One question I often get, is how and why am I so open and candid about my past as a Neo-Nazi? My answer is multifaceted as no simple answer will do, this is too complex a topic, but one I’m happy to broach. I wasn’t always open to talking about my past, especially in the beginning when I’d first left. It took quite a bit of work for me to get comfortable in my own skin, but once I did, I opened up to the world about everything.
Since opening up and working on myself for a few years, I’ve given innumerable interviews, have written dozens upon dozens of articles, which I supposed has made it easier and easier to open up. I also created and work rather hard on this website, which I absolutely love. Coupled with my work countering extremism, holding interventions, and working with Beyond Barriers as its Associate Director, I have been hard at work to gain redemption.
…but that’s not the only reason why I’m so candid.
I don’t want people that I meet looking me up online and finding out something they didn’t already know, so I generally let everyone I meet know upfront. There is no use in forging friendships with others if they are predicated upon an omission, or that can be destroyed instantly by an omission. I find in all things, honesty is the best policy, even if the lie is intended to spare someone’s feelings, it can blow up very quickly.
I want people to know my story, both as a warning to those considering joining the movement or who are thinking of leaving it, and as a story of change and redemption. If my story can keep someone from joining or help someone thinking about leaving a life of hate, or inspire someone in some way, mission accomplished. Even if it reaches one person and helps them be a better person in some way, I consider it a success.
…but wait, there’s more…
I’m not that person anymore. Honestly, I don’t look, think, speak, act, or believe as my former self, I have very little in common with that person at all. Talking about my past today feels no different from talking about the dead, neither the dead nor that person exists anymore. While I take 100% accountability for that person, I also acknowledge that I am not them any longer and haven’t been for a long time. I have over the years actively worked to change myself, mend gaps, and seek out redemption in the world, and this continues to this very moment.
So, I am very open, I will always answer questions or give interviews, I am not my past, I am my present and future, I am me now.