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CHOOSING FAMILY by Francesca Royster


A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance

by Francesca Royster

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 2023
ISBN: 9781419756177
Publisher: Abrams

A professor of English and gender and queer theory chronicles her experience building a family as a queer, Black mother.

When Royster and her partner, Annie, set out to adopt, they knew the process wouldn’t be easy. They spent months filling out a profile and rearranging their lives for the potential child and even more time waiting to be chosen. As the author recounts, they sought to create a new kind of family, one that could “expand the nuclear model of a family, rather than to replicate it, in order to open up the boundaries to connect to a larger community.” They faced numerous challenges: “There is risk for us as queer women in an interracial house­hold: the risk of losing your earlier, edgier, critical self; the risk of isolation, caught between worlds; the physical vulnerability of homophobic and/or racist violence against us in being public in our private joy; and the risks of the internalization of homophobia and racism.” Royster describes the difficult conversations they had with child care providers and other members of their community as advocates for their daughter. She shows how these crucial intersections of their identity are precisely what allowed them to intentionally build a queer family model that was all their own. The text blurs boundaries, blending personal memoir artfully with thoughtful meditations on the intersections of motherhood, queer community, and Blackness. Royster includes experiences of death and loss alongside those of birth and parenting, and she draws on the work of other writers, addresses her loved ones directly in letters, and travels back through her own family lineage, where she finds a history of matrilineal family-making that defied convention. As such, the book builds on an intergenerational lineage of powerful women whose strength Royster brings to her own mothering. “We were both more interested in gathering kin than making a baby,” she writes.

A potent love letter to community in all its forms.