30,000 People Volunteer To Act As Stand-In Parents For LGBTQ+ Couples Whose Family Disowned Them For Getting Married

Photo: Syda Productions / Shutterstock
same sex couple holding hands

A viral TikTok video, which offers families to stand in as parents for same-sex couples on their wedding day, has led the creation of an LGBTQ+ Facebook support group, TikTok Stand in Families.

Daniel Blevins, a hairdresser from Tennessee, posted on his TikTok page asking same-sex couples who “do not have biological parents there to support you” to reach out to him.

“If I’m not able to attend your wedding, I have friends that will,” Blevins said in his video. “We have a big network and it just continues to grow of moms and dads that want to be part of your big day. There's parents that want to be there for you on your big day, and we'll be your biggest fans.”

   

   

The viral video and outpouring of responses, led to Blevins and his friend Rae Otto, whom he met on TikTok, co-founding the Facebook page, TikTok Stand in Families in February 2021.

Their goal was to connect people in need of stand-in support during major life events, like weddings, birthday parties, and graduations.

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Blevins says he was blessed with supportive parents who never had any issues with his sexuality or shunned him after coming out. He knew that other people weren’t as lucky, and wanted to provide a service to people within the LGBTQ+ community who might feel alone or isolated.

Blevins was inspired by Free Mom Hugs, an organization that advocates for the equality of the LGBTQ+ community by providing resources, education, and support.

"For me, it's kind of a way of giving them what I had," Blevins said.

Both Blevins and Otto chose to continue their work through a Facebook group in an effort to keep the group private, especially for people who might not be out yet.

The posts are moderated by Blevins and Otto, along with others, in an effort to keep it a safe space for people in the LGBTQ+ community who need it the most.

Over the course of 10 months, the group has attracted over 30,000 members from 60 different countries, and the numbers keep growing with new members joining every single day.

According to Blevins, at least two newlywed couples have found stand-in-families for their weddings.

The group has evolved into a support space and networking opportunity for anyone seeking friends, family, or just someone who can listen and offer guidance.

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“Many of our members text or talk to each other when they need someone,” Blevins said. “Especially with Covid, a lot of people are just lonely. Being cut off from your family because you came out...the pandemic only adds to that loneliness.” 

According to a survey conducted by The Trevor Project on LGBTQ+ mental health, more than 80% of LGBTQ+ youths have citied the pandemic as making their living situations more stressful.

Only 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ youths found their homes to be LGBTQ-affirming, and around 70% of LGBTQ+ youths have said their mental health was “poor” during most of the pandemic.

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The study also found that 42% of LGBTQ+ youths “seriously considered” suciide within the past year, with more than half of them being nonbinary or transgender.

Members of the Facebook group have also opened up their homes during the holidays by sharing their cities and states on the page.

It allowed people who are estranged from their families to not feel alone during the holiday season by connecting with people in their community for fun activities and home-cooked meals.

Anyone interested in joining the Facebook page has to simply request for entry and follow group rules, which range from being kind and courteous to respecting people’s privacy in the group.

“Your chosen family can sometimes be better than your biological family,” Blevins said. “Just know that you are not alone. If you need someone and want that connection, we can help you through the group.”

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.