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Finding Family in Australia

When I took Jenni to her first visit with my family three years ago, she wasn’t quite prepared for a nine-hour lunch and dinner affair with twenty aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I warned Jenni that her future would include a lot of family time. After all, my mother has seven siblings, and across the family there is always a holiday, birthday, graduation, or wedding to celebrate. With roots in the Philippines, Spain and Mexico, I grew up with extended family visiting our Daly City home (conveniently located near the airport) from all over the world. Nobody really ever cared where you came from on the family tree, and if you forgot somebody’s name you could always just say “Tita” which means “Auntie” in Filipino. After all, you were family.

As part of our trip to Australia, Jenni and I planned to visit my mom’s third cousin, Luisa, who immigrated from the Philippines to Brisbane. I only once briefly met Luisa a decade ago when she visited San Francisco, but I had fond memories of our visit. When I spoke with Luisa about our Australia plans, she told me that I had a fourth cousin, Rachel, in Sydney. I had never heard of Rachel before, but Luisa graciously introduced us, and a few weeks later Jenni and I found ourselves being warmly welcomed by Rachel at the Sydney airport.

My cousin Rachel and I at Bondi Beach in Sydney

Within moments of meeting Rachel and Luisa, I felt the familiar openness and warmth of my extended family. Both women loved to cook and eat (a strong family gene, though not at all good for my waistline), and we shared many enjoyable meals together. In Sydney, Rachel and I spent hours talking about the history of our relatives and drawing out the family tree. And when Luisa invited more family over to dinner in Brisbane, we met her gay nephew Philip (another previously unknown fourth cousin) who took us out one night to check out Brisbane’s lively gay scene.

Finding family doesn’t stop with blood relations, though. The lesbian, gay and queer connections of “family” is just as strong as my network of aunts, uncles and cousins. In Sydney, Rachel connected us (via a friend of a friend of a friend) to a local member of the lesbian scene, Anita. After meeting with Anita for drinks and chitchatting about her job as a ceremony celebrant for gay weddings, she introduced us to a group of her lesbian friends at another happy hour down the street. Drinks turned into dinner, then a visit to Anita’s home, followed by a nightcap at a club.

By the end of the evening, we had met eight new lesbian friends who all had advice and connections for us. One of them offered to put us up in her home, introduced us to her lesbians friends living in different countries, and set us up with free tickets to tour the Opera House.

Our new (hot) friend who works at the Opera House

Searching for the Supergays and gay community around the world is kind of like looking for long-lost cousins. When you meet another queer person, you feel an immediate sense of acceptance and safety. We’ve found that the people we are interviewing around the world have as many questions for us as we have for them.

We’re loving the hospitality of our family all over the world, and we want to return the favor when we return home. So if you’re in San Francisco and need a place to stay, we have a lovely little house just a few blocks away from the ocean where you will always be welcome.

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