A viral TikTok video offering stand-in families to same-sex couples on their wedding day has sparked the creation of an international LGBTQ Facebook group: TikTok Stand in Families.
The 30-second video, which Daniel Blevins, a hairdresser in Tennessee, posted to TikTok in January, has over 62,000 views and 16,000 likes. In his heartfelt message, Blevins looks into the camera and tells same-sex couples who “do not have biological parents there to support you” to contact him.
“If I’m not able to attend your wedding, I have friends that will,” Blevins says in the 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.”
Blevins and his friend Rae Otto — whom he met on TikTok a year ago and has still never met in person — co-founded TikTok Stand in Families in February with a goal of connecting 1,000 people in need of stand-in support during major life events, such as weddings, birthdays and graduations.
In less than 10 months, the private Facebook group has welcomed over 30,000 members from 60 countries, with new members joining every day, Blevins said. At least two newlywed couples have found stand-in 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 seeking friends, family and overall support.
“Many of our members text or talk to each other when they need someone,” he 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 the 2021 Trevor Project National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, more than 80 percent of LGBTQ youths said Covid-19 had made their living situations more stressful — and only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youths found their homes to be LGBTQ-affirming. In addition, 70 percent of LGBTQ youths said their mental health was “poor” most of the time or always during Covid-19.
Blevins shared how the safe haven has also helped people evade domestic violence and aided people experiencing homelessness. He shared an instance in which members helped a group member escape a domestic violence situation.
“They actually got them from the Midwest to the East Coast safely,” he said. “I’m in contact with them a couple times a week, and they are doing amazing. That was all because of the group.”
Members of the group have also opened their homes during major holidays. By simply sharing their cities and states on the page, Blevins said, people who don’t have families or are estranged from their families are able to connect with nearby members and join them for home-cooked meals or activities.
“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.”