A lot of times, your family can be your most trusted allies who will stay by your side in difficult times and swim through harsh waters with you. But there are moments when they can also be your greatest foes—like what happened to an 81-year-old man who was disowned by his own family for being gay.
Not everything has become bleak, however, as there was still a kind soul in his family who embraced him with all his heart: his much younger cousin Nick Barton-Wines.
In a series of Twitter posts, Nick melted the hearts of netizens after he shared his touching story of how he met and bonded with his elderly second cousin Roger for the first time, having found him when his mother learned that he was living only a few hours away through AncestryUK.
While Roger's mother was wholly accepting of his sexuality, it was an entirely different case for his father, who rejected him when he discovered that he was gay during his younger years.
First time meeting my 81 year old second cousin today who was cut out of the family for being gay. Obviously being sent to conversion therapy didn’t work.— Nick Barton-Wines 🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@nicholasbw) January 4, 2023
He is so lovely, has incredible stories, and a wicked laugh.
A profoundly important day for me given the status of LGBTQIA+ pic.twitter.com/5WF0hcOWc3
"When the secret between him and his mom got out, it was Roger’s dad who overruled his mom and pushed Roger from the family by sending him to conversion therapy," Nick wrote.
In case you don't know, conversion therapy is "any emotional or physical therapy used to 'cure' or 'repair' a person’s attraction to the same sex, or their gender identity and expression," according to WebMD. Due to the degrading nature of the practice, conversion therapy has been banned in several countries around the world.
Despite Roger's father's attempt to change him, it proved to be ineffective as he still came out to be a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.
"He is so lovely, has incredible stories, and a wicked laugh," Nick praised. "The stories Roger shared felt like an important bridge between generations of gay men (so often lost, most acutely by the HIV and AIDS crisis), so becoming a new bearer of them to carry forwards—somehow—feels hugely significant."
Many social media users got emotional over Nick and Roger's meeting and praised him for spreading positivity about the queer community that's still facing much discrimination and hatred up to this day.
"I am so glad that you guys arranged this. It does not undo what happened, you can never change some people's mindsets, but you made your own bonding connection and that's all that matters," one user tweeted.
Another one wrote, "I hate how he was excommunicated in the past, but love the healing and acceptance he’s likely getting from friends and loved ones now. This is precious."
Following the overwhelming support they got from the public, Roger and Nick said that they felt thrilled that their story connected with so many people across the Internet.
"After all these years, I've met my second cousin, which is absolutely, truly amazing, and it's been an emotional rollercoaster. We've had a lovely couple of days here, talking and catching up and it's phenomenal. I can't believe all the love and feelings I'm getting from you people," Roger said in a follow-up video.
"If you get your love and support from a parent, or both your parents, it's incredible. It's so important, and for me, at that time when I was young, without [the love and support from my mother], I don't know where I'd be today because it was a rollercoaster when I was young. It was horrendous," he recounted.
Despite these scarring events, Roger shared that he is now content, having made a life for himself, being with his loving partner for over 40 years, and now getting in touch with his incredible cousin.
A message from Roger and I… pic.twitter.com/26E1slCHFl— Nick Barton-Wines 🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@nicholasbw) January 5, 2023