After I wrote yesterday about hockey blogger Mikey likely being a fraud, I received a request from Jackson to run an article he was writing. I verified his identity (including his photos) and agreed to not use his last name.
As someone in the same peer group that Mikey was targeting in his blog, Jackson wrote a terrific piece on the hoax and its impact. It's well worth your time.
The Effects of the Mikey Hoax
About two months ago, I began following hockeykidmn.com, a web blog authored by a 17-year-old gay hockey player named Mikey, after having read about the site from Outsports.com. In many ways, Mikey portrayed the life of a typical teenager who was into sports. Mikey’s discussions about his personal struggles with his own sexuality and his gentle personality helped to attract a lot of traffic to his blog. These qualities made Mikey somewhat of a hero to many young readers and a community was born around his blog.
I am an 18-year-old from Canada who officiates junior hockey. As someone who is mostly out of the closet, the blog provided me with an opportunity to connect with other gay sportspeople around my age. Though I didn’t need Mikey or his blog to accept myself, I appreciated being a small part of the community.
As the popularity of his blog increased, Mikey attracted the attention of several websites, including Outsports.com and 365gay.com. He was also interviewed on a gay-themed podcast. All of these things added to the legitimacy of his character.
As Mikey drew closer to some of the members of the community, his true identity was revealed: Mikey was not a 17-year-old, but rather an older imposter. Though I can imagine that all of the readers were shocked to some degree, young readers will certainly be most affected. For many, Mikey’s website was the first chance to accept their feelings and communicate them with others.
For this reason, some observers and members have reacted inappropriately to the new-found reality about Mikey’s identity. Some have refused to accept that they were fooled by a very skilled con man, saying that the real Mikey created the idea of a hoax in order to protect his identity. If Mikey was the caring person that he appeared to be on his site, he would never have left all of the struggling kids as he did for selfish reasons.
Others have unfairly tried to shift the blame for this situation on to other members of the community, whose generosity was exploited by this person to perpetuate the lie that he or she created in the first place. To blame these individuals or to try and implicate them is unwarranted, and only further complicates an already difficult situation for them.
Meanwhile, some have expressed the suggestion that this person’s actions are defensible because they resulted in the creation of a positive environment for young gay teens. However, the actions of this person are not defensible. The ends do not justify the means. Mikey’s story was filled with lies and deception. This deception went beyond his blog posts, as he communicated directly with several of his readers on a regular basis. Defending this individual in any way is damaging for the following two reasons:
The first is that this sends a horrible message to gay youth who often struggle to find positive role models. Many of Mikey’s young followers put a lot of trust into the truth of Mikey’s existence. When the reality of Mikey’s identity was revealed, this showed that the one reason for these young people to believe in themselves was a falsehood. Though one would hope that they will take the best from this experience, they will probably have a hard time putting trust in others again.
The second reason is that it will most certainly be more difficult for a real gay teenager to make a difference through an Internet following like Mikey did, as one of the reasons why the blog became so popular was the exposure that it received from reputable sources. With this experience, it is unlikely that these sources will consider promoting a blog of this sort, despite the tremendous potential that these kinds of online communities have.
I believe that this experience teaches us an important lesson about the dangers of immoderate worship. For many, Mikey was a hero because he was just like many other gay teenage athletes. These same people put a lot of faith in the story of Mikey, which is why it was so devastating when it turned out to be false. It is always necessary to question our beliefs and prepare ourselves for unexpected turns of events, and hopefully this affliction will remind us of this.
To any gay teens who may be reading this, please do not feel alone. There are young gay athletes out there, and even though Mikey turned out to be false, the people that came together as a result of his blog were real, living people whose feelings were hurt by this ordeal. People like Corey Johnson and Brendan Burke are real, just like you, and these people are real heroes. Perhaps the next gay teen role model will come out of this experience. Regardless, one can only hope that those affected by the fall of Mikey will come to be stronger as a result.