Credit: Marija Stepanovic/iStock/Getty Images Plus; Francesca Roh/Xtra
Salty Queers
3 min

Straight people: You need to stop gender reveal parties

You’re burning down forests and killing grandmas!

Is there anything straighter than a gender reveal party?

Its premise—to let family, friends and loved ones know the sex of an unborn baby—has become so embedded in hetero culture that thousands of parents-to-be feel they cannot celebrate the impending birth of their child without shooting pink dust in the air or clubbing open a blue-candy-filled piñata and screaming “IT’S A GIRL” or “IT’S A BOY.” Sigh.

The gender reveal shtick is largely credited to blogger Jenna Karvunidis, who, in 2008, posted a photo of a cake with pink icing to signal to her family that she was having a girl. This year, Karvunidis apologized for inventing such a stupid, stupid trend—and perhaps rightfully so, given that her child doesn’t conform to gender expectations.

And now, we’ve gone from innocent cakes with pink fillings to literal manslaughter to announce babies’ sexes.

We are not exaggerating: Someone died at one of these parties. This week, a 56-year-old grandmother from Iowa was killed when her family accidentally built a pipe bomb trying to create a colour-filled explosive gender reveal like those often seen on social media. The family allegedly tinkered with gunpowder, metal tubing and a fuse that was set to create a blue or pink smoke to signify the baby’s sex. But when they wrapped tape over top the metal tubing, the apparatus inadvertently became a bomb, exploding and sending shrapnel more than 100 metres in the air. Pamela Kreimeyer was struck and killed instantly.

Then, later this week, another explosion was set off at a gender reveal event, also in Iowa. No one was injured, but locals were so shook by the sound that they alerted police and fire departments. The explosion was created thanks to a “gender reveal boom box,” which uses corn starch to create a colourful blaze when lit. It also begs the question: What the heck is going on in Iowa?

This is not the first time explosive gender reveals disturbed the order of life. In April 2017, Dennis Dickey, an off-duty border patrol agent, fired a rifle at a homemade target. It exploded and sent a blue substance into the air. It also started a grassfire that spread quickly and burned almost 200 square kilometres of mostly national forest land in Arizona. This disaster ultimately forced 200 people out of their homes.

Last year, Dickey pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a month to five years of probation. He was also ordered to make an initial payment of $100,000 in restitution and monthly payments of $500. In a report by the Arizona Daily Star, Dickey was quoted telling U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie A. Bowman during his hearing, “It was a complete accident. I feel absolutely horrible about it. It was probably one of the worst days of my life.”

And folks, this is a worldwide phenomenon. In Australia’s Gold Coast, a car burst into flames earlier this year when its owners tried to do a “burn-out” to emit a blue cloud of smoke for a gender reveal.

Some activists also note that, while so many of these absurd shows of cis-heteronormativity are physically dangerous, gender reveals can be emotionally detrimental, too—reinforcing a gender binary and the outdated, unnecessary tropes that come with it (blue or pink, tutus or tuxedos, Scrub Mommy or Scrub Daddy). As Jennifer Finney Boylan writes in the New York Times, “celebrating a child’s gender before it’s born is a tricky business. It sets expectations for who that child will be. It also leaves the unfortunate impression that gender is the most important thing to celebrate about that child. And sometimes it’s just plain wrong.”

But straight people are resilient and stubborn. Hence, the more out-of-control gender reveal events.

And let’s not forget those displays of sheer disappointment when the sex revealed at one of these parties doesn’t turn out to be what a parent was hoping for. You can watch dozens of compilations of gender-reveal disappointments on the internet, too. (And imagine what’s going to happen when those kids get old enough to Google themselves, and they discover that they weren’t what their family hoped for.)

We can’t believe we have to say this, but please, straight people: STOP ✋🛑