Trope Talk: Found Family

Happy Pride Month! One of my biggest writing goals is realistic representation of the LGBTQIA+ experience. As such, I want to start Pride Month with a brief discussion of a trope that’s near and dear to all of us: the found family.

Sure, anyone who knows speculative fiction and manga/anime is likely familiar with this trope. A group of extremely different individuals come together for a mission or find themselves in a common situation and, through trials and tribulations, they learn to rely on each other. They become a family, even if they are not related by blood. Heck, play a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and the party of adventurers is likely to become a found family by the campaign’s end.

For members of the “Alphabet Mafia,” this trope has a special significance. Many of us, at least in my generation (I’m Gen X) didn’t know that many other queer people growing up. Hell, by the time I started realizing I might be queer as a teenager, my family had become so conservative in both their politics and their theology, that coming out to them would result in trouble. FYI, when I finally came out to them years later, I was ostracized for many years, since I was an “abomination” whose “lifestyle” ran counter to their beliefs. As they often said, it was “nothing personal, just what we believe.”

That’s a lonely feeling, realizing that the family from which you come can turn their backs on you in an instant. Fortunately, I have a close group of LGBTQIA+ friends to support me and comfort me during this time. And that’s what found family is: people who love you for you, who care for each other, and who support each other. I remember being there when older friends had no one else as AIDS ravaged their bodies during the late 1990s. Others have similar and more devastating memories of that time.

And it’s a trope that I take the time and care to show in my novels. Sam may only have one biological parent who’s still alive (and he’s a real asshat too), but she has an amazing found family in Destiny, Werther Grimm, the Johnsons, Rayna Rosenthorn, the Scartellis, Laura Kelsington, Carmilla, Martin, and (to an extent) Nick Scratch. While not all of these characters are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, many are. That said, they all look out for each other, care for each other, and support/encourage each other. That love, that care, that support–these are the things that make a family. Blood is often unnecessary.

If you’re looking to show support to the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month, don’t give your money to a random corporation who stuck a rainbow on their logo. Many of them still donate millions to politicians working to erode the rights we’ve fought so hard to win. Give to The Trevor Project. Give to local LGBTQIA+ creators. Show love and not hate.

If you want, I am more than happy for you to buy my books and support me. If you like found family; if you like queer people thriving, loving, and living full lives; if you like people standing up for what is right and helping combat the darkness in the world, my books are for you.

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