QUEER VOICES
10/15/2015 14:24 EDT

When Bigots Freaked Out About Campbell's Ad With Gay Dads, This Man Had A Brilliant Response

"I am coming to realize that homophobia is really just a clear cut case of fear and ignorance."

Remember the digital age activist who brilliantly trolled bigots freaking out about rainbow Doritos and Target's gender-neutral approach to signage? Well, he's back.

But for Mike Melgaard, engaging with homophobes is starting to take its toll.

When Campbell's soup released an ad featuring two gay fathers earlier this month, some anti-gay individuals predictably freaked out. But Melgaard saw the perfect opportunity to once again impersonate a customer service rep on Facebook and respond to those complaining about the ad on the Campbell's Facebook page.

Facebook

However, after several rounds of this unique form of activist trolling, Melgaard says he is beginning to realize the full weight of the nature of homophobia and the way it plays out in the digital arena. Having used the same framework multiple times, he is starting to reflect on the larger implications of anti-gay outlooks. He told The Huffington Post,

I am really trying my hardest to be other people for an instant. That doesn't sound very difficult at all, but it is emotionally draining after doing it many times. The thing that always gets to me is what it must be like for the person on the receiving end of that hate. Like, what must be going through the minds of those dads (from the commercial) to be reading the comments? What will it be like for their little boy when he grows up and sees what some of these people have said about his parents?

 
Facebook
The Huffington Post chatted with Melgaard this week about the experience of trolling these homophobic Facebook users, and what he is learning about himself -- as well as homophobia in 2015 -- while doing so.
 
The Huffington Post: What are you learning or coming to understand about the nature of homophobia through these experiences?
Mike Melgaard: I am coming to realize that homophobia is really just a clear cut case of fear and ignorance. I would also say homophobia appears to be closely correlated with a lack of good sense and/or judgment. I base that claim on the fact that the people with the most hateful and homophobic things to say are the same people who believe that I truly am a customer service representative with the last name, 'ForHelp.' So, in short, the nature of homophobia seems to equate rather well with the dictionary definition of "stupidity."  
 
Facebook
Facebook
What are you learning about yourself from these experiences?
As I keep doing this, I am realizing that it's harder for me to be as funny as the previous times. Not just because it's a repeat of what I've done already, but because seeing this same bigotry over and over again can really dig into a person.  When I read these posts, at that very moment I am putting myself in everyone's shoes for a little bit. I am really trying my hardest to be other people for an instant. That doesn't sound very difficult at all, but it is emotionally draining after doing it many times. The thing that always gets to me is what it must be like for the person on the receiving end of that hate. Like, what must be going through the minds of those dads (from the commercial) to be reading the comments? What will it be like for their little boy when he grows up and sees what some of these people have said about his parents? What about the next young teenager who has yet to come out of the closet and is too afraid to do so because of people like this? When I take into account the feelings of the people who that hate is directed towards, well, sometimes that makes it hard to turn what they're saying into something funny.  
Facebook
What do you ultimately want the world to take away from this unique form of digital activism?
Ultimately, I would love for some of the world to stop and appreciate the fact that if you're personally offended over anything, then you must have it pretty good. There are others who are not so fortunate to possess the luxury of being offended. How about we divert some of that energy into effecting positive change within the world? Because, from a productive standpoint, being angry with Campbell's Kitchen over a commercial involving two dads and their son is a pretty big waste of time and energy. Voicing your hate and dislike for something that is different from what you involve yourself with is not going to effect positive change for anyone.
 
Want to see more from Melgaard? Follow him on Facebook.
 
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