A gender reveal in the US is making headlines for all the right reasons: love, acceptance, and the story of a brave LGBTQIA teenager.
In a touching twist on traditional gender reveals, mum-of-three Love Gwaltney surprised — and delighted — friends and family on the announcement of their gender reveal party for their newest baby. Only, it wasn’t for their newest baby at all: it was for the coming out of their 17-year-old non-binary son, Grey.
“No one knew we were doing it,” said 35-year-old Love to TheLatch—, who first suggested the idea. “Everyone in my pregnancy group was sharing their gender reveals. We’d just had our anatomy scan for our new baby, and thought it would be a fun tongue-in-cheek way to poke fun at gender reveals — and that it would be a perfect opportunity for Grey to showcase the real him.”
“It was very fun and exciting, and you could tell Grey was really lit up about the whole thing.”
For more than 17 years, Grey has battled with his gender identity. “I was in middle school the first time I came out,” Grey said. “I had decided I was bisexual (which tends to be the first step for a lot of people in the community). However, I heavily leaned towards women.”
“It wasn’t until I made friends with members of the trans community a couple of years back that I started to think I might be part of said community, and after talking with them how I felt, I decided I might be non-binary, which was when I had secretly purchased my first binder using a card I got for my birthday.”
But non-binary didn’t quite fit him — and as more time passed, Grey realised it caused him a lot of anguish to be referred to as female. “I noticed that while using any and all pronouns, there were still days when I hated being called a girl and by female pronouns. It wasn’t until these last couple of months that I realised I don’t have to be a girl.”
After cutting his long hair — a decision his supportive family encouraged him to think long and hard about — Grey realised he strongly identified as transmasculine non-binary.
“It means Grey considers himself non-binary, but leans very heavily on the masculine side,” Love explained. “So, 95% of the time, Grey feels masculine and like a male, and maybe one day a month, he’ll come out of bed in a skirt and feel a little fem. I like to say Grey just feels fabulous on those days.”
Love and step-father Brandon are incredibly supportive of their son. “It’s been a little bit of a journey for Grey,” Love said. “As a family, we always make sure to talk about the hard conversations. Not just when it comes to gender and sexuality, but everything. We’ve also always been really progressive. We try and stay educated and ethical and try our best to teach our kids to have those hard conversations.”
And for Love, supporting her son is paramount. “I would rather 100% support and love my child through any phase of life they’re going through than not support them and realise I failed them because I didn’t believe they knew who they were.”
“And even though Grey has gone through this journey to find himself, every step has been sure and comfortable. After talking it through, it was clear the change was a simple decision for him — the gender reveal was just a good way to make it official and ceremonial.”
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It took two days to organise the surprise gender reveal. “Since it was so sudden, I had to quickly find a photographer and someone to make us a cake — right in the middle of wedding season.”
While Grey was a little nervous about the reveal — it meant also coming out to family — he says the truth has felt like a massive weight lifting from his shoulders. “I definitely feel more like me — and freer,” he said. “He’s definitely happier now,” Love added.
The family posted the reveal on Facebook on July 12, 2020. “We wanted to announce that we got it wrong 17 years ago when we told the world we were having a little girl,” Love wrote on the now-viral post. “So, we’d like to introduce you to our SON: Grey.”
To the family’s delight, most reactions — especially from friends and family — have been overwhelmingly positive. “Our friends loved it, so they started sharing it — and next thing we knew, everyone is commenting and sharing,” Brandon said.
“It was mostly positive comments, with people talking about how awesome it was, and how proud they were of Grey. Love’s received a lot of messages from the LGBTQIA+ community on how happy it makes them to see a family so accepting and see Grey so happy, so it’s definitely helped a lot of people.”
The post, which has been now shared more than 60k times, is filled with support for the family. “These photos moved me to tears! What a wonderful family, and what a strong and resilient son you’ve raised,” one commenter said. “If everybody had parents like this, the world would be a much better place,” said another.
The family hopes the post will help open up eyes and minds, as well as help members of the LGBTQIA+ community feel like they’re not alone. “I want people to know that no matter what, don’t let others tell you you’re wrong about who you are,” Grey said.
“Yes, it’s a journey, and yes sometimes you might be unsure or confused, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It’s okay to change your mind, especially when something doesn’t feel right.
“And no matter what, if someone doesn’t accept you, that’s NOT your fault. You are loved, and you will find people who will love and support you — sometimes, it just takes time.”