LGBT Experience: Celebrate the holidays with a select family

According to a 2021 report by non-profit organization The Trevor Project, only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth felt their home validated their identity.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento LGBT Community Center’s annual Thanksgiving Celebration of the Chosen Family this year was all about providing people in LGBT+ communities with a safe place to gather this holiday season.

The LGBT Community Center is a nonprofit organization that “works to create a region where LGBTQ+ people thrive.” This includes:

  • Supporting the health and well-being of the most marginalized
  • Standing up for equality and justice
  • We work to build a culturally rich LGBTQ+ community

Dawn Hübner is one of dozens who attended the holiday event on Thursday.

Huebner recently relocated to Sacramento from New Hampshire with her wife. She says she is grateful for the opportunity to spend the vacation with a chosen family.

“It means a lot,” Hübner told ABC10. “My wife and I have only been in Sacramento for a few weeks. We don’t know anyone. We really wanted to meet the queer community when we came to Sacramento. This event was a great way to get involved. Both of our families are far away. We have no contact with some of them.”

The center provided a traditional Thanksgiving meal for more than 100 people, including turkey with all the trimmings. Games, raffles and more also came with the event.

“A chosen family or a found family are special people that many of our queer and trans communities have found along the way to support their development,” said Koby Rodriguez(er/er), chief program officer of the LGBT Community Center.

According to a 2021 report by nonprofit The Trevor Project, more than 80% of LGBTQ+ youth said COVID-19 had made their life more stressful — and only one in three LGBTQ+ youth found their home a place of identity.

A 2013 Pew Research Center poll found that about four in 10 adults in the community have been rejected by a family member or close friend because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate with our families and share what we’re grateful for,” said Lanz Nalagan (him/her), Annual and Corporate Giving Director for the LGBT Community Center. “But we want to keep in mind that many people in our community may not be accepted by their families and may want to spend the holidays with a chosen family.”

It comes at a challenging time in communities after five people were shot dead at Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday night.

The LGBT community center commemorated the victims of the massacre by setting up a place at the table with photos of each person.

“We are reminded by the Colorado Springs tragedy that there are not enough safe places for us, even behind closed doors,” Rodriguez said. “It’s important that everyone in our communities creates these spaces, not just the LGBT community center.”

The center also changed the name of the annual event from Friendsgiving to Chosen Family Feast this year to show respect for Indigenous communities, who recognize this time as the Indigenous Day of Mourning.