Dan Blevins identifies as a “stand-in dad” — a parent who connects with members of the LGBTQ community as emotional support or a physical presence, especially if their parents either aren’t around or don’t support their lifestyles.
Blevins first went viral in January 2021 when he posted a public invitation on his TikTok to anyone in the LGBTQ community who needed a “stand-in parent” for any upcoming weddings at which family members may not be supportive of the relationship being celebrated.
He was inspired by Sarah Cunningham, who started Free Mom Hugs, an organization that also connected “volunteer parents” with members of the LGBTQ community. After Blevins walked his biological daughter down the aisle at her wedding in 2018, he couldn’t imagine what someone must feel to not have their birth parents at their wedding or in their life.
“If you are a same-sex couple that’s getting married and you do not have biological parents there to support you, please let me know,” the Tennessee father said in his 2021 viral video. “If I’m not able to attend your wedding, I have friends that will. We have a big network and it just continues to grow of moms and dads that want to be a part of your big day.”
Blevins started Stand In Pride, a Facebook group with almost 50,000 members who want to help LGBTQ members build “chosen families,” no matter where they are.
“I really wish I had unlimited funds and could travel the country and go to everybody’s weddings,” Blevins said in one video.
As June kicks off Pride Month, Blevins has been reiterating the importance of his organization on TikTok. In a May video, he said he was “summoned” after seeing Alex Jiggs’s tearful plea on Mother’s Day.
“Can you rent a parent?” Jiggs asked. “Is there a program where you can pay for a — just to have a parent for a bit?”
Blevins replied and explained that Stand In Pride had “more moms, dads, uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins, grandparents than you could even imagine” who were at the ready to provide emotional support or physical stand-in representation.
“They’ve all come together for one reason,” he continued. “They have extra love to give. They want to be there for you even if it’s just a text message or a FaceTime call.”
In another duet, Blevins responded to another tearful TikToker, Michele Crider, who talked about being in a no-contact relationship with their parents.
“Does this ever get easier?” Crider asked. “I’ve been struggling so much recently trying to understand how parents don’t love their kids.”
Crider, who is 37, explained that they cut off contact with their father two years prior. Crider’s mom died 17 years ago from cancer.
“What is it like to have parents that love you unconditionally?” Crider questioned. “I’ve never experienced that myself.”
“You are loved, my friend,” Blevins replied. “Unconditionally.”
There are a number of reasons a parent will justify disowning their child or cutting off contact because of their LGBTQ identity. The Trevor Project found that fewer than one in three transgender or nonbinary youth — defined as being someone between the ages of 13 and 24 — felt their home was gender-affirming. Queer youth of color are particularly vulnerable when it comes to dealing with severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts due to unaccepting social and familial environments.
Stand In Pride isn’t specific to LGTBQ members who are “disowned” either. Blevins explained in a recent video that the group has helped people in all sorts of situations.
“No one’s gonna ask you the reasons for needing stand-in family,” he said. “The only requirement to get help through Stand In Pride is that you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
“I’m sobbing,” one commenter wrote after watching Blevins’s response to Jiggs. “My parents died when I was in my 20s and I could really use this.”
“Same,” someone replied. “But I’m in my 50s so I feel kind weird to say I really need a mom.”
“Don’t feel weird about it!” another person said. “Every human needs support no matter what age, and I’m sure there’s someone out there that can be that for you.”
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