Daniel Blevins, a co-founder of the group, had supportive parents and he said it was about "giving them what I had."
Affirmation and support from your parents and immediate family can mean the world to any person but for the LGBTQ community, it can be matter of life and death. According to The Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ young people 'seriously considered' suicide this past year, with a majority of them being transgender and nonbinary. It's no secret that many parents refuse to accept or embrace their children's true identity. For many, it means not having their parents by your side during their wedding day. A Facebook group is now willing to provide you with families that can stand in for your loved ones on your special day. It started out as a small Facebook group but more and more allies are signing up, creating a large network of people who can stand in for you. Daniel Blevins posted a video on TikTok letting LGBTQ couples know that there was a whole community out there to help them, reported USA Today.
"There's parents that want to be there for you on your big day, and we'll be your biggest fans," Daniel Blevins says in the video. It led to the Facebook group TikTok Stand In Families and has more than 30,000 queer people and allies. Blevins had affirming parents but he knew so many people who weren't as lucky and wanted to fill in to support them. Blevins said he was inspired by Free Mom Hugs. "For me, it's kind of a way of giving them what I had," said Blevins, who hails from Tennessee. Blevins' TikTok post was flooded with people who offered themselves to fill in as people's parents, cousins, siblings and friends to show them they are loved.
Blevins operates the group with his friend Rae Otto. They chose to keep the group private so as to protect those who may not be out yet. The main idea was to create a safe space for LGBTQ people. For many who have grown up with loved ones who weren't supportive, finding their chosen family has meant the world, and this group has served as a medium of hope for so many. The group's co-founder, Rae Otto wishes she had this kind of support while growing up. She has still found members of her chosen family on the platform. "I went out to Atlanta this year to go visit somebody who I consider my chosen mother and spent the week with her ... and Dan, he's my chosen brother. I consider him blood," she said.
Bec Mueffelmann was another person who found support in the group. Mueffelmann, who identifies as non-binary, broke off contact with their biological family in August 2020 and has found and offered support on the Facebook group. "This group provides a point of connection online, if they just need somebody to listen like in a private message, but it also does a good job of connecting people physically," said Mueffelmann.
The group goes way beyond offering stand-in parents to couples wanting to get married. "One of the very first stories that I can remember was a mother who had twins that were transitioning and had reached out asking for help to get her twins (chest) binders," said Blevins. "She didn't know anything about binders, but she wanted to get them, and I remember crying, reading the comments." People in the group supported her and gifted her the binders.
Chosen families can play a crucial role in the lives of queer people, with 39% of queer adults having faced rejection from their birth families. Having a chosen or found family who can offer unconditional support is invaluable to the community. "Love comes in all shapes and forms, and so do families. These arrangements are created by queer people to bring familial love that was otherwise missing into their lives, or to form an even deeper connection with one’s friends," writes Pallas Gutierrez, a GLAAD Campus Ambassador. "These bonds can help heal queer youth and keep them safe."