CW: Suicide ideation, hospitalization/psych ward
Nico grew up in a small town in the upper peninsula of Michigan called Escanaba, where they said there was no LGBTQ community whatsoever.
“It’s pretty much a ghost town where only old people live,” they said. “I was raised in a very Catholic community to where it was not okay to be questioning your gender or anything other than what you were born as and straight. It was a sin and you were going to hell for being [anything but cis and straight].”
When they were 10 years old, Nico and their family packed up and moved to Kimberly, Wisconsin, and their homo- and transphobic mindsets were kept until they were a teenager.
“If I questioned anything in the church, they were like, no, don’t question it. God is right. The Bible’s right,” Nico explained.
In high school, they had gotten acquainted with a new group of friends. Although not a great group, Nico gives them credit for being accepting while they were exploring their identity. They were one of the first groups of people they met that said the church isn’t OK with their “cultish mindsets.”
Their group of friends suspected they had been bisexual from the get-go, and Nico got frustrated when the group didn’t tell them, “but they also gave me the courage to come out to my parents and they gave me that much needed support after I came out to them.”
When they were just 16 years old, Nico got kicked out of the Catholic church for coming out as bisexual. Around the same time, they came out to their mother too. She said it was fine, but they’re going to hell for it.
“They thought it was a phase because I only ever had boys over,” they noted.
“When I came out to [my parents], I was struggling with my gender identity, thinking I was transgender. I came out and asked them to start calling me by he/him pronouns,” Nico explained. “They told me they would never see me as anything other than their daughter, which was hard. I also came out to my therapist at the time, who turned out to be a conversion therapist.”
They were also working as a caregiver at a nursing home, so all of Nico’s clients were still deadnaming them and using the wrong pronouns.
“It was a really bad state of depression and I went through a lot of suicidal thoughts at the time,” they said. “I ended up in the psych ward out of high school and it wasn’t great.
“Experiencing (phobia) after coming out as trans was a shock because I hadn’t experienced it in so long. But I was medicated on antidepressants and that helped me, and now my friends have.”
Nico came out as nonbinary just over a year ago now, and they said they feel great about it.
“Coming out as nonbinary, I’ve been the happiest I’ve been, and my parents lately have actually been trying with my pronouns. It’s really great to see,” they said.
“I came out as pansexual and I’m realy happy with that [too]. After struggling with my gender identity and having to confront all those feelings, it was great to find out that they’re not just the two genders and transgender; I don’t have to choose. There are other things for me — I don’t even have to have a label if I don’t want one.”
They chose the name Nico as inspiration from the Percy Jackson character Nico DiAngelo.
They were my first gay representation and I very much relate to him personality- and aesthetic-wise.”
And they said if you’re not in a safe space to come out just yet, waiting is the best thing to do.
“It will be so much better for you to come out when it is safe. Don’t sacrifice your mental or physical health because what matters is that you’re safe. Reach out to the resources you can find, get into safe shelter. … There’s places that can help you get out of situations like that.
“You don’t need to choose a label. I wish I had known that before coming out. It’s OK to cycle through a bunch of identities; it’s fluid and changes over time.”