The image is iconic: A jubilant Harvey Milk perches on the roof of a car as he leads hundreds of marchers at the 1978 San Francisco Pride Parade. In one hand, he hoists a homemade sign scribbled with the words "I'm From Woodmere N.Y."
The photo threw Nathan Manske into aha-moment bliss when he saw it for the first time. The Driftwood, Texas-born, Brooklyn-based advertising grad was surprised to learn Milk originated from an obscure part of New York, and he felt that sharing the gay legend's small-town origins could "send a comfortable message to gay youth that there are people all over the world just like [us]."
In March of 2009, he launched imfromdriftwood.com, a website that allows readers to submit written stories about their gay-life experiences. That summer, with Philly videographer Marquise Lee in tow, he began traveling between New York and Philadelphia to capture some of the tales on film.
Now, nearly 200 videos deep, Manske is compiling footage in his Community Spotlight Initiative, an every-three-months series that focuses on particular groups in the LGBTQ community. The first, highlighting gay African-Americans, premieres in Philly with four 4- to 5-minute screenings featuring locals like The Attic Youth Center's Shara Dae Howard and HIV advocate Tyrone Smith.
Manske touts the wide range of topics that turn up in the Philadelphia stories — from racial inequality to a jollier tale about being a gay athlete. "We want to put on display the full aspect of our lives," he says. "It shows the world who we are as a community."
Thu., Feb. 2, 6-9 p.m., $10 suggested donation, William Way Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., 215-732-2220, imfromdriftwood.com.