I always had a close relationship with my mother, but coming out added another layer of closeness. I know how privileged I am to say that. So many queer folk are estranged from their families. For them, their mothers represent the dark side of coming out: That someone you’ve loved and have been connected to literally your entire life can reject you.

For LGBT people, families don’t always look like the stereotype: We have had to restructure our concept to include the people who sustained us, regardless of whether there’s a blood connection or not: Friends, teachers, romantic partners, people that we share community with.

For many of us, our mothers aren’t just the women that gave birth to us. They’re the people who nurtured us after we came out, the pillars of strength in our communities, the queer elders on whose shoulders we stand. We need to make space for that in our definition of family.

But if you’re lucky, your biological mother will help you be your best self, too. Through our journey, my mom and I continue to find new ways to meet each other where we’re at. The biggest lesson that coming out to her taught me is that love can be transformative. I’ve learned to be more patient and understanding with my mother, helping her learn new ways to communicate with me. And she’s learned to be welcoming to a new part of me. Many people aren’t strong enough to invite that kind of change.

This Mother’s Day, I’m reminded about the strength that I have to be myself in a world that doesn’t hesitate to remind me that it is not for me. I’m reminded that having a strong support system, both blood relatives and chosen family, that helps propel me forward. And though she isn’t perfect, I’m reminded that the relationship I have with my mother grows stronger each day.

And for that I’m grateful.

Writer for NewNowNext, Refinery29, Wear Your Voice, BitchMedia, etc. Budding sex educator. @NerdsOfPreycast cohort. She/Her.