A gay Georgia teen disowned by his family during a violent confrontation is now being helped by friends and a non-profit, and his courage has inspired people across the globe, who donated nearly $94,000 to help him.
Daniel Pierce, who media reports say is either a 19- or 20-year-old student at Georgia Highlands College, came out to his family in October. But it wasn't until Aug. 27 when he went public with a video he recorded of his family, including his step- mother and father, trying to hold a "pray away the gay" intervention that his plight gained widespread attention.
The five-minute video, posted by a friend of Pierce, shows the family berating him for "choosing" to be gay and contains profanity and troubling scenes. Pierce tells 11 Alive he recorded the incident on his phone for his safety; his aunt tells the Advocate that Pierce was punched during the altercation.
Pierce's aunt, Teri Cooper, confirmed the video's authenticity to The Advocate, explaining that she picked Daniel up on Wednesday after responding to a frantic text alerting her that his family was trying to stage an "intervention" to "pray away the gay." Cooper says when she arrived at the home, the family wouldn't let her inside, but Pierce emerged with a split lip. Cooper says that wound came from his stepmother, who punched him in the mouth during the altercation that can be overheard in the video.
Cooper says that Pierce is now staying with her and friends in Atlanta.
"I'm still trying to process everything. It's beyond crazy. So physically I'm OK, emotionally I don't know where I am," Pierce tells 11 Alive.
The video has been viewed more than 5.5 million times and has 41,000 comments. It, along with Pierce's story, has gone viral and gained media coverage across the globe. A GoFundMe campaign to collect donations for "living expenses" raised $93,765 in five days. On Monday, Pierce thanked his supporters.
Thank you to everyone from around America and all over the world for your support in the past several days. This has been a rough time for me and I never imagined that so many people would show such overwhelming compassion and generosity.
The overwhelming response prompted Pierce to discontinue the campaign and ask supporters to instead support Lost N Found Youth. That group has been working to help Pierce.
We have a team of individuals who are committed to ensuring he is safe and will have access to resources which will help him move forward with his life. He has asked his friends to discontinue the GoFundMe page and is requesting that additional donations for youth homelessness be directed to Lost-n-Found Youth so many more kids are able get the help they need.
On Sunday, the group also said that Pierce's story of a gay teen being turned away by family unfolds regularly in metro Atlanta. The group says it has assisted more than 400 LGBT youth since 2011.
Pierce may appear publicly on Friday during an open house hosted by Lost N Found. The group planned the event to update supporters on the progress of a massive Midtown building it's renovating to turn into a shelter. A press advisory lists Pierce as a tentative special guest.