I'm From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit archive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer stories. New stories are posted on the site every Wednesday.
When Joseph Barden was in high school, he had a life-changing experience. As a freshman, he became friends with some upper-classmen and was sitting with them at the lunch table. When an openly gay student walked by, Joseph had an experience that changed him forever:
I said, "Oh my god! He's just so disgusting!" And my friend Johnetta looked at me and she said, "What did you say?" And I said, "He's so disgusting. The way he acts. The way he just prances. It's just uncalled for." And she looked at me and she said, "Wow, Joseph. I thought you were better than that."
The comment resonated with Joseph and changed his entire outlook. He realized he was making fun of gay people to create an illusion for others that he himself wasn't gay. His friend speaking up caused a permanent change in Joseph from that day forward:
Later on, after I reflected on what Johnetta said to me, I figured out that I don't need to do that. I promised myself from that point on that I wouldn't make fun of anybody for being gay as a way of trying to hide who I am and trying to cover who I really am.
For more stories, visit I'm From Driftwood, the LGBTQ Story Archive.