An Outcast Teen Attacked With Slurs, Fists, Gasoline And A Match

DARNELL MOORE: At 13, I was a nerd. I took such great pride in wearing dress pants and button-up shirts, unfortunate white socks, like I was a preacher. And my grandmother would send us to the store. And I hated going to the store because I know that somewhere between my grandmom's house and the store would be somebody wanting to pick on me for some reason.

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 knew that 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. And 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. And I smelled like that for, like, 24 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.

BRYAN EPPS: Do you know where they are now?

MOORE: I don't. Actually I tried to search for the one neighbor, in particular, who poured the gasoline on me. And it's so funny, you know, in recalling a story - even while the other guys are punching me, I was only focused on him because I think I always wanted his friendship. I just never imagined that a kid who knows your name, who lives in the same neighborhood with you would want to do something like that.

I wish I could have asked why would you want to light me on fire? What did I do to make him want to do that?


Copyright © 2014 NPR.