Friendsgiving is a yearly holiday that Matt and I celebrate each year in November. Its purpose is to recognize our community, neighbors, and friends who have been important people in our lives. As members of the LGBTQ community we recognize that having supportive families is not a given. In fact, being a member of the LGBTQ community makes it much more likely that one will not be accepted (or at least understood) by one’s family, as it is very unlikely that one’s parents are also part of that community.
Friendsgiving, for us, is a celebration of the support we have received from these important people. Over the years, Matt and I have celebrated Friendsgiving in a number of ways and on different days some years we have hosted dinners prior to Thanksgiving in the hopes that we could prepare our friends for a respite just before the holidays to give them the stamina to get through. Some years we would host a dinner after Thanksgiving to give our guests the opportunity to take a breather, and seek support if they needed it, before returning to preparation for the winter holidays.
Maybe building a stronger community is a result of being in the LGBTQ community, knowing what it is like to feel as though you have no community; or if it was a value that we held innately. I know I started to understand the value of community in cub/boy scouts, and continued by starting the gay straight alliance in high school. In this capacity, I got others involved in canned food drives, the Walk for the Homeless, and the AIDS walk. In my twenties I facilitated an LGBTQ support group for teens, and volunteered at the crisis hotline. Even my selection to be a mental health therapist was fueled to better our community. I have even grown out my hair to donate it for those suffering from cancer.
Matt and I have always made it a point to try and build a strong community around us. Whether that be through events such as Friendsgiving or giving back in other ways. Matt has volunteered to work on the board of the HOA and I have attended a number of meetings and helped conduct the yearly property inspections (and trust me, no one appreciates this job…. So many glares). Matt also has taken great joy in introducing those in our community to new board games, Disney trivia, and general movie trivia. He also believes very much in keeping people safe. He has been doing this most of his life. In college he worked as an RA to achieve this. As an RA he also supported community growth and cohesion through various events and activities for his residents. Matt has also looked at friends’ homes to help them assess repairs needed to keep them safe. Matt regularly helps out our neighbors, whether it’s shoveling snow or walking dogs.
Through our networking with our community, neighbors, and friends, our social network grew. Due to our expanding support network, Matt and I realized that we would be unable to host a dinner for all the important people in our lives just due to a lack of space. After some discussion, we decided to send out a Friendsgiving letter.
We decided that the letter would be the best way to announce that we would be officially embarking on our quest to become parents. This probably does not surprise many of our friends, as they have heard me discussing this for years. For some, even prior to my meeting Matt. But for others, the friends we are unable to see frequently, this may be big news.
It was a hard decision, not because we thought it was a difficult announcement to make, but because we knew that we needed assistance. Our friends know that this is something that is difficult for us. We have always cherished our friends and have never wanted to put any burden on them, and at the same time, we felt as though we had little choice. We needed help and that was exactly what these wonderful people would be willing to provide. But that didn’t make it any less difficult to accept it.
We really want to take this time to reiterate how important each of you are to us, and that just because we are in need of assistance at this point in time, that we are still here to support you. You are our friends, neighbors, and community. But you are also more than that. You are our family.