The Georgia teenager who filmed his family's violent reaction to his coming out — then raised nearly $100,000 through a crowdfunding campaign set up by his boyfriend — is using his notoriety to help other LGBT youth in the same situation.
Last month, 19-year-old Daniel Pierce used his cellphone camera to record what he says was an "intervention" to "pray away the gay" staged by his father, stepmother, and grandparents. Pierce said he had already come out to his family nearly a year prior, but when he disagreed with them about undergoing so-called reparative therapy to change his sexual orientation, the confrontation turned violent. Although the video does not offer clear views of anyone's faces, it captures the disturbing antigay slurs and physical attacks Pierce's family engage in after he stands firm in believing his sexual orientation is unchangeable. As of press time, the video had nearly 6 million views on YouTube.
On September 2, Pierce posted an update to his GoFundMe page, asking supporters to stop donating to him, and instead direct their contributions to an Atlanta-based LGBT homeless shelter called Lost N' Found Youth.
"It’s important for all of you to know that right now, what I need most is time to think and work through the next steps in my life," wrote Pierce. "I have been working closely with Atlanta-based Lost-n-Found Youth to help figure out what’s next for me. Right now, I’m safe and definitely feel your love all around me. Thank you!"
Since Pierce began directing donations to the organization, which seeks safety and shelter for Atlanta's LGBTQ youth, the organization has raised more than $21,000, its director tells The Advocate. Lost N' Found Youth is the only nonprofit dedicated to getting LGBT youth off Atlanta's streets, and is largely staffed and funded by volunteers. Donations can be made online here.
On Friday, Lost N' Found Youth hosted a community event with its board of directors and Pierce as a special guest, to introduce its supporters to the dilapidated Victorian building that will soon be renovated to become an 18-bed transitional housing center for LGBT youth. The long-abandoned, 6,000-square-foot building was rented to the LGBT organization by St. Mark's United Methodist Church — with a 20-year lease agreement, asking for $1 per year in rent.
In order to complete its renovation of the historic building and run the facility for two years, Lost N' Found Youth's communication director Paul Skrbec tells The Advocate the group is hoping to raise $1 million. The renovation itself is expected to cost $500,000, while operating costs are anticipated to reach between $250,000 and $500,000 for the first two years.
In addition to the donations streaming in through Pierce's direction, Lost N' Found Youth also launched a brick campaign to raise funds for the new facility at Friday's event. Supporters wanting to donate can purchase a brick at the new facility for $125 or $250, depending on the size of the brick. The campaign hopes to sell 2,000 bricks, which would provide $200,000 toward the capital campaign's $1 million goal. Find more information about that campaign here.
Take a look at Lost N' Found Youth's future home in Atlanta news station WGCL-TV's report below.