Response to hate speech accusations | Guest Column

Editors note: The Joyce L. Sobel Family Resource Center has stated that they did not criticize the speaker but informed the Marikavitches that they do not co-host speaker events put on by other parties. See the San Juan Island Pride Foundation’s response May 18 comment about this event, see, and the Mullis Senior Community Centers May 10 comment at, as well as Owen Ellis and community members in support of trans youth on May 11 at

Recently my wife and I were accused of being associated with, and participating in “hate speech.”

The source is our association with Nicolas Blooms, a 23-year-old gay man we scheduled to bring to Friday Harbor for a speaking engagement. When my wife Maureen started planning this event back in January, the first group she contacted for support was the SJI Pride Foundation. After attempting contact for a month, they finally emailed they “didn’t have time in their meeting agenda to discuss her speaker.”

When Nicolas was 18 he “identified” as a woman, and began “transitioning” by taking prescribed female hormones. Over the next two years, he realized he was just a feminine gay man, and learned to love himself and love his body as it was. After discovering this freeing message of self-love, Nicolas stopped taking the hormones, which made him a “detransitioner.” Nicolas’ message: You can heal through gender dysphoria instead of succumbing to it with medical or surgical interventions.

We were comfortable sponsoring Nicolas to speak in Friday Harbor because his message is all about love, and the empathy and kindness in his delivery is gentle enough to be heard beyond people’s fears or concerns surrounding the subject matter.

To further engage the community prior to Nicolas’ speaking dates, my wife contacted the Public Library, the Public Schools, the Family Resource Center, and individuals from the Pride community. She offered everyone all the information about Nicolas, who he is, what he does and says, etc. The reasons given for not supporting Nicolas was “he doesn’t belong here,” “he’s not a qualified speaker,” or “he’s too hot to handle.”

Nobody mentioned “hate speech” in the months leading up to the speaking event, until the evening before when the Grange called and canceled our venue, saying our speaker was associated with “hate speech.” The same happened two days later from the Mullis Center.

The “hate speech” rumor was generated through general, internet-accessible information put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has determined the organization Gays Against Groomers (GAG) has done hate speech, and Nicolas was sponsored by GAG to speak to a Public School Board regarding transgender messaging to kids. This simple association was the “hate speech” connection, which was spread locally by individuals through social media, and condemned my wife and I and Nicolas as spreaders of hate speech. Nobody asked us, or checked with us—they just canceled us. The fact our message was 100% love and 0% hate had nothing to do with reality in Friday Harbor.

We offered our community the opportunity to hear a different perspective about gender transitioning, a topic being talked about by youth (school kids) more than it has ever been talked about before. This “conversation” has been acted upon in recent years with surgical interventions by under-18 individuals on SJI (statement verified by personal knowledge). The exclusive messaging brought forward from our community is “trans is great” or “be inclusive” or “believe your children if they say they’re trans.” We simply offered the message: “love yourself and love your body how it exists.”

We offered an opportunity to engage in civil discourse around this subject. In response we were labeled promoters of “hate speech,” had our events canceled through pressure of a vocal minority, and when we did meet in a public park, protesters showed up in several cars, honking their horns and hurling expletives. As they disrupted our event we tried to engage conversation with them, but they (except for one) refused to speak to any of us, even as their signs read “have you talked to a trans-person lately?”

Discerning what constitutes “hate speech” by following internet threads is a very precarious path. A better idea is to ask questions to the person that sparks the question in the first place… People should not be afraid to voice their opinion or listen to other viewpoints. When something is wrong or contradictory it should be able to be called out in a civil manner. Information learned from personal conversation is way more valuable than information from the internet. These are the foundations of civil discord, and it would be nice if they were practiced a more in Friday Harbor.

To learn more about why we brought Nicolas to speak in Friday Harbor, please listen to Maureen being interviewed on KIRO Radio by host John Curley, at

Sincerely, Matt Marinkovich,

San Juan Island