Paul Blore talks I’m from Driftwood

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

I'd type a long introduction paragraph introducing Paul Blore, but you've probably already met him or at least been to one of his events. His next project "I'm From Driftwood" is approaching rapidly, so I felt its as a good time to reach out and see what else he's been doing! Little did I know, I'd get one of my most entertaining interviews to date

I'd ask you about your background but Blogger Bridget O'Loughlin took care of that in this article

Fast forward to today…

Chris: How have you changed / grown in the last 4 years?

Paul: A ton! I worked as the Executive Assistant at William Way LGBT Community Center for two and a half years. It felt like I spent so much more time there and I mean that in only the best possible way, because of how much I grew in that time. My knowledge of just about everything deepened, my network expanded almost exponentially, and I got put in contact with some of the best, most involved and most connected people that Philly has to offer. I pulled Marquise, my boyfriend, in on a handful of my projects there – events, video campaigns – and neither of us would be able to do as much as we do now without the connections that we cultivated at WWCC.

C: It seems like you're a jack of all trades Paul, can you give me the spark notes version of everything you've got your hands in these days?

P: The most consistent thing is NSFW Dance Party, which Marquise and I have been running for almost three years now (its third anniversary party is on Friday, April 17th!!!). We've hosted the party in a number of bars, all outside of the Gayborhood, but our longest-running stretch has been at Medusa Lounge and we're pretty damn happy there. There are a handful of reasons behind why we started NSFW, but for the sake of brevity, here goes: We're very social people. We have a lot of friends and know a ton of spectacular people and we wanted to create an opportunity for great people to meet other great people. That has definitely happened and our own circle of friends has expanded too. The William Way Center is all about building community… well, so is NSFW. I truly believe that. Since leaving William Way, I have stayed involved by joining the Out & Faithful Committee, helping especially with a few of their story-sharing events. Marquise and I both helped with the Center's IndiGoGo parties last July and this past February, lending the NSFW name and DJs to the line-up, but also with planning and logistics. Marquise deserves a lot of credit there; a lot of people do, actually. I am still a part of Pig Iron Theatre Company's Friend Committee, helping to put on and raise the most funds from it's annual "For the Love of Pig Iron" cabaret benefit each January. Fans of Martha Graham Cracker should be ashamed if they haven't been to one.

C: Of all the projects / events you've worked on, or are working on… which left the deepest impression?

P: I think IndiGoGo last summer. I was at WWCC when IndiGoGo first became a thing. Hat-tip to long-time activist Heshie Zinman, who had a dream of throwing a huge party, a real community-wide event that had something for everybody. Each year, each iteration of the party had its own level of success, but it never quite reached its potential… until last summer. It came into its own and became everything it was always intended to be, and it outstripped all the previous IndiGoGo parties by a huge margin. I had an incredible night, and from the looks of most people there, they did too. I was still reeling from it days later.

C: Your next big project, I'm From Driftwood, is coming up, can you tell us about it?

P: So is actually the brainchild of Nathan Manske, who grew up in a tiny town in Texas called Driftwood where he didn't know any other queer people. He thought he was the only one. The site collects stories from LGBTQ people from all over, stories that touch on every angle of life. Stories are a really powerful tool. By gathering them all in one place, I'm From Driftwood shows the queer people come from everywhere, not just the gay meccas of New York and San Fran, and that you actually aren't the only one, like Nathan believed. You aren't alone. He's gotten a ton of great feedback. Young people who helped come to terms with their sexuality after watching the stories; older people who say they wish they'd had something like it when they were younger. Marquise and I wanted to put on Philly' first major event to support IFD, and being the big gay social butterflies that we are, we thought a brunch was the perfect format. Plus, just about everybody can get behind the idea of an Open Bar – gay, straight, everyone! We threw the first Brunch last April, and we couldn't have been happier with the results, nearly selling out and everybody having a great time. We've been working hard to make this Saturday's Brunch even better. I can't wait.

C: You mentioned your BF had a big part, can you go deeper into that?

P: Yeah, IFD actually has a big part in how our relationship developed. We met downstairs in the Ruby Lounge at Voyeur on a Monday night, which already says a lot about us. First question: What's your name? Second question: What do you do? Both of us answered with our day jobs, but immediately emphasized the volunteer work we did. For me, it was Power Up Gambia; for him, it was IFD. He'd been producing the site's Video Stories since its early days, and was preparing to embark on a trip to gather stories from each of the 50 states. Marquise had me meet Nathan later that week. By the end of that meeting, I was committed to helping them raise the money to make the trip, the '50-State Story tour', a reality. I spent months helping them out before they left, and during the 4 months that they traveled. Absence makes the heart grow fonder… when Marquise got back, it didn't take long before he and I were together. Marquise does less with the videos now, but is on the board and very deeply involved. I don't know if there will ever be a time when he isn't involved. I can probably say the same for myself.

C:How long have you guys been together?

P: We celebrated 4 years in February (accidentally on the same night as IndiGoGo, as it turns out). That Voyeur meeting was nearly a year earlier.

C: Do you work together a lot?

P: Beyond everything I've already mentioned (which is a lot, right?!), we're always throwing ideas around, dreaming up the next things. Parties, fundraisers, businesses that we wish existed. And sometimes we get sick of talking about it and we make it happen instead.

C: Anything else you wanna say about I'm From Driftwood? Or anything in general?

P: IFD means a lot to me because as I've already described, it's pretty deeply woven into my personal history, but I think it can touch anyone. I think everyone could find a story on the site that could move them. Now, that's as much preaching as I intend to do… At the Brunch, nobody will be beating anybody over the head with this or that about IFD. It's really just a great time to enjoy the company of other fab people.

I'm From Driftwood 2nd Annual Spring Brunch Fundraiser
Sat, April 11, 2015
12:00pm – 5:00pm
John C. Anderson Apartments [249 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA]

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