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Gay Lawmaker Brian Sims, Tired Of Bigotry, Calls Online Troll’s Grandmother

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By Paul P. Murphy

When an online troll posted a racist and bigoted message on Brian Sims’ Facebook page, he didn’t pull any punches—he called the troll’s grandma.

screen-shot-2017-04-27-at-4-24-13-pmChecking social media for Pennsylvania State Rep. Sims is a morning ritual, like it is for many Americans. Except Sims, Pennsylvania’s first openly gay state representative, also monitors and reports bigoted postings on his Facebook page.

Enter Facebook user David.

Sims, a Democrat from Philadelphia who spoke at the Red Dinner in Houston this month, did not tell CNN David’s full name, or the name of his grandmother.

“Normally when someone like that uses that language, it’s because of something I’ve done,” Sims said. “He didn’t have much up on his page. But if you click down a bit, he told people repeatedly to call him on a number.”

So, Sims called it and introduced himself to David’s grandmother, who answered the phone, Sims told CNN. “I then explained to her why I was calling.”

Sims said the woman was very frustrated and disappointed with her grandson; he asked if she would have David reach out to him and left his office number.

“He and I did speak briefly,” Sims said. “It did not resolve anything.”

Bigoted posts like this are frequent on Sims’ page, so much so that he’s well-versed in the Facebook reporting process.

“The folks at Facebook were both appalled and very responsive,” Sims said. “I’m waiting to see what the response will be.”

For Sims, this interaction with an online troll will always be special.

“Reaching his grandmother was certainly something I never intended to do,” Sims said. “But I suppose in the back of my mind, hoped would happen.”




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John Wright

John Wright is the editor of OutSmart magazine. He has spent two decades in the mainstream and LGBTQ media. Most recently, he served as senior editor of Dallas Voice, and covered LGBTQ issues in the state Legislature for The Texas Observer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Wright earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida. He resides in the EaDo area of Houston, where he is currently remodeling a 1930s row house.

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