Omaha ‘Cat Lady’ volunteers to be a surrogate mother at LGBTQIA+ Wedding

  • Noah, 28, posted a TikTok saying his mother declined an invitation to his LGBTQIA+ wedding.
  • Caerhl “Rosie” Irey, 56, replied, and now the two say she will be there as a stand-in for his mother.
  • Noah told Insider that a wave of “empowering” love and support from “TikTok moms” was pouring in.

When 28-year-old Noah, a non-binary person and recent Omaha transplant, posted a TikTok Sept. 17 saying his mother turned down an invitation to his wedding, he told Insider he was looking for comfort and confirmation from a support network he had not yet built in Nebraska.

In his video, Noah told viewers he asked his mother if she wanted to be invited to his wedding in September 2023. “She said…she wasn’t sure…” he wrote in on-screen text. “But the ‘problem’ was solved anyway, since she will be out of the country the day I get married.” He later said he felt “unloved, unwanted”. In his caption, he asked all “mother friends” for “some mother love.”

He hadn’t expected the wave of “TikTok moms,” as he described them, who answered his call — expressing anger and heartbreak for him, validating his desire to have her there, and offering to attend his wedding in his absence. to be a mother. . (Insider verified Noah’s identity, but requested that Insider call him by his first name out of concern for his and his mother’s safety).

Caerhl Irey, 56, known as @north_omaha_cat_lady to her 3 million TikTok followers, was one such “TikTok mom.” She told Insider that the video moved her and made her “pissed off.”

“Where and when?” Irey said in an Oct. 30 sting video. “Let me know. We will remove aunts and cousins ​​and sisters and brothers and second cousins ​​three times. If your family does not support you, find a new family. I will replace your mother,” she said in part. “We love you. We support you.” The video has now been viewed 3.6 million times.

Noah and Irey connected through DMs and, elated when they realized they both lived in the same town, made plans to meet ramen with Noah and his fiancé, 25-year-old Bat, who uses she/they pronouns. (Insider has confirmed Bat’s identity. For security reasons, Insider only uses their first name).

“I’m really nervous,” Irey said in a Nov. 13 video she filmed just before heading out to meet the couple. “It feels like meeting my child for the first time.” The TikTok has now been viewed almost 17 million times.

The response from viewers was “99.9%” positive, Noah and Irey agreed. Commentators offered complimentary messages of support and services — a wedding DJ, a photographer — as well as donations to the couple’s honeymoon fund.

“Someone donated $500 to us for this trip,” Noah told Insider. “I threw down my phone because I couldn’t believe it. We now have almost $900 for our honeymoon thanks to the generosity of people from TikTok.”

Over dinner, Irey and Noah agree that the group hit it off well. Noah said the “fierce mama bear” energy Irey exhibited felt “empowering”.

“Having a mother figure who loves my fiancé means a lot,” Noah told Insider. “That’s something that’s been hard with my family — you meet your person and you want people to love your person.” Watching Irey show affection to his partner was something Noah said he “didn’t know I needed from her, and I really appreciated that.”

“Your mother should be with you to do things like that”

Noah, who moved to Omaha in 2019, said the pandemic made it difficult to build a strong personal support system. To sort out his tuxedo come January, Noah plans to bring along his “entourage” of chosen mother figures — one discovered through a Pride organization in the Midwest and two through his TikTok — and possibly his brother, whom he considers his want a witness.

The couple will marry in Iowa in September. Noah told Insider that some of his five siblings, some cousins, aunts and uncles, and his grandmother, who Noah said has “always been supportive,” will be in attendance.

For Irey, whose TikTok content typically ranges from food reaction videos to jokes about how much she loves muumuus, offering to stand in Noah’s mom’s place was a good idea, partly because of her own experiences with family, both blood related and chosen.

“My mom was a conservative Christian and Republican, and she had two gay kids and absolutely adored both of us,” Irey told Insider. “Coming out was sort of a non-event because my brother had already come out,” she continued, adding that “coming out” as a non-Christian was a bigger issue.

Irey, who described herself as a green witch, said her mother invited her to say the prayer on her 92nd birthday, the last they could spend together before she passed away. After Irey’s pagan blessing, she said she looked at her and saw her mother crying. “She told me it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever heard,” Irey said. “She was born in 1925 and she still saw the beauty in a blessing – even if it wasn’t a Christian one.”

‘I always say: ‘found family can be better’

Noah said he still hopes his mom changes her mind. Noah told Insider that his mother saw the original TikTok, and the two fought, resulting in Noah choosing not to have contact with his mother.

“There’s going to be a little part of me that will always wish she was there, that she would show up at my wedding and somehow change her mind,” Noah said. “But I know that’s not realistic.” Although the decision was difficult, Noah said he would “make my decision again” for the sake of his mental health.

For Irey, she’s not sure when she’ll be performing at another wedding, though she says there are even requests from London; she has a full-time job as an educator and is concerned about safety. But she does plan to treat Noah like a son from now on.

“I’m not a mom,” Irey told Insider. “I don’t have kids. I’ve never been married. And so it’s like, you know, fine. He’s mine now.”

“You can’t help who you were born with,” Irey later explained. “I always say: ‘found family can do better.'”

“I want people to know that I’m a real human being,” Noah told Insider. “I didn’t do all this for fame. I intend to give back in any way I can.” If there’s one thing Noah wants to get out of this unexpected good, it’s for vulnerable viewers to feel a sense of community. He’s not sure what that means yet, but he says he wants to help those struggling with similar experiences.

“I want to say, ‘Hey, you’re not alone. What I want to do with my platform is make people feel less alone. That’s what I stand for and what matters to me.”

E-mail tips on everything related to the Internet mleighton@insider.com.

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