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Getting hate mail and my unexpected reaction

I joined Goodreads back in early 2009, and during the time I've been a member there, I've never received any hate mail from anyone on that site. That is, until this weekend.

I guess there's a first time for everything.

On Saturday night I got a PM from a Goodreads Librarian I'd never heard of. He told me he had read the four little short stories I posted on my profile page. 

Actually they're just brief first-person accounts of my first kiss, my friendship with a straight buddy, when I got bullied and beaten up in high school because I was gay, and a little something about one time Brad and I held hands walking in the mall.

I wrote each of these little accounts back in the Fall of 2010 before Brad and I even decided to start our blog. To be honest, I wrote them just to see if I had any writing ability and also because I thought some people might enjoy reading them. It never occurred to me they might inspire anyone to spew hatred and direct it towards me. I swear I didn't write those little brief accounts to be provocative.

I don't want to reprint the entire message from this Goodreads Librarian because the whole thing was so awful. In part, this is some of what he wrote:

Your stories sicken me. Faggots like you are a blister on the face of this Earth...Go to Hell!

Like I said, there was more to it and I just printed the "milder" part.

I flagged the message, blocked this Goodreads Librarian, changed my settings so only friends could send me messages, and sent Goodreads a formal complaint. I told them this piece of hate mail was very upsetting to me and because the entire message made me feel as if a serious threat was being made, I feared for my safety. I let them know I was considering contacting an attorney as well as law enforcement. I have yet to receive anything back from Goodreads about one of their Librarians.

My reaction to getting this message really surprised me. I've been called a "faggot" before and I'm sure I'll hear it again. It's just a fact of life if you're gay and out. You're going to run into people who want to hurt you.

When somebody calls me that to my face, of course I go into defensive mode. I look around and very quickly size up the situation to see if I'm about to be attacked. I need to know whether to get ready to fight, to run the hell away, or to just smile and say, "Hi cutie. I can't believe that ugly word just came out of a pretty boy like you."

When somebody sends me something like the message I got from this Goodreads Librarian, all I can size up are the words and the name and avatar of the sender. This Goodreads Librarian has his profile setting on "Private" so I can't get more information on who he is. There was, however, a polite link I could click if I would like to add him as my friend. I politely declined and moved on.

When I first read the message, it was right in the middle of spending some time caring for Bradley. He had a very rough time emotionally this weekend and I was talking to him and reassuring him about some upsetting things he was feeling and going through.

It was hard to go from holding him, being with him while he cried, hearing about his pain, to getting a message from someone spewing his hate all over me, calling me a faggot, and wishing I would go to hell. And feeling my safety was threatened.

I didn't want to get distracted from the most important thing I was doing right then, which was helping my sweet one, so I just forwarded the message to some friends. I wanted to be there for Bradley as fully as I could and I wanted this out of my brain as much as possible. I knew I would deal with it later, but right then I didn't want to leave Bradley alone.

When I forwarded the hate mail to my friends, my entire message to them was, "I'm not a bad person."

That was the immediate, unexpected reaction I had to this awful mail. "I'm not a bad person."

The next day I had to give a lot of thought to why I had that reaction. Where did that come from?

I fully understand that I can deal better with being attacked verbally and emotionally and to some extent physically, if I know who's attacking me. I can see them with my eyes and mentally size up the situation to try and protect myself from being hurt.

But to be threatened by someone I can't see, who's hiding in the shadows, who might have been "watching" me for some time just waiting to attack me... I don't have any problem saying that scares me.

But where did, "I'm not a bad person" come from? Why did that hate mail make me say that one sentence?

If you ask me, I don't think I'm a bad person. Not at my core. I'm not perfect by a long shot and I screw up sometimes. When I say something impulsively I have to apologize and be man enough to take responsibility. And I take pride in knowng I learn from my mistakes and become a better man, someone I can live with and someone people trust and respect. But I swear to God I never set out to try and make somebody feel bad, or hurt them. I try to do the right thing, but sometimes I still make mistakes.

I would never, ever tell somebody their "stories sicken me," or call them a "faggot," or say they "are a blister on the face of the earth." I don't understand what goes on in the mind of somebody like that. And to be honest? I'm not sure I ever want to understand it. I can only handle a certain amount of human evil before it destroys me.

So, getting back to why I wrote this post. I've been thinking about it and I still can't answer the question I have for myself. Why was my reaction to the hate thrown at me, "I'm not a bad person"?

I'm going to keep thinking about it because my reaction totally surprised me. I think it's a question I have to find the answer to.

As much as I wish I hadn't gotten that hate thrown on me, maybe I can learn more about myself because of it. Who knows, maybe somewhere deep inside me I believe some of the things this Goodreads Librarian said about me. If I do, I've got some work to do.
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