic human rights, and even killed for just being gay.

As educators, we want to use this experience as a teachable moment. We are a family, just like any family out there. It is not OK to harass anyone based on their sexual orientation or for any other reason. If given the opportunity, this is what I would want to say to them:

"You apologized for your actions and we appreciate that, but what you did was not OK and made us question our safety and our son's safety. We understand you are young and this may have been a 'prank,' but please know that gay people every day of their lives are ostracized, bullied, and mistreated just because of who they are. This is something that we take seriously. This type of behaviour is not accepted, and will not be tolerated.

We are gay and are different from your 'traditional' family, but we are a family nonetheless. We hope that you will never have to feel unsafe in your own home like you made us feel that night. Hopefully you learned from this, and you can learn to accept everyone. We forgive you and one day you can open your hearts and minds and not treat others like this again."

Will this incident deter us from being who we are, or second guess our neighbourhood and community? Absolutely not. Will this incident make us more vocal in the fight against homophobia and support those that need help? Absolutely. At first we tried to figure out how the boys knew that we were gay, and then we realized it didn't matter, because we are not going to change who we are or how we live our lives. We will hang a Pride flag from our porch this summer and make sure we hang it with pride more than ever.

One of the things in life that we are most proud of is our family. In Ontario, the third Monday of every February is a holiday called Family Day. We have a day specifically reserved to spend with the ones we love. As many of you know, we had Milo through surrogacy. Every family has their own story, each family is unique and that is what makes it special.

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Clockwise from top left: Debbie and Family (Ontario),
Henry and Family (North Carolina),
Michael and family (New York), Josh and son.(Illinois)

In Michelle Blessings article, Meaning Of Family, she states, "Whether made of blood relatives, friends, or pets, or a combination of these, your family can offer you the support you need to thrive." We may not all get along with members of our own family, agree on issues, or even talk to one another. Every family has its challenges. There are many definitions of the word family. We all define what family means to us differently. To me, family means "The people in my life who love me unconditionally, support, and care about my well-being and the well-being of others."

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Clockwise from top left: Zelig and daughters (New York),
David L. and family(California), David B. and family (California),
Deanna and family (Ontario)

I asked my friends on social media to define what family means to them, and I would like to share some of their responses;

"To me, family represents your sphere of individuals, whether you share DNA or not, with whom share an unrelenting connection with. Family is when you are willing to share your love, hurt, pain, triumphs, happiness and everything in between with other." Octavious SH (North Carolina)

"Family is more than just blood....You find family wherever people love each other." Dot M. (Ontario)

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Clockwise from top left: Anthony and family (New Jersey),
John and family (Ontario), Joseph and family (California) Lanrick and family (Ontario)

"Family is just about love: my mother is my family; some of the friends of mine (very few ones actually) are my family; I am my family!" Alessio G. (Italy)

"I have found my friends are more my family than actually blood related members. I can count on my family/friends more than my actual family." Louie O. (Ontario)

"Family means to me is not just my flesh and blood. It also means friends also. It doesn't matter if u are related or not I have best friends that are family too." Marcea S. (New York)

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Clockwise from top left: Randi and family (Ontario), Tim and family (Illinois),
Shawn and family (Illinois), Sheila and family (New Jersey)

"Family are the people who love you unconditionally, will always have your back, and who can always see the good in you. They aren't always related though, because sometimes your family is made up of people who started out as friends, but grew to love you like family." Andrea M. (Ontario)

"Family means people who you can depend on for love, support, and friendship, no questions asked. They don't even have to be members of your immediate family. But they are your family. They have your back, you have theirs." Stephen G. (Ontario)

"...Family is unconditional love, nurturing and teaching good values." Sheila B. (New Jersey)

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Clockwise from top left: Rosa and family (Ontario), Robbie and family (Indiana),
Patricio and family (Spain). Richard and family (California)

"Your Universe, Your world, Your humanity, Your Kingdom, Your Home, and Your heart and soul. It"s where it all began. Your story!" Katzin K. (Ontario)

"My family are the ones I get to laugh and cry with. The ones I get to cuddle, kiss and pine for day after day. They are the ones I love unconditionally. It's so much more than blood." Lanrick J.B. (Ontario)

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Clockwise from top left: Pat and husband (California),
Nadia and family (Ontario), Moses and family (California), Michelle and family (Florida)

"Security,support, and love. Most importantly love." Christopher B. (Connecticut)

"Unwavering support, Unconditional love and Acceptance. Not tied to blood. Family is who's left when everybody else leaves." Mila A. (New York)

"Family is love unconditionally. People don't necessarily have to be related to be family." Rachel S. (Ontario)

"Family is where your flaws are accepted, your uniqueness encouraged, and you always have a place to call home and feel safe." Luis S. (Michigan)

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Clockwise from left: Joe and family (New Jersey), Caitlyn and daughters (Ontario),
Luis and family(Michigan), Benny and family (South Carolina)

"Family: means people who brought you up to be who you are, people that love you no matter what and people that support you and hold you tight through thick and thin." Lisa B. (Ontario)

"Family is your history and your future. Family know your stories and love you anyway. I am blessed to have the family I have and that your family is such a big part of it. <3" Debbie D (Ontario)

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Clockwise from top: Corbin and family (Maryland), James and daughter (Texas), Natan and family (Israel)

"Family is a web of unconditional, reciprocal love that protects and sustains us--that allows us to be honestly and authentically ourselves." David L. (California)

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Top image: Victor and family (California) Bottom Image: Melissa and family (Ontario)

All families come in different shapes, sizes, colours, religious beliefs. They are all different, but the one thing they all have in common is love to share! When it comes down to it, family is about love! What does family mean to you?

Originally posted on Family Is About Love

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