Far too often our queerness is only discussed in three contexts: relationships, family and politics. But our queerness plays a role in our friendships with other queers, too, and that’s what this series is all about. In honor of Gal Pal Week, welcome to “Interview With My Queer BFF,” in which gals interview their best queer pals about their exciting queer paldom. And by “gal pals” we don’t mean “girlfriends” or “wives” … we mean GAL PALS.
Today, Dannielle Owens-Reid interviews her BFF, Kristin Russo, who you may know from their amazing business together, Everyone is Gay, the zine series they co-create with Autostraddle.com, the book they wrote, the writing they’ve done for Autostraddle, that time they were talent at A-Camp, and so much more!
Dannielle: How did we meet?
Dannielle: Yeah, but you guys weren’t officially dating.
Kristin: Like on the internet?
Dannielle: You weren’t officially dating even in real life. I remember that was a part of the drama. The first night we met you burned your arm on the stove and then Jenny came over and I don’t think you and I spoke again, ever again.
Dannielle: Then I tried really hard to be friends with you.
Dannielle: And you did not care.
Dannielle: Then I was like, I have a famous blog called Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Beiber and you were like…
Kristin: This isn’t true.
Dannielle: “Oh now I’m interested.”
Kristin: This is the opposite of true.
Dannielle: Then you were like, I guess, maybe since you have a famous blog I will be friends with you, I guess.
Kristin: Not true.
Dannielle: It is exactly what happened.
Kristin: I do remember finding out Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Beiber. I believe it was before anyone knew about it. Jenny was like, Dannielle has this blog, I was like LoL and I sent you a picture one time.
Dannielle: NO, NO, you had my phone number and refused to send me a picture. You sent a picture to Allison to show to me.
Kristin: Right, Well it’s fine, whatever, I didn’t know you, I didn’t know about you. What I’m trying to clarify for the record: I was not trying to get to know you because of your fame.
Kristin: I just wasn’t trying to get to know you.
Dannielle: Right, you just didn’t care about me regardless of fame.
Kristin: But then one fateful day we both went to lunch with a mutual friend of ours and her parents because they were in from London and I saw you on the side of the street and I didn’t know you were going to be there and I realized that I never used your phone number and that was kind of rude and it would be really awkward if I came up to you and never used it. So I texted you from the corner and I was like, “hey texting you now so it’s not weird in just a few minutes.” Then I showed up and was like “Hey.”
Dannielle: Then we were stuck because we both had people to hang out with an hour later in the exact area where we were so we were like, oh we have no choice but to hang out.
Dannielle: So we sat next to each other and talked about deep things, like, why people were mean to me on Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Beiber.
Dannielle: And then I was telling you about questions people were asking me. And you were like I want to answer those questions with you. I was like I want you to answer those questions with me. And then we started a website.
Kristin: We also got ice cream from the ice cream truck that’s called Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and then we loved each other.
Dannielle: Then we loved each other. The next question is, How long have we been best friends?
Kristin: That’s an interesting question because it requires for us to look at the length of our relationship and determine at what point would we consider ourselves best friends.
Dannielle: That’s a good point because at first we were two people who knew each other who answered advice questions.
Kristin: Yeah, there was definitely something brewing when we went to the Logo Awards when you won for Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Beiber.
Dannielle: Yeah, for sure. That’s when we slept in a bed together and when I woke up I said I missed you while I was sleeping.
Kristin: Yeah, that’s probably a good marker. Whenever the New Now Next awards of 2010 were… so five years.
Dannielle: That’s also when RuPaul kissed me on the cheek and you got to hang out with Wilson Cruz. So it was a very epic night for us.
Kristin: It really was, a big deal all around. It was also the same trip when you and I walked to a Starbucks because we didn’t understand Los Angeles yet. And it was before Uber.
Dannielle: Oh it was before Uber. We had to call our friend to pick us up. Yeah, oh the good old days. Next question. Why are we friends and not girlfriends?
Kristin: Oh, well no one has ever tried to kiss anybody.
Dannielle: That question is hard to answer because it’s because we don’t want to be girlfriends.
Kristin: It’s because we both find each other to be attractive but we aren’t attracted to each other.
Dannielle: Yeah like if someone said, Kristin is not pretty I would say, You’re stupid.
Dannielle: But if someone was like do you want to kiss Kristin because of how pretty she is, I would also be like you’re stupid.
Kristin: I concur my answer. Also if we were girlfriends we would not have a business.
Kristin: That’s for sure. That day when we were walking to Starbucks in Los Angeles we would have broken up and would of stopped working together. Instead we just giggled a bunch.
Dannielle: What role would I play in your wedding?
Kristin: This is good because you already know the role and I’ll get to find out.
Dannielle: In your wedding I would play one of the twelve maids of honor. How many did you have?
Kristin: We each had…
Dannielle: She’s Catholic.
Kristin: We each had five people. Five handmaids.
Dannielle: I was number two, right?
Kristin: Yeah, you were second in line after Allison Russo.
Dannielle: That was purely blood obligation, it wasn’t even favorites. What role would you play in my wedding? It’s interesting because when I think about myself having a wedding I think about myself having a giant party. I never think about having people stand in a line.
Kristin: What would you like me to do at the party? I don’t have to be in the line. I could spill something.
Dannielle: Create the playlist, I want it to be a mix of Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato and one other musical guest. Actually I’ll leave that to you, Kristin.
Kristin: Okay so Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and surprise guest.
Dannielle: Yeah, great.
Kristin: I’ll think on it.
Dannielle: Great. What is the most annoying thing about me?
Kristin: That is a good one. Let’s see, it’s hard. The word “annoying” makes me think a funny thing. It doesn’t make me think of a thing that I find a annoying. When I’m on the plane and you poke me in the ear, like silly things.
Dannielle: Yeah, right, can you think of one?
Kristin: Like a silly stupid thing that annoys me? Not really because it doesn’t really annoy me. It would just be in the category of “Oh, Dannielle’s being stupid.” I know something, but I don’t know if I feel annoyed by it. This is what’s hard. So, in the morning time, when we have an early event and we get up from the hotel and we get in the car… Dannielle doesn’t talk to anybody and doesn’t want to be spoken to at all. For the first couple of years, I was like, what’s going on? But I don’t really find it annoying, it was just I didn’t understand it, now I do, I don’t talk to you until you’ve had your coffee.
Kristin: You try.
Dannielle: I don’t know, it is very hard. Because “annoying” is like when you think of someone pestering you, you know? Like: Janet specifically chooses to scream when I’m on phone calls. That’s annoying.
Kristin: Yes. Everything I can think of that someone else might consider annoying, I consider endearing. Is that wrong? There are so many videos of us filming where Dannielle is like, “Kristin! Could you get me my drumstick? Could you grab me some water?” But I think it’s so funny.
Dannielle: Yeah. And also it’s like, “you’re already up, get the water.” So it’s annoying for you that I whine to ask for water, and it’s annoying for me that you don’t just bring me water.
Kristin: I mean when you have a point, you have a point.
Dannielle: What have you learned from our friendship?
Kristin: I know a couple of things I have learned from our friendship. I have learned to be so much more aware of my tendency to not understand something if I don’t experience it the same way. I think that you and I experience things so differently, and I feel like I understand not only about you but about other people that the way I interpret the world is not the way everyone interprets the world, and that’s a very important thing to understand.
Dannielle: Yeah, I feel like mine would be similar but the difference would be communicating around those things. I think I used to have a tendency to say, “I’m upset and you’re upset and until you figure out why I’m upset I’m going to talk to you in a way that is upsetting.” Now I understand that we’re upset for two different reasons so we have to address those two different things in two different ways. So it’s learning to navigate communication around that.
Kristin: Yeah. We’ve been really good wives to each other, I think.
Dannielle: Do you think our friendship would be different if we were straight?
Dannielle: Yeah, I think we would both be talking openly about how we’re secretly gay.
Kristin: Because Everyone Is Gay.
Dannielle: Yeah. Our whole entire lives would be different if we were straight because we wouldn’t have a business together.
Kristin: You never would have started Lesbians who look like Justin Beiber. We wouldn’t be friends.
Dannielle: We wouldn’t have met because we wouldn’t have been dating the girls who introduced us.
Kristin: Exactly. So, yes.
Dannielle: Our friendship wouldn’t exist. Okay: which one of my exes did you hate the most?
Kristin: Oh, this is not fun for you because I have two and you didn’t really know them when I was dating them. This is horrible! I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus!
Dannielle: Too late. You don’t have to use names, you can just say “the one that did this thing.”
Kristin: But what if they read it and they know they’re the one that did that?
Dannielle: Then they know they were pieces of shit. If you were like, “I didn’t like the one who pushed you in front of traffic,” that is a valid reason to not like them and if they know that they did that then they should feel pretty confident that you don’t have to like them.
Kristin: Okay, you’re right. I disliked the ex that didn’t like me the most. And not because she didn’t like me, because I didn’t know that until afterwards, but moreso because that sucked. You were so much younger and in a malleable place and I feel like her insecurities had a really lasting impact on you. That sucked because you didn’t need that and you’re a good person, you should just always be told that you’re great and wonderful and be supported and you weren’t supported in that relationship.
Dannielle: That could go for a lot of my relationships.
Kristin: Exactly. No one knows who I’m talking about.
Dannielle: Everyone is reading it and they’re like: “wait, guys, none of us like Kristin.” Okay my least favorite ex, which doesn’t mean I hate any of them, is the one that sort of unknowingly manipulated you into thinking the way that you wanted your life to be was wrong. And made it hard for you to figure out the things that you like and the things that you want, and made it harder for you to connect with different people later because you were freaked out.
Dannielle: I hope I don’t get in trouble.
Kristin: I think we did a really good job at coding our answers.
Dannielle: What was our biggest fight about?
Dannielle: The first big fight I feel was the biggest because neither of us had the tools to figure shit out. But the time when I was like, “Every time you say something isn’t going to happen, I feel shitty about it and I can’t feel like it’s going to happen.” You used to be so superstitious that if we were like, “We have a great interview this is going to be great for us!” Then you would say: “but now it’s not going to be great because we said it’s going to be great,” and I would be like: “But I want to be positive.”
Kristin: Yeah, you’re right. That was the biggest fight because that was the first time we had to navigate each other in a way that was for real. What happened was that we were at a school and it was about a dance. Our biggest fight was a dance to a Black Eyed Peas song. You said we were going to do a good job, and I was like: “don’t say that, you’ll jinx us.” That really bothered you and we didn’t even talk about it then, it was way later.
Dannielle: It was way later. Because I also wasn’t at a point in my life where I saw where something was wrong and immediately said something, which is where I am now. I either had to hold the feeling in forever and say it a year later or say it the second it happens. I remember you saying, “I have to have room to not expect the best of everything.” That was a difficult one.
Kristin: That conversation was later, I think. We’ve had that conversation in so many parts.
Dannielle: What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve seen me through?
Kristin: Can I tell you the first thing that came to my mind?
Kristin: It can’t be the most embarrassing thing, but I think of it still, every once in awhile, and it makes me die laughing?
Dannielle: Yeah? Was it like when, we were on tour, and you were in the bathroom, and we stopped somewhere… oh my god…
Kristin: And I don’t even know why, but you were like—I don’t know if we were changing in the bathrooms before an event, or like, what the hell happened, but you like, forgot your underwear in your suitcase, and you were like [in a high pitched voice] “Kristin??” [laughs] And I was like “Yeah?” and you were like [high pitch] “Come here?” And it was like, 2011, so we’d like, really only known each other for a year, and you were like [high pitch] “Can you get me a pair of underwear?” And I thought it was so funny! And I don’t know why, it’s like a memory that I have every once in awhile, I’m in a rest-stop bathroom, and I remember it, and I die laughing, because I’d be like handing you underwear over the door.
Dannielle: Oh no, I thought you were gonna say the time that we stopped in the bathroom, and we both sat on the toilet, and Siri was like “Please proceed to the route” and I was like [higher-pitched voice] “Shut up, Siri!”
Kristin: I knew when I started this story and you recognized it, that you thought I was gonna tell that one. It was also a good moment.
Dannielle: Yeah, also really good. I feel like you don’t get embarrassed. I feel like if something embarrassing does happen to you, you’re like “Well, I meant to do that.” And if you didn’t mean to do it, you’re like “Well, I presented all the things that led to that moment. So I accept it.” Like you don’t really get embarrassed.
Kristin: Yeah, I get embarrassed like about, serious things…like if we have a meeting with a bunch of people and we leave and I’m like “Did I do okay?” But it’s insecurity more than embarrassment.
Dannielle: Yeah I feel like the most embarrassing things that we’ve been through together would be like, being represented by someone who didn’t understand us, and we’d go to a meeting and they’d talk about us and we’d be like, “That’s embarrassing, because you don’t know what we do.”
Kristin: Yeah, and then other every thing that would be considered embarrassing to other people, I feel like we love, so when we’re lip-synching in front of like, 8 billion people who are staring at us, we’re be like “Yeeeaaahhh!”
Dannielle: Yeah, you’re right. So how’s anybody supposed to know about embarrassing. Can you think of anything embarrassing?
Kristin: No, I mean god, probably if I thought about it for awhile, but I can’t think of anything off the top of my head where we’ve been “ohhh, shit.” I mean, even the two stories we told were like bathroom stories, I mean no one was embarrassed, we just thought it was like, really funny. I don’t know! I feel like in three hours something will pop into my head, but no, for now, I don’t remember being embarrassed.
Dannielle: I don’t either.
Kristin: But if one of us forwarded an email to the other that said something shitty, that’d be embarrassing, but I don’t think that’s ever happened.
Dannielle: Right. I don’t think so either. The other day you were responding to someone, and the email only said “Hi Laura!” And it was a response to something and then I was like, “Did she…?” What WAS that? I want to see if I can find it now.
Kristin: Oh, god, it made me laugh so hard when it sent, I was like “No!”
Dannielle: Yeah, I feel like I never saw the follow-up email. Yeah, because it was for your PBS thing so I wouldn’t have been on it anyway. I just have an email that’s like this long, pretty well written email about someone who really wants to work for you, and is excited about everything we do, and it’s got a resume and a cover letter, and and Kristin’s response is “Hi Laura!!” with two exclamation points and I never saw another email ever again.
Kristin: Oh!! Also I thought of something, this is super serious. I thought of something that we saw each other through. But when we were working for Cosmopolitan, um, we wrote that article that was like “Why Being a Lesbian is Great” and neither one of us really wanted to write it, and I don’t know why we did it but we did, and we didn’t do a good job, and we offended a bunch of people, and it was more than just embarrassing, but I would consider embarrassment one of the emotions that we had?
Dannielle: Oh, yeah.
Kristin: And I remember sitting and talking to you for like, hours about it, like working through our feelings of knowing that we had messed up, but also feeling really upset and angry, and just like, all of that?
Kristin: So that was like a big thing that I think we really helped each other with.
Dannielle: Yeah, that’s true. What, uh…that was the last question, and that is…ugh, not a fun question to end on.
Kristin: Okay, let’s do a bonus question.
Julia Nunes: How do you describe each other to a brand new person? Are you like, “Kristin, my business partner, she’s…”
Dannielle: How do we describe each other to a brand-new person? This is the additional bonus question. Presented by Julia Nunes.
Kristin: Um, I think was I usually say is something like, Danielle, who I work with, I run “Everyone is Gay” with her for five years, she’s super hilarious… I always say that you’re really funny and you’re really smart, those are usually like, two of my top descriptors?
Dannielle: Yeah. Here’s the honest-to-god question answer situation, is that, if I’m ever talking about you to someone who doesn’t know you, they still know who you are. So I’ll be like “Kristin, my business partner,” and they’ll be like “Oh yeah!” So I don’t think I’ve described you to someone in like, at least four and a half years.
Kristin: Okay, well you have to do it. You’ve just met a person and they’ve never seen the internet.
Dannielle: Then I would be like, “Kristin, my business partner…” I would definitely say you’re smarter than me, I feel like I’ve said that a couple times, “she’s smarter than me…” and I think now usually when I talk about you I talk about First Person, because I talk about where it started, and where it has ended up, and how you’ve put in so much work and how it’s the perfect job for you, and exactly what you want to be doing? So I end up talking about you and what you want to be doing with your life, rather, than just being like “Kristin. Brown hair, blue eyes, funny!”
Kristin: “Loves Italian Ice.”
Dannielle: Loves Italian Ice!
Kristin: How would you write a personal ad for me?
Dannielle: I would say “Must Love Meditation!” with an emoji with heart eyes, and then it would say like, “looking for love—but not your typical story! Want someone fun who loves to travel but needs a good snuggling at the end of the night! I love yoga, eating healthy, meditation, and being one with nature. Call if you have any questions! 9-11.”
Kristin: My personal ad for you would be like, “LOL! I love vegetables so much! My cat’s name is Janet. I love like, to go outside, but not sit directly in the sun.”
Dannielle: That’s really good. That is probably the personal ad I would write for myself.
Kristin: Well that was a much better note to end on.
Dannielle: Yeah, it really was. Cool. Thanks for NOTHING. No I’m just kidding. Cool!