With more than a hundred different characters in their lookbook, Dinny Grayson is one of the most prolific cosplayers in the Philippines.
They’ve cosplayed DC’s Harley Quinn, Jim Hawkins from Disney’s Treasure Island, anime characters, video game characters, and even characters from Matt Mercer’s popular Dungeons and Dragons campaign, Critical Role.
Yes, they, not her.
Dinny Grayson identifies as non-binary
“Right now, I am comfortably non-binary,” shared Dinny Grayson to ONE Esports.
“That means I don’t follow the rules of being stereotypically male or stereotypically female. I prefer being neither. I prefer being just me and gender doesn’t have to be part of that equation.”
Dinny’s preferred pronouns are they/them, and they’ve actually lived this way for a long while. Despite being in a society with very clear-cut roles for boys and girls, Dinny thinks that gender expectations have always been confusing.
“When I was a child, I’d be told ‘this is the boys’ section and this is the girls’ section.’ I was so confused, why does there have to be a boys and girls section? I don’t care if I’m not a boy, just let me be there,” said Dinny.
How Dinny Grayson approaches cosplaying male and female characters
Dinny doesn’t see the need to put boundaries on gender, and explores this philosophy through cosplay.
Cosplay has been almost therapeutic in helping them work through their own gender identity and be more comfortable in their own skin. Regardless of whether a certain cosplay might be for men or women, Dinny doesn’t want think about how a cosplay would “fit” their gender or not.
“I don’t really care or mind if this character is supposed to be a male or female. It’s just another challenge for me to portray that character. I take gender out of the equation completely.”
As someone who has transitioned from cosplaying as a hobby to a professional, Dinny Grayson has learned to separate themselves from the characters they cosplay.
“I really look at cosplay as an art. When I don a costume, whether it’s this super manly man or this hyper-feminine sexy lady, I’m thinking I’m that character,” said Dinny. “Din is not in the equation. I don’t feel uncomfortable because that’s how the character is supposed to look like.”
A character may be hyper-feminine or hyper-masculine, but for Dinny Grayson, those are simply characteristics that they have to take on in order to bring the character to life.
Dinny really loves that they get to experience the world through different perspectives when cosplaying. Cosplay has given Dinny the opportunity to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, no matter what gender, and without the usual gender bias that people have.
“One time, I was at a convention and everyone really saw me as the guy character I was cosplaying. They never questioned who I was underneath. I was able to find where I’m comfortable. That’s how I see cosplay relating to yourself because then you can see how you want to be more like that character and apply it to your real life,” shared Dinny.
Dinny Grayson uses their platform as a way to educate others
With the LGBTQ+ community still working to gain widespread acceptance, Dinny Grayson knows that the discourse around the non-binary path is still new.
This is why they feel responsible to speak up about it and use their platform to educate others.
“I need to tell myself it’s okay to be misgendered by people and it’s okay to have people still call me Miss. Maybe they just don’t know about all these weird gender stuff that’s new to a lot of people. So, I want to educate them and tell them about it,” said Dinny.
Dinny is aware that there are still people who aren’t accepting of the path they’ve chosen, so they want to be able to take every opportunity they can to educate others about being non-binary, especially with their fans.
“You should be kind to everyone. Respect everyone and you’ll get respect back. I’m thankful I’ve found people who have been very open with my journey, not just in cosplay, but with my own identity. It’s great,” added Dinny.
‘It’s okay to be confused’ says Dinny Grayson
And as for people who also might not know where they stand, Dinny has a message for you.
“It’s okay to be confused. In fact, I still don’t know. Right now, I’m non-binary but maybe down the line, I’ll want to refer as something else,” said Dinny.
“It’s okay to change and to progress over time. People feel like they need to put a label on themselves right away. Here’s me telling you that you don’t have to. If your label is ‘confused’, come join me. Let’s be confused together.”