Welp. I guess I’m getting this out of the way so I can get some goddamned sleep, and because I am not going to let a bunch of vindictive, conspiracy-peddling arseholes frame my life by their terms or shape the narrative around who I am.
You are going to sit down, and you are going to listen, because I have had enough of this shite.
Did you think you were going to somehow shame me, oust me, turn me into the next Santino, and send me running into the night just like him?
Because I’m not Santino.
And I have been silent and passive about your shitty little crusade long enough.
My name is Adrien-Luc Sanders, and congratulations, arseholes. You just deadnamed and misgendered a closeted trans man, maneuvered him into a position to forcibly and preemptively publicly out himself, and placed him at risk in a community that isn’t safe for trans folk, when his only crime against you was writing a book you didn’t like.
Take a seat. Take several seats. Have your “oh shite” moment. Work through your denials, your claims it’s just a ploy to avoid being labeled a catfish, your mumbles that you didn’t mean it, you didn’t realize. And then remember the only reason you were able to find my deadname is because legal name changes are a matter of public record, and I sure as fuck didn’t change mine or spend years on testosterone just so one day I could stand here and have you invalidate the life I have built trying to be right in my skin since I was eighteen and even knew what trans was.
You are going to fucking listen today.
And don’t bother deleting. I screencapped your shite. And this little shite icing on the turd cake:
That DM is a threat.
That, my friends, is an account that used to belong to my ex-spouse. My abusive ex-spouse, but that’s not my ex-spouse running it. They deleted it over a year ago for a new handle and more professional rebrand; the new iteration of the account was created in September 2018 (and not by my ex–they’re actually pretty pissed someone is impersonating them, and I believe them for once; they’re mad enough to want to turn this over to a friend in the FBI). This account is most likely run by one of the Nasty Birds; it fits their modus operandum of claiming people’s deleted accounts and using those accounts to target them. These little shite farmers sussed out my ex, sussed out their old account, recreated the account with the same name, user name, and location, followed my ex’s new account and a former manager at a past employer (?????? why, even, he quit before I did, it makes no sense, not to mention my employers have always known I was trans so…what there), went around pointedly liking things on both my Xen/Cole account and my old Adrien twitter, and then used that identity to message me so they could impersonate my abuser while deadnaming me.
I suppose in an attempt at intimidation, or just for a little sadistic fun trying to make me afraid of what was coming. I don’t know. I guess they’ve locked the account so I won’t be able to see while they build up to their big reveal, etc.–though I saw enough before they locked it to know they’re being vile. Maybe they thought I was leading a double life as my ex’s wife…? When, um, no? I don’t know if my ex ever even knew my deadname; it’s been a while so I don’t remember if I ever told them when it just wasn’t relevant, though I might’ve since it was on joint leases for a while since I couldn’t afford my legal name change until pro bono help from TLDEF in 2015. I was always their boyfriend/husband in real life. (As far as their gender–that’s complicated, and also an attempt to keep a line of separation between our past histories so me writing erotic books would be less likely to cross paths with their public social media presence and reputation as a professional, done with their full knowledge.)
But just when I thought you little fucks couldn’t sink any lower, you go full TERF and launch into the transphobic violence.
But you were just happy to be outing another supposed “catfish,” right?
I mean, I don’t know why I’m surprised when you’ve shown an utter willingness to be racist, ableist, queerphobic fucks specifically targeting multiple mentally ill and disabled queer POC authors when outright lying didn’t work, then using M#GA-esque tactics straight out of the right-wing playbook to twist social justice rhetoric back on the marginalized to gaslight, bully, and deflect away from your own shittiness, then declare a win when the people you’ve been harassing are too tired to bother engaging with you.
Btw, POC can be racist against other POC. IF anything, your darling Angela is proof of that, since she uses being of Middle Eastern descent to claim her harassment of both me and a Latinx author couldn’t have a single hint of racism to motivate it.
Learn up before you try this shite.
Also remember to delete your half of DM convos with incriminating evidence about the shite you pull, claim to be so remorseful about, and then pull yet again when you feel your crusades justify it.
See, you’ve been in my LJ, too. And that’s a particular violation not because of anything you might find there, but because you felt like, just because you didn’t like me, that gave you the right to be privy to a private space with my lifelong friends, where I spent years growing and maturing and trying to find my place amidst struggles with poverty, mental health, physical health, and all the little joys and pains of daily life. You decided you had the right to private interactions with friends and the place where I vent frustrations with my difficulties with people and socialization to prove…what? That just like anyone else, I was a brash and mouthy little shite when I was 23 or so, especially when struggling to define my identity as trans and feeling like I had to prove myself against toxic masculinity standards? Or trying to prove that I’m leading some kind of double life, versus having a public life and having a private one and trying to keep some separation between the two just like anyone else whose career exists in the public eye?
According to you I’m not allowed to exist anywhere. If I share any bits of my life in public just to relate to other people I’ve befriended on social media, I’m oversharing and have no right to talk about boundaries. If I keep my life to a private space, you find your way into that space by any means necessary and justify how unethical it is because in your heads, you’re righteous and not just bullies fucking around with double standards and getting high off the harassment.
Thing is, I know you didn’t hack my LJ based on session logs, and also based on your shitty assumptions–though I also know you’ve been trawling through there based on visitor traffic when I haven’t posted there myself since 2017 and everything is friends-locked so public traffic isn’t possible. If you’d been in my actual LJ under my user name you’d have seen over a decade of posts talking about trans experiences, HRT, etc. on filtered entries open to just a few people who knew, many friends who were also trans. But that means you hacked one of my friend’s accounts to be able to view whatever entries they had access to via filters, which means you’re totally okay with collateral damage because to you anyone associated with me is automatically evil and deserves what they get.
There is something seriously wrong with every last one of your little crew. Except maybe J. I have a feeling she’s less a shitty person and more a passive enabler who just craved solidarity after how Santino and friends treated her. But maybe I’m biased because she’s the only one I ever had normal, decent human conversations with as Sakura. Though I’m willing to be wrong there, considering I’ve also watched her join in on harassing me and others.
I should probably rewind and recap for people who aren’t in the thick of this, considering you’re probably noticing that’s the @sweetsakuradoll account–and yes, that was me.
Let’s have a little chat, you and I.
Back when the Santino debacle exploded, I took on a role as Sakura because it bothered me that many people were afraid to come forward about the shite they dealt with with Santino because of Nikki’s erratic and volatile behavior, often attacking them. So I stepped in anonymously to provide a safe place for SH’s victims to speak without getting their heads torn off, as someone who believed them because I’d dealt with the shittiness of being Santino’s “friend” myself. I didn’t want to be open about who I was so as not to detract from the point and the cause.
Unfortunately that meant working directly with Nikki and company, which was…an unpleasant experience, to say the least. I tried not to get in too deep, because I understood completely why no one had believed them despite the evidence presented. They’re toxic. Being right once doesn’t make them less toxic.
So I ran #SHConfessions. I was able to be there for people like Noah and Ais, and that was all that mattered. Susan Lee stepped up to take on the heavy lifting of exposing Santino, and everything went as everything went. Once it was over, I quietly detached and went back to my life. I had my own mess to handle with Riptide, so I could just…settle, and extricate from the drama, and move forward with a clean slate. My only remaining connection to the SH mess was a Patreon pledge to Ais, because I just didn’t want to live in that space fixating on him. That included disassociating with Nikki and crew, because just as people they gave me seriously bad vibes. I didn’t want to be around them, didn’t want to see them, so they just kind of quietly faded for me and I forgot about them save for an occasional RT passing the curated lists I read. Though I mean, I’ve always known they would come for me sooner or later, and that was one of the risks of stepping up and advocating for SH’s victims. Nikki herself proved how volatile she was and how quickly she’d turn on me over the smallest difference of opinion during the entire SH mess. She was calling me Santino 2.0 even back then and said I was trying to control her just because I asked her to stop shrieking at people she wants on her side and rage-deleting the account any time someone questioned her methods. I ignored her jabs and just kept doing the work then, too, but I knew it was only a matter of time.
So moving forward, I guess I don’t fall on their radar again either until #cockygate and His Cocky Valet. What started as a joke about writing a book to challenge Faleena, dilute her market brand, and make it harder for her to universally enforce her trademark turned into a real thing when Twitter started egging me on and encouraging me to be petty. I wrote a book in a week, we had fun sharing vicarious petty, and when I threw the book up on Amazon I wasn’t expecting it to really go anywhere. I figured 20 people would buy it for the novelty and that was it. It didn’t matter; it just needed to exist as a challenge to Faleena’s trademark.
Instead it hit #1 in Gay Romance and stayed there for like a week. It’s my bestselling, most reviewed book of all time.
It’s also my lowest rated, and I mean it doesn’t shock me? I wrote it in 7 days, and it’s unrealistic fantasy wish fulfillment and a grief coping mechanism re: my Dad’s death where there was some magical handwave solution to save him plus someone strong enough and hyper-capable enough to lean on through the mess. It’s a fun book, an emotional book, but it’s going to bug some people and that’s their right.
Apparently it bugged the Nasty Birds. First apparently my motivations, as they decided that rather than just random whim, silly luck, and attempts at defiance, instead it was crass opportunism and I had somehow deliberately orchestrated the book’s success for my gain (I’m not that clever, y’all). Then, apparently, they read the book and hated it (which I didn’t find out until later).
I mean, okay??? Not everyone likes a book. And I had no idea that them not liking the book was something I was supposed to be aware of and apparently angry about until it filtered through to me that they thought I was subtweeting them about reviews I’d never read and snarky GR shelves I’d never seen, while claiming they were afraid of retaliation toward reviewers I’d never even heard of, etc. I just wasn’t engaged with this at all as I was still reeling from the sudden popularity of the book and trying to figure out how to cope with the attention, so I just…wasn’t really focused on them. When things did get back to me through the grapevine, I shrugged and ignored it. I don’t engage with reviewers on negative reviews. They kept going. I kept ignoring it. I wasn’t going to bother them and they weren’t directly addressing me, so we just…stayed in our separate spaces.
Welp, then things got weird. Apparently they started watching my conversations with people and realizing some of my friends had them blocked? I guess they’d been blocked from well before when they were showing their behinds and attacking people and no one understood why. But that was incentive enough to start screencapping and mocking my friends’ accounts based on those assumptions, assuming anything they said was subtweets about them, all for being associated with me, and all because I…wrote a book they didn’t like and then didn’t get upset when they didn’t like it?
Things went really way off the rails, though, when another author decided she wanted to defend the book and the idea of “adjacent-reality” books in general. In her tweets and her review, she discussed this and defended His Cocky Valet and the unrealistic portions of it as plot devices. She was summarily called on it, dragged, and pushed into apologizing and deleting her tweets (which I’ve seen via screencap) and her review (which I have not seen). Then the screams of “it’s happening again” and “you’re letting him get away with it” (whatever “it” is) started, because apparently…I orchestrated this?
Y’all, I didn’t even know what was going on until the author had already deleted her tweets. The first time we spoke was when I was trying to figure out what the fuck was going on and asked her what had happened, because I kept seeing my name and hers paired up when we just…didn’t know each other. Once I sussed it out, I even talked to her about why she has to be more aware of her limitations in what she can do and how she can critique reviews when she’s not just a reader, she’s an author with a platform. She apologized to me for further stirring the pot, but the damage had already been done, and the conspiracy theories spun so far out of control I honestly had no clue what was even happening anymore.
Especially when they shifted targets. Since I was ignoring them and staying on my side of the line and they weren’t getting a rise out of anyone else, they went after multiple disabled, mentally ill queer POC and Jewish authors they felt were part of my “squad,” including Lina Langley–with the help of two white male authors who had a grudge against Lina. The grounds they chose to attack her on–her, a femme Latinx enby and none of the millions of white male authors doing the thing they were crucifying her over–were a smokescreen to have someone to rip apart, only to claim they were going after the “squad” because she and I were friends and somehow all accountable for each other’s actions despite being independent adults doing our own things. Their harassment of her has remained continuous, even after they bullied her off social media and stalked her to the point of taking screenshots of her Upwork profile, as apparently having a job was a cardinal sin, too. They are constantly targeting her and mocking her books, attempting to get her delisted, etc. It’s something to do with categories? I’m not even wholly sure what the issue is. I do know that Amazon is on Lina’s side and every time the Birds and friends report her books, Lina’s contact on Amazon’s escalated customer service team restores them. They’ve specifically said she’s doing nothing wrong, so.
But here’s where things get even weirder.
Apparently a few readers stepped up to defend the subject matter of one of Lina’s more taboo books as necessary for abuse survivors who need certain types of stories as exploratory and healing tools. Somehow this, also, was…orchestrated by me? Over a book that wasn’t even my own? Because…squad…or something?
Here’s the thing, bubbies. Other people are capable of independent action and agency, and just because someone chooses to enact something pertaining to me or thinly connected to me by Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon doesn’t mean it’s an action orchestrated by me. I have no control over other people’s decisions, particularly decisions that I likely won’t approve of. And particularly the decisions of complete strangers???
That’s the bizarre thing. I don’t know the author who defended HCV. I don’t know the other people who countered the claims about both me and Lina. I even went searching to see what in any kind of idle conversation of intersecting threads could have made them think I know these people and am capable of “sending” them to “shame” anyone, and I couldn’t find anything because I had never communicated with these people in my natural life.
You want to hold me accountable for the actions of a stranger, that’s on you. You want to frame a queer MOC for the actions of a white woman because it suits your grudge, that’s still on you.
Not on me.
Also on you is calling a disabled Jewish enby sex educator and survior of sexual assault and one of the most beloved, kindest members of the queer book community a pedophile for trying to discuss fiction as a coping mechanism, etc. You really don’t care who you hurt as long as you get to be self-righteous.
So yeah. There’s a lot more, but this is the general gist of it. It’s been a nonstop campaign of harassment and inflammatory behavior, looking for everything they could to pick apart while I and anyone associated with me just…left them alone. While they assumed that all of us just going about our lives and doing our things was actually an attack on them, and assumed we were responding to their petty digs here and there when we often didn’t even know about them until long after the fact.
They even jumped in on my oddball spelling. Which then kindly descended into mocking me for being “pretend British” versus a diaspora POC who absorbed English in ways different from your typical native speakers, meaning I absorbed a kind of pidgin of hybrid British and American spellings while still being entirely American. I’ve always been honest about that and it’s even been in my FAQ for years; sometimes I try to switch it off, but it always comes back with particular spellings, particularly profanity. But you go fight the good fight and go rope in a few white dudes to help you mock the POC. Bonus points if those white dudes are British or European, and have the audacity to sneer about people from colonized countries absorbing the language that was forced on them. That’s peak woke, being from a country that forced English on a global scale and then mocking brown people for speaking it. Go you. Fight the good fight. Get those dirty diaspora POC with their pretend English.
And hey, let’s compare Lina to a show dog and then pull a Bill Clinton defending your wording as not racist by questioning the definition of “like,” because you totally get to tell POC you hurt how they’re allowed to feel about your racist behavior.
Somehow, btw, people calling them on their racism was my doing, too. Okay. And they really just love to sneer at any author discussing issues facing marginalized authors in this community as “subtweeting reviewers again.’ We’re not allowed to speak, not allowed to discuss our experiences.
And let’s not forget the fun little dog whistle of continuously comparing anyone who disagrees with you to Santino and squad, using fear of being tarred and feathered with that brush to silence people and bully them into place.
I don’t have time for all the shite you’re accusing me of; I’ve just been over here quietly living my life while you turn every idle thing I do and say into a crime. I have books to write, friends to keep up with, and increasingly minimal spoons for either with chronic illness that you, by the way, are exacerbating due to stress, so thanks for all the puking and lost hours to fatigue and depression and trauma. Pat yourselves on the back. You know you want to. I don’t think you have the moral capacity to even care about the impact of what you’re doing, what you’ve been doing, and the vulnerable minorities you’ve been targeting when you’ve decided to construct yourselves a villain, and you won’t be turned aside from that. I’m sure even now you’re hunting through your stock of GIFs for something involving lies, villainy, etc. The usuals. You’re predictable.
Now. Let’s talk about this.
That, my darlings, is why I brought up the subject of the Birds and friends getting into my LiveJournal (complete with subtweets coinciding with dates in traffic spikes on LJ metrics), because I guess this was their smoking gun–that Uber, my partner of over a year at one point, was a safety smokescreen of my own, and on my LiveJournal I discussed how much I hated it and how wrong I felt about it, and how I was going to end it because bleh.
Like you’ve never told pushy people “I have a boyfriend” so they’ll leave you alone.
Let’s rewind again. When I first came on the M/F scene as Cole McCade, after realizing I needed a new pen name because my real-me platform was built solely as an editor…I was 100% closeted–both as a MOC and as a queer man–with no idea what I was doing and no preparation at all for the attention that was going to be directed at me, and the expectations the M/F crowd would have of me. They constantly pushed these expectations of hypersexuality and sexual performance on me as a male author, constantly dug for details about my personal life, and I was so anxious and afraid of starting off on the wrong foot that I gave in. I performed sexy, I let people invade on me, I hated it. Little bits of me came out more and more, where I couldn’t stand not admitting I was brown, couldn’t stand not admitting I was bi, even if I’d said I was straight before. People go in the closet for their careers. It happens. People’s understanding of their sexualities also change. This was part of what helped me realize I was on the ace spectrum, even, after a lifetime of trying to pretend to be allosexual to fit this ideal of who a queer man is supposed to be.
The problem is I’d set a precedent, that it was okay to encroach on me sexually. And I didn’t know how to get out of it without exploding and pissing a lot of people off and tanking my career, so I pulled the “sorry, I have a boyfriend” that’s been used as long as there have been humans to deflect unwanted sexual attention. Thus Uber was born, initially as a quick deflection–but Uber came to represent pretty much everyone I dated over that period, lumped under a single umbrella. The anecdotes and such were real; the silly moments, the sweetness and the heartaches; they just didn’t all belong to the same people, as I dated a few over that time. All that mattered was that I was in a stable relationship, so people stepped back and gave me some space and respect without branding me as an arsehole for saying back the fuck off, you’re making me feel gross.
So I had my space, and I had a lie I hated, and one that became increasingly unnecessary when I had cultivated a better audience who didn’t behave that way toward me while I carefully pushed them to the other side of my sexual boundaries. I didn’t like how the lie felt, even when there was someone behind the Uber mantle (and they always knew).
So I let the last real breakup be the Uber breakup, and let it go, and only now and then shared my dating shenanigans because hey, guess what, dating as trans is hard but also sometimes pretty self-deprecatingly funny.
I’m sure that’s not enough for some, but that’s what happened. Coping mechanisms while my anxious, awkward arse flailed and tried to figure out what the hell I was doing and not get entirely swallowed up by this, and falling into peer pressure. It’s not something I’m proud of, it was a panic decision when I was overwhelmed, but it’s there.
So that’s it. Sorry I’m not the mastermind or villain I’ve been made out to be. I don’t have the energy for that.
I’d say I want to know concretely what was driving this other than some desperate need for attention and validation, but actually? I don’t want to know. I don’t care that much, and I don’t want to get dirty with that mess inside your toxic little heads.
I would rather have Santino back than watch you rampage around attempting to stir up another scandal.
At least he was honest about being a piece of shite, even if he wasn’t honest about much else.
You wanted someone new to take down once the attention you got for SH waned and you couldn’t get it back, so you created someone when no one easily and readily presented themselves as a target you could feel personally vindicated against. I have never retaliated against you or sought to hurt you in any way. I just let you sit there and continue to drag me for no reason other than your own entertainment, even while you made up shite to try to make me out as the next Santino.
Sorry. It’s just not happening.
And I’m sure I’ve given you ammunition to say “no, it’s not us, you’re pointing fingers at us and blaming us and being horrible and misinterpreting our subtweets and vaguetweets” because I stepped up and took control of this narrative out of your hands before you could trumpet your gleeful “gotcha” moment openly. That’s how you work. Shady and always giving yourself an out to twist your ugliness back onto the people you hurt.
That’s fine. I don’t care. Say what you want. Scream and rail against me. It won’t be any worse than the powerless feeling I’ve had for months, watching you be so horrible and shitty to me and anyone associated with me while I felt compelled to remain silent because of author/reader boundaries. Do what you will.
But you will not take my identity from me.
Maybe I should even be glad for this mess. All this time I’ve avoided writing trans and nonbinary and two-spirit centered stories out of fear of hurting other trans folk when they saw my personal lived experience as a trans man filtered through the lens of perceived cisness, altering its impact. I don’t have that limitation anymore, and can write my stories and tell my truths and say “this is my experience, it may not reflect yours, but it’s mine.”
And if anyone has a problem with me being trans? If you think I deceived you somehow?
One: I don’t owe you or anyone disclosure. No trans person does, especially not at the cost of our safety and often our lives. Cis people be wildin. Y’all will kill us for a hiccup in a crowded room. No sir, no ma’am, no mx. You do not get to demand that any more than you get to walk up to a stranger on the street and tell them to drop their jimmies so you can inspect the dangles and the angles. The only person/people I ever feel obligated to disclose to are intimate partners or anyone who might be looking at my credit or leasing history to understand the reason for the name change in my background checks. You are not entitled to trans folk’s identities or bodies. Being closeted is not deception. It’s self-preservation.
Two: If I am suddenly less interesting to you as a male author because I’m trans, that tells me you’re only here for the cis dick and you might want to analyze the internalized transphobia and misogyny that makes you dismiss trans men as lesser. That’s your problem. I don’t have to make it mine.
I have never been ashamed of being trans, or how that intersects with two-spirit expression in my heritage. Only private about it for the sake of my own safety and mental health, and to have something sacred to myself when having a career in the public eye tends to take everything from me, one way or the other.
I am a beautiful gender disaster, I love myself, and you can fuck right off. You will not take who I am away from me.
But I’ll still be here. I may delete my Twitter as I’ve wanted to for a while and this is reason enough when this place is just too much stress and full of too many crappy people, but I’ll still be here–writing books, publishing books, and…well…there’s really not much you can do about it. I mean, you can write to Entangled if you want to and try to get them to pull the one book I have published with them, but considering they’ve known I was trans since they hired me as an editor in 2011 or 2012, I really don’t think they’re gonna care. It’s been pretty much an open secret for a long time, and you’d be surprised how many people know and have known for a while, and said nothing because they understood it was a matter of my safety.
I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not.
Because I don’t owe you an apology for a damned thing, while you’re out here endangering my life because I wasn’t upset that you didn’t like my book.
Go get your validation kicks somewhere else.
I would recommend reading this for further clarity. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TfkELMvOYzfULhlUobNbaKuQRGNs8bfkJeGtZhNym6U/edit?usp=sharing