Spending the holiday with those who support you.
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Today, as we observe the Fourth of July holiday in the U.S., I’m thinking about the permutations of family, the people we invite to the cookout, the ones we’ll be watching the fireworks with. Perhaps you’ll be with your parents and siblings, your kids, your kids’ kids. Perhaps you’ll gather with close friends, with neighbors, reunite with your pandemic pod.
Last week marked the conclusion of Pride Month in the United States. Pride is broadly a celebration of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, but for many members of queer communities, it’s also a celebration of their chosen family.
Chosen families are created outside the structures of (and often in place of) the traditional nuclear family. In the case of the Bickersons, a group of about 10 to 20 queer women, most of whom live near Asheville, N.C., this means raucous Thanksgivings, fishing trips and three-day birthday celebrations. It’s also meant working on one another’s homes, helping each other get sober and providing love and support when one of the group is ill.
“We didn’t have to censor,” one member of the Bickersons, Lenny Lasater, told The Times. “We were real, we were honest, and we could expect to be met with compassion and understanding.”
When a family of origin is absent or unsupportive, a chosen family is essential. And even if your biological family is intact, cultivating close, supportive relationships with neighbors, friends and colleagues can provide welcome kinship, as many of us found during the pandemic. The pandemic pod was a temporary chosen family, born of necessity. People who might otherwise never have fetched groceries for one another or shared strategies for locating toilet paper, let alone discussed issues of life and death, were suddenly one another’s confidantes.
Once you’ve known the rewards of that sort of unexpected intimacy, it seems silly that any chosen family should be temporary. While people, at varying speeds and comfort levels, move on from the most pod-intensive stages of the pandemic, is there any reason the love, the interdependence, the podsgivings shouldn’t continue?
The beauty of the chosen family is that you opt into it. There’s freedom in that, an opportunity to cocreate a community that suits your values. Take the Old Gays, a group of “grandfluencers” who live in a house together in the California desert and create videos for their 7.6 million TikTok followers. “As you get into old age, moving into a nursing home is what’s expected, and many older people buy into that plan,” said Robert Reeves, a member of the group. “What we’re doing, through the strength of our friendships and our mutual support, is changing the course of the way one lives their life.”
Do you have a chosen family? Tell me about it. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday.
Listen to Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris discuss queer chosen families in pop culture on the “Still Processing” podcast.
“We don’t need to be related to relate,” sings Rina Sawayama in “Chosen Family.”
Russia, in control of large parts of the Donbas region, can now focus on capturing the last Ukrainian holdout in neighboring Donetsk.
Despite warnings from the Pentagon, American veterans are training Ukrainians near the front lines.
Staffing shortages and a boom in travel demand caused more than 1,400 flight cancellations in the U.S. over the holiday weekend.
The Nathan’s hot dog eating competition is back. Here’s what to know.
A gunman killed three people at a mall in Copenhagen. The police said the motive probably was not terrorism.
The Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v. Wade has launched judicial and political battles that could last years.
He filmed Jan. 6 footage for Russian TV: An American’s murky path from businessman to far-right media figure and pro-Russia propagandist.
The I.R.S. approved 76 fake charities that shared a mailbox. Reduced vetting at the agency has opened the door to scams.
The C.D.C. has linked a Florida-made ice cream to a listeria outbreak that has sickened people in 10 states.
Gail Collins and Bret Stephens discuss the E.P.A. and Donald Trump.
Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, who fled Ukraine in 1979, argue for letting more refugees into America in a video by Ken Burns.
Jaws: With drones and trackers, New York beaches are stepping up their shark patrols.
New York: A reporter traveled to all five boroughs and asked: What’s the vibe?
Ask Well: Are some processed meats worse for you than others?
Quiz time: The average score on our latest news quiz was 9.2. See if you can do better.
A Times classic: The 10 most influential films of the 2010s.
Advice from Wirecutter: What to bring when you go berry picking.
Lives Lived: Vladimir Zelenko received national attention in 2020 when the White House embraced his hydroxychloroquine regimen. He died at 48.
A programming note: This new sports section is written by the staff of The Athletic.
Kevin Durant’s next home: The Brooklyn Nets superstar has asked for a trade. The Athletic’s John Hollinger explored possible trade paths to Los Angeles with the Lakers or Clippers, as well as fits in Phoenix and Toronto. Nothing looks easy, on paper. What about a return to Golden State? There are some clear obstacles, we learned yesterday. The clock ticks.
“The safest thing would be to not go back.” The N.H.L. had 57 Russian players who participated in league play during the 2021-22 season. Now a significant question hangs over the offseason: If those players return to Russia to see their families, will they make it back?
The Athletic’s sports journalism is supported by subscribers. To enjoy unlimited access, please subscribe to New York Times All Access or Home Delivery.
There’s no such thing as too much fried chicken. The variation currently taking the U.S. by storm: Taiwanese fried chicken, marinated in soy sauce, rice wine and five-spice powder.
Chefs are reimagining the street-food staple. They’re tucking Taiwanese fried chicken into sandwiches and steamed buns, serving it atop sliced white bread with pickles and drenching it with sauces in acknowledgment of regional American specialties, Cathy Erway writes in The Times.
“It symbolizes Taiwanese cuisine, obviously, but for me, it brings back memories,” said the chef David Kuo, who is based in Los Angeles. “Eating something with bones in front of the TV was the ultimate fun.”
Here’s how to make Taiwanese fried chicken, which is typically served in paper bags, without sauce, for easy snacking.
Try any of the year’s best movies so far.
“The Mermaid of Black Conch” by Monique Roffey is equal parts fairy tale, ghost story and history.
The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was buoyant. Here is today’s puzzle.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Annoying (five letters).
And here’s today’s Wordle. After, use our bot to get better.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — Melissa
P.S. Nestor Ramos, a Pulitzer finalist and former Boston Globe columnist, is The Times’s next Metro editor.
Here’s today’s front page.
There’s no new episode of “The Daily” today.
Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Ashley Wu contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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