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Embodied: Kinfolk Beyond Biology

KHX05, right, and their crew at Durham Pride 2019
KHX05, right, and their crew at Durham Pride 2019
KHX05, right, and their crew at Durham Pride 2019
Credit Courtesy of KHX05
KHX05, right, and their crew at Durham Pride 2019

Does your sick leave policy include time off to care for roommates, best friends or chosen siblings? Over 60% of people under the age of 25live in non-family households, and 28% of all adults live alone in the U.S. It is a distinct turn from historical numbers and the persistent, politicized ideal of the two-parent nuclear family. Workplaces and governments are beginning to broaden the definition of family to include non-biological relationships in their sick-leave protocol.

Host Anita Rao explores the history and realities of chosen family with artist KHX05 and Eliazar Posada from El Centro Hispano.

Much of that impetus comes from LGBTQ activism, which champions non-traditional family structures that extend far beyond marriage. Chosen families are a survival mechanism for many queer folks. Nearly three in five trans and gender non-conforming people experience significant family rejection as well as double the rate of unemployment and homelessness compared to the general population. Support groups and friends become family, providing the essential support structure when a biological family chooses to refuse those resources because of gender or sexuality.

For decades, El Centro Hispano has facilitated those networks among Latinx LGBTQ people in Central North Carolina. Eliazar Posada first joined a support group while he was in college, finding a sanctuary from the constant questioning and discrimination from conservative family members in Texas and Mexico. Since then, Posada has begun facilitating the groups, calling that transition like becoming an older sibling to newer members.

El Centro Hispano celebrating their 25th anniversary at Durham Central Park.
Credit Courtesy of El Centro Hispano
El Centro Hispano celebrating their 25th anniversary at Durham Central Park.

While he has worked hard to re-establish a loving relationship with his biological family, his chosen mother is a godsend. Cristina keeps tabs on him and many others in their multigenerational chosen family, offering unconditional love in the ways many of them lost when they came out to parents.

KHX05 is a Durham-based multi-disciplinary artist and performer with the House of Coxx who describes the necessity of mutual aid in the trans community during the COVID-19 pandemic. They reflect on the history of Black queer kin networks as a form of resistance to capitalism and white supremacy. On this edition of the Embodied series, host Anita Rao is joined by Posada and KHX05 to share lessons about chosen family as well as respond to listeners struggling to decide who is in and out of their COVID bubble and trusted inner circle. Posada is the community engagement and advocacy department director at El Centro Hispano. 

Copyright 2020 North Carolina Public Radio

Anita Rao is the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content. She has traveled the country recording interviews for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps production department, founded and launched a podcast about millennial feminism in the South, and served as the managing editor and regular host of "The State of Things," North Carolina Public Radio's flagship daily, live talk show. Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest.
Grant Holub-Moorman is a producer for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show that features the issues, personalities and places of North Carolina.