From Monday, February 6, to Friday February 10, I’m From Driftwood (IFD) ran their first ever Community Spotlight, highlighting nine stories from black LGBTQ people. If you are a regular reader, you are by now familiar with IFD, from their now completed 50-state tour, their coverage from the AIDS/LifeCycle, and even a horrifying tale of ex-gay “therapy,” in which a young man was subjected to torture in hopes of forcing him to become heterosexual. Their latest project, the Black Community Spotlight, not only kicked off with packed screening events in Philadelphia and New York, but quickly won praise from The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
In a blog post, GLAAD recognized the project, stating “GLAAD commends I’m From Driftwood for elevating the stories of LGBT people of color. We encourage other media outlets to follow in their example.”
One striking video comes from Laverne Cox in Mobile, Alabama. When Nathan Manske started I’m From Driftwood to collect true LGBTQ stories form all over, he created a living video and text archive to show that no matter where we are, we are never alone. A recent Gallup poll showed Alabama to be the fourth most conservative state in the U.S. One can only imagine that a story from a black trans woman, in a state whose history has long been marred by racism, segregation, and homo- and transphobia, is exactly what Nathan had in mind to show that no corner of our country is without LGBTQ people who are not just surviving, but thriving, and bettering their families and communities.
Then there’s self proclaimed “flaming sissy” Tyrone Smith, who opened his video with this: “I’m an openly, affirming African American gay man, who happens to be 70 years old in the year two thousand twelve. Ain’t that fierce?” Yes sir, it certainly is.
Finally, I can’t resist sharing this touching video from my friend and fellow William Way Community Center board member, Amber Hikes. However, don’t stop with these. Check out all nine stories in the Black Community Spotlight, and stay tuned throughout the year as IFD adds more stories and especially more Community Spotlights.
J. Rudy Flesher, a Philadelphia based actor and author, holds a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from The College of New Jersey, and is an award-winning feminist scholar. Ze blogs here and at The Pistol in Bed Thirteen, works with PhinLi Bookings to connect LGBTQ and sex positive talent with audiences, and is currently writing hir first book, an essay collection on the daily experiences of a genderqueer life.
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