StandUp, which works to “create unity on campus,” held National Stand Up Against Bullying Day in the Student Activities Center auditorium on Thursday, Nov. 14 in honor of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation’s StandUp Day.
Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, co-founders of Everyone is Gay, delivered the lecture hosted by Stony Brook’s StandUp Charter. One of the messages they shared with students was, “If we can be nice to each other, we can get to a place where we can understand each other that much more.”
The lecture was StandUp’s third annual StandUp Day event on campus. StandUp president Olivia Sanchez said that the club decided to team up with Everyone is Gay for this year’s event because “their mission aligns with our club’s mission statement.”
Everyone is Gay, an organization founded in 2010, “promotes peer advocacy and provides resources and outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth,” according to its Tumblr page. The lecture was one of the many talks they give at middle schools, high schools and universities against bullying within the LGBTQ community.
Students and staff nearly filled the SAC auditorium. Attendees were given information sheets, later referred to as “gay sheets,” with volunteering information, background on the presentation, bullying statistics and the organization’s online information.
The projector screen displayed a white “everyone is gay” logo onto a black background as music by Demi Lovato played until the event opened at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Russo and Owens-Reid opened their segment with a dance to the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.” Each founder stood on opposite sides of the stage and delivered a presentation that included lip-synching, hula-hooping and stand-up comedy, engaging students and staff in the audience as they shared their messages against bullying.
Owens-Reid shared the Everyone is Gay website, which addresses questions from users who range between ages 13 to 24. The founders shared that “the majority of these users are members of the LGBTQ community.”
“We’re not social workers. We’re not doctors. We use everyday experiences to answer questions on our website,” Russo said.
Russo and Owens-Reid focused their presentation on the “six things you can do to change the world,” which included steps like “don’t be a b**** on the Internet” and “volunteer like a boss.” The women expanded on examples through acting, photographs and stories to portray how students can do the “six things” to make a change, both on campus here at Stony Brook and in daily life.
After questions from the audience, Russo and Owens-Reid greeted students at the merchandise table outside of the auditorium where shirts, safe space stickers, hats and buttons with phrases such as “Like who you are. Love your life,” were sold.
Sanchez said that the most important message SBU StandUp wants to spread about equality on campus is, “if everybody does be kind it could make a big difference,” and to “treat people like humans.”