Posted by Curt on 1 September, 2014 at 12:33 pm. 11 comments already!


Chad Felix Greene:

Daniel Ashley Pierce became a viral gay hero this week when a video he secretly recorded was picked up by the gay magazine The Advocate and titled “WATCH: ‘Christian’ Family’s Terrifying Response to Son Coming Out”.  The article opens with this ominous description: “A 19-year-old gay man is safe and staying with a family friend in Atlanta, Georgia, after suffering physical and verbal abuse at the hands of his stepmother, father, and grandparents when he told them he was gay.”  The article goes on to say the video provides a “…chilling first-hand look at the violence and rejection that can result when parents don’t accept their child’s sexual orientation.”

This narrative, naturally, plays directly into the popular myth of an oppressive and exclusive Christian intolerance for gay family members.  As the fable goes, the heartless and cruel family gang up to give the gay child one last chance to repent before they disown him forever. As The Advocate implies, this is common and the likely reason for so many gay homeless youth in the country. This story is amplified due to the nature of the encounter which Pierce states was an intervention to attempt to convince him to undergo ex-gay therapy.  As one commenter on the article put it “This sounds like a typical coming out in a Christian fundamentalist family.  And it is NOT shocking they all have Southern accents!” liked 136 times.

The story was further picked up by BBC News and Pierce was interviewed by CNN. The CNN transcript begins with: Grandmother: “You have made a choice.” and the father saying “You’re a disgrace.” Pierce objects demanding he has been gay “…from the moment I come out of my mother’s uterus.  I have been that way.” The CNN Dr.  Drew interview quotes a man named Schacher involved in the discussion describing the video as such: “Oh, Dr.  Drew, it made me skin crawl. It made me nauseous. So, yes, at the end of the video it started to get heated and the teenager — he remained poised and calm and continued to say it`s not a choice. This is who I am. And then one person started to beat him and then another person you hear kind of cheering on the beating and he`s saying, stop it, stop it,…”

The video is available at The Advocate and it is largely audio. Pierce seems to have turned it on at the beginning of the conversation. His family is surrounding him and his grandmother begins, not by condemning but by saying “First I want to say that I love you.” She confirms she has known he was gay since he was a small boy, but nevertheless her faith states he has a choice in how he lives his life. He responds by repeatedly and smugly dismissing her statements arguing he has taken a biology class and it has been confirmed by “scientific studies” that personality is developed within the first 6 weeks and there is nothing one can do to change that. The grandmother contends that G-d’s word says otherwise to which he arrogantly replies: “Well scientific studies trump G-d’s word.”

The grandmother then firmly states that if he chooses to continue on as he has he is no longer welcome to live in her house. He states he will move out in a few days by midnight and asks his mother in an obviously sarcastic way if he can live in her basement. She apparently indicates no as he responds “well that isn’t very motherly.” The conversation escalates quickly when his stepmother challenges him on previous conversations he had on the topic with her to which he immediately begins shouting, cursing and physically moves towards her. He then engages in aggressive name-calling and what is viewed in shaky physical confrontation in which several other family members attempt to break up the mutual attack.

There are several important components to point out, discussed in this post asking questions about the encounter as well as confirmed by the BBC article, that help shed light on this event.  First, his age straddles 19 to 20, but ‘teen’ sounds better for the story. He did not ‘come out’ at this taping and the confrontation was not the result of the family’s reaction to the news. He had been open with his family for almost a year and the original coming out went without incident. In fact, the BBC reports his family was ‘supportive’ and his stepmother responded ‘positively.’ He was in a long-term relationship which he proudly displayed on his own social media. In the Dr.  Drew CNN transcript it is stated that Pierce’s father was feeling shamed due to his son posting ‘bad things’ about him online but does not go into detail.

The Advocate, the BBC and CNN take the opportunity to divert the scenario’s details towards supporting the discussion of LGBT suicides and runaways and spend most of their words detailing generalities of why it is wrong to be abusive towards gay teenagers. The problem, it seems, is that this story just doesn’t fit that desired outcome. The narrative is that Pierce, like this assumed mass of other LGBT teenagers, was kicked out into the cold just because he was gay.  Ironically the video evidence tells a different story.

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