They started with negative feedback, and now they’re dealing out advice for all situations.
The women behind Everyone Is Gay, a site aimed at improving the lives of LGBTQ youth by providing honest, humorous advice, gave a presentation in the Ohio Union’s Performance Hall Monday.
The event, a joint effort by the Ohio Union Activities Board and the Multicultural Center, featured the website’s co-founders, Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid.
It wasn’t the first visit to Ohio for Russo and Owens-Reid, but it was their first time at Ohio State — the duo has previously spoken at the University of Toledo and other Ohio schools.
“Ohio rules,” Owens-Reid said in an interview with The Lantern.
Their show began wordlessly with a choreographed dance routine to “Boom Boom Pow” by The Black Eyed Peas before switching gears to a slideshow presentation that formed the bulk of the event.
As the women introduced themselves and took their seats on a pair of stools on stage in the Performance Hall, the screen behind them read “Everyone Is Gay.”
“Which we know sounds a little bit ridiculous,” Russo said.
Owens-Reid then recounted her creation of the Tumblr, Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber, and how that inspired Everyone Is Gay.
She said she received a lot of feedback on the site — some positive, and some negative. Because of the negative, “Kristin got all bajiggity,” Owens-Reid said.
“Bajiggity means angry,” Russo said to clarify.
But with the hateful messages came questions about sexuality, stereotypes and other topics.
Someone told the two that they should make an advice website, “and so we did,” Owens-Reid said.
The two then discussed the creation and evolution of Everyone Is Gay, citing statistics on bullying and suicide as part of why they think it’s important to go out and speak to people.
Everyone Is Gay offers a public forum for asking Russo and Owens-Reid questions on any topic. The two respond to questions with a mix of sincerity and goofiness — including lots of lip-synching on their YouTube channel.
Monday’s presentation was much the same with several videos of the women lip-synching and humorous anecdotes on anything from Owens-Reid’s time as a Mormon to her Britney Spears memorabilia collection.
The event, while focused on the LGBTQ community, was welcoming to those who don’t identify as part of that group.
Despite the name of the website, “we do not think everyone is gay,” Russo said.
For those who don’t identify as LGBTQ or who “don’t even have a gay aunt,” Russo said, “first of all, you probably have a gay aunt — just by statistics.”
And second, you can still get involved to further goodwill in the community, she said.
If one considers everyone as gay, she said, sexuality is not part of the equation anymore. What’s left are people going through universal issues like wanting approval from their parents or falling in love with their best friend, she said.
As the presentation wrapped, there was a question-and-answer session with audience members. The questions and answers ranged in topic from religion to gender expression to stereotypes to Hello Kitty.
Emily Stout, the dates and data chair of OUAB and the event coordinator, said she thought Owens-Reid and Russo gave a successful presentation.
“Speaking for human rights and all individuals is very important,” Stout said in an email. “Helping one another and helping others in need is what is important. That is what this event’s focus was.
“The lesson that Kristin and Dannielle taught us is one that we can and will all use in the future,” she said.
OUAB and Owens-Reid and Russo declined to comment on how much the event cost and how much Owens-Reid and Russo were paid to appear.