The Mystery Surrounding “Driftwood’s” Tortured Ex-Gay Survivor

On Friday we posted the “I’m From Driftwood” video of Samuel Brinton, a young gay guy whose parents had reportedly punched, burned, electrocuted and stabbed him to make him straight. But Towleroad has reported that they covered the story back in 2010, that gay activist Wayne Besen hasn’t been able to verify the story in over a month of trying, and that one Towleroad commenter claims that Brinton’s Facebook page “has a picture of the entire happy family at his college graduation ceremony, May 31, 2011,” even though Briton’s dad reportedly threatened to shoot his son in the head if he ever came around again. Hmmm…

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  • jonjon1968

    Maybe his father saw the video and realized what a douchebag he had been.

  • Lefty

    Maybe all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream?
    Just sayin…

  • PS

    It’s pretty easy to figure this out. The Youtube video was filmed the year prior to his college graduation and his being thrown out of the house appears to have occurred his first year of college after he met the lesbian couple and (fully) came out to his parents. You can easily see how parents might “come around” for at least a major event in their kid’s life. It may not have been a full reconciliation. But, they at least came to his graduation. Now, if had been Sam getting married to a GUY, I doubt that his parents would have shown up. You can also see by the family photo that he DOES have a sister and younger brother and his parents certainly look conservative. His sister now appears to be an adult and has him on as a friend on Facebook. But, you don’t see other family photos on his Facebook, although he has many photos posted. Besides, how do you “prove” of what happened to a kid? I doubt that he took pictures of each event he was subjected to. I also doubt his parents would confirm any of this.

    If you read the comments under the graduation photo on his Facebook page, it makes it pretty clear that his friends are surprised that his parents came to the graduation.

    “What in the world made this possible? :-)”
    “I’m glad they came!”

  • dvlaries

    Remember that air balloon incident a year or two ago, the family that endangered their kids because they were hoping the publicity would get them on a reality show…?

    That kind of desparation in people didn’t go away just because they were found out, did it?

  • the crustybastard

    So a smiling family picture is all it takes to disprove child abuse?


  • lemon-lime

    I’m sorry, but even if the kid exaggerated the story a little bit, the fact of the matter is even if his story is slightly accurate he was put through an inhumane gauntlet of ex-gay torture therapy to cure him of his gayness. If that’s not enough to make someone oversell a story, I don’t know what is.

    What the hell is up with the blame the victim culture on this website, anyway?

    “Oh, well if dad only sent you to the hospital once, then you probably deserved it.” ????

  • John

    Forgive and forget? His father beat and tortured him and threatened to kill him, holding a gun to his head numerous times. Why on earth would he be ‘glad’ they came?

    He needs help, either way. That family ain’t safe to be around.

  • Little Kiwi

    surely the dude in the video is aware of the attention this story now has. maybe he’ll clarify….

  • Riker

    @John: Every heard of battered wife syndrome?

  • B

    No. 1 · jonjon1968 wrote, “Maybe his father saw the video and realized what a douchebag he had been.”

    … or realized the legal implications of what he had done and decided it would be only prudent to make amends, or maybe he didn’t want his son around because he (the father) would be embarrassed if anyone found out that his son was gay and that no longer applied once the cat was out of the bag, or maybe not showing up at the graduation would have raised even more questions that he’d have to answer.

    There are a lot of possibilities. It’s not surprising that people can’t verify Samuel’s story – the “change your therapy” people don’t let out information about their victims – I mean, clients – and particularly not about their “failures” as that is bad for business. His father is not going to admit anything given that what he allegedly did is a crime. So everyone else who knows something most likely has a good reason to keep quiet.

    While its possible that Samuel just made it all up, it is also possible (and understandable) that there is a de facto conspiracy of silence.

  • Wayne Besen

    Samuel came forward and told a story presumably in an effort to help others. There are groups like mine who would be thrilled to use his example to demonstrate the harm caused by “ex-gay” therapy. We live for real life examples like this.

    However, until he provides more information to verify his experience, he makes it impossible for us to use him as an example. Indeed, it would be grossly irresponsible for us to do so.

    If a group like mine puts out or promotes a story that turns out to be exaggerated or fake, the religious right would rake us through the coals and by extension the entire LGBT community. This would cast an ominous shadow on all of the legitimate ex-ex-gay testimonies that have helped so many people come out of the closet.

    So, for the sake of the movement he is trying to help — it is critical that Sam reveal exactly who the therapist was that tortured him. He could do this publicly or privately, but we need more information before we can use his narrative.

    We very much hope he will provide enough information so we can help people by sharing his compelling story.


    Wayne Besen
    Truth Wins Out

  • Sam Brinton


    I just wanted to say I provided an update to the New Civil Rights Movement this evening after a few days of avoiding all electronic contact. This story was extremely painful and resharing it is not a pleasant experience.

    In my remarks I mentioned that my parents did come to my graduation since I am the very first person to graduate from college in my family. I am working on building a relationship to them as well as counseling to deal with the repercussions of the therapy. My friends can verify that I was shocked they were there but so happy to see the love starting to rebuild.

    I was indirectly in contact with Wayne and although I know he wants me to send the information of the therapist that is simply not an option. Counselor after counselor has seen me revert to near suicidal tendencies when I try to dig deep into the memories of that time and I simply don’t have his name. I can picture him clear as day in my nightmares but his name is not there. The movement can’t use me I guess.

    I have no problem with people not believing my story. It is not for me to try to prove. I don’t want to be the poster-child of the anti-conversion therapy movement since graduate school at MIT is plenty tough as it is. The video you are seeing is from over a year ago and believe me when I say a lot can happen in a year. I have changed and am finding even more stability in Boston.

    I thank you for challenging the validity since blind-faith never served anyone (point-in-fact my parents) but hope you’ll understand that sometimes moving forward takes its own path which I am walking. Many of you have been finding me on Facebook and I’ll be happy to answer questions there in my own time.

    Sam Brinton

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