I recently had the opportunity to interview activist Brandt Russo about his Operation Starvation, a hunger strike to raise $15,500 to feed starving children. Yesterday Reject Apathy--which is Relevant Magazine's social justice-themed digital magazine--published the article online, and it got some good feedback.
Then this morning I checked the website to see if I received any more comments. There was a comment that read "To see Brandt's latest project, click this link." I click the link, and it was a picture of Brandt naked. Since I was at work, I quickly clicked away. I couldn't investigate it, so I just dismissed the commenter as a troll. About five minutes before my shift ended, I checked the website again, and there were a few more comments. Two of them said nasty things about Brandt, and the third one was from Brandt himself.
He said that he's been struggling with pornography addiction for years, and it was time for him to get help. He also wrote about it on his Facebook page.
After dinner I checked my email and saw that Brandt sent me a message on Twitter. "Did they seriously delete the article?" he said. "I'm sorry for all of that drama, dude." I checked the website and sure enough, the article was gone. One of the Relevant editors emailed me and said they took the article down because they didn't want to start a flame war: one half calling Brandt a fake, and the other half defending Brandt. I emailed him back and said I understood. Then I emailed Brandt and told him I'll be praying for him.
On one had I'm kind of disappointed, but on the other hand I admire Brandt for being so honest about his struggle. I can understand where he's coming from, too. Many times I've felt like I had to put on a mask and pretend that I have it all together. Meanwhile my dark secrets eat me up inside. Guilt and shame torture me day and night. I feel like I'm dying, but I don't want to say anything, because I'm afraid of being exposed as a liar.
But confessing is the first step towards healing. When Jesus said, "Ask, and you shall receive," He wasn't lying. In those dark moments when I'm at my lowest and I"m on my knees begging for help, I hear that still small voice saying, "I'm here." And then the healing begins, slowly but surely.
I pray for Brandt and his healing. It's a shame all this had to happen at once. But hopefully now he can get some help.