What does your family look like?
My Dad is an only child. My Grandma is 92 and always learning and has lived on the west coast since 1981. I never got to meet my Grandfather, however, through my Dad, I feel like I know him. He was the type of guy who could both save a fellow Marine in battle AND also accidentally fall down an uncovered manhole and dislocate his shoulders.
My Mom is the youngest of four. She has one sister and two brothers who are scattered across the northeast and California. Growing up my Aunt Tina and Uncle Michael were the only others with kids. They were older than me and they were COOLEST PEOPLE AROUND. Jessica taught me to french braid and was like the storybook older sister I desperately wanted. Josh gave me the Superman’s Death comic in sixth grade that the not-super-nice-to-me kid whose locker was next to mine desperately wanted but couldn’t get. In 1982 my cousin, Roeun, arrived on the scene. He came to the US as a refugee from Cambodia on May 18, 1982, my second birthday. He was followed by Soung and Thorn in the next few years. As a two year old you just accept that when someone joins your family they are your family. I grew up with three cousins who did not look like us, who did not speak like us, but were as equally part of my family as anyone else.
This family dynamic shaped the human I am today. When I think refugee I think family. I think of Soung teaching me to make spring rolls. I think of me, Sary, and Sarah all sitting on the steps never knowing who was being called. Rouen bringing me back a t-shirt with the Khmer alphabet from a trip to visit his family and every year sharing our special day on May 18th. I suppose we use our past experiences like glasses with which we view our current surroundings. Sometimes we take the glasses off and see things differently and sometimes we don’t. I happen to like the glasses I’ve been handed.
So speaking of family….My kids have two Moms.
Not in the traditional way but in a way I didn’t know was possible until last year. They have me, they have their dad, and they have their Drag Mom, Onyx. She comes with two other families because she has two Drag Moms. Families can be SO complicated!
Drag mother (n.): Also drag daughter, drag family. An experienced drag performer who acts as a mentor and guide to someone who wants to learn the art of drag. Often, the new drag queen, who is referred to as the drag mother’s drag daughter, takes the last name of her drag mother to pay homage to her. A drag family is made up of a drag mother and all of her drag daughters.
While they are not booked for any gigs they are learning the art and participating in brunch games! The family they know best is the Stratton Family. They met their sister, Plexie Glass, Aunt Iris Spectre and Aunt Lady Geisha. They know their grandma, Maria Topcatt. They also have unofficial family member, Astala Vista. I mean I guess you could say friend but when she gets a gift chosen for her from the schools holiday shop I feel like it’s an automatic upgrade.
Now why do I find this important? In a world that seems to have so much divide I want my kids to see a bigger picture. They have people in their lives who show you anything is possible. You can be a success whether you want to be a doctor, teacher, business owner or performer. If you step outside the box of what makes you comfortable you can achieve great things. It’s not easy but it it’s always best to try. Family is not limited to the one we grow up in.
PS I wanted to add more pictures of my family I grew up in but all the pictures are at my parents house!