By the time Joseph Barden began his freshman year in high school, he not only knew that he was gay, he also knew how to cover up that fact about himself.
One day, while Joseph was sitting with a group of upper classmen girls he had recently befriended, an openly gay student came by. “David was very flamboyant to put it mildly,” says Joseph.
And when David left, Joseph let loose on a homophobic rant that was not well received by his new friends:
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“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.”
Upon reflection, Joseph realized that the casual homophobia he had been cultivating was “not cool” and wasn’t necessary “to have friends or to maintain friends.”
Drawing on his own personal experiences, Joseph says “it makes you realize that often times the people that are the most virulently homophobic are the ones that are trying to hide something about themselves.”
This is Joseph’s true LGBTQ story:
“I’m from Driftwood,” a collection of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer stories from all over the world,” appears weekends on LGBTQ Nation. For more true LGBT stories, or to share your own, visit “I’m from Driftwood.”