When 14-year-old Jay Kelly, born Jaya, was ready to come out as transgender, he had no hesitations about telling his mother—Drea Kelly, ex-wife of singer R. Kelly and star of the reality series Hollywood Exes. And you can understand why—she didn’t just accept her child. She supported him and encouraged him—and never stopped telling him how much she loves him.
“I’m so proud of him,” the 40-year-old reality star tells In Touch Weekly.
“To have a child who’s an individual, and knows what they want and are willing to tell the world? That type of bravery can’t be bought.”
Unfortunately, not everyone has been so accepting. Shortly after Jay went public with his transition, his estranged father, R. Kelly, deflected questions about it, telling an interviewer: “You don’t wanna say my daughter is becoming my son. I’ve heard a lot of people and it was never true. Believe what you see.”
Even though the news came as a surprise, Drea says there were hints during Jay’s childhood about his gender identity. The teen—who says he first began identifying as male when he was “6 or 7”—refused to wear dresses or the color pink, his mom remembers.
“I thought he was just a tomboy,” she says.
Drea says she’s had a lot of members of the LGBTQ community embrace her for the unconditional support she’s shown her son—but she doesn’t think that makes her a hero. Just a mother.
“I’ve had a lot of the community say, ‘You give me hope,’” she gushes to In Touch.
“It’s amazing because I feel like I’m just being a mom. To turn your back on your child is something that I could never fathom. A mother’s love is unconditional.”