Saturday’s intermittent showers did not stop the crowd from enjoying enticing barbecue and drinks while supporting I’m From Driftwood at its third annual and most successful Rooftop BBQ Fundraiser. This year’s event was held in the rooftop area off the downtown art space Casa de Castro, giving the 130 guests an unusual view of New York’s cityscape. There was a raffle and silent auction with prizes like a Boy Toy bundle, Comic Con tickets, and a food and wine tasting.
Casa de Castro’s open rooftop space and intimate indoor gallery had a friendly vibe. The event attracted a wide array guests from across the country. Each was identified by hometown or city, sporting “I’m from…” nametags, from places like Morristown, NJ to Chicago, IL to Driftwood, TX.
Some of the guests gathered under umbrellas around a long wooden picnic table topped with a red and white-checkered cloth and floral arrangements in cowboy boots. Drinks provided by El Dorado Rum, Brooklyn Brewery and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, complete with fruit juice mixers were refreshing on the muggy Saturday. Chef Andy Baraghani’s delicious offerings evoked summertime – marinated grilled chicken, yellow corn with seasoned topping, fatty pork belly and a colorful vegetarian barley salad. The food was in keeping with both the Texas-inspired theme and the name of the charity.
The BBQ fundraising event recalled memories of summer gatherings with family and friends, underscoring the mission of I’m From Driftwood: to bring together different voices to build community. The charity, founded by the Driftwood native Nathan Manske, collects narratives from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities and shares them on its website. Its goal is to promote understanding among different people and to encourage empathy, acceptance and belonging.
After gathering video stories, mostly from New York City and Philadelphia, Nathan Manske said he “realized that the whole point of IFD is to let kids in smaller towns realize they’re not alone” and that “LGBT people aren’t just in the big cities; we’re from all over, from the smallest towns to the suburbs to the biggest cities.” That realization inspired a four-month 50-state tour in 2010 to record personal narratives like coming-out and love stories. Nick Manske, who was introduced by the founder as his “straight brother,” is fully supportive of his sibling’s efforts. “It is silly he needs to have a website,” he said. “It should be universal and accepted.”
Ari Waldman, an IDF board member and law professor who does work on internet privacy, gay rights and cyber bullying, says the stories collected by I’m From Driftwood help “increase self esteem, lower coming-out age, and reduce the negative effects of harassment and bullying.”
This online archive of about 900 stories provides an accessible network as well as giving strength to the LGBTQ community and to its many allies.