How “I’m From Driftwood” raises visibility and advances the movement
By Adam Polaski
If visibility is the key to working toward LGBT equality, it’s essential for all Americans to understand that non-heterosexual people live in every state, every city and every community. Advancing that understanding is the goal of “I’m From Driftwood,” a website that shares stories and perspectives from LGBTQ people from around the world. The website, only a year and a half old, currently features over 500 stories from 30 different countries.
Three months ago, the website’s founder, Nathan Manske, along with videographer Marquise Lee and Manske’s brother Nick, embarked on a cross-country tour of all 50 states. While most of the content on “I’m From Driftwood” is user-submitted, the tour was designed to produce video and audio content to share as many reflections as possible and advance the mission of the project.
The 50-state tour exposes steps that gay rights advocates are taking from every part of the country, shattering the myth perpetrated by the mainstream media that progressive activism is isolated to Los Angeles and New York City.
In fact, Manske said that his travels have taught him much about the ideological makeup of the country and proved wrong many of his pre-conceived stereotypes (Listen). He’s heard from a gay man in North Dakota who essentially sacrificed his job by writing an editorial about the failure of a bill to ensure job security for sexual minorities. He’s spoken with a Nebraskan woman whose 4-year-old son came out as transgender. But he’s also met with members of a youth group in Los Angeles who were quick to explain that just because they live in an urban setting doesn’t mean they don’t face discrimination.
Manske explained, “Where you are doesn’t necessarily mean how easy or not easy it is to be LGBT. This project is teaching me to not judge people based on where they live—whether it’s a red state or a blue state.”
“Society is starting to change,” he said. “People are realizing they can make a difference where they are. They don’t have to go somewhere where it’s more comfortable. Some of the most inspiring stories [in “I’m From Driftwood”] have come from traditionally conservative areas, where people don’t leave their community because they’re gay, but rather, they stay there because that’s what’s making a difference.”
>>> Read more about LGBT in the Red States in Buzzsaw.
(Music in multimedia presentation and audio story of Nathan Manske used with permission from Mark Sylvester)