Last night I received an email from that same person who complemented me. The email shocked me. Turns out, the email was not intended for me, she accidentally typed my address instead of her friend's who is also named Lauren. It shocked me because it contained several photos of a man's head Photoshopped onto a woman's body, along with a message that said something like this: (I didn't want to directly copy and paste the email to protect her privacy, but this is pretty close)
I can't believe your brother is a cross dresser! Print these photos I made and put them in your closet, he'll find them and get the clue that you don't want him borrowing your clothes anymore.
The email was MUCH longer than that. And there were about 20 photos attached.
Again, I have no idea who this person is. But I felt I had to stand up and say something. I felt terrible for this man who was about to be attacked in such an elementary, cowardly approach. Here's a summary of what I wrote:
I know you wrote me an email once complementing me on my portfolio website and I thank you for that.
If all this stuff you're writing about this man is true, you're a very cruel person and need to mind your own business.
Who are you to say how someone can live their life? If this is a joke you're playing on someone, you should probably rethink it. I'm a gay rights advocate and I do not find humor in any of this, whatever it's about.
She wrote back and apologized for the confusion, then went on to tell me how she is trying to "bring out the truth" and by doing this she doesn't want to cause him any unnecessary stress (!!!) Then she wrote, "when he's ready to come out to us he will."
I wrote back to her... when he is ready to come out, he will. Talk to him like a rational human being if you're that concerned. I told her that from an unbiased, outsider stand point, this whole situation sounds so cruel and hurtful and cowardly. I asked her to reconsider her actions. I didn't want to give up, even for this stranger, wherever he is in the world. This poor man.
Then finally I saw what I wanted to see. She asked for my forgiveness for her ignorance and said she is throwing out all the photos and will not go through with this course of action. Perhaps she was lying to shut me up, who knows. But there's still that chance she was being sincere and spared this man embarrassment and hurt from his own friends and family.
As allies of the gay community, we need to do this. We need to stand up for each other as humans. Even if its something as small as this, just one person... it all helps. If you're ever faced with a situation where you have the chance to stand up for someone and help, I hope you take it.