True Lesbian Story: Barb Genton, ‘I’m From Syracuse, N.Y.’



Editor’s note:

Beginning today, LGBTQ Nation is proud to welcome Nathan Manske’s “I’m from Driftwood” series — a collection of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer stories from all over the world.”

Nathan Manske

“I’m from Driftwood” was first inspired after Manske watched the film Milk, based on the life of Harvey Milk, who in 1977 was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man in California to be elected to public office, and who worked tirelessly to secure passage of San Francisco’s landmark Gay Rights Ordinance.

What inspired me was Milk more so than “Milk,” Manske writes:

An image I recalled wasn’t even in the film. It was a photo of Supervisor Harvey Milk … riding on the hood of a car in a San Francisco Gay Pride march, holding a sign that reads, “I’m From Woodmere, N.Y.”

The sign was intended to show how far people came to attend the San Francisco rally, but it meant something more to me. It meant that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in every small town and every big city across America and the world.

I was thinking about that photo in between assaults on the snooze button and I responded to Harvey’s sign: ‘I’m from Driftwood.’

In 2011, Manske and the IFD team completed a 4-month, 50-state story collection tour, as well as accompanied and collected stories from the riders of AIDS/LifeCycle, the largest fundraiser in the world for HIV/AIDS prevention.

In 2010, Manske was one of The Advocate’s “Forty Under 40” for the work he’s accomplished for the LGBTQ community. I’m From Driftwood stories have been adapted for the stage, in a self-published book and have been seen and heard in podcasts and live reading events around the country.

“There are LGBTQ stories from every corner of the Earth and the importance of each story is as unique as the stories themselves,” says Manske.

We are excited to now share “I’m from Driftwood” each weekend with LGBTQ Nation’s readers.

True Lesbian Story:
Barb Genton, I’m From Syracuse, N.Y.

Barb Genton was an elementary school teacher in a small, conservative town and remained closeted for most of her career.

“I remained closeted and I dressed thinking that I was fooling a lot of people. I was very uncomfortable in that attire, and when I say that, I’m talking about dresses, skirts, pantyhose, the whole thing. I was very uncomfortable. But in order to keep my job, maintain my job, those are things we did back in the day.”

After a breast exam, sonogram, and biopsy, Barb was told she had breast cancer. She used that as an opportunity to come out and be more comfortable with who she was.

“That allowed me to be more comfortable in my skin. So I changed my attire, I changed my mannerisms, I changed my talk. On my desk were pictures of my partner, of our cats, and our home.”

Watch Barb’s story as she continues to talk about her coming out as an adult, and a humorous moment about how she kept one single outfit from her earlier days and wore it as a Halloween costume, as her former self.

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