LGBTQ+ allies offer to stand in as family at transgender man's wedding

ByJason Knowles, Maggie Green and Ann Pistone KABC logo
Thursday, June 6, 2024
Allies offer to stand in as family at transgender man's wedding
Jessee Gawron may not be in contact with his biological family, but he's learning that family is more about bonds than blood.

INDIANA -- Jessee Gawron may not be in contact with his biological family, but he's learning that family is more about bonds than blood.

At 9-years-old, Gawron knew that he was different from the other kids in his family.

"I grew up in a very Polish Catholic setting, and I didn't have a lot of support or resources to kind of help me with what I was feeling within," he said. "And when I got to about late 20s is when I realized that I wanted to make that leap into transitioning and living my true self."

Gawron knew that he was transgender.

"Once I reached a certain age and people noticed that I was a little different from my other cousins and siblings, there was definitely a step back that was taken by my family," Gawron said. "So I was just like, okay, you know, so who's gonna love me?"

Gawron distanced himself from his family, and at this point has very little contact with them.

"I don't have a lot of support when it comes to the immediate family. I really have no contact with them at all," Gawron said. "I wish that I had that love and that support and that acceptance, but at the same time, I can't force it out of them."

Gawron's prayers for love were answered when he met Brianna Sebek.

""I love him to the moon and back," she said. "I don't think there's words to really explain the love I have for him."

Gawron and Sebek met on a dating app and quickly fell in love. But Gawron was terrified to tell her that he is transgender.

"When I finally spilled the beans, and told her that I was born female. Immediately without hesitation, she was just like, like, 'I don't, I don't care. Like that doesn't change how I feel. Like I'm not going anywhere.' And I just, I couldn't believe my ears," he remembered.

The couple has been together for a few years. Sebek said her children think of Gawron as their dad.

"He loves them, and they love him" she said.

Gawron and Sebek got engaged in 2023 and are planning their wedding.

"I definitely wanted to have not a huge wedding, but you know, a decent-sized one, you know, with people who actually want to celebrate me and a big moment in my life," Gawron said.

But knowing that his own family couldn't be there for him cast a shadow on his big day.

"I was very down in the dumps, realizing I don't have parents to be there and wish me well on a very big day in my life," Gawron said.

That's when he found a group on Facebook that changed everything for him: Stand in Pride.

Stand in Pride is an organization that matches LGBTQ+ individuals who don't have family support with allies and other LGBTQ+ community members who are willing to fill in for that person.

"The amount of people that were like if you need an aunt, if you need an uncle, if you need a brother, a sister, a mom or dad, a grandma, a grandpa," Gawron said. "They were just so willing to be there and fill that void in my life and it really helped me feel so much better because there has been a lot of doubt within myself and a lot of pain that I was holding inside that I just could not let go because of the lack of love and support that I was getting from actual blood relatives."

Gawron shared his story in the group and was flooded with comments from people wanting to support him on his big day.

"The outpour of love and support was just nothing that I have gotten even from people who know me in real life," he said.

Gawron is selecting people to fill in for his family at the wedding. What's more, he's also finding fill-in parents for Sebek. Her dad died in 2012, and her mom died in 2021.

"To me, it means a lot that people will, first, that they have the heart to even do this type of thing for people," Sebek said.

Outside of the wedding, Gawron said the group has given him the opportunity to have a friend to talk to or a parent to ask advice.

"Growing up, I was lied to. They said, 'you can't choose your family and family is blood.' No, family is what you make it," Gawron said. "You can choose your family, and I choose Stand in Pride."