Michael Knote wants you to have a grand ol’ gay day. And he’s posting plenty of content on his Facebook page to make sure you do.
It all started in 2011 with the death of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, a high school freshman in Buffalo who committed suicide because of the constant bullying he encountered for being bisexual. Knote, who lives in Piqua, Ohio, started a memorial page on Facebook and went to Buffalo to attend the teen’s memorial service.
After Rodemeyer’s death, Knote wanted to create a safe place online that was all-inclusive and all-accepting. A place to spread positivity and share content that made people smile. With a play on the iconic 1970s “Have a Nice Day” yellow smiley face, “Have A Gay Day” was born.
His “Have A Gay Day” Facebook page now has more than 665,000 followers from all over the world.
The majority of followers on the page are under 35 years old, and more than a third are under the age of 17, Knote said. “We talk to kids as young as 10 or 11 years old.”
“What young person has not heard, ‘That’s so gay!’ as an insult? In some schools, it’s a daily occurrence,” said Amy Eldridge, executive director at Kaleidoscope Youth Center in Columbus. “Exuberantly reclaiming ‘gay’ as a positive asset is part of accepting and loving who we are, and is especially important to young people who may just be finding or looking for positive supports and sense of community in their lives.”
But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
Followers of the page have used the inbox to ask for advice on coming out, to seek refuge and – at the darkest of times – announce their plans for suicide. Knote has between 70 and 100 volunteers from all over the world answering private messages and providing support to fans who are seeking help.
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