Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Beating of Daniel Pierce

Flipping through any part of social media in the last few days will likely have resulted in seeing headlines like "How Not to React When Your Son Comes Out" or "Man Comes Out to Family, Is Cursed, Beaten & Thrown Out." Most articles go on to reiterate the headline, telling the reader that there is a man named Daniel Pierce who came out to his family, and, upon doing so, was verbally and physically abused. A person believed to be Pierce's boyfriend took partial video and full audio of the incident. It has gone viral.

I know all too well the realities of growing up in an extremely conservative household. I know all too well what it is like to try and accept your sexuality when you're spending your nights crying and begging god, between choking sobs, to wake up different. To wake up straight. I know what it's like to have your father come at you. To have your mother tell you how disgusting and against "God" your "choice" or "behavior" is.

I was sent to a Christian counselor with the hope that I would become straight. I have had hands laid on me in prayer in order to convert me. I contemplated suicide from an early age, because I had no friends and was the community outcast. Being the only obviously gay kid in a town of 585 people hundreds of miles away from any kind of metropolitan area left me pretty exposed.  Nobody knew what 'gay' was...except that it was for perverted men that probably preyed on little boys.

In fact, when I was in high school, I spent two years as a peer counselor in the national organization PALs. My mother, quite concerned about my sexual predilections, asked me very seriously if it was a good idea for me to be a mentor to those boys given that I was a sexual deviant and all.

Watching the video (below...major, major abuse trigger warning...) brought up quite a bit of emotion, as one might expect. I had actually avoided watching the video for several days, because I was sure I couldn't handle it. In the end, after watching it, I realized a few things:


  1. Tears don't always feel cold and wet. Sometimes they feel hot and sharp, like they're coming from a place littered with molten pain. 
  2. I went through a scene almost exactly like this. 
  3. I went through a scene a bit worse than this when my parents brought the sheriff over to threaten to arrest me, because they found out I was looking at gay porn, which I found out was illegal. Straight porn was perfectly okay, but gay porn... Yikes! 
  4. I survived.
  5. I have scars.
  6. I'm kind of proud of those scars in retrospect.
Things with my family, over a decade later, are still rocky. As much progress as we've made, we still have quite the chasm between us. My brother will forever be the picture of heterosexual normative behavior that every East Texas, good ol' boy, football loving, Church goin' parent could want. I will always be the liberal, overly political, overly opinionated, boisterous, ostentatious gay guy that every East Texas, good ol' boy, football loving, Church goin' parent would tell their children to stay the fuck away from. And, it's because of that dichotomy existing so immediately in our family that there are so many choices that my parents make, many without even realizing it. 

But, I don't want to bash my parents. They're good folks who have honestly come a long way. My mother the most, as she came to my wedding and embraced my husband as her son and cried tears of joy at our union. 

There is a lie that has been told online for a number of years now. It gets better. That's a lie. For many, it doesn't get better. It gets worse. It gets different. It gets separate. It gets strange. It gets lonely. It gets new. It gets angry. It doesn't always get better, but it gets real and it gets honest, and I think that's the most important thing to tell our gay youth. 

Getting honest is always better than getting better. Better is a lie. That's telling a kid that the grass is greener if you just wait. Not true. A disproportionate number of homeless people are gay youth. The statistics of abuse and neglect and downright awfulness happening to gay kids that become gay adults in those situations is staggering and heart-wrenching. 

I don't know that my life got better, but it got honest and it got happier eventually. I married the love of my life this year. I have friends that I would walk hot coals and brave bitter circumstance for. We own our own home, and I have my own personal menagerie of animal companions. I'm kind of like a Disney Princess with better hair. 

Daniel Pierce, not that you're reading this, but I hope that fate and circumstance do get better for you. I am not going to wish that your family comes around and loves you and hugs you, because when people tell me my family is going to do that I want to vomit. I have all the family I need in the pieced together tapestry of not-technically-related folks who surround me with love every single day. If my family ever feels like joining up with that, bully for them. 

I hope that you find peace and solace knowing that you're not alone. That you are brave. That your honesty will be a badge of pride and a major point of honor you can wear for the rest of your life.

I'm not sure how the woman in the video can say that she's known Daniel was gay since he was a tiny boy and then go on to state he made a choice to be gay. I don't know how his father could beat him for trying to be honest. The woman speaking says that "I love you. Now, I know you're not going to believe that..." And...I don't. I don't know about Daniel, but if loving me means beating me up, calling me a disgrace, verbally abusing me, and disowning me... Well, I guess I don't know what love is.

Before I post the video, I'd first like to draw attention to a GoFundMe campaign created to help with the living expenses of Daniel Pierce, the brave victim at the heart of this viral video. If you can even give a dollar, I'm sure that would go a long way to helping this guy get on his feet. As of this writing, the campaign has raised almost $35,000. I'm hoping that the money helps him get on his feet, get an education, and secure housing. As of right now it appears, by posted accounts in a few places online, that he is staying with a friend. This money should be able to get him on his own two feet and started in a positive direction. 

Many blessings, Daniel. May your journey be bright.

And now...the video.



Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

6 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful post, thank you for sharing. His video made me so mad, I just wanted to run in and save him. I am glad to see so many people helping. I made the mistake of reading youtube comments on the video. They never cease to make me hate the human race.

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  2. One of the times my daughter was scared by a TV show was when we watched an older HBO "for girls" historical drama series. The scene that terrified her so much we had to stop the movie was of a mother throwing her daughter out because she didn't approve of her marrying outside their religion. It took awhile but I comforted her by telling her she could love whomever she wants - woman, man, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, even a Republican (I said it to make her laugh - it worked) and she'd always be my little girl.

    Seeing the terror on my kid's face at the idea of that sort of rejection makes my heart ache for every kid that has to face it. I can't watch the video. I'd start wishing nature gave me Lucy Lawless's build again so I could punch those horrible people back. Yes, I am judging. They are horrible, despicable people. If you go into parenthood expecting your kids are there just to fill your expectations of them, you are an idiot. They grow to be their own people and it's a parent's job to nurture who they are, not who you want them to be. If you can't love them when they most need it, be there for them when the world wants to forget them, you have no fucking business being a parent. None.

    I'm sorry you ever had to face any of that.

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    1. I wholeheartedly second this comment. How utterly terrifying. Disgraceful!

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  3. Holy crap he raised over $92,000 so far and he only asked for $2,000. That's crazy!! Good for him.

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  4. Of course this is about half an hour from me...I'm not surprised at the attitude. Here if you are gay and don't talk about it or have pride in it you are seen just as a lost sinner. Have pride in it and self respect and you are a threat. I saw this yesterday couldn't watch then came back when I saw the story on my local news. One thing this isn't him comming out to a family gathering, he came out alone to the stepmother a week before. She gathered the extended family for a prayer meeting and that meeting is what we see in the video. Very chilling that once she goes on the attack the whole room follows right in, the pretext of prayer is dropped and the business of beating "the other" can really get started. I'm glad that he has found support elsewhere online and in real life. People like the attackers in the video may be the loudest from the south but they are only getting louder because they know deep down they are fighting a losing battle and on that count they are right.

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  5. Love and support u and both your podcasts. About It Gets Better...I do support the campaign and Dan Savage has done a good thing in creating it and upon seeing many videos, I can say I know it DOES get better for many many kids. Not everyone though, you are right. The disproportionate number of LGBT youth who are homeless is the reason why Dan always says for them to wait to come out if their parents are homophobic bigots and they are still living at home. He advises then to wait until they are out of the house before coming out so the parents cannot retaliate by throwing them out of the house. Bless us ALL, may we all begin/continue to practice love and tolerance. <3

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