• Thu. May 19th, 2022

Facebook LGBTQ support group offers surrogate families for major life events

A viral TikTok video offering alternative families to same-sex couples on their wedding day sparked the creation of an international LGBTQ Facebook group: TikTok Stand in Families.

The 30-second video, which Daniel Blevins, a Tennessee hairstylist, posted on TikTok in January, has more than 62,000 views and 16,000 likes. In his heartfelt post, Blevins looks into the camera and tells same-sex couples who “don’t have biological parents there to support you” to contact him.

“If I can’t attend your wedding, I have friends who will,” Blevins says in the video. “We have a great network and it continues to grow of moms and dads who want to be part of your big day.”

Blevins and his friend Rae Otto — whom he met on TikTok a year ago and still have never met in person — co-founded TikTok Stand in Families in February with the aim of connecting 1,000 people in need replacement support during major life events. , such as weddings, birthdays and graduations.

In less than 10 months, the private Facebook group has welcomed more than 30,000 members from 60 countries, with new members joining every day, Blevins said. At least two newlywed couples have found surrogate families for their weddings, according to Blevins, who said the group has also evolved on its own into a virtual support network and a safe space for those looking for friends, family and general support.

“A lot of our members text or talk to each other when they need someone,” he said. “Especially with Covid, a lot of people are just on their own. Being cut off from your family because you’ve been out…the pandemic only adds to that loneliness.

According to the 2021 Trevor Project National Survey of LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, over 80% of LGBTQ youth said that Covid-19 had made their living conditions more stressful – and only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth felt that his home was LGBTQ-friendly. Additionally, 70% of LGBTQ youth said their mental health was “poor” most or always during Covid-19.

Blevins explained how the shelter has also helped people escape domestic violence and helped homeless people. He shared a case in which members helped a group member escape a domestic violence situation.

“They actually transported them from the Midwest to the East Coast safely,” he said. “I am in contact with them a few times a week, and they are doing very well. All thanks to the group.

Band members also opened their homes during major holidays. By simply sharing their cities and states on the page, Blevins said, people who don’t have family or are separated from family can connect with nearby members and join them for meals or home activities. .

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

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