An NCOD Update

There is no poem post today. I have something very important to tell you about. I will likely post a poem tomorrow.

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) turned out to be more emotional than I could have expected. My niece, now my nephew, came out as trans (FTM) on Facebook. I don’t have the habit of checking Facebook often, but for some reason, I did check it first thing yesterday morning. At the top of my timeline was a post from my niece. While I was reading it, her name changed to his new name. I was immediately concerned for two reasons: 1) if this were true, this would not go well with his parents, and 2) if it wasn’t true, my niece was an insensitive jerk making a bad joke. I kept an eye on his Facebook page, and in a few hours, the post was gone. The name had reverted to the old name. No one commented on the post, so I am not sure how many people saw it. He’d posted it after midnight when presumably his parents had gone to bed, and I’m sure as soon as they saw it (my sister is always on Facebook), they made him take it down. I had a feeling it might be true since the terminology used was correct and the timing of the post as soon as it was officially NCOD. But I had to know for sure. I didn’t want him to be alone and scared if this was true.

I called my mom to find out what was going on, but she was in the dark about the whole thing. My mother’s response was, “I hope it’s not true.” I then told her the statistics of trans suicides and reminded her I had tried to commit suicide when I was a teenager. I told her she had to lend her support and that my sister needed to know what the consequences could be if she denied this child the necessary support. My mother told me to call my niece and ask her what was going on. My mother did say, “Don’t encourage her in this.” I said, “Mama, I will give her all the love and support she needs. I am not going to discourage her. She needs to know she is loved, accepted, and supported 100 percent.” My mother didn’t say anything more after that.

I hung up with my mother and called my niece. The phone was answered and immediately hung up. I then received a text asking if I was ok. I replied, “I was calling to see if you were OK.” He said, “Uh, physically yes.” I told him, “I saw your Facebook post. Please know you can always talk to me about anything.” He said his mom and dad freaked out, and I said, “Is it true? If it is, I love you and support you 100 percent.” He confirmed it was true and thanked me for supporting him. Then, I did something I had not planned to do until this kid went to college and was away from my sister and her husband. I told him I’d come out as gay twenty years ago and lived as an out gay man here in Vermont. He was shocked but thought that was “amazing.” How anyone doesn’t realize I am gay always boggles my mind, but he is 14 and sees me about once a year. We texted back and forth for a while, and I told him how much I supported him. I said he could always talk to me and count on me. I would do anything I could.

The good thing is that his aunt, my brother-in-law’s sister, was the first person he came out to in the family. She is, and has been, very supportive. He has always been closer to his aunt than with me probably because she lives near him. I rarely lived close by except for the six years when I moved back to Alabama after graduate school. However, my sister has never let her kids be around me unsupervised which has always made me think she suspects me of being gay and doesn’t want her children around me. My nephews both love their Uncle Joe, and you can see the excitement, joy, and love on their faces when they see me. I am glad he has his aunt as a strong ally. She is a force to be reckoned with and has always lived her life as she wanted to whether her parents liked it or not. I am glad my nephew has her support.

My nephew said it’s been getting more difficult the past two years with his parents, and he is hoping to find someone to take custody of him if he can convince his parents to sign custody over to someone. Hopefully, his aunt can be that person. She was in the legal field and has many lawyers as contacts which I am sure can help. I hope she can get custody of my nephew and give him the help he needs. I wish I had the financial ability to take him in up here. If he’d been kicked out, I would have gone and gotten him, but thankfully, they did not kick him out. I just hope he has the support network he needs. I told him if he needed anything from me to just let me know. I told him I loved him, and I thought he was a very brave boy.

Yesterday turned into an actual Coming Out Day for my family. Not only did my nephew come out to me, but I came out to him. When I wrote yesterday’s post, I had no idea that NCOD 2021 would be such an emotional day. I am so proud of my nephew. At fourteen, not only did I not understand I was gay, but I would have never been brave enough to come out to anyone.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

One response to “An NCOD Update

  • Steve

    What a touching and great day for you and your new nephew! Your conversations with family and with him were possibly life changing and definitely supportive. Great determination to be sure support and love were present.

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