When Darnell Moore (R) was a teenager in Camden, New Jersey, he didn’t know he was gay, but he did know he was an outcast.
It was the late 1980s and Darnell was a mild-mannered A-student in a city where kids were expected to be tough.
He told his longtime friend Bryan Epps (L) about growing up in his neighborhood–and about an incident that shaped his youth.
Click here for the transcript.
So at the time I was coming from the store. It was broad daylight, and I see a group of boys walking towards me and I, I knew something was going to happen. As they approached me they called me names faggot, sissy, and they had a milk carton. I didn't know what it was filled with but it spilled a bit. It was gasoline.
My next-door neighbor was one of the young men. And he emptied the gasoline on me. I recall him attempting to light a match and it just wouldn't light. That happened about three times. And by the time he tried to light the match again my aunt had came outside.
I just remember my aunt dragging me to the local hospital with gasoline in my eyes. The gasoline just stank so bad and I smelled like that for twenty-four hours.
I was never really angry. I just was embarrassed. You know I was picked on in front of teachers in front of adults on streets so I was used to it. And I don't know why it took me until adulthood to actually get in my head that that was literally somebody trying to end my life.
BE: Do you know where they are now?
DM: I don't. Actually I tried to search for the one neighbor who poured the gasoline on me. And it's so funny, in recalling the story, even while the other guys were punching me, I was only focused on him because I think I always wanted his friendship. I just never imagined that a kid that knows your name who lives in the same neighborhood as you would want to do something like that.
I wish I could have asked, 'Why'd you do that? Why would you want to light me on fire? What did I do to him to make him want to do that?