TRIGGER WARNING: Video contains violence and profanity.
Several days ago, a woman posted a YouTube video recorded by her friend, 19 year-old Daniel Pierce of Georgia. Daniel, a gay man, secretly recorded his family's hostile reaction to his sexual orientation, during which they disowned him, called him names, and physically abused him. The video has been making the rounds among LGBTQ and progressive websites, reminding viewers of the continuing struggles of LGBTQ youth.
At the beginning of the video, one of Daniel's female relatives claims that she loves him, then insists that he chose to be gay because God would never make someone LGBTQ.
WOMAN: Daniel, I want to tell you before I say anything else that I love you. Now I know that you're not going to believe that, but it is true.When Daniel retorts with scientific arguments showing that sexual orientation is innate, the woman replies, "Well, you go by all the scientific stuff you want to; I'm going by the word of God." She then disowns him because she doesn't want others to believe that she condones his sexual orientation.
DANIEL: Oh, I believe it.
WOMAN: And I have known that you were gay since you were a tiny little boy.
DANIEL: Then you would know at this point it's not a choice.
WOMAN: And you have made a choice --
DANIEL: I have not made a choice.
WOMAN: -- evidently from what you've told your daddy.
DANIEL: I have not made a choice. I have not made a choice. I have been, from the moment I came out of my mother's uterus, I have been that way, probably long before I came out of her uterus.
WOMAN: Now you can deny it all you want to, but I believe in the word of God, and God creates nobody that way. It's a path that you have chosen to choose. All right? You believe it the way you want to believe it because I cannot change that.
WOMAN: Since you have chosen that path, we will not support you any longer. You will need to move out and find wherever you can to live and do what you want to, because I will not let people believe that I condone what you do.From there, the argument quickly escalates, with family members accusing Daniel of admitting that sexual orientation is a choice, which he denied. Family member(s) struck him as his father called him a "disgrace" and a "damn queer".
Huffington Post shared a quote from Daniel's Facebook page (no longer available), in which he was stunned at his family's reaction.
"What a day.... i thought that waking up at 9:48 and being 15 mins late to work was going to be the biggest problem today. but i didn't know that my biggest problem was going to be getting disowned and kicked out of my home of almost twenty years. to add insult to injury my step mother punched me in the face repeatedly with my grandmother cheering her along. i am still in complete shock and disbelief."Daniel has received thousands of dollars in donations for his living expenses through a GoFundMe campaign. He has posted updates of his situation, revealing that he is seeking services at Atlanta's Lost-N-Found Youth shelter and thanking donors for their generosity.
NBC 11 Alive caught up with Daniel, who described the family gathering in the video as a "pray the gay away" intervention. He feels no ill will toward his family but admitted that "the ball is in their court" as to whether they communicate again.
If one is unmoved after watching the video, something is wrong. No family should ever abuse or disown a member for being LGBTQ. No one should ever have to endure insults, blows, or ostracism because of their sexual orientation. It breaks my heart that hatred and bigotry have displaced love in this "Christian" family.
When so many families respond to their LGBTQ children with scorn, is it any wonder why LGBTQ young people make up a disproportionate percentage of homeless youth? Is it any wonder why large percentages of homeless LGBTQ youth flee to the streets after family rejection and abuse?
Daniel's story is a reminder that religious homophobia is a virulent force that must be stopped. This family's twisted interpretation of Christianity dehumanizes people who are different, ignore science, and values public image above compassion ("I will not let people believe that I condone what you do"). Vicious encounters such as the one in the video take place every day across the world, when bigoted families respond to LGBTQ loved ones with hostility.
Homophobia and transphobia are not about defending the family, despite what the Religious Right argues, because bigotry tears families apart. LGBTQ people endure real hardship because of intolerance, and prettying up bigotry with a veneer of piety does not change its nature. Intolerance must be called out wherever it festers, or many more LGBTQ youth like Daniel will suffer.
Earlier this year, Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, penned an open letter to Pope Francis about the link between religious homophobia and homeless LGBTQ youth. (More here.) His observations about homophobic teachings come to mind when I watch Daniel's video.
"A teaching’s wisdom and efficacy must be judged in part by its outcome. The teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin has a poisonous outcome, bearing fruit in many Christian parents who abandon their LGBT children to homelessness and destitution. How could a good seed yield such a bitter harvest?
For me this tragedy has many human faces. I see Justin, whose mother, before throwing him out of his home, summoned a priest who held him to the ground and tried to drive the devil out of the 16 year old boy. Or Terry, who was sent to a Catholic religion class where the instructor set him aside as someone “possessed by demons”. When his mother threw him out, she said that she would rather he die in the streets than live in her home if he was gay. I recall Maria, whose family drove her to a forest far from her home and abandoned her, throwing her from the car, because being a lesbian made her “evil”. I think of the boy whose name I never learned whose father was so disgusted by homosexuality that he threw his son out of his home and said he would kill him and bury him in the backyard if he tried to return."
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
The Young Turks: Bigoted Family Disowns Gay Son After Horrible Failed "Intervention" (Video)
The New Civil Rights Movement: Secretly-Recorded Coming Out Video That Is Almost Every LGBT Child's Nightmare Goes Viral
Mediaite: Christian Parents’ Violent Reaction to Son Coming Out Caught on Camera