LGBTQ Website Promotes Awareness, Answers Questions

Nancy Roane, Staff Writer

The founders of the website visited Oberlin this week to speak on making change in the LGBTQ rights movement. The Oberlin Queer Wellness Coalition, a new group on campus formed to increase awareness about wellness issues facing the queer community, hosted the event in King on Monday night.

Everyone Is Gay is an advice website that was founded by Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid in April 2010. The site provides answers to questions dealing with LGBTQ issues and beyond. Using “humor, personal experience and occasional kitten pictures,” Russo and Owens-Reid work to give struggling or confused youth a safe space to ask questions anonymously. “We just want to reach people [who] don’t think anyone will ever reach them,” Russo said.

College first-year Madison Bishop, member of the Oberlin Queer Wellness Coalition, was one of the primary organizers of the event.

“We really wanted Kristen and Dannielle to come because we feel that their energy and the way they approach giving advice is really inclusive, so even if the advice doesn’t necessarily apply to you, you feel as if you can gain something from it,” Bishop said.

At the event, Russo and Owens-Reid spoke about creating their website on a whim after Owens-Reid made the famous Tumblr “Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber.” The site began as pure comedy, but took on a more serious tone after they began receiving intimate and important questions from youth.

Russo and Owens-Reid currently have 18,000 questions in their inbox. Last year, the pair added a video to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, a movement aimed to give hope for a better future to troubled LGBT youth facing the difficulties of adolescence. Russo and Owens-Reid support It Gets Better, but wish to take the message a step further.

“A big thing that we’re trying to do is slowly but surely make it better for kids who are in middle school and high school. … We think the It Gets Better Project is pretty awesome, but there’s a layer to it that’s a little bit lacking … which is that we need to act now. Things need to still happen,” Russo said.

Russo and Owens-Reid offered Oberlin students six ways every person can do things right now to make things better: being kind, eradicating cyberbullying, volunteering, creating safe spaces, researching your school’s discrimination policy, and becoming an informed voter.

College first-year Emily Clarke, a dedicated reader of Everyone Is Gay, felt that the talk was important for Oberlin College students. She said, “There is a tendency to think that because we have certain organizations and departments and policies here, we’re ‘there’ in terms of creating a safe place for everyone regardless of gender identification, sexuality, etc., but as Kristin and Dannielle pointed out, there is so much more to be done.”