LGBTQA advice columnists at UT Oct. 12Written by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
The co-founders of a website that offers customized advice to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied (LGBTQA) youth are coming to the University of Toledo as part of their interactive, multi-state 12-stop tour.
Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid of Everyone is Gay (EIG) will visit UT’s Student Union Auditorium on Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.
The two women founded the website in April 2010, with the goal of using humor and honesty to keep youth laughing while providing them with advice and answers to questions, according to a news release.
The site prides itself on being more relaxed and less formal.
“I know that sounds ridiculous, but most advice columns push a lot of psychological terminology and logical reasoning on people, and at Everyone Is Gay we’re like, ‘Dude, I’ve been there and you probably won’t listen, but here is how to keep from exploding’,” Owens-Reid said in the release. “It’s like having a best friend give you advice, instead of a therapist.”
Kelly Staufer, a senior at UT and president of UT’s Panhellenic Council, contacted EIG after she was approached by Dean of Students Michele Martinez about confronting issues between the Greek and LGBTQA communities.
Staufer had come across the website during her own coming-out process and appreciated its use of humor to tackle problems.
“Magically, around the same time, they were doing this tour,” she said.
Visitors to the website can submit questions for Owens-Reid and Russo to answer and Staufer said seeing other people’s similar questions and concerns helped her not to feel so alone.
“I’d hear questions and be like ‘Oh my gosh, someone else is thinking like this’,” Staufer said.
Staufer said she values the duo’s unique approach to advice.
“They’re maybe a couple steps ahead of you. It’s almost like a big sister-type thing,” Staufer said. She said she hopes area residents come to the presentation as well as students and she has invited University of Findlay and Bowling Green State University LGBTQA groups as well.
Russo and Owens-Reid began their fall tour Sept. 19 at Drew University in Madison, N.J., and will finish Oct. 27 at University of Virginia in Charlottesville. They decided to tour after witnessing tragedy in the LGBTQA community.
“After the recent onslaught of teen suicides related to LGBTQA bullying, we felt compelled to connect with our readers in a more personal, intimate format,” Russo said in the news release.
At UT, part of the problem between the Greek and LGBTQA communities could be the common usage of “gay” to mean something negative, Staufer said, adding, “It’s not just the Greek community, it’s nationwide.”
“I just think most people who are showing opposition or saying ‘That’s so gay’ are uneducated about the effect it has on people,” she said.
However, since coming out, Staufer said the Greek community has been very supportive of her.
“I had felt as though this was my last year and I didn’t want to leave my university without their knowing who I am,” she said.
For more information, visit the website www.everyoneisgay.com.
Also this week:
Oct. 15: “Doing It All For Our Baby”: Panel discussion presented by Equality Toledo on deciding to become a parent as a member of the LGBT community. University of Toledo Main Campus, College of Health and Human Services Building Multipurpose Room, 2801 Bancroft St., 10 a.m. to noon. Contact: Equality Toledo Executive Director Sherry Tripepi, firstname.lastname@example.org.