Monday, February 3, 2014

The trauma of cyberbullying

Guys, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I've been struggling as a blogger. I've been erratic in my responses to comments--hyper sensitive and strange. Very defensive. I've also felt afraid to post. I avoid coming here. It fills me with anxiety.  I feel fear posting even the most innocuous of posts.

I realized yesterday what is actually going on, like a photograph coming into sharp focus.

I'm having a trauma response to something horrible that happened a couple of months ago. I'll tell you more about it below.


Trauma is an interesting thing. Our bodies and minds respond very purposefully to it. Even when we don't want them to, sometimes our bodies and minds try to protect us from things that it finds dangerous. They want to protect us from things that have caused pain, or things that we feel threaten us in some way. Our bodies and minds are miraculous that way.

I absolutely, 100% love this blog. I have loved it from the day of its inception--back in 2010 when it was about me coming to grips with my Inattentive ADHD--but I didn't truly fall in love with it until about ten months in when, on a whim, I decided to start writing humor posts.

A whole world opened up to me then. It was magical. I could let my internal voice shine through. I felt like I was sharing a huge, hilarious joke with the world, and that we were all laughing together like good friends.

My blog started getting dangerous for me when it exploded all over the entire Internet and people started coming here and saying truly caustic things about me and my family. Viral posts are often an accident, and they have a very traumatic feel to them--one day your life is one way, and the next, everything is different and the Whole World is watching you. It's freaking scary.

At that point, I wrote a quick, panicked email to one of my blogging heroes, Jenny Lawson, asking her if I should do anything but "enjoy the ride." She is very, very popular, and I didn't expect to get a reply back, but--being the awesome person she is--she did respond with a short, helpful email (warning: she swears):

Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.  Also, know that with viral comes
mean comments so be prepared for assholes and either delete them or don't
let them get to you.  You deserve all the success that comes to you.  :)

I tried to take her advice, and I got better and better at this--deleting or not letting it get to me--over time. It's very difficult, actually, especially when the majority of your serious writing has to do with the absolute most sacred, personal, vulnerable parts of your entire soul. To have people take a figurative dump on your figurative heart is pretty awful. To know how to manage it all is pretty awful. To have people you respect and admire attack you for things you write is pretty awful--much more awful than the random people who, in my imagination, relish in the ability to anonymously cut and claw and hurt and then go on with their day as if nothing has happened. 

But you get better at it. You deal. You put up comment moderation. You get used to deleting a-hole comments. You view your blog as your private home, and you decide who you will let air their dirty laundry and who you won't. You cut your teeth, and then it becomes second nature. You start to feel like things are okay. That things are safe, even though rude people still come out of the woodwork. You can brush them off. Water off a duck's back. There are so many more people out there who support you and love you. You start to feel like this vulnerability--this type of constant openness--might be okay after all.

And then someone gets on your blog's Facebook page and actually threatens your family.

Suddenly all the trauma you have felt up to this point is compounded brutally, and you want to call the whole thing off.

It was right around Thanksgiving. The first message this guy sent me was on my personal Facebook page. Between counseling sessions, my phone showed his message saying, among other things, that he hated me and he hoped everything I loved would turn to ash. I felt flushed with rage that he would make such a comment on my personal Facebook page. When I had the chance, I got on, took a deep breath, and got in touch with my empathy. I would not return fire with fire. I dug deep, said I was sorry for whatever had happened to him that made him hurt--because it is usually a hurt person who does the hurting, usually the bullied that become the bullies--and asked him to not message me again.

His next message said horrible things about my wife and children. I blocked him.

Then he went to my blog's Facebook page where I am not able to block him. He continued messaging me. I continued responding with kindness, hoping I could get him to stop by becoming more human to him. I realize now this was probably a mistake, but I wanted it to end, and the times I tried not responding, he escalated. I felt powerless.

Then it got really bad. 

I work with trauma victims every day. Trauma is a strange beast. It evokes shame and it makes us act in ways we normally wouldn't. Because the trauma of the experience I am talking about has affected my ability to write here in my own space, I have decided to process what happened here on the blog with all of you to see if it makes me feel safer. You see, I don't like feeling scared of this place. I love this blog, and the community that has built around me here. I love you all. I want to get better and feel safe here again. This post is my effort to start that process. 

I'm going to include the exchange that made me and Lolly feel traumatized. I do this to weaken the shame it makes me feel that I am a "victim" or that I was treated this way. I also do this because bullies need to be exposed before they will stop bullying, and we should never be afraid to shine a light on what people try to do behind closed doors (or in private inboxes) to hurt us.

Be warned though, it is vile and filled with horrible language. I wouldn't blame you if you chose not to read it. This starts kind of in media res, when he began posting on my blog's Facebook page. (I deleted the original messages he sent to my private one, but they were similar.)









At this point, my intention was to simply ignore anything he ever wrote again. I was horrified by the things he had said about my wife and children.  It's funny when you get abusively attacked--the shame is so visceral, like you are the one that has done something wrong. I felt ashamed that he had said those things. Like I had brought it on myself somehow. It felt embarrassing to admit that I was being cyberbullied. It made me feel very weak and very powerless. At first, I didn't tell anyone it was happening, even Lolly, because I never, ever wanted her to have to read the horrible things he had said about her. I didn't want to admit what was happening to me to anybody. I honestly thought that if I ignored him, it would go away.

It didn't.

His next message stopped me in my tracks.



After saying he hoped my wife would be gang raped, and that my children would be ripped away from me, this tiny message, which I saw in the middle of the night with my sweet wife sleeping by my side, filled me with fear. My mind flashed through recent days. Had I seen anything amiss? Was this person following me? Were my children at risk? I sat, stunned, picturing the horrible things a person so filled with hate could do to my children. How could I know what a person like this could do? Visions of car wrecks and kidnappings and brutality haunted me. I felt sick.

At first, I was paralyzed. I looked into what Facebook could to to protect me, but there was no real recourse. I tried to tell myself it was fine, and that I was overreacting. I wanted to tell Lolly what was going on, but I felt ashamed, and I still didn't want her to know what he said about her. That was one of the things that felt the worst--knowing that if I told her what was happening, she would have to read those words which I knew would wound her.

When he left another message on my Facebook page a day or two later, something in me snapped. It was late at night again, and I got very angry. I wrote the following message:



The next day, I told Lolly what was happening. It was horrible. I showed her those cutting messages and watched her cry. I saw the terror in her face when she read the threatening message. It made the fear I had felt all the more real when she started asking the same questions: "does he know where we live" and "will he try to hurt our kids" and "will he try to hurt me?"And then, as we talked, the feeling shifted. We felt angry. We looked up a private investigator to track this person down, but that didn't feel right yet. Instead we decided to call the police. 

Soon we had a deputy in our living room, reading this exchange on our blog. He was appalled at what he read. He was also baffled--why did this person hate you so much, he asked? The officer took down all the information we could find there together looking at my laptop, and said he would do some research and keep us updated by email. He asked if we wanted him to pursue any action. We said no, for the time being. Later that day he emailed us with the information he found about this person. Unsurprisingly, the details he uncovered about his life portrayed a sad picture of loneliness and isolation. He said to email him if we ever needed his help in the future. 

I am sharing with you all that has happened because I don't want this event to have power over me anymore. I don't want to be afraid. I'm not sure how, but somehow sharing feels liberating. It feels like I am taking control of this situation. I'm tired of feeling like a victim of my blog. I want to take it back as something I own and love, and not feel trapped and threatened by it. And even though telling you all what happened won't prevent someone from doing something like this in the future, it gives me power to have exposed what did happen. It allows me to not feel shame. It allows others to rally around us. It allows me to use this place that has recently made me feel anxious and fearful instead to feel in control and solid and supported. Thank you to all of you who have been such a support to us over the last 18 months. 


So, yes, if you've noticed that I've been weird for a little while, now you know what is going on. I'm sorry it took me this long to realize how much this, in combination with everything else, has affected me. I'm not expecting some radical change to take place in me, necessarily, having shared this post. I'd like that to be the case, but I know that that's not usually how life works. However, I do know this: having typed this all out, I feel much better and much more empowered and much less anxious about posting on The Weed. I think this is a good step. I feel closer to making this space safe for me again. And that, deep down, is something I really, really want. 

One final thought, if cyberbullying can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. It is a new, uncharted reality of our digital age. Our kids are ripe targets, and likely feel very alone if this kind of thing happens. We need to be on the lookout. Really anybody with any kind of online presence can be cyberbullied. If this happens to you or someone you know, I hope you find the courage to speak up and get help. Don't let a perpetrator make you feel ashamed, isolated and fearful. Break the illusion of secrecy they try to foster. Tell someone what is happening. Document everything. Exposure and support is the only way out. Here is a helpful, bare-bones guide with information about cyberbullying. 

126 comments:

  1. Wow. I am horrified by the things this guy said. I'm happy you wrote about this, and even though I rarely, if ever, comment, I wanted to let you know you are supported. I among many who are grateful you are willing to be so vulnerable on your blog and share a message that I believe is important.

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    1. Josh,
      Don here, I sent you a message a few days ago on Facebook. I attempted this post once then had to leave the page and when I got back to it what I wrote was gone.

      I just want you to know what a strength you are to me and probably to others like us We who have a testimony of the healing power of Jesus Christ. Please don't give up on your blog.

      Guys like you and I will have our friends and we will have our foes. Unfortunately the constant debate over same gender relationships and marriage will prove to be one of the causes for heavy persecution towards Latter-day Saints. We must be as strong as the early saints of the church were and allow our testimonies to see us through.

      There is a book that I have only read a portion of titled "Outwiting the Devil" right now I forget the name of the author. The main thing I have learned is that Satan's tool of invoking fear into our lives is one of his greatest if not the greatest tool he has to try and defeat God's children in their pursuit to return to God.

      I have to go for now, but please know that your courage has strengthened me and that I am not alone. You and I are very blessed to have two of God's most choice daughters for our wives. Our families are not fake they are the families we are meant to have. Stay strong Brother Josh. Let me know what I can do to help.

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    2. Joshua, I totally agree.

      Josh, I'm really sorry that you've had to receive these horrible messages. This John Gainsborough guy really does have issues, and should probably seek out someone's help rather than attack you...

      In terms of maturity and, well, manliness, I find your responses amazing. I don't know if you'll approve of me saying this, but that was badass.

      Also, what he said about your marriage -- completely absurd. Your marriage is perfectly valid, and while everybody has disagreements and arguments, those things are largely transient and not something to worry too much about.

      And if you ever feel the need to take a break from blogging, though, know that we (readers) have no problem with that! Everybody deserves a vacation. :)

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    3. Agreed! Keep writing. Your voice is strong and needs to be heard.

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  2. Josh, thanks for being so honest. I am honestly speechless and don't know what to say. Reading his comments filled me with so many of the same emotions you described, including fear for your family. I can certainly understand why that was so traumatic for you and Lolly. I hope this person hasn't tried to contact you since the initial event. And, I hope that you are able to find peace soon and move forward. We, your readers, love and support you.

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  3. Unbelievable. I'm sorry you are going through this.

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  4. I´m so sorry your family had to go through that! Yes, cyberbullying is very real and maybe even more to our kids! I "accidently" noticed a post that a friends son must have been somehow connected too, through a like or a comment or a tag...either way a strangers post trashing and threatening to beat up a girl somehow ended up showing on my timeline. The youth is generally not very good at using the facebook privacy stting which allowed me to investigate which school in a whole other part of my country they went to. I copied out the link and sent it with a description and an expression of concern to the leader of that school! I think it´s important that we act. I think it´s good that you spoke out, that you contacted the police. And to think that you as an adult kept it secret for a while untill you did what you as an adult knew needed to be done! Will our youth be strong enough to do the same?!

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  5. I have been wondering where you were. I am so sorry. Please know that you and Lolly have touched so many lives for good, in so many ways--not just those of your readers, but also through the conversations we are able to have with others about ideas from your blog. These include conversations about love, spirituality, inspiration, and finding our path.

    May you, your family, and the security you feel as a family be protected.

    Please know that although this person expressed wishes of evil, there are many more of us who have wishes of good for you and your family. Thank you for sharing what you are going through.

    Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

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  6. Josh, I'm truly sorry that you've had to deal with this horrible assault to the head, as well as the heart. Like Joshua who posted before me, I rarely comment but I'm glad you're learning that "hitting back" is not only acceptable, but often life-preserving. It took me a loooooong time to realize this myself, but the sense of grounding and liberation in taking a stand is immeasurable. You also have every right to defend your family by whatever means necessary. Don't let this single, sorry soul obscure the light of your truth. Take care, and keep us posted

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  7. That is horrible! I don't understand people like that at all. I'm so sorry!

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  8. hugs and thanks for posting this!!

    I've never been attacked as ferociously as this in any arena, but when you start talking about feeling powerless, victimized and the sense of shame that comes with it, it really strikes a chord.

    Thanks, Josh, for being you, and for sharing this - it helps on so many different levels, so many different people - it's a blessing.

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  9. Oh my Josh, I'm so sorry you and Laurel were subjected to that. It is horrifying.

    Good for you for making it public. I think that is an excellent way to deal with this, to deal with the shame. Shame is a powerful and terrible thing.

    I am also shocked that people you respect said cruel things to you. That is just inexcusable on their part.

    I know it is hard, our human minds seem to go like magnets to the negative (to protect us I suppose) but try to remember the many, many people that love you and have been inspired by you.

    You know the scriptures say, "Fear not," and I have wondered what that means. I mean we live in a world where rape, child sexual abuse, and murder are everyday events, how do we not fear? But I am finally coming to an understanding.

    I know that the Lord will not always protect us from the evil of this world, and sometimes when the evil is great enough, and the shame is strong enough one will swear that God has left them entirely. In other words, God might allow you to go to hell and back again, but know this Josh, He will make it worth it. He will reward you and Laurel for your pain and sacrifice.

    You know that I know this from my own descent into hell, recovering from childhood sexual abuse. Like you, saying it helps me let go of the shame. I promise you God will reward you. He will help you feel as my hero Admiral Stockdale. James Stockdale was a prison of war in Vietnam for seven years, and endured horrible torture. He was later interviewed by James C. Collins for the book, Good to Great, and asked how he survived. He said, "“I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

    Imagine that...the defining event of his life that he would not trade...how could that be. And yet so it way, and that is the promise that we all have. Hang in there Josh and Laurel...some day you'll see that I am right.

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  10. so sorry.
    You should not have had to read such things.

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  11. That is horrible. I hope the information the police were able to give you confirmed that this man, if awful, is not going to be harmful to you or your family.

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  12. Josh and Lolly, I am so sorry this person feels that he has the right to inflict those words and that fear on you and into your life. Josh, good for you for standing up to him *and* exposing him. Know that so many of us love and support you, Lolly, and your beautiful girls. Never fear because we've got your back!!

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  13. In addition to being a courageous post, and an intelligent move in your attempt to heal from trauma, this post is also a killer example to others who are suffering from similar experiences. Not only are you healing, but you are *modeling* healing, and I am grateful for the example.

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  14. Actually, Josh, I think you handled everything just right, even the original compassionate responses, as that allowed him to give a more complete picture of his own damage.

    I was also pushed around and teased as a kid (grade school). Ignoring it works.. with some bullies. But the more brutal bullies speak one language- threat/violence. That's the language they speak, and it's the language they understand. So with any luck, your warning of repercussions as well as your sharing the conversation and making it public will prevent him from further action.

    You've drawn a line in the sand, and he knows what will happen if he crosses it.

    Speak softly and carry a big stick.

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  15. Cyberbullying is just an extension of the playground bullying of our youth. I am so sorry you and your family have had to deal with these negative repercussions from your effort to be open and honest about your special life and relationship with Lolly.

    Your blog has meant so much to me. I found that I wasn't alone in my experience of being a gay Mormon man happily married to a straight woman. Although I have chosen to stay in the closet for my own protection, I have appreciated your brave effort to share publicly your feelings with others like ourselves and the world at large. I know that countless people, gay and straight, have benefited from your openness. Hang in there my friend....Adon

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  16. Stunned, Just appalled. I'm so sorry about this trauma in your lives. Horrible. Thanks for sharing and helping us know a little about how to protect ourselves too.

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  17. I don't usually comment on any blog that I regularly read, but I want you to know that I admire and respect you and your family for your honesty and for sharing who you really are. Your family is beautiful and real, and I hope that more of us will "de-mask" ourselves and be honest. Sincerity breeds unity, love, tolerance. Those are the real fruits of what you are doing--not the repugnant tripe that haters spew.

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  18. Even though I've read a few blogs about this kind of thing, and had to wade through my own pile of hateful comments, I can't believe this happened to you and your family. I have loved reading your blog and believe what you share has been uplifting, helpful, and loving. I'm sorry you've had to go through this.

    As I was reading, I thought of another post about cyber bullying. Even though I'm not sure it relates as well (because yours certainly seemed like an actual threat), I still wanted to share. It is a post written by a man who had a negative reaction to a post he wrote. He talks about how killing and cyber bullying are similar. I think it's an interesting read. Enjoy!

    http://popchassid.com/online-comments-killing/

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  19. Gosh. That was so bad. That person is very hateful and messed up and i feel so sorry you were the target of such vile behavior. You handled that with the most finesse, dignity and compassion I think is humanly possible to muster. Bullying is such a cheap form of evil, but like terrorism, it's existence reminds me of the reality of evil influence in this world. It is a shame that those of us who wish to share the most vulnerable parts of our soul in a way that can reach the most people who may benefit by casting the net far and wide on the worldwide web, must know that no matter how pure your intention and even self-deprication to lay bare your humanity, there are those who yield themselves up to the darkest influences on their souls and pour gasoline on their own and other's pain. I like what you said about shedding light on cyber-bullying and your specific situation - that "we should never be afraid to shine a light on what people try to do behind closed doors (or in private inboxes) to hurt us." One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson and says "There is no object so foul that intense light will not make beautiful." I think that you were trying to shed light on this person's soul in an attempt to see what was really there, but he/she would not receive any of it, which is sad. The intense light in this situation only made you and your family more beautiful in my eyes.

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  20. Keep strong; God and the law are at your side. Just ignore this deformed person.

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  21. did my first comment disappear? aghh. Much love to you guys. "There is no object that intense light will not make beautiful." - Ralph Waldo Emerson The light you shed on this subject and tried to shed on this person makes you very very beautiful. Unfortunately as human beings with the agency to choose whether or not we will RECEIVE light, THIS PERSON DID NOT FARE AS WELL. Keep true to yourself and you will have the strength and protection to do whatever God wants and needs you to...and what makes you happy:).

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  22. I'm sitting here bawling. My heart breaks for your family and for you. I am so angry and upset over this. You have never posted a blog post that made me feel this much emotion! Gah! I want to kick his ass! This is something I have noticed is huge on blogs and it always bothers me. While people are defending and fighting for bullying to stop in the LBGT community, which is awesome, many of the same people get on blogs and write awful comments. It's bullying. I don't understand why people don't realize this. When you call strangers rude names, or say they are idiots for their beliefs, it is bullying. The same goes to bloggers. There is a difference between stating your view and being awful. I read a blog post titled "I look down on young women who are married and have kids." As a stay-at-home mom it bothered me. I wished it hadn't, but it did. I felt like a loser, and embarrassed of my family. The fact is, words hurt. People say things to get a reaction. They like attention, and are bored with their own lives. Josh, I don't know you, I don't know how you are in your home. All I know you by is your words, and your words tell me you are good. You don't bully people. Whether you are happy or not, it is not our place to judge. We all have the agency to make our own choices. If this is something that is happening often, get rid of comments on your blog. I won't mind. I will still read it! Don't allow hurtful comments to reach your life. You will still see people share it. Delete your Facebook page, or create another one for "Josh Weed" and let people add you as a friend. Then you can block and make people accountable for their words. I know people like to have a safe place to anonymously comment, but that is not your job. Just keep writing! That's all you need to do to spread your love and hilarious words! You need to make your blog a safe place for you and your family. I read many blogs where comments are not allowed, and there is something pleasant and relieving to read and not be greeted with comments at the end. I often get distracted by the comments and forget to even read the post!

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    1. Ditto. I don't even read comments half the time anymore because I hate the negative ones. Why can't people share their thoughts without others raining on their parade? It's just annoying to me anymore. So maybe you should dump the comments and we can enjoy your words in peace.

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  23. Oh Josh my heart just dropped. As someone who has also experienced trauma I am SO proud of you for exposing the secrets. Shame thrives when secrets do! You and Lolly are amazing! One thing I had to learn awhile ago was that it's okay for people to not like me. In fact if someone doesn't like me, maybe I am doing something right. Our Savior wasn't loved by all sadly. Some hated Him too. The vitrol though from those comments make me ill. Can you block him? Your sweet family deserves the BEST. I know you already know this but you are just a mirror as to what he doesn't like in himself. Love and light to your sweet family. I have no doubt many guardian angels keep you safe and uphold you all! I will continue to keep you all in my prayers!

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  24. You don't know me, but I love you guys. So here's some CYBERLOVING! XOXOXxoxo

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    1. I love this. :D "Cyberloving!" I want to cyberlove you guys too! ***HUGS*** ***HOMEMADE GOODIES*** ***MORE HUGS*** :) :) :) ***SMILES AND REASSURING LOOKS*** ***HIGH FIVES FOR BEING AWESOME***

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  25. Treat people the way YOU want to be treated. Sad that he forgot this golden rule.

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  26. Little does he know that you've gone the prayers and good wishes of thousands and thousands of people on your side. What a sad, sad little life he must lead. Kudos for not allowing him to rob you of enjoying the full, vibrant, wonderful life you lead. Love & prayers to you and Lolly, and your family.

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  27. Thank you once again for having the courage and presence of mind to share your experience. Not only are you liberating yourself, but you are showing others who have been cyberbullied what they can do to take action, heal and move forward. "Thank you" doesn't even begin to say enough to express the gratitude I feel in my heart.

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  28. Wow, Josh. That's so horrible. I'm beyond saddened (sickened, really) that you and your family have been subjected to this ugliness and venom. It's clear to me who the healthy, loving, whole people are in this picture, and who is the deeply broken and disturbed person. I hope JG gets help working through whatever happened in his life to make him act with such anger and violence. (Often in these cases it's that you hold up a mirror to parts of him that he doesn't want to look at.) Mostly, though, I hope he backs down and leaves you alone. You don't deserve this -- any of you, at all! -- and it needs to stop NOW. The glimpses of your family you and Lolly have shown us through your warm, funny, open sharing have taught me a bit about love and compassion and made me a little kinder and less quick to judge. Thank you for letting us learn through your wisdom and humor and generosity. I'm sorry it's come at a cost to your family's well-being and I pray this is all behind you soon.

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  29. Very sorry that this has happened - I've had just a few similar experiences - it's wild how people can express such twistedness online that I seriously doubt they would elsewhere in public. And it's amazing to think that Jesus came and willingly took on these kinds of evil sins on Himself due to His great love for us. And God knows you and all you care about and is quite able to protect you all - praying you will rest in His strength, kindness and goodness.

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  30. So sorry that this has happened. You made the right move in contacting authorities. I've had a few tiny similar things occur as well, not so extreme. It's wild how some people will write such twisted things online that they never would speak in public. And it's amazing that Jesus came and took on such evilness when He died on the cross - because of His great love for us. God knows you and all you care about and is able to protect you all. Praying that you find rest in His strength and faithfulness.

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  31. Oh my goodness. I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I've been cyber bullied before, and I know the shame and hurt that comes with it. I am so sorry that you had to go through it, but I am so grateful that you wrote this. You deserve to feel empowered especially on your own blog. I agree with what Joshua (the first guy who commented) previously wrote that you are supported by this community that you have created. I know that the people in this community would do whatever it was to protect you and your family (not in a creepy way ;) ) because they love you, Lolly, and your little girls. You are a wonderful person and you have the most incredible family. You have inspired me and a lot of other people to become better and live our lives to the fullest. Every time I read your blog I feel happier, inspired, and longing to be a better person. You have helped me and a lot of other people seek into themselves and assess what is most important to them and without knowing it you have helped us individually to conquer some trials in our lives. I can't speak for everyone but I do know that a lot of people are grateful for your blog. To me you area great human being and I am grateful that that you share your stories they are always enjoyable to read, even the serious ones. :) You and your family are definitely loved.

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  32. thank you for sharing your story. so very brave.

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  33. Josh and family,

    Having been through the same type of cyber bullying before, I feel I can empathize with you to some degree. Hateful words were said, idle threats made. They did not feel idle at the time. I want to let you know that you are LOVED. I love that I can come here, to this Blog, and feel the peace that comes with acceptance of others, no matter their life style. I know too many extremes on both sides of the LGBT debate, and I love that this is a place that does not harbor those extremes. I love that you and your family are not those that harbor those extremes. Your family is beautiful. You children and wife are beautiful. Your family was meant to be... you are all perfect for each other. There is no one better for the others, than who you all are, exactly as you are.

    I pray that no harm comes to your family, while acknowledging the harm already done. Remember, you are all LOVED children of God. You made decisions before coming here, and knew what you would face with those decisions. You made the choice to weather those consequences together. I am sure you already have, but hug your family a little tighter. Try to remember that humanity is not perfect. We will squabble over the many things, and probably will even after we remember everything. We will all have to face down our own demons. But you not truly loving your family is NOT a demon you will have to face down. Your love for them is so apparent, even through this Blog. Its beautiful, and continually gives me hope for something better. Gives me hope that there is someone out there for me, just as much as you and Lolly were meant to be. So thank you for that. And... thank you for sharing your fear. I hope that writing this has been helpful to you.

    Know that you are all quite loved. And that this is still the beautiful, open place for all of us to share, to gather. I love you and your family.

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  34. <3 and Prayers for you, Lolly and the girls. Keep your chin up and your eye on the prize my friend. You did exactly the right thing!

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  35. I'm so sorry you guys went through what you did. That's horrible. I don't even want to begin to try and imagine what that must have felt like.
    We love you, Josh and Lolly, and your wonderful daughters.
    You did the right thing, here.
    I'm not even LDS, but I pray that Heavenly Father looks over your family, and protects you. Know that we love you for your courage, and that we'll be waiting when you're ready to write again.
    You have changed and inspired so many of us. Don't ever forget that.
    -Ahalya

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  36. I just want to assure you and your family of my prayers for you. I was moved to tears and nausea in reading everything in the blog, and it makes me sick to think there are such hate-filled people out there. I pray for him too, that he is healed of whatever is tormenting him so. It does open my eyes to the sad parts of this world, and inspire me to be a better light of love. God bless.

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  37. All the love in the world to you and your beautiful family! I wish you all the best as you move on from this incident!

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  38. I'm sorry Josh for this happening to you and your family. You probably don't remember me, but you and I breifly messaged back on forth on FB(I'm an LDS transgendered male). You've been an amazing example to me of love, compassion, and strength. Please count me as someone who will cancel out a person directing negativity your way.

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  39. That IS scary. I'm so sorry. It's amazing how little effort on someone else's part it can take to really unsettle you. On the other hand, doing something about it can feel really good, can't it? I got to write a statement about the guy from my home ward who molested me when I was a child that will go on file with his church membership records, this past Christmas. The law hadn't been able to prove anything, back when I was a kid, and it's worried me that's he's been free to hurt others in the decades since. So it was such a relief to know that he was at least on someone's radar, that I could provide valuable information about the way he works and maybe help keep others safe. I hope you feel that way, too. It IS good you exposed him--not just for yourself, but also for others.

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  40. Anonymity + Audience = Unhappy Bumhead (insert favorite A-word swearword ... unhappy bumhead is about the extent we get in our house!)

    We recently had an incident with my 5 year old daughter being threatened and bullied in her PRESCHOOL. This is a super-sensitive topic for me right now. I am SO sorry that someone feels they have the right to say these things about you and your family and then threaten you and put you in a state of fear.

    There are ways to trace where those messages came from. You and your sweet family are in my prayers.

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  41. Love. Just sending love. I am glad you are refusing to be the victim. I hope the trauma will pass, and you can feel safe again. That is the price of love and vulnerability, that some twisted (and hurt) people can use your exposed heart against you, while others learn so much from it. It takes a courageous, strong person to be vulnerable, and sadly there are those who will take advantage of that to use it to hurt. Thank you for being authentic despite how hard it is. Authenticity helps break down barriers of misunderstanding and leads to greater light and knowledge and increased love and compassion. It can change the world for the better, a little bit at a time. Even if there is opposition, you are still doing good things just by being authentically you. Hugs, love and peace to you and your beautiful family Josh.

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  42. Sending peace, love and healing after having gone through this ordeal. It astounds me that people use the internet to spew poison with no fear of punishment. Grown adults reduced to playground bullies just because they can. You showed a tremendous amount of strength, compassion and maturity through the entire process. It's no wonder your wife and children think the world of you. Never fear...those that are on your side far outnumber those that aim to do you harm. Stand tall!!

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  43. Hi Josh.

    How completely, utterly, and horribly crappy this thing is. Especially that it happened to you. I want to reaffirm something you already know--you did *nothing* to deserve this. And I understand about the guilty feeling of being a victim, and the need to bring it out in the open so you can have some control over the dialog. And also bring some support and friends in. Actually, reading this post has helped me understand a mystery of my own... why do I blog those personal things occasionally. This is why. We need reminding sometimes that we don't deserve when crappy things happen to us. So this is me reminding you--you do not deserve it. How much must this guy be hurting... how miserable must his life be. You have so much. SOmetimes it's hard for others understand happiness because it makes their own unhappiness more stark in comparison.

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  44. I've never commented before, but have followed your blog faithfully for the last 18 months, even went back and read your pre "coming out" posts. I know if we met in real life we'd be friends! Love and support to you and Lolly. What you do is important and changes lives for the better. Your daughters are the luckiest girls in the world. I have no doubt they were meant to come to you and Lolly. You are brave and strong and honest and make this world a much better place! Here's to you taking your blog back! xoxo

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  45. Dear Josh -

    I hope that the strength and love of all your friends (including east coast friends who only know you thru your blog) finds its way to your heart - I'm sure there are many of us who would gladly stand beside you to keep this bully away. You are a wonderful young man with a beautiful family - your honesty and compassion is truly amazing (even with a complete jerk like this). No one has the right to talk to you like this or threaten your family - not ever!! Hopefully you will soon recover the feelings of peace and happiness you and your family richly deserve. You're amazing!

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  46. Just know this. If I ever see you, your wife, or your kids in public I will not likely restrain my knee-jerk reaction to race over, shout "You're the (wife/child of) The Weed!" and possibly hug any and all present, assuming such a thing would be welcome.

    I'm not joking.

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    1. I have thought this before and laughed at how hard the Weed family would laugh since they don't know who I am :)

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  47. I'm so sorry! I can't believe that happened to you all and yet I'm sadly not surprised. It's a broken world that we live in and I'm so so so so sorry that you had to hear those things from one of the many broken people. I'll be praying for you and your family - for your safety and for peace to reside in your hearts. Know that I love you all (even though you don't know me haha) and that I will stand with you against all the bullies in the world.

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  48. I am so sorry this happened to you! I personally have never been cyberbullied but my family was threatened by a mentally ill family member. She is schizo-affective, (bi-polar and schizophrenic.) She thought my two children were hers and called to tell them how much she loves them and all the fun stuff she was going to take them to do. She referred to me and my husband as our kids' aunt and uncle and told my kids that if we didn't let her take "her children" she would hurt us. It scared us shitless to say the least! Especially because she's done some pretty crazy things in the past with her delusions and she's never really been stable on any meds. (She spent some time in jail for assualting a playground attendant and scaring kids at a local elementary school because she thought she was Jesus.) I have never felt so completely vulnerable and violated in my life! That happened almost 4 years ago but it still affects my life and the lives of my husband and children daily. Unfortunely, because she's never stable, we feel like we have to be on our guards and at the look out on any given moment. Also, it's really taken a tole on our extended family dynamics. Many family members have chosen to give her a free pass because she's "sick" and shouldn't be held accountable for her actions. Anyway, not to unload on you. Simply know that I understand what you and your family are feeling. Please know that I support you whole-heartedly! You have inspired me to be better!! Thank you for your bravery, your honesty, and your wit!! Love, Cheri Haaga

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  49. I love you and Lolly! I wish I knew your family personally ... if I did, I would deliver a big plate of cookies and give you hugs.

    I am so sorry that you have to deal with this loser. I think you were wise to involve the police and make his comments public so that we (your readers) can rally around you. You have put yourself out there and set such a wonderful example of true, unconditional love. You have comforted, encouraged, and opened doors for many in similar situations, which was a dire need for many, especially within the church.

    I have a testimony that when you act on promptings from Heavenly Father, he will bless you, protect you, and provide a way ... always. With that being said, unfortunately, the righteous are often persecuted by those hanging out in the great and spacious building. I know you and Lolly have been prayerful throughout this process. Continue to be prayerful and faithful. Continue to nurture and serve your family. Evil is powerless against the Spirit.

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  50. Josh, I'm so sorry this happened. It's really hard to believe that a person could be so hateful. I'm impressed that you responded as you did - just another reason why this guy's filthy responses are so confusing. I wish I could place a large protective bubble around you and your family but please accept this virtual hug instead. *HUG*

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  51. Wow. There are no words with which to respond to this nastiness, except I am SO sorry this happened to you. What a sick, hateful thing to do. You and your family are awesome, your blog is awesome, and I hope you are able to recover a sense of safety within the community you've created here.

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  52. I'm so sorry you've had to experience this. I went through something similar (in ways, not similar in others) a year ago and my only advice is find your source of peace deep within, and live and speak and act and love from that place.
    Sending love your way.

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  53. Love to you and your family from a person who has sometimes felt less alone because of your posts.

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  54. I have felt a tremendous amount of relief/power/peace in being able to express my traumatizing moments out loud (or in writing - any way "outside" of myself). I hope you feel the same. You have a huge following Josh - over many different boundaries. Concentrate on the love sent your way and allow the fear to dissipate. We need you here - and miss you. Keep writing - we need you!

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  55. I'm so, so sorry you've had to go through this. Sending tons of love to you and Lolly. So many people care about you guys.

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  56. Josh,

    I have been following your blog since your coming out post was assigned as required reading for my Law, Marriage and Ethics class last year in college (congrats, you became required reading - every author's dream!!!). I have never commented before, even though many of your posts have made me smile and made me think. Please know that you and your family are in my prayers. Your lives are truly full of light and life, and it has been a joy to get to know you in some small way through your blog. Don't let 'em get to you!

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    1. Wow, required reading, that's cool! Is it at a Christian college?

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    2. A Catholic university, yes! :)

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    3. University of Detroit/Mercy?

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  57. Josh (and Lolly), I know you get tons of comments, so I'm not really expecting you to read this, but here's to the off chance that you do. I can count on one hand the number of comments I've left on blogs and online articles, but this article stirred something inside me, and I felt like I really needed to comment.
    First off, I want to say thank you and good job for the example you've set on standing up to this bully. It is very unfortunate that his life his been filled with such pain, but it is also just as horrible that your family has been affected by that pain. I can't imagine what that is like to have the safety of your family threatened in that way. I sincerely pray for your (and family's) safety, as well as peace and resolution to this situation.
    Secondly, I just wanted to tell you how much of a difference you have been to me. My first exposure to homosexuality was in middle school, and I'm sad to say that I was not in the least bit understanding or Christlike in my reactions to it. As I got older and pursued many subjects intellectually I never tried to understand the concept of homosexuality. I always felt at worst disgust and at best pity towards those who practiced the lifestyle. However, at some point in my undergraduate education, my heart began to soften. I started to notice my own reactions, and realize how out of tune they were with the Savior's teachings. Over the last few years, I feel like I have tried much harder to accept and love people for who they are rather than judge them based on the labels they carry. This includes the way I look at homosexuality. While this has been an ongoing evolution, yours and Lolly's willingness to write on those very personal aspects of your lives has helped me to gain a much greater understanding in this area. I still have so much more progress to make, but I can't tell you how thankful I am that you have been willing to open your hearts to me and the rest of the world. I could go on for a lot longer, but this is already pretty long-winded, so I'll wrap up. I also love reading about your familial anecdotes, and I've gotten quite a few laughs out of them. I don't read your blog religiously, but whenever I do visit it, I am always uplifted, put in a better mood, and usually enlightened. So thank you, and know that you have touched many lives for the better.

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  58. Josh, I am so sorry for the pain you've gone through in dealing with being cyberbullied. I am grateful that you have worked through it to be where you are now and I thank you for making your experience available to us so that we can learn and grow, too.
    My first response to your post was to feel like someone had slugged me in the gut. My stomach went into knots and I had to catch my breath. I realized from my response that you are family to me. I would not have had that much visceral reaction to your post unless I cared a lot about you and your family.
    I would like to learn more about how you came to consciously realized you were traumatized. My desire comes because I went through the trauma of being sexually abused a number of times by several different people when I was a boy. I have been through a lot of therapy and have done a lot of healing but I know that the trauma still has more healing to do. I am still not very emotionally connected to my experiences. They still feel a lot like they happened to someone else and I was there just watching it happen. Most of the emotion I have been able to express (in therapy) towards the molesters has been as I came to understand some of the ways my disconnection from the trauma has led me to disconnect from many experiences even as an adult. I understand that my mind does try to protect me from remembering emotions I'm not yet ready to deal with. I wish I could put it all behind me and move on with my life, Sometimes I feel so frustrated with myself. The times when I feel acceptance of myself are happening more often than they used to do. The healing that has taken place makes me eager and impatient for more to occur.
    Thank you for your courage and willingness to share so deeply of yourself and to write your words so well that I can relate to so much of what you write. It is such a help to know I am not so alone as I used to believe I was.

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  59. Sooo needed this today as I'm facing trauma caused by another person's manipulation. Hearing your story and how you fought to valiantly face your challenge is such a blessing for me right now in my own challenges. (I have a great husband and support group; I'll be fine.)

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  60. Hey the weed
    that is truly truly terrible. I hope you take courage from posting about it and I hope things get better-talk to you soon

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  61. Why is it that people don't like when something like this is done to them but they think nothing about doing it to others. Everyone wants the freedom to choose. Free agency is a gift from a Loving Father who felt it was pivotal to the Plan of Salvation. I get so tired of being beaten over the head by one group who feels like their rights are being trampled but then tramples all over my right to disagree. I am not judging, I am just using my God-given right to choose for myself the path to follow.

    I am so sorry this happened to you, Josh, and to your sweet family. Never once, in any of your posts, have I read where you have told people that one path was right and the other was wrong. You have just shared your choices. You have the right to do that. Our founding Fathers fought and died to give us the right to exercise freedom of speech, among other rights now under attack. While the bully who is plaguing you has the same right to freedom of speech, his "right to hit you ends where your nose begins." I applaud yo for taking legal measures and I hope he gets the picture that this is not OK and he needs to STOP. I just don't get it - if you don't like it done to you, don't do it to others. I think I have heard this somewhere else - like - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

    Good luck my friend and our prayers go with you.

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  62. Hang in there you guys!!! You are incredible people!! Love reading your blog...makes me laugh and learn!!

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  63. Wow, I'm so sorry you guys have had to go through this. You guys know I think highly of you. I know you guys and am friends with you guys and know your marriage is real and have seen your love for each other. It's ironic to me that this guy is so judgmental of you because you are gay and choose to be married to a woman and yet I'm sure he has felt marginalized and judged for the way he lives his life (I'm assuming this only knowing he's a part of the LGBT community and has therefore likely felt marginalized and judged at some point...knowing nothing else about him other than he's not a nice person). It's really unfortunate how hateful he is. You guys are amazing.

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  64. I've followed your blog for a little while and have never yet commented, but I feel the need to do so this time, because you need to know how many people are rooting for you. Having read some of the comments here, it is clear that you are loved by many, and I believe there are many more who don't comment, but quietly keep you in their prayers. Thank you for being so brave. Thank you for sharing all that you do. I am so sorry that you are experiencing this. How sad our Father in Heaven must be to see his children treat each other this way. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  65. I have followed your blog for a little while and never commented before now, but I feel the need to do so. Having read through the comments, it is clear that there are so many who love you, and I believe there are many more who don't comment, but quietly pray for you and your family. Thank you for all that you share. I love reading your blogs, as they always make me think, and they always make me laugh. It makes me so sad that you have to go through this. How much more sad it must be for our Heavenly Father to see His children treat each other this way. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  66. I've been reading your blog for a while now, though I've never commented. I get excited whenever I see a notification in my inbox about a new entry you've posted, because it makes me feel like everything is okay, even just for a few minutes if I'm having a bad day, because you always make me smile. I've struggled with ADHD for a long time, and so in a way I feel like I can relate to what you post, at least on some level, and I truly admire you for how openly and honestly you live your life, even though many may not understand.

    The fact that someone would do this type of thing to someone with as big a heart as yours is absolutely disgusting to me, but I'm sad to say that I wasn't all that surprised. Maybe it's because of my age; I'm only just about to graduate college, and so I've lived quite a bit of my life on the internet at this point. I've seen first hand how cruel people can be, and how they neither consider nor care what happens to the person on the other end of their screen. We've begun to forget that we're interacting with real people, with real hearts and real feelings, and it's scary. I was the victim of horrible cyber bullying a few years ago, and before that I'd seen how the same man who ended up hurting me so badly didn't care at all about what happened to his previous victims. In fact, he often found it funny when their lives would come undone, giving him more fuel to destroy them with and telling me that it was their own faults, that THEY were the crazy ones, even though they very clearly weren't. And yet, I was still surprised when it was my turn to be the victim. But I'm not surprised anymore.

    I've hardly told anyone, not even those closest to me, about my stint as a victim, and it's so terrible that I now find myself so jaded about it all. As I read this, all I could think was, in between thoughts of being worried for your family, "Something is very wrong when I am no longer surprised by the terrible things people can do when they are hidden behind the guise of the internet."

    I'm so glad you shared this, and I'm so sorry that you and Lolly had to go through such an ordeal. But, from one cyber bully victim to another, know that it will get better. The traumatic memories will fade with time, and life will continue. Those who are too cowardly to show their face when they hurt somebody with words are most likely too cowardly to ever do anything in person, so I do hope you can find some comfort in that as well. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it's also full of hate and ignorance, just as the human race is. That's not to say that it isn't full of love and support as well, which is obvious right here on this blog. You have so much support here from every one of us, and it's important not to let one glimpse of a shark keep you from stepping foot in the ocean again. Life is too short not to feel the sand between your toes, even if you know there might be danger lurking nearby. Please don't stop writing. I'm so grateful that you shared. Thank you for being you.

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  67. Josh, I love your blog. It reminds me to be more accepting and loving to others and to accept and love myself better. You and Lolly are two of my heroes. I'm sorry that this happened to your family. You were really brave to respond to your bully so kindly, to go to the police, and to post this here. I hope that this never happens again, that you can feel peace about it, and that you can feel safe here again. Thanks for being you.

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  68. what a terrible, hateful, lonely person. You handled yourself well, Josh. May God continue to bless you.

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  69. Oh wow..some people are way too immature...You guys are great don't let immature people get you down..Sorry to read such cruel words about you guys..Hope everyone is doing well today..

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  70. What a coincidence. My wife and I just read your original "coming out" blog this morning. It was posted on Facebook (so it is still circulating and accomplishing good). I wanted to forward it to a married LDS friend who is dealing with this issue.

    I don't like forwarding things directly from Facebook (you may have noticed that not everything on Facebook is accurate--hope that doesn't shock anyone). Because of that, I put in search words in google until I found your blog so I could send him to the original source. I was sad--but not surprised--to find such an angry, ugly response from this guy.

    Your blog was very thoughtful, calm, unoffensive, informative while remaining open-minded and civil to those who may disagree with you. In fact, your blog was everything that his response was not. You were clear and precise in your language. He was not. Based on his rants, I am not even sure if he is a hateful gay man upset that you are not living the gay lifestyle, or a hateful heterosexual man upset that you dared to infringe on his territory. It is clear, however, that he is a hateful man.

    Take courage. The gates of hell rattle when truth is told!

    John

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  71. I already commented but I wanted to add, take courage Josh and Lolly! They that are for you are way more than they that are against you. You have made a difference in so many people's lives. This whole opposition in all things stinks sometimes. The fact that he made threats would make me want to turn it over to the police. Please do so if he continues to harass and make threats. I can't imagine what would make someone hold such deep anger in his heart. I don't believe that is his real name either. So not only is he hiding behind the computer screen, I believe he is also hiding behind a fake name.

    What you and Lolly did took courage. It took great faith. You inspire so many people. For some reason this has bothered me all day. I don't know you all personally but I have friends that do know you all. The next time I go to the temple I will add yours and Lolly's names to the prayer roll if that is okay.

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  72. I've heard of "cyberbullying" before, but your experience is the first personal experience I have come to know. Thank you for refusing to feel shamed by someone's bullying, and by educating the rest of us. The anonymity allowed by the internet allows the worst of the natural man in some people to rage unchecked. Our prayers are with you for your and your family. Thanks for putting yourselves in a vulnerable position in order to educate us and share your testimonies, yet again.

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  73. Josh,

    I just want to raise one more voice saying that I love you and your family, and I'm so grateful for the thoughts you share here (both the profound things and the silly ones). You've given me so much to think about, and I respect your willingness to be so open and real in such a public forum. Thank you so very much.

    Kimberly

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  74. Thank you for writing this. Yes, bullying is negative and terrible, but it makes me take heart to see you stand up and tell about it. Victims sometimes feel like they have to keep things locked inside because some people blame the victim.
    I pray you and your family have peace.

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  75. This is just so awful and upsetting. Just wanted to comment that we are rallying behind you and hope you feel safe to continue to post in the future- this is one of my favorite blogs and I truly, truly admire the courage it must take to post about so much personal information on such a public forum. You're doing good work and are a shining light to so many.

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  76. Josh, I am sorry for you and your family. Hate is alive and well in the world and it shows it's ugly face to the best of people. Just know for every one of them, there are more that love you and think only kind things of you and your family.

    P.S. I've been trying to find a way to contact you about joining the MOHO Directory. Please contact me if you are interested (my e-mail is on my blog). Thanks!

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  77. Gracias por vivir como un verdadero discípulo de Jesucristo :)

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  78. What an awful experience! And, yet, you still manage to handle it with dignity and courage. So impressed with you and your family. You have started such an important dialogue with this blog. I hope you all can feel peace and writing here will feel safe again. Sending positive cyber vibes your way!

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  79. I'm really sorry you had to experience this---and I didn't even read the icky stuff! But how about using the unverifiability of the internet to your advantage? That new guard dog you got terrifies me, but he sure is great with your kids. I was in the same self-defense class as your wife. It was amazing the way she took down that former NFL player. And she's quite the ace with the mace. Those trackers you got for the girls should work great as long as they understand that pushing the red button will send a signal straight to the police. I wouldn't mess with your family! No I wouldn't!

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  80. Josh & Lolly,
    I'm sorry for what you've gone thru with this whole cypher-bully situation! I adore you both, and your little family, and all that this blog represents! Please stay strong and keep the faith! Best wishes to you and yours!
    Ursula

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  81. When you are on a righteous path, the devil will find a way to bring you down to the lowest you can go. I've been cyberbullied so much, that I stopped blogging, stopped using the internet for anything other than research for my writing. It was an absolutely horrible thing to go through, but seeing what this hateful person said to you about your sweet family just enraged me. Thanks for putting your lives out there for all of us to see and admire. You guys are super awesome and deserve all the absolute best.

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  82. I just want to add my voice of love and support. What a horrible thing to have to deal with. Stay strong. I hope healing comes quickly and that your family stays safe. I love what you have created on this blog and I would be very sad to see it go away.

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  83. Thank you for your post about this. I'm sorry that your family was targeted by a bully and I'm grateful that you are sharing your reactions and discussing appropriate ways to cope out here in a way that can benefit everyone.

    We have some experience with cyber-bullying, too. A few years ago, daughter was cyber-attacked by a boy she should have been able to trust. He was a member of our congregation at the time, his parents have been leaders and teachers in primary & youth programs. I had been his SS teacher, my husband one of his YM leaders, his mom has been one of my good friends for many years.

    Short version - We have many extended family members who are not LDS and my daughter's approach toward non-members is very open and loving because she has learned not to be afraid or judgmental of people whose choices are different than hers. She consciously tries not to speak of certain activities as sins but as choices that can lead to unhappy outcomes. (Nothing turns Thanksgiving dinner sour than labeling an extended family member a sinner!) The boy' heard about a conversation she had with a non-member friend about tattoos, made some very incorrect assumptions and, over Facebook, condemned her for consorting with sinners, accused her of heinous things and told her that she was the spawn of the Devil and bound for hell. His attack slammed our whole family. It felt like we were being stoned by his whole family.

    It was incredibly hard for all of us to manage our way through the aftermath of that hateful attack. It was very hard to not let that interaction "go nuclear" and disrupt relationships in our congregation. It is still hard to maintain normal relationships with his family because my lungs and gut still squeeze tight for a few minutes when we interact with them. We were very lucky to be in a position to be able to reach out and grapple with the abuse in a loving way with the boy and his family, we were lucky that his parents did not condone his hateful tone, and we were lucky to have a Branch President who loved & respected both families and helped counsel us. Most victims (and bullies) don't have those advantages.

    I felt that it is just important to show that bullies can come from any demographic - even from families & congregations who teach their little children to sing "As I Have Loved You." The love of Christ and the peace of the Atonement can help us cope in a loving way with abuse but the sting and the fear don't go away immediately - even in a case as mild and quickly resolved as ours. Words can do long term damage - even to people that you did not aim those words at. Everyone, even good Christians, run the risk of becoming abusive bullies if they speak to others in anger, with a tone of hateful judgment or in an attempt to exert control over someone else's behavior.

    I'm very proud & thankful that my brave daughter did not let that incident stop her from attending school or Church. Please don't let this incident silence you. Take your time, tread gently and know that your voice is like a city set on a hill for many to look to. Your work here is useful and important. Blessed be. :)

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  84. Josh you don't know me, but I need you to tell Lolly I LOVE her and you guys are amazing. You have been such a catalyst for change as I've shared your beautiful testimonies with my SSA friends in the gospel who are struggling or losing their battles. No one with even the slightest comprehension of how to feel the spirit could attack your family for what you are doing. You are IMPORTANT people in my life whether I know you or not because you have literally shifted the salvation of me and my loved ones. I know as you do that that person must be bearing more than we know of their own grief shame and pain. I'm sorry that you are apparently strong enough to be an angel in their life, but I know whether they assimilate the information or not, you did what you were supposed to in regards to their interactions with you. Nothing but love for you and your amazing and brave family!!

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  85. My heart breaks reading this post. You have courage to open yourself up like most do not, including myself. I am so sorry. We have to respect all people and their lives, which you have showed over and over that you do so well. I am so sorry you did not receive the same love and respect in return. Keep being bold and loving, and being you!

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  86. I am so sorry, my heart breaks reading this. You have courage that most do not, including myself. Everyone deserves to be respected, no matter their life or circumstances, and you have shown over and over that you love and respect all people. I am so sorry that same courtesy was not returned by this man. Keep being bold, loving and being you! You have a beautiful family!!!

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  87. To Josh, Lolly, Emily and everybody else who cleaves to their testimony and is willing to “give a face and a name to ‘Mormon’ and ‘gay’”, I would like to offer Christ’s own words as comfort:

    "And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (3 Nephi 12:10. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/3-ne/12.10?lang=eng)

    Mr. Gainsborough may have attacked Josh because of the simple fact that Josh is gay, but had Josh’s testimony and the inspiration of Emily and her testimony not moved him and his wife to disclose that information, Josh would probably not have received Mr. Gainsborough’s hate-grams. I therefore posit that Josh’s persecution from Mr. Gainsborough came as result of Josh’s testimony of Christ.

    I invite Josh, Lolly, Emily and any other person who receives persecution because of their testimony of Christ to take comfort in Christ’s words, because *anybody* can be persecuted for Christ’s name’s sake - and such can claim the blessings promised by staying true to our Shepherd.

    Father loves all of us: “… he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

    But he also “loveth those who will have him to be their God” (1 Nephi 17:40) “and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you” (Mosiah 2:22).

    I especially like the phrase, “He loveth those who will have him to be their God.”

    Let’s see if we can use different words and a different sentence structure to capture that idea: “If God has a special place in my heart, then I will have a special place in His heart.”

    I think the best way to demonstrate that God has a special place in our heart is to stay true to our covenants and endure the related persecution and make the pertinent sacrifices. Consider John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”

    Each of us has to decide for ourselves whether or not we will trust and follow Christ and claim the blessings of Heaven. Do we have the eyes to see and the courage to follow? The pain associated with experiencing persecution for Christ’s name's sake can be made sweet by looking forward to the promised blessings.

    Have courage and faith, brothers and sisters. Be strong. Stay true to your covenants and testimonies. Focus on Christ and press forward in faith, for “[yours] is the kingdom of heaven.” There are blessings awaiting those who have the courage and faith to claim them.

    I am proud of you, Josh, and your wife and I am happy that your family is being raised by such courageous and faithful latter-day saints.

    By your examples you are helping to prepare the world for Christ’s return.

    Sincerely,
    Kimball Jensen

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  88. Awful, awful awful. Please know that you and your beautiful family are in my thoughts and prayers. No one deserves to be treated like that. I have shared your story with so many people and have seen firsthand how it has positively affected them. I do hope you will continue to share your stories on the blog!

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  89. I am so sorry that you had this horrific experience. I applaud you for speaking out about this. As you have already shown you and Lolly are very brave. I hope you will continue to share your stories here.

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  90. Dear Weed Family,

    I am so sad you have had this awful experience. I cannot understand why some people feel it necessary to go out of their way to be mean and hateful. It should never happen. I personally could never have a public blog because I could not handle any kind of ridicule, judgement, or unkind words. You are brave for what you are doing. I admire and respect you for putting yourself out there, sharing your story, and being so vulnerable and honest. It is not an easy thing. Your insight has helped clarify some of my own thoughts and feels regarding homosexuality and our church. Just know your blog has meant something to me (and many others). I've laughed and cried! And I thank you for being brave. May God bless you and watch over you.

    Sincerely,
    Amber

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    1. Josh I found your post through a friend posting your original "coming out" post and like Amber you have helped me clarify my own thoughts and feelings around the Church and being gay. I am straight but my upbringing messed me up. I thought I'd find your current day post and ran into all this. That "man" if he can even call himself that is a blatant coward. Inside himself he is terrified and will not face his own hangups/problems/demons and heal himself. So much easier to dump his garbage on somebody else.
      Don't for one second believe anything that warped individual said about you, your beautiful loving giving wife or your precious children. You are helping SO MANY people, all of you are, by this blog, by daring to be open about being gay. My hat is doffed to you, Brother Weed. Personally I love your ability to feel God's love, and at least prior to this, to be so positive and joy filled. This is how I want to be, while recovering from 4 types of abuse (EA,SA,PA,RSA) that often distance me from God. While I've never emotionally felt God's love I know He is there. Fear and terror I know all too well. I was bullied in school for 4 years and I consider that awful but nothing compared to the earlier and later events I'm working on healing now. I can only say this from Sir Winston Churchill, "When you're going through Hell, keep going!" Don't let him win, regain your rights again...I hate cyber slams from nowhere, the ultimate cowardice. Way to go for refusing to knuckle under and let this cretin, this base coward, run your life. BRAVO. You and Lolly have shown uncommon courage from the start and I salute you. I think many MANY people stand beside you in this. I think we should just let a tsunami of love and support drown that idiot out..wash his poisons away. He's really exposing himself not you, he's really showing his own weaknesses. I am glad you involved the police. Let us know if you'd like many more positive comments...I'm quite sure all the lovely people who have answered here will be more than happy to help out! My sincere best regards, from one warrior to another, Sister P. Jeanne Haessler

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    2. Dear Weed Family, I agree with Amber, your post about coming out helped me immensely with sorting out my own thoughts and feelings regarding being gay, being in the Church etc. I have had gender identity issues though I am straight. As a multiple abuse survivor (EA,SA,PA,RSA) parts of me are neutral, some male, some female but the sexual parts are straight. Regardless, the point is, you've helped me do more sorting out and I totally respect another warrior, and you are one, Brother Weed. Your best weapons have been honestly, kindness, openness, clarity, truth and humor and long may you continue to use them.

      I am appalled at this idiot's unfocused hateful rants. I came here to find your most up to date post and ran straight into this. Being blamed for something I did not do led me through 5 years of bully hell in school so yeah I have little patience with this cowardly cretin for what he's put you all through and a vast amount of contempt and disgust. I'm so glad you brought the police in on this. Sometimes nothing else works with these stoneheads but saying "Enough is enough." Please know he's exposing himself, his own weaknesses, and it's got nothing to do with you at all in any way. I have been uplifted by the love you all share, by your openness and honesty. Lolly is a truly beautiful woman and I admire her so much. You I'd love to hug or high five. Bravo Brother Weed for deciding to take back this blog. I am quite sure those of us who support you can create a tidal wave of positivity to drown out that lamentable human being's vitriol for all time. You are helping so many with this blog. Please never give up. Don't let the b*st*rds win, as the saying goes. There's going to be some massive silver linings to this cloud I am pretty sure. Hang in there and know we love you and believe in you 100%. Someone else said if such a stink is being raised you must be doing something right. Indeed. You are doing a whole TON right. Keep on keeping on.
      Sincerely, P.Jeanne Haessler

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  91. You have a wonderful, beautiful family. I love your funny stories about your family. Sometimes I really need a good laugh. Thank you.

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  92. Oh, Weed & Lolly. I am so very sorry this happened. It's one reason I've never gotten political on my blog--I learned my lesson just commenting on other people's blogs. The lesson I learned was that there are some BAT GUANO crazy people out there!
    I am glad that you finally stood up for yourself. Take it from me, a middle aged mother of 4 who has tried to set an example of a Christian for my kids and anyone else watching "Never let yourself be bullied. Never. You take it just once and they will do it again and again." Nip it in the bud. You didn't get it in the bud but you did nip it. Well done! You'll know better next time.
    I love your blog and I know a lot of people do. Thank you for doing it and I hope you never feel like avoiding it again. It's yours! You created it. If Johnny boy doesn't like it let him start his own blog.
    Stay strong, and when you have no other choice, punch 'em in the nose. Verbally, of course. :D

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  93. Hi Josh,
    Just wanted to say I wish you and your family all the best, what a tough situation! Both the initial situation, and then your recovery from the trauma caused. Gah. I think it is great that you shared your experience, useful for every parent to read

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  94. I literally just hugged my laptop. I wish I could just give you two a huge hug! Nobody deserves to be bullied, but of course not you. That guy sucks and I feel bad for him and the hatred he feels in his life. You absolutely did the right thing by getting the police involved and bringing it to the blog! I'm just going to ramble out thoughts and hit send now, and whether or not it gets "posted" publicly, I don't care, I just want you to know how I feel.
    You guys are super great people. Mean hateful words come from mean hateful places that you don't need to waste you time thinking about. I don't think you should ever feel afraid of a cyber bully. Their whole nature suggests cowardice. The whole idea that they can hide behind the words on a screen and never reveal themselves and say whatever crappy stuff they feel like saying, whatever they think will hurt you most and they feel like there will never be any consequence because they are "anonymous". Don't fear people like that. Pity them. I pity him. I pity him for not letting you and Lolly's amazing example of love and kindness affect his life for the better. I'm glad you got police involved so hopefully something DOES affect him and the consequences for his actions catch up. On that note, I would encourage you to pursue it. He needs to know he can't treat people like that and get away with it. Nobody deserves that, and there is not way you are the only person he has been bullying. Think about other people who he might be hurting, other people who aren't as strong and brave and you and Lolly. People who might take their own life based on his harsh and untrue words. He should have to face that consequence and stop hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.
    Ugh....I am just rambling out my thoughts because I am so emotional over this.
    I just love you guys so much!!! We ALL do! Don't let one horrible sad person make you feel like you are less than you are. You are amazing people. You are changing lives, spreading joy and bringing so much love and light to people living in darkness.
    Just...I don't know. I just love you guys. I wish I could give you a great big hug!!! Don't be afraid. We are all here for you. <3 :) I will say a prayer that you feel peace!! Love you guys!! Ok, that's all. This was the least coherent message ever, but oh well. ;) haha. <3

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  95. So sorry you've had to endure this, too. I have missed your posts, but now understand why you've been "absent." Hang in there!

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  96. I am so sorry this happened. No one deserves it. I hope you know that for this one person, there are hundreds who love you and who you have helped. Pretty sure your blog has saved lives.

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  97. A further thought--you are definitely taking away the power this poor soul has over you by exposing it. I feel sorry for someone so full of hate and vitriol. Don't forget the many people who love and appreciate you, and who have been blessed by your work and your blog.

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  98. Evil hates good, Josh. That's why you were attacked.

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  99. Life has a habit of giving us difficult things sometimes, doesn't it? Thank you for showing strength through all of this. Your family is wonderful and nothing anyone says will change that. It's sad that some people are going through such agony in their lives that they feel the need to give others a taste of what they are going through. It was wrong of that man to do that, and I'm sorry that he did. I hope that your family is blessed and strengthened by Jesus Christ and that you feel His love for you each day.

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  100. Josh Weed, me being a twenty year old guy struggling with depression along with ssa and relationship problems in general is hard, but you being you, and being so open helps me. I've never wanted a homosexual relationship, but never quite understood why. Then I found your blog and I related. You didn't 'brainwash' me or influence what I felt, you just gave me the means to relate. I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure you attribute to me still being here today. God bless you and yours. No matter what any hateful soul may say, take pride in knowing you at least helped one - me.
    AFM

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  101. Ignore the trolls Mr. Weed. You are providing hope, love and laughter to so many that need it. I have personally shared your blog with close friends that needed your words at critical times in their lives. The troll will not find happiness by tormenting you, but you can take great satisfaction in the knowledge that you have given help to so many. We are all here for you.

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  102. This is horrible. Thanks for telling us so the rest of us (the 99% who support you) can watch out for you, albeit online.

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  103. Josh, I was married once to an amazing woman, have been with my partner -- now husband (Dec 23rd, 2014) -- for 10 years, am LDS in my background, and have many wonderful LDS family and friends. As I read this, it vexed me that some people don't have respect for the choices of those who choose to remain in mixed-orientation marriages as you and Lolly do, OR of those who are in same-sex relationships/marriage as I am. You and I, and others, have come to our decisions in life, not lightly, but through a careful decision process that led us to where we are. (I know you know this about me and others like me, though some speak derisively of my decision to follow what felt right for me; I have heard you speak at one of the Mormon Stories Conferences in Salt Lake. I admire your choices). My only concern, always, is when Latter-day Saints, extrapolate your choice to being the universal, "right," choice for ALL who are gay or lesbian. As you well know, those who are gay and lesbian, rather than bisexual, fare far better in same-sex relationships, or by remaining celibate, than by marrying someone of the opposite-sex spouse just to appease the wishes of the heterosexual status quo. I'm truly sorry that a very damaged individual has attacked you and your family in this way. My best to y'all.

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  104. This post has me feeling both so sad and so angry for you! You are such a great internet presence for me, I've been a big fan ever since Bambi nuggets, and then when you shared your story about your relationship and orientation, it was such an eye opening experience. I like to think I'm a really open minded person already, I don't judge people based on their orientation, race, religion, or anything, but even still I realized how in the dark I was about how many different situations there are out there. I love reading about your girls and I think your wife is such a strong person for being there for you through all this attention (good and bad) and I hope you can take comfort knowing that, although you aren't personally known to all your blog followers, you are appreciated.

    Stay strong my fellow Washingtonian :)

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  105. I want you to know that your blog has helped me to be a more understanding, compassionate, and loving person. For the record, Lolly is beautiful (I'm sure I don't need to tell you that) I've always been envious of her hair and I love her good mom/bad mom post. You are both doing great things for so many people.

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  106. So I wanted to say, when we talked in December, we just kind-of glazed over this and I feel like a schmuck for not asking more questions and listening to you when I had the chance. I'm so sorry this happened.

    And I'm so sorry for the residual weirdness that comes with going through something that is a very different kind of vulnerable from just willingly-putting-yourself-out-there, and instead is a way more intrusive, dangerous, and threatening. I know stuff like that has bizarrely huge ramifications sometimes, and you never know just how it will impact things until you're smack dab in the middle of it.

    I'm glad everyone is okay. And I send my love to you all. :)

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  107. How awful for you and your family! Please know that for every crazy/mean person out there sending nasty comments, there are dozens of us who quietly follow your blog and enjoy the humor and insights you share. Welcome back, I love your blog, keep up the good work.

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  108. I'm so sorry this has happened to you. It's sad that there are people out there that can be so cruel. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

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  109. aww Josh I'm so sorry this happened to you. I had noticed you hadn't been posting as much. No wonder! Reading this made me tear up a little bit. You and Lolly seem like such kind generous and honest people and I always enjoy reading stuff you post. Whilst we all have stuff we keep private, your marriage seems so real and genuine to me. I realise you don't need a stranger to make you feel better about the "reality" of your relationship I feel like I need to say this. If only to add a small amount of support to you both. xxxx

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  110. I too am sorry, and aghast, that this happened. You're an inspiration to me. I go back and read and re-read certain posts, just to help me remember what it feels like on the other side so that I'm not someone who says the things that cause the pain. Please keep up what you're doing; wish I could shield you from the negative effects, but rest assured the positive effects are exponentially more numerous.

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  111. I haven't been here in a while, but it's always good when I do. I'm so sorry for what happened to you, but thank you for sharing such a great message on trauma and bullying. It makes both concepts so much more tangible and real.

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  112. I am so sorry that you and your beautiful family have had to deal with this. Glad you took things seriously and went to the authorities. When it comes to your babies one can never be to safe. May God continue to bless you and yours.

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  113. Wow. I've gotten behind on my "weed" fix (that sounds wrong...) and had no idea this had happened to you. I have a person in my life, well, on the periphery of my life; she pops up every few months or so to threaten and shame and rant and rave.

    Long story short, this woman spent 20 years in prison for murdering her husband, she managed to earn her way to a release after claiming the murder was an act of self-defense (as she chased him down the street, high on meth, and shot him in the back), our paths crossed through a third party, and after a shared personal tragedy, she decided I was to blame for all her misfortune. Every few months she sends me and members of my family threatening messages, tells them what a horrible person I am. I have a restraining order, there have been death threats, no one in any position to help or to stop her will, because, after all, 85% of her contact is "just online", so she's not really a threat. The last police officer I spoke to, when reporting she'd again violated the restraining order (by e-mailing my brother a picture of my car), told me not to bother them again unless she was standing on my front porch with a gun. It's a shame cyberbullying is not taken more seriously. I know that my first reaction to my family and friends being contacted by her was shame. I was embarrassed. I tried to keep her contacts secret and didn't want anyone to know. Now that it's out, I'm glad for it. I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't do anything to deserve this. Sometimes all it takes to chase a shadow away is to shed a little light. Glad to be reading you again and wishing you and your family all of the best.

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  114. It's been awhile since I looked at your blog, and this post caught my eye. I can imagine that when someone is so vulgar, it's easier to think, "What a sad dude..." But when he sends a message that threatens those you love most dear, then compassion turns to proaction. Sending hugs to your family...

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