Private members bill introducing the Chosen Family Day Act would see February 22 proclaimed as Chosen Family Day each year…
By Jumol Royes
A huge step towards progress was made yesterday when a private members bill was introduced on Chosen Family Day, February 22, at a meeting of the Ontario legislature.
Supported by Friends of Ruby, sponsored by MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre) and co-sponsored by MPP Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s) and MPP Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough—Guildwood), the Chosen Family Day Act, 2023 proclaims February 22 each year as Chosen Family Day in Ontario.
The bill is currently in its first reading.
The history of chosen families can be traced back to ballroom culture within Black communities – like the Harlem drag balls of the late 19th century – which provided safer spaces for people of colour within LGBTQ2+ communities.
Chosen families are made up of kin relations who may or may not be biologically related. They’re especially important to LGBTQ2+ individuals who have been rejected by their biological families. Chosen family members can include friends and non-biologically related loved ones who collectively, provide acceptance, belonging, social connections and support.
Friends of Ruby is a GTA-based agency dedicated to the progressive well-being of LGBTQ2+ youth aged 16-29 through mental health services, social services and housing. They first launched Chosen Family Day on February 22, 2020, in support of LGBTQ2+ youth.
“I had the privilege of standing with Friends of Ruby then and I stand again today in solidarity with them – and all the 2SLGBTQ+ community across Ontario – to usher in at this afternoon’s legislative session, the Chosen Family Day Act, 2023,” said MPP Wong-Tam during yesterday’s press announcement.
This year, Friends of Ruby is raising awareness about the necessity of belonging and the unconditional love, acceptance, practical and emotional support that chosen families provide LGBTQ2+ youth and young adults.
“When I first came out, my family did not understand me, nor did they want to. It was then that I realized that I had a chosen family I could turn to,” shared KJ, 27 years old. “They loved me and listened as I expressed what my own family did not want to hear. Not only did they give me a home that was safe, but they also made space for me to truly discover who I am. For that I am profoundly grateful.”
Being part of an accepting community, like the one offered by Friends of Ruby, goes a long way towards creating the type of true belonging that Chosen Family Day stands for.
Check out some of the photos from the Chosen Family Day Act, 2023 announcement at Queen’s Park:
JUMOL ROYES is IN Magazine’s director of communications and community engagement, a GTA-based storyteller and glass-half-full kinda guy. He writes about compassion, community, identity and belonging. His guilty pleasure is watching the Real Housewives. Follow him on Instagram @jumolroyes.