Fighting With My Family – Stephen Merchant

Stephen Merchant - Fighting With My Family  artwork

Fighting With My Family

Stephen Merchant

Genre: Comedy

Price: $ 14.99

Release Date: February 22, 2019

Reformed gangster and wrestler Ricky and his wife Julia make a living performing with their children Saraya and Zak. When brother and sister get the chance to audition for WWE, it seems the family dream is coming true but they are about to learn that becoming a WWE Superstar demands more than they ever imagined possible.

© © 2017 WWE Studios Finance Corp. and Film4, A Division of Channel Four Television Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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10 Tips for Fighting Stigmatizing and Defamatory Comments Online

With Thanks to The Bisexual Leadership Roundtable, The Anti-Defamation League, The Daily Dot, and Facebook.

As a citizen of the United States of America, I’m proud of our country for many reasons. One of those reasons that’s especially important to me as writer, poet, and LGBTQ activist is the fact that the First Amendment grants our citizens freedom of speech–a critical condition for facilitating discussions that help our society advance.

Recently, however, I had an experience that made me question where we draw the line between freedom of speech and defamation–and what recourse there is for those who believe they’ve been defamed. Here’s what happened:

On September 30th, 2015, The Daily Dot ran my article titled “Why I celebrate my scarlet letter,” which was originally published under a different title on the Huffington Post. But when they promoted it on their Facebook page, something horrible happened.

A Facebook user made an extremely hurtful, defamatory comment about me. It was so atrocious that I won’t even repeat it here. Suffice it to say, the comment was completely unfounded. Moreover, it was a blatant example of biphobia, as well as stigmatization of people who work or have worked in the adult industry.

Of course, it was likely the product of a cyber bully looking to push some buttons. But that didn’t make it any less cruel, not to mention potentially damaging on both professional and psychological levels. So I set out to get the comment removed. America is, after all, the home of the brave, too. And every time someone stands up to a bully, it’s a step towards a safer and more tolerant society for us all.

Tip # 1: If you feel physically threatened by an online comment, report it to your local FBI office.

I didn’t feel physically threatened, though I certainly felt the comment was intended to incite prejudice against me. I decided to report it to Facebook first.

Tip # 2: Report the incident to the platform in question via its designated channels.

On Facebook, to the right of a comment, there’s a small “x” that allows you to hide it. I clicked the “x” and was presented with an option to report the comment, which I did.

Tip # 3: Engage your community.

While I waited for a response, I shared my concerns with the other members of the Bisexual Leadership Roundtable, many of whom were kind enough to also report the issue to Facebook. To our surprise, each of us received what looked like an automated response from Facebook stating the comment didn’t violate their Community Standards.

Tip # 4: Determine whether you’re using the right terminology.

I’d initially reported the comment to Facebook as harassment, but then I realized the terminology might be incorrect. Upon review of Facebook’s Community Standards, I learned they remove hate speech directed at private individuals and public figures. This begged the question: if the comment didn’t qualify as harassment, was it hate speech? Or was it defamation?

Some research into hate speech and defamation quickly showed the comment qualified as both. So despite being somewhat discouraged, I knew I had to follow through with the matter, this time using more appropriate terminology.

Tip # 5: Find other channels to communicate your concern.

There’s usually more than one way to connect with a company. Over the course of the next week, I contacted Facebook via their private messaging app, as well as through a number of email addresses I found online, requesting they reconsider their earlier decision and remove the comment. I also reached out to The Daily Dot via email and a direct message.

Tip # 6: Stay calm and focused.

As the days passed and the comment remained visible for all to see, I grew more upset and frustrated. But I realized I couldn’t let my frustration get in the way of looking at the situation objectively.

Tip # 7: Be patient.

Facebook has almost 1.5 billion users worldwide. The Daily Dot has had more than 23 million unique visitors to its website. With thousands of people contacting these companies each day, I knew it could take a while for my request to land on the right person’s desk.

Tip # 8: Seek expert advice.

After calm consideration, I decided it was time to ask the experts for help. And that’s when I had the good fortune of connecting with Norman Abbot, Assistant Regional Director at the New England Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

It proved to be a turning point. Norman encouraged me to keep reaching out to both The Daily Dot and Facebook. Together, we came up with the idea to email people in leadership positions about the matter.

Tip # 9: Determine who’s in a position to help you, and reach out to him or her in a positive, polite manner.

In a last-ditch effort to be heard, I wrote both to Facebook’s General Counsel, as well as Nicholas White, The Daily Dot’s Editor in Chief and CEO, once again explaining the situation and requesting they delete the comment.

To my relief, the very next day, Austin Powell, Managing Editor at The Daily Dot, emailed. He informed me that the comment was now hidden to everybody but the original poster; a strategy proven to be more effective than deleting comments or blocking users in this kind of situation.

Minutes later, Matt Silverman, Director of Audience at The Daily Dot, contacted me via a Facebook direct message, apologizing for the delay and explaining that my email had likely been overlooked among the deluge of messages his team receives every day. He also emphasized that this was exactly the kind of comment his team works to remove on a regular basis.

Finally, that same morning, Facebook ‘s legal department got back to me, saying they’d looked into the matter but by then, it had already been resolved.

Tip # 10: Make note of successful strategies, and share them with others.

Sharing successful strategies with others can be key in combatting online defamation and stigmatization.

For example, Austin Powell advises that if you have a concern about The Daily Dot, you can use their feedback widget on their website. You can also contact authors via their email addresses in their bylines. And their About page lists the full staff along with email addresses. Most publications have a similar system. And Facebook offers an online form to report a violation or infringement of your rights.

Looking back on the experience, there was a point in this process when I was almost ready to give up. I felt as if I were invisible; as if nobody at these large corporations was at all concerned about my rights and wellbeing. But the encouragement of the bisexual community, as well as Norman Abbot’s kind support and objective insights, inspired me to keep going. And when I finally received responses, they were as respectful and effective as I could wish for, especially those from The Daily Dot.

In short, the experience taught me an invaluable lesson: with community support and determination to reach people who are in a position to help, we can fight defamation and stigmatization. And that’s why I’ll forever be grateful to the Bisexual Leadership Roundtable, the Anti-Defamation League, The Daily Dot, and Facebook.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Still Fighting Against Marriage Equality? “Dude, Get Over It.”


I’m From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit archive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer stories. New stories are posted on the site every Wednesday.

When Paul Lalonde was in his early 20s, he would watch conservative televangelist Charles McVety on TV every Sunday evening. Needless to say, it rubbed him the wrong way. Paul recalls:

He would just go on and on about how if gays get married, it would be the end of society, nothing will work, trains wouldn’t be on time, it would be terrible, chaos everywhere. I think what made me so mad is that when I would watch him, he would be talking to me, directly at me, and telling me that I’m a terrible person and I’m awful and I would be a terrible father.

Instead of just getting angry, Paul decided to do something about it. He joined Canada’s LGBTQ pro-equality organization “Egale” and was put to work. One day he was asked to attend a public meeting organized by the anti-marriage equality side, which had an unexpected speaker: the very televangelist whose actions and words motivated Paul to get involved in the first place. Sitting in the same room as Charles McVety, Paul remembers his range of emotions:

I was enraged, I had to just sit there and listen to this guy and tell me that I’m going to be an awful parent, society is going to hell and all that stuff. And I think it was actually sitting through that day, that rather than actually being angry, because I wasn’t anymore, we won, we got what we wanted, I had won, I beat him, but instead I just almost pitied him. I was looking at this guy like, “Really? You’re still fighting this? Dude, get over it.”

Get over it, indeed.


For more stories, visit I’m From Driftwood, the LGBTQ Story Archive.

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Fighting Temptation – KC Lynn

KC Lynn - Fighting Temptation  artwork

Fighting Temptation

KC Lynn

Genre: Erotic Romance

Publish Date: January 19, 2014

Publisher: KC Lynn

Seller: Draft2Digital, LLC

Jaxson is arrogant, angry and aggressive. Yet he’s also beautiful, strong and honorable. I unconditionally and irrevocably love every damaged part of him. And for the boy, who didn’t believe in love, he would always and forever have mine.  ~Julia Sinclair Julia was different from anyone I’d ever met. I never thought someone so good and genuine existed until her. The more I saw of her the more I became addicted to her. Every time I was around her she would destroy some of the darkness that lurked inside of me. She made the bad s**t in my life seem not so terrible. Then, before I knew it, I had fallen for a girl from another world. ~Jaxson Reid Two unlikely friends—the innocent, good girl and the notorious bad boy. One fateful night brought them together, and they formed a bond—one so strong it was unbreakable—until one night they gave into temptation. Fast forward five years and Jaxson is back to fix the mistakes he’s made with the only girl who’s ever mattered to him. Only someone isn’t happy with his return, someone who thinks Julia is theirs and they will stop at nothing to make sure it stays that way—forever. Jaxson will not only fight to protect Julia, but will also battle the new and existing demons that haunt his soul from death, corruption, destruction and war. This is Book One in the Men Of Honor series. It can be read as a standalone and has a HEA. It’s New Adult Romance and is told from both character’s POV. Due to strong sexual content, coarse language and mature subject matter this book is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18.

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Defending My Son Who Wears Skirts While Fighting Victim Blaming and Sexism

My son is 4. When he was 2, he went through a phase of wearing pink pants to day care for about two weeks.

About four weeks before preschool ended for summer this year, he started wearing skirts, dresses and flowery shirts to school most days. I felt a little awkward about it for the first couple of days, but I didn’t have any good reason to stop it, and frankly, I had several good reasons to support it.

For one thing, it made the miserable drudgery of convincing him to get dressed for school bearable as summer vacation approached, seemingly at a snail’s pace. Our only hope of getting him to school on time was to let him wear ANYTHING that fit the school dress code. Every parent has heard the advice, “pick your battles.” Each item of clothing he chooses himself increases the likelihood that I’ll get a bite of vegetables in him at dinner, a reasonable bedtime and the car seat buckled without a scene.

The school responded to his wardrobe choices in exemplary fashion. As he went in, a teacher would ask him, “What are you going to say if someone asks you about your shirt/skirt/dress?” To which he would answer something along the lines of, “It is my concert shirt” or “It makes me happy.” The teacher would then say, “OK, that’s what you say if anyone asks you why you are wearing it!” In he would go, happy as a clam. Out he would come at the end of the day, having raised a few eyebrows and received lots of compliments, still happy as a clam. I was relieved. So I picked up a few items at a thrift store that fit him better (and may eventually be available to my younger child).

During the last week of school, my in-laws very generously offered to watch the kids so I could go out for dinner with friends. Upon my return, I faced a very unusual confrontation. It may not seem confrontational, but trust me, this is as confrontational as my in-laws get.

FIL: “So, what is with the skirts?”

Me: “Well, it is the path of least resistance right now. We would’ve been on time for school this morning if I had known he was willing to wear a skirt. Instead I spent an hour trying to get pants and shorts on him. I don’t know why he didn’t just ask for a skirt….”

MIL: “Do you think he prefers them?”

Me: “Well, you know, I do — especially when it is hot out like this, skirts are a lot more comfortable and cool. I mean, the Scots preferred them, too, right?”

FIL: “I just hope he isn’t getting teased too much at school.”

Me: “No, that isn’t a problem. I asked him the other night at dinner if anyone said anything about his dress. He said everyone loved it.”

FIL: “Mmm. I’m not sure how long that is gonna last.”

I’m no idiot. I know that school children can be merciless. However, even in this exceptionally civil conversation, I see a couple of concerning assumptions.

My son isn’t hurting anyone. For whatever reason, he is choosing to wear frills and frocks on occasion. Yet the assumption is that he will be teased for dressing “like a girl,” and that action should be taken to prevent this from happening. There is a simple phrase for this attitude: victim blaming. The implication is that my son, by wearing girls’ clothing, is “asking” to be teased; that he would be the perpetrator of his own [non-existent] torment; that he should conform to societal norms to avoid even the risk of bullying instead of society confronting bullying, in the event that it occurs. If it does occur, why not confront and educate the bully, rather than admonish the victim?

There is also a gender bias here. While girls are often judged for wearing just about anything — be it masculine, feminine, short or long — I think it is fair to say that societal norms favor girls wearing pants more than boys wearing skirts. Girls are permitted (if not encouraged) to emulate boys, while boys are shunned for emulating girls. This continues into adulthood, with serious ramifications for women, men and families. Women are encouraged to “lean in” to their work while child-rearing, but men receive little or no paternity leave and are learning to pass as workaholics so they can spend more time with family. The examples are endless, but suffice it to say that just as the opposite of science isn’t girl, the opposite of boy isn’t teacher, nurse, dancer or homemaker.

My son wore a a flowered shirt, frilly skirt and leg warmers on the last day of school. I am very proud of who he is and the many wonderful girls and women he may wish to emulate. I am proud of his school, which has accepted and embraced him completely thus far. And I am proud of myself for not caving to my in-laws.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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