Support the Parents Project, Brought To You By Everyone Is Gay [Interview]

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Photo: (EveryoneIsGay)

Everyone Is Gay founders Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid have something awesome and new going on: The Parents Project.

Many LGBTQ kids are intimidated or even scared to come out their parents, which is where the Parents Project comes in. It’s also about helping parents by answering their Q’s on LGBTQ facts and teaching them how to talk to their kids and be supportive. Kristin and Dannielle know firsthand what it’s like to talk to parents, and while working on their book (which will be out through Chronicle Books in October 2014), they realized how much this project was needed. They’re raising funds for it through indiegogo, and you’ve only got till Monday to join in! To learn more, I spoke with both Dannielle and Kristin.

ACT: What can you tell us about your goals with the Parents Project?

DANNIELLE: We wrote a book for parents whose kids had just come out to them, and it’s an advice book. While we were writing it, we were trying to find resources for the resource guide at the end of the book, and we found that there weren’t that many. Of those that there are, like PFLAG and the Family Acceptance Project, they’re great resources, but they’re more about community outreach. There wasn’t really anything online where a parent could go, type in their question and get an answer. Even the advice books were very clinical. We felt we needed to provide something for parents of LGBTQ youth who had questions and wanted to get the answers. That’s our goal, to provide that space for people.

ACT: Why did you decide to do the Parents Project? Do you have any personal experiences that inspired you to start it?

KRISTIN: I echo Dannielle’s thoughts. We know there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of parents who have kids who come out to them and who have a really wide spectrum of experience. Some parents don’t want to talk to their child, kick their child out of their house at one end; At the other end, we have parents who are super accepting, and are just confused and want to understand some of the terminology, identity a little bit better, so they know they’re talking to their kids in a way that’s inclusive and accepting. We want to create a channel so parents can look on the Internet in the privacy of their own home. We’re going to have Dannielle and I answering advice, and it will highlight experiences of other families. So you’ll see parents talking to their kids who have come out to them about the experience. If a mom and a son are sitting and talking at the table in a video, the son might say, “Mom, when I came out, you asked me if I was sure about it. That was actually really upsetting to me.” And you’ll hear the mom respond and go back and forth. There’s a context for families to put their own experiences in. They can see how that kid felt, they can see how that parent felt. They can get a better idea of how they might handle themselves moving forward.

DANNIELLE: We both had different experiences with our mothers. I feel that if our book and these resources were available when I was coming out, my mother and I would have been able to talk about it. Because I was so uncomfortable and she wasn’t necessarily saying the right things, our relationship was strained. And still, a decade later, it is strained because of that. For me personally, it’s a huge thing and I hope we can provide anything that can be of any help to anyone in a situation similar to mine.

ACT: How can people support the Parents Project?

KRISTIN: It’s pretty easy, actually. Just go to EveryoneIsGay.com/parents, it takes you to our indiegogo campaign page. You can donate at varying levels.

ACT: What cool prizes can people get for supporting?

KRISTIN: Moments ago, I believe, we announced our T-shirt prize, which is at the $50 reward level. There are exclusive posters. We have things where we’ll sing any song you want, if you’re into that kind of thing. You can donate at a level that makes sense to you. You can donate from $1 to $10,000. Anything helps. A lot of our readers are younger, and may only have $5, $10, $15 to give. But collectively that adds up.

ACT: If people can’t afford to give, how else can they support the Parents Project and Everyone Is Gay?

DANNIELLE
: Sharing with people is really one of the biggest things. The entire reason our site is as successful as it is, is because of word-of-mouth. We’ve never done any marketing. It’s all been people who have needed what we’re doing and talked to friends and family about it. If you can’t give, just Tweet or blog or give a Facebook status update. Tell people about what we’re doing. Getting it out there is equally as important as donating, in my opinion.

KRISTIN: Social media is an incredible tool. I think adding a personal story or message makes all the difference. Saying, “This is important and this is why it’s important to me personally” has a bigger impact than saying, “Hey, there’s this cool thing.” That’s good, too, but I think when you add a personal message when you share, it reaches people and gets them to look at it.

ACT: What other plans do you have for the future of Everyone Is Gay?

KRISTIN: I think that our biggest focus for this year and next year for Everyone Is Gay is to continue to manage the platform we already have, which supports youth in two ways. One, by offering advice online, and, two, by going to their schools and starting conversations about making more accepting environments. And then this year and next are really dedicated to helping young people have the conversations with their parents, so they be themselves within their own home.

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