Dad On TikTok Stands In For Absent Families At LGBTQ+ Weddings

Weddings are supposed to be filled with love. But for some members of the LGBTQ+ community, weddings can also be filled with heartbreak when loved ones choose not to attend.

Not wanting to see any member of the LGBTQ+ community alone on their big day, one man on TikTok has taken on the role of surrogate father. Now, he’s started a movement on social media.

Your Wedding Day

Your wedding day is one of the most special days of your life, and from immediate and extended family to close friends, it means the world to you that the people you love most are there in attendance.

A newlywed couple shares a kiss as bridal party members hold up sparklers.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba / Pexels
Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba / Pexels

So if someone close to you is unable to attend for a variety of reasons, then it’s a devastating feeling to not have them there to celebrate with you.

The LGBTQ+ Community

For people of the LGBTQ+ community, this feeling can be particularly devastating when their biological parents choose not to attend due to not accepting their sexuality. According to the Trevor Project, “only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth found their home to be LGBTQ-affirming.”

Two brides hug and share a kiss on their wedding day.
Photo Credit: Brianna Amick / Pexels
Photo Credit: Brianna Amick / Pexels

But now one dad on TikTok is starting to change that, and he’s started a movement of love and support.

Meet Dan Blevins

Dan Blevins, also known as @the_zombie_dan on TikTok, is a hairdresser from Tennessee. He’s also a dad, and fairly recently, a proud granddad. Last year, Dan went viral and has since gained national attention for the extra step he’s taken to ensure LGBTQ+ couples do not feel alone on their wedding day.

Dan reads a story about himself in a USA Today newspaper.
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / Instagram
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / Instagram

The TikTok has so far received over 62,000 views and 16,000 likes.

Family Doesn’t Just Mean Blood

“If you are a same-sex couple that’s getting married and you do not have any biological parents there to support you, please let me know,” Dan begins.

Dan during his viral TikTok where he explains that if LGBTQ+ people need support on their wedding day to let him know.
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / TikTok
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / TikTok

He then says that if he personally is not able to attend the wedding he has a large and growing network of “moms and dads that want to be part of your big day”, and that they will happily attend and be your “biggest fans”.

A Follow-Up TikTok

In a follow-up, Dan clarified that this invitation is also extended to members of the transgender community who are soon to be wed and that he welcomes straight allies who’d like to volunteer to be stand-in family members as well.

Dan during a follow-up TikTok where he thanks people for their support.
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / TikTok
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / TikTok

“On another note, holy crap!” he says. “You did the damn thing. I did not expect this kind of response out of a handful of people in my network, and it’s grown to hundreds already.”

A Heartwarming Response

Shortly after his TikTok went viral, Dan was flooded with a positive and heartwarming response from the internet community who voiced their support. From congratulatory comments to people asking how they too can be stand-in family members, the response he received was overwhelming.

A TikTok comment that says
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / TikTok
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / TikTok

“I just want parents. My birth parents turned on me because I’m trans. I think what your doing is great,” one user commented.

A Growing Movement

Dan’s movement quickly grew in popularity and with the help of his friend Otto Rae, a Facebook group was born to help spread the word.

The banner of the
Photo Credit: TikTok Stand In Families / Facebook
Photo Credit: TikTok Stand In Families / Facebook

Called “TikTok Stand In Families”, the Facebook community currently has nearly 36,000 members and is designed to connect members of the LGBTQ+ community with stand-in families. From special life events to virtual support, the group is there to help.

The Today Show

Dan even appeared on the TODAY Show and explained that he was inspired by Sarah Cunningham, founder of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Free Mom Hugs. He decided he would stand in as a surrogate dad for anyone who needed a parental figure on their wedding day.

Dan smiles at a pride parade wearing a t-shirt that says
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / Instagram
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / Instagram

“I think we tend to take our family for granted,” Blevins said. “Filling that need of a mother figure or a father figure, even if it’s virtually, means so much to a lot of people.”

His Daughter’s Wedding Day

But Dan’s decision to create this support network also stems from a very personal place.

Dan walks his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / Instagram
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / Instagram

Dan walked his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day in 2018 and said in the interview that the “thought of someone not having that parent at their wedding or in their life, it was just heartbreaking to me”.

No Signs Of Stopping

Fast forward to now, and what started as wedding day stand-ins has morphed into strangers opening their homes as a safe space and lifelong friendships. Dan and Otto are even looking for a developer to create an app to better help connect people.

Dan hugs someone during a Knoxville pride parade.
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / Instagram
Photo Credit: @the_zombie_dan / Instagram

“It has changed my life,” Blevins said on TODAY. “It’s shown me that there was so much good in the world where I really hadn’t seen that before.”