If you have seen the viral YouTube video of twenty-year-old Daniel Ashely Pierce coming out to his family, you will know just how incredibly disturbing and disgusting it is… A dark reminder that even in our world today, coming out can be one of the most awful things a young gay person experiences. I think we can all agree that our teenage years and early adulthood is a very tender time for everybody. Discovering who you are and uncovering certain truths about life and the world is incredibly sobering and often disconcerting. Bullying is a real thing – it is not simply a gas in the air, and that bullying doesn’t only happen on the schoolyard. It also happens in homes. It can come directly from the people who are supposed to be the most supportive and loving figures in your life. Yet, all it takes is this almighty “word of god” and suddenly certain people feel they can justify everything – including abusing and abandoning their own son.
Not only was young Daniel berated and shamed for being gay, he was also physically assaulted and forced to move from his parent’s home. Does this sound familiar? Unfortunately, it should. In 2012, research indicated that 40% of homeless youth served by agencies identify as LGBT. An astonishing 43% of drop-in shelter clients identify as LGBT. In addition, 86% of LGBT people report having been verbally harassed at school for their sexual orientation. So, along with the adversity these young people face for being gay, they also now face the social stigma of being homeless. It seems this “word of god” is really incredibly harmful.
It seems a common debate has risen surrounding whether or not homosexuality is a choice. I’ve blogged previously about where scientific research currently stands on this, but ultimately – I am not personally interested in justifying my homosexuality with “it wasn’t my choice.” It is unfortunate that people feel the need to step back from homosexuality instead of embracing it and being unapologetic. We can also make the strong case that identifying as Christian is a choice. Identifying as a homophobe is a choice. But it seems to me that we are completely missing the mark in this conversation. This family abused their son both physically and verbally, and we are still sitting here trying to debate whether or not homosexuality is a choice? It doesn’t matter. This family abused and abandoned their son. End of discussion.
It seems apparent to me in this situation, and in situations I’ve experienced personally, that these anti-LGBT family members actually feel as though they are doing the right thing. They feel they are “honoring the word of god,” and balking at any sense of reason in the process. I’ve heard people justify this hatred with quips like “He’s just trying to do the right thing.” Let me ask you… would we ever look at what Hitler did and think “He was just trying to do the right thing?” Would we allow for any kind of justification of this blatant anti-semitism which resulted in a genocide that killed six million Jewish people? It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned Hitler might have considered himself, what he was doing was terribly wrong. The parents depicted in this video showed blatant disregard for their son, attacking him and making him yet another young LGBT homeless person. There is no justification for this. Not even your precious bible.
After this video went viral, donations collected on the Internet to help young Daniel with living expenses amounted to over $50,000. While this is such a wonderful gesture, we have to understand that Daniel is not alone. In order for stories like Daniel’s to stop happening, many things need to change. I would encourage every gay person reading this to stop apologizing for themselves. I would like to commend Daniel for his bravery and tenacity against such horrible circumstances. And ultimately, I wish that the next time we want to dump an ice bucket on our heads, we could donate to a charity that supports homeless people, including LGBT homeless people.
To donate: http://nationalhomeless.org/issues/lgbt/
Also, you can watch the video below. It contains obscene language and violence.