This week, a video went viral of 20-year-old Daniel Ashley Pierce experiencing an intervention of sorts by his Georgia-based family, who disapprove of his being gay. In the video, his family blatantly tell them that because of his “choice,” they can no longer provide him with any support and that he is no longer welcome at home. Individuals across the internet have rallied behind Pierce, raising over $50,000 in living expenses to compensate for the support his family will no longer provide.
In a note posted on the fundraising page Thursday, Pierce extended his gratitude to those who lent their support. “I didn’t realize that this was even set up for me!” he wrote. “I don’t even know how to thank y’all! I wish I could give each and everyone of you a huge hug!”
Many of the nearly 2,000 donors left supportive comments along with their donation:
- “God loves you, just as you are.”
- “The best thing you can do is make a break and surround yourself by a new ‘chosen’ family of friends that love and support you.”
- “You should be proud of yourself for standing your grand and being proud of the WAY YOU WERE BORN.”
- “You are not alone in the world — there are many good people watching out for you.”
- “You are a precious, brave person, Daniel. I’m so sorry your family can’t see that. But know that millions of us out here love and support you and others who bravely own their truth.”
Pierce’s family’s comments and actions in the video reflect many conservative talking points used to oppose LGBT equality. The opening comment, “I want to tell you before I say anything else that I love you,” reflects the “love the sinner, hate the sin” mentality promoted in many conservative faith traditions. “You have made a choice” and “God creates nobody that way” reflect the notion that sexual orientation can be changed or defined only as behaviors. In fact, his family blatantly rejected all of the available information about sexuality, saying, “You go by all the scientific stuff you want to; I’m going to go by the word of God,” and, “You know you wasn’t born that way.” Another family member adds at one point, “I have a lot of friends that are gay, but they’re friends; they’re not related to me.” They told him that the only way he could stay connected to them was to try to pray the gay away through ex-gay therapy.
Watch the troubling video:
Pierce told the Huffington Post that his family have not contacted the media, but have informed him that they want the video removed from YouTube. He is currently living with supportive friends.