With candid humor and open discourse, Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid allow teens to confront fears in a safe environment.
In the eyes of coeditors Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid, everyone is gay.
The duo’s video blog of the same name answers questions from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth with a healthy dose of humor and candidness. It’s garnered 50,000 followers, more than 200,000 monthly view, and plenty of positive press.
“Everyone Is Gay has come to symbolize how we all share so many of the same experiences and emotions,” offered Owens-Reid, 26, who notably created the popular Tumblr, in 2010. “It started as just a simple joke; we had no idea that we were forming what would eventually become a full-fledged business.”
Introduced through mutual friends, launched Everyone is Gay in April 2010. At the time, Owens-Reid was dealing with blowback from another Tumblr blog she had created, Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber, which some readers claimed that it stereotyped the community. Russo had recently completed a gender studies course and wanted to talk to the readers to better understand their criticisms.
“We decided to answer questions on a Tumblr and that was the beginning of the rest of our lives,” Owens-Reid said.
It’s not difficult to surmise why Everyone is Gay has achieved such success. The blog is colorful and candid, serving as a judgment-free oasis for LGBTQ youth struggling with one of the biggest issues in their lives. And no question is off-limits.
A male reader, who is in a committed relationship, recently wrote in asking how to deal with the “most attractive man I have ever seen in my life.”
“Picture him pooping,” Danielle responded. (Both authors are on a first-name basis with their readers.)
“Ask him if you can take a picture of him holding a sign that says, ‘Kittens are ugly and so is your mom,’ and then put it in the from part of your wallet,” Kristin offered. “HE CAN’T BE CUTE IF HE THINKS KITTENS ARE UGLY.”
Obviously, not all of the questions submitted or responded to are that comical in scope, but it illustrates the duo’s refreshing and occasionally off-kilter approach. It’s clearly resonating with their audience. The women have more than 30,000 questions piled up in their collective inbox, waiting to be addressed.
For Russo and Owens-Reid, it’s all about creating a safe forum where teens can open up without the fear of rejection from family members or friends.
“We’re all people,” Owens-Reid said.
“We all deal with intense issues and a lot them are very relatable.
“So we say, ‘OK fine, everyone is gay/trans/bi, take that out of the equation; what are we dealing with? Someone who is afraid to talk to their parents, someone who isn’t accepted by their friends, someone who is in love with their best friend.”
Deciding what question the women answer is a process in itself. The women look at trends (like conflicts at the end of the school year), mix up the types of questions asked (“No one wants to read six break up questions in a row,” she joked), and try to include all types of readers in the conversation.
“We want everyone to feel included, if we haven’t answered a parent question in a while, we’ll look for that,” she said. Answers come in the form of videos the pair release weekly on their YouTube channel. To date, the duo has uploaded 62 episodes that have collected more than 1.2 million views. It’s a vlog version of Dr. Drew.
Not surprisingly, the most popular posts on the blog are questions about breakups and troubled relationships.
“Everyone has been there and everyone has had trouble getting over it, so they appreciate those posts,” Owens-Reid noted. “People also love to be inspired; everyone wants to follow their dreams and everyone wants to be told that it’s OK to dream big.”
Everyone is Gay is actually part of a larger initiative for the New York-based women. They visit schools nationwide, speaking about coming out and tolerance for gay youth, with same sort of charisma found in their online posts. The goal, Owens-Reid said, is “to promote kindness and daily acts of change.” It also prompts personal reflection.
That change starts at home for Owens-Reid and Russo.
“I think answered these questions is sort of a personal reflection [and] therapy for both us,” Owens-Reid said.
“I think a huge part of that is because we’re constantly answering questions from any and every point of view. It’s kind of amazing.”
Photo via Kristin Russo/Facebook