Friendsgiving Is Cultural Flourishing, Not Cultural Decay
Today, I’m one of the millions of Americans who will be celebrating Thanksgiving with friends instead of family.
It’s not that I don’t love my family. They just live hundreds of miles away in St. Louis. I’ll instead be heading to downtown Los Angeles and hanging out with a whole bunch of other gay men. Some, like me, have families they adore but are perhaps separated from because they live in the city. Others, though, have been rejected by their families. And some are older men whose families have passed on, and they are not among those LGBT folks who have started families of their own now that gay marriage is legal.
We will all be celebrating what has become known as “Friendsgiving,” which as far as I can tell, is mostly a marketing term. Merriam-Webster traced the first use of the word on the internet to 2007 and added it to its dictionary in 2020. A Google search today will lead to “trend” stories that are essentially brand-driven exercises in marketing food and recipe choices. Don’t consider this a complaint—capitalism is awesome. My point is that my downtown group is not an outlier; Friendsgiving has a large market.
Friendsgiving is a relatively new term, but it’s not a new concept. People who have been deprived of family (either by circumstance or by choice) have been gathering for their own Thanksgiving observances for decades.
In the case of my downtown group, we are a chosen family. We spend a significant amount of time together an
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