Author in the Spotlight: Danielle Owens and Kristin Russo

Dannielle Owens Reid and Kristin Russo 

Everyone Is Gay works to improve the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ) youth using a three-pronged approach: providing honest advice to these youth while keeping them laughing; talking to students across the country in an effort to create caring, compassionate school environments; and working with parents of LGBTQ kids to help foster an ongoing dialogue and deeper understanding. 
Founded in 2010 by Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid, the organization grew rapidly and began touring high school & college campuses in 2011. The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital presence for parents of LGBTQ youth, was founded in 2013, and Dannielle and Kristin co-authored This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids in 2014. 


What motivated you to write a book(s) that is specifically inclusive of LGBTQ families/issues?  
In addition to our online advice for LGBTQ youth, we also travel a lot to high school and university campuses. One of the most common questions we were asked young people, both in-person and online, was, “Can you talk to my parents, and help them understand?” We spent a little bit of time researching to see if we could find a book or online platform where parents could find those answers, but nothing comprehensive existed! So, we took it upon ourselves to make it happen! 

What do you personally feel makes a family?  
Love, respect, and open communication. You don’t have to immediately understand one another, and you don’t have to know the answers to every question, but putting in your best effort at getting to that place of understanding and knowledge is key!  

What does “equality” look like to you?  
A world full of beautiful and powerful differences between people that wouldn’t ever require explanations; everyone would have the same opportunities, would feel safe and comfortable, and would have the same rights as anyone and everyone else. 
Whose books do you admire and why?  
Dannielle: Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Dear Sugar,’ was a cool read. Especially since we come from a world of giving advice based on life experience, it’s pretty incredible to be affected by someone else’s words in the same way that we affect people every day.  


Kristin: I have recently been having a torrid love affair with Roxanne Gay’s work. She tackles issues that are critical to the equality and empowerment of women in a way that is not only accessible, but that is engaging and so, so vivid.   
What’s coming up next for you? 
We never know! This summer we are cataloguing a lot of our past work, translating more of our pieces on The Parents Project into Spanish, and also beginning to build resources specific to teachers and guidance counselors… but there are always exciting surprises around the bend that we can never predict!