“Haters Gonna Hate”

“Haters Gonna Hate”

[October 18, 2017]

Since I was a little boy I have loved monsters. At first I was afraid of them, but as I got older I began to see them as misunderstood creatures lashing out at a world that didn’t understand them. When I was struggling to come out of the closet, I empathized with monsters because I understood all to well the pain associated with being different. A lot has changed since my time in the closet. I don’t feel like a monster anymore because I have found my place in this world. I am loved and accepted for who I am and I have found my voice. A voice that I am using in order to tell my story so that people like me, who feel different, can choose to live their lives in truth.

There are people in this world, however, who would like to silence my voice, keep me trapped in the closet and like nothing more then for me to continue to feel like a monster. This past weekend, I ran a paid ad through Instagram in order to promote my book and continue to grow my audience. Up until this point, I have received nothing but encouragement concerning this project, but when I promoted my book this past weekend on Instagram everything changed. To my disappointment, I received a barrage of negative comments disparaging my efforts and attacking me personally. My book was compared to cancer and called “homosexual propaganda”. Someone else called me a degenerate. Another person told me that he would rather be injected with HIV and rat poison than ever support my efforts. Several people just responded with KYS, which I have since learned is the abbreviation for “kill yourself”. Nice. Aren’t people just great?

Now I know I shouldn’t let these negative attacks get to me. And I am not naïve. I know the internet is a haven for cowardly trolls. In the end, there was only about 20 nasty comments, compared to over 100 people who liked and responded positively to my post, but I have to admit that my feelings were really hurt. It is not easy to put your work, or yourself, out into the world and these comments played perfectly into my insecurities. I suppose, when you are a creator, there is always going to be a part of you who doesn’t believe your work is good enough and it doesn’t take much to bring those feelings bubbling to the surface. Once I acknowledged my insecurities, though, and realized these comments had more to do with the haters than they did with my work, I was able to dismiss them as the garbage that they are.

With the help of my husband Stacy, I also began to realize that these comments, though vile, were also proof that my book was sorely needed. Just the fact that these haters exist, and are unafraid to be so vocal is evidence that gay people are still being marginalized and hated only for being who they are. Though I may not be able to change the mind of my detractors, it is my hope that my book may serve as a life-line to those who are too afraid to live their lives in truth because they have internalized the hate that they have seen manifested around them. My book is a book of hope. It is a book meant to inspire courage, and to educate. It is the book that I needed when I myself was too afraid to ignore the haters in my life and I believe it is a story that needs to be told not only in spite of those haters but also because of them.

Emboldened by this new perspective, I have decided to ignore all of the hateful comments and instead focus on all the positive feedback that my book is generating. Though I have only released 12 pages of my 170-page book, I have already received much encouraging feedback. As I suspected, there are many people struggling with coming out of the closet and my message has struck a chord; some of them have begun to reach out to me. To the people who have done so, I am humbled to have been a part of your journey and hope that your contact with me has lessened your struggle.

It is for those people, and not the haters, that I wrote Justin Case and the Closet Monster. It is for those people that I continue to write my blogs every week. I know from my own personal experience that hearing gay stories can be comforting and, at times, transformative. It is because of this that I have decided to share my own story. I hope that if you are reading my blog regularly and enjoying it, that you will share it with other people you think may benefit from hearing my story.

In ending, I want to share with you one last moving story. This weekend, amidst all of the hate my Instagram ad stirred up, a young person reached out to me to say that they had fallen in love with one of the characters in my book. Wanting to show me how sincere they were, they did their own drawing of the character and posted it on their Instagram feed. With that one sweet gesture - reflecting my own voice back at me - that young person gave me everything I needed in order to defend myself. To that young fan: a giant thank-you. Armed with your drawing as my shield, I feel invincible and ready to test my mettle against the real monsters of this world.

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