Punctuated by OutKast song “Hey Ya!” and videos of lip-syncing to pop icons Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas, Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo led a serious discussion about LGBTQ rights Tuesday night.
Co-founders of the website “Everyone is Gay,” the duo brought their website to life when they addressed LGBTQ teen discrimination and answered audience questions at the event sponsored by the Harvard College Queer Students and Allies.
“One of the most important things we try to get across to readers is that issues you go through do not depend on who you go to bed with,” Russo said. T
he pair said that they hope that the website—which contains a variety of material including an advice section, webcasts, and an online accessories store—creates a safe space online for teenagers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.
Several audience members said they follow “Everyone is Gay” regularly.
“I followed them for one and a half years before I came here,” said Nathan H. Pointer ’15. “When I found out they were coming, I was really excited.”
Owens-Reid and Russo showed photographs of children and adults ages 11 to 19 who had committed suicide because of the bullying they encountered as a result of their sexual orientation.
The pair emphasized the importance of everyday kindness, not just political activism.
“You don’t have to march in a parade to help,” Russo said.
Owens-Reid and Russo presented a slideshow depicting facts about LGBT youth and discussed the local resources available to victims of harassment.
Following their performance, audience members asked questions ranging from inquiries about the pair’s cats to questions about coming out in religious families.
“The Q&A session I think is really useful because LGBT sex and relationship education is absent in high schools and colleges,” QSA Co-President Samuel J. Bakkila ’11-’12 said.
QSA Co-President Emma Q. Wang ’12 initially had the idea of hosting Owens-Reid and Russo.
“‘Everyone is Gay’ is something I looked at with one of my friends at brain break and we giggled over it,” she said.
Owens-Reid and Russo have been on tour traveling to schools to perform.
Russo is also the founder of the website “Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber.”
She said that the website generated comments asking for advice, which became the inspiration for the April 2010 founding of “Everyone is Gay.”
The duo’s next project will consist of short student stories in the form of online videos that they will post on their website, they said.
—Staff writer Eliza M. Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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