By Joe Mannetti

My name is Joe Mannetti. I am an anti-bullying blogger for the We Are 1 Voice group based in Florida. I became involved in this journey as a result of what I witnessed and experienced myself. I have not shared my personal bullying ordeal in this forum until now. This is my story.

I moved to Connecticut after the cost of living in Los Angeles became too much to handle any longer for me. I said goodbye to twenty-four sometimes challenging but mostly glorious years in July of 2010. I selected Connecticut because it was where my mother and father resided. I was broke, and I did not know where else to go. My family and I had been mostly estranged with minimal contact for over two decades while I resided in Southern California. I thought that re-connecting with them along with the relatives I had been separated from might offer some support during this transitional period of my life. 

I was in a new environment. Things were different. I expected them to be that way. But, nothing could have prepared me for what happened within almost a year of moving to what I hoped would become my new home. My father had been complaining of trouble breathing. He was scheduled for a doctor’s check-up, and I was going to drive him there and discuss the results afterwards with him. We were both concerned. My father never made his appointment. I found him dead in his house on the floor clutching his heart and reaching for the phone. I was devastated. But, the nightmare had only just begun.

My father’s relatives had always displayed a propitiatory stance with my father. While my father’s body was being dragged out in a body bag, these same relatives entered his house, broke out beer that they took from the basement, and began giving directions about how my father’s funeral would be coordinated as an event to promote their restaurant – the restaurant he had left a month before dying. I was shocked. The police were shocked. They asked them to leave the premises. They refused. Later, the funeral director informed me that he had been screamed at over the phone by one of those same relatives to take orders from her based on her business schedule regarding the funeral. The bullying had begun. When I saw a public post on social media promoting an event after the funeral at the restaurant those relatives managed, I called it out along with their vicious behavior. That was the beginning of cyber harassment directed against me that went on for close to six years. Sixteen fake profiles popped up on social media, usually impersonating people of color or LGBT people. These profiles networked with all of the people in my social media network. The comments attacking me made insulting remarks about my physical appearance, denounced me as a liar or someone who was mentally ill and not to be listened to, and they even insisted that I was unfit to support in my outreach and fundraising efforts because I had appeared in adult Gay videos.

The cyber harassment was instigated and created mostly by my father’s relatives. But, it was supported by other people in the community, individuals who were connected to the Mayor’s campaign team, local business owners, as well as members of the LGBT communities in the area. I experienced an overwhelming sense of being ganged up on by people who I had done nothing but attempt to support with fundraising and outreach. I was blind-sided each time that I witnessed one of them give a thumbs up to these posts attacking me as well as my mother. The sense of betrayal also added to the feelings of isolation and loss I was experiencing after finding my father dead. One of the fake profiles, posting comments in mock Black speak, stated that my father had been buried cheaply by us in a welfare/ghetto style casket. A local business owner who I had never met gave this post a thumbs up with cheer-leading comments. I attempted to move away from the area several times. On one such occasion this was posted, again in a racist interpretation of Black speak through this fake profile introduced by my cousin on her page as someone she described as being  as sick of Joe Mannetti as she was herself. This was one of countless fake profiles she created to post such attacks against me;

Leon Johnston

“oh no… who be running outta town? who be chased outta town? lol!!! hurry on up and get to dat next place you gonna have to leave. lol!!! we’s be watching and cheering da whole way!!! lol!!!”

When a shirtless pic of me was posted at an HIV/AIDS fundraising event, these comments attacking me were posted in response – again in fake Black speak; 

Leon Johnston

“wanna now wats fun on a rainy day? watching an idiot running around without dey shirt on. yeah, we be watching you, but only cuz we feel bad for you. tired, old and … oh yeah. tired. go away. soon. lordy!”

I blocked each and every profile, along with profiles that gave such posts a thumbs up. I never responded or engaged with the relatives or supporters who created and cheer-leaded the harassment. When they could not get to me via social media, a note with my image and vicious comments in red ink written across it was left on the windshield of my car for me to find after coming home from a Gay Pride Parade. My mother also received threatening and bullying notes in the mail. Finally, the relative who had been the chief instigator of the bullying, confronted me in a parking lot. She followed me to my car, blocked my way, and hurled insults at me insulting my masculinity while daring me to put my hands on her the entire time. 

I did go to the police. I did file reports. I did seek support. But, I was in an environment where no real effective support was offered or made available. At most, verbal warnings were delivered that resulted in little more than a proverbial light hand slap. One police officer did comment that he felt an arrest should have been made after all the evidence and harassment that had been documented. He believed that “something internal” had blocked the arrest. The small-town environment I was in at that time is built on a foundation  of cronyism. The Captain of the police department in New London, Connecticut was a relative of the same relatives who were cyber bullying and attacking me. The Mayor of the town and many other public officials were all regulars at the business those same relatives managed as well as being close personal friends with them. I was also in a much more provincial environment with no comparable semblance of an LGBT community like the one I had enjoyed being connected to in  Los Angeles. I had lost my support system.

In looking back, I have recognized a few truths.
1. I have learned that bullies consistently pick vulnerable targets. I sensed, from the beginning, that I was an outsider when I moved to Connecticut from Los Angeles. I perceived this even before the cyber attacks took place.

2. The ability to attack was made more readily available when I was more vulnerable after the death of my father. All of us, no matter how strong, have moments in our lives when we are in a more fragile state than others. Experiencing the death of a loved one is always a difficult time. It was immediately following my father’s death that the viciousness of the bullying and cyber bullying intensified. I was an easier target to those who were predisposed to bullying me from the beginning. They simply waited for the most opportune moment to launch in with their attacks.

3. There was nothing in Connecticut that matched the level of LGBT communities that were my support systems in places like Los Angeles or New York. This also allowed me to be an easier target. There was not much effective support offered to me while I was being cyber bullied in Connecticut, and nobody in any position of authority or leadership stepped up to confront the bullying. In fact, a great many influential people in those communities actually supported and encouraged it. This allowed it to continue and escalate. 

4. Bullies rarely continue to be bullies without support. What allowed the cyber bullying that targeted me to go on for years was the support the bullying received from so many people, some of them in high ranking public official positions. The support that they offered, and continue to offer, came in the form of silence or refusing to call it out, pretending that they did not know about it, or actually joining in with attacks themselves. None of the bullying was ever effectively confronted, and none of the people involved with it have ever taken responsibility or apologized for it. Not one person from any local LGBT organizations that I had supported in the area stepped up or took a stand against the bullying that had attacked me as well as others in the LGBT communities along with the people of color who had been mocked all over social media with the fake profiles. This stood in stark contrast to LGBT individuals and allies from Los Angeles to New York who overwhelmingly called it out. 

LGBT people need safe spaces. This is especially so in environments where there is an overwhelming lack of diversity or LGBT communities. I was made a target for a variety of reasons. But, one of the chief variables was the overwhelming lack of a supportive and diverse LGBT environment that I experienced when I moved from one location to another. 

Individuals, particularly LGBT individuals, need to have a readily available and effective support service that they can contact if they are being attacked or cyber bullied.

Excluding people or dismissing their pain as “whining” when they reach out for support can often make them internalize a sense of shame over the entire situation. I experienced this profoundly. If a supportive environment is perceived in which the individual feels he or she can be heard as well as be themselves, it can save a life.

Nobody knows how to deal with all of this when it happens to them or someone they love. It’s learning process. I am still learning. The Tyler Clementi Foundation is helping all of us learn together. We have only just begun to take cyber bullying seriously.

Joe Mannetti is an anti-bullying blogger, public speaker, and multi-award winning LGBT activist. He has a Master’s degree in counseling, and he currently resides in Florida.




By Joe Mannetti

I want to share with you some comments gleaned from an internet chat forum. This is the link to the complete comments posted:

These are some comments I have chosen to highlight from the above link:
“I honestly feel cyberbullying is a joke. In this day and age, I feel people have been prone to hypersensitivity.”

“The fact that people kill themselves over cyberbullying is sad in the sense that people are that ignorant and sensitive.”

“Cyber Bullying doesn’t exist, its a way for people to get attention. Bullying is, in my opinion, often at fault of the victim. People don’t just bully you for no reason, you have to give them a reason.”

“Being bullied for being gay is a bit different, then again, homophobes have an opinion as well, if you are gay, and you know somebody is a homophobe, the smart option would be to not tell them you are gay? They have just as much of a right to not like gay people, as you have to be gay.”

“Also there is no excuse to claim to be cyber bullied, it doesn’t exist, its a stupid fiction people use to get attention. I am constantly being told by people how much they hate me, mainly because I am open with my opinion, and my views on most subjects differ from most people, that doesn’t mean I’m cyber bullied, cyber bullying does not exist, and that’s not an opinion, that is a fact.”

“Though I do somewhat consider actual bullying a problem, cyber bullying is not a big deal as you can always avoid it. People need to realize that this isn’t a nice world so stop being so sensitive.”

Although these comments may disturb others who have experienced being cyber bullied, I think it is important for us to hear them and confront the reality that they present to us. The hard facts are that quite a few people feel this way about cyber bullying. In fact, you may encounter police officers, school officials, employment managers who secretly or not so secretly harbor the same take on the issue of internet harassment.

But, recent events in the news and statistics contradict claims that cyber threats and harassment are petty and to be ignored. As a mental health counselor, I was trained to always take a threat posed by an individual seriously and report it, whether it be a threat of suicide or a threat to harm others. Laws regarding my duty to report were implemented when others failed to report such threats, and the actions that were threatened were actually carried out. Threats and harassment should always be taken seriously.

Here is another fact to consider. If one examines any cycle of abuse or harassment, a consistent pattern emerges. A predator inflicting any type of bullying on a target always starts off with initial nudges that will often escalate into full blown assaults. Ask any number of individuals who have suffered domestic abuse. It usually began with insults in public that were ignored or dismissed. Eventually, it escalates to cutting off ties with the target’s friends and support system by the predator/abuser. This can be accomplished by the predator convincing the target that friends are not genuine or the predator even going out of the way to spread rumors to the target’s friends that convince them to disown the target. Once the target is deemed most vulnerable and broken down, the bully goes in for the kill/attack, often with physical abuse or sometimes even worse. This is the classic cycle of abuse.

Cyber bullying follows the same rules. What begins as swipes against a target on social media can escalate to stalking, threatening notes, vandalism of a target’s property, and eventually even direct physical confrontations. The very nature of predatory behavior is a relentlessness that seeks to continue intimidating the chosen target with increasing aggressiveness. It is often not something that can be simply ignored in order to make it go away. 

Finally, ask yourselves what might have happened had the police and other officials chosen to ignore the recent cyber threats made against our communities. People were actually injured and more were threatened to be injured in the future. Even if bombs are not detonated or death threats are not actually made, cyber bullying destroys reputations, costs people jobs, and results in suicides in too many cases. It is an aggressive form of personal assault, an invasion of privacy, and a relentless form of harassment that does not go away by simply ignoring it.

We currently live in a society that supports institutionalized bullying in far too many cases. Targets who are bullied for the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, physical handicap, foreign accents, or any difference they have no control over cannot or should not be told to hide their individuality in order to avoid being made the target of any bully or predator. Our approach and stance towards bullying needs to seriously change if we are ever to make progress. That includes our attitudes towards cyber bullying.

Thank you.



By Joe Mannetti


Dear Friends,

I have been blocked from posting on Facebook for the second time. The first time was for 24 hours. This time it is for three days. I received a message upon logging on to my page tonight that this block was implemented in response to the screen shot post that I initially placed on my page as a warning to our communities based on the threats that were contained in it from Craig Jungwirth towards LGBT people. Here is a copy of that screen shot that I posted as a warning to others.


This post went viral. It was shared close to 800 times thanks to so many of you caring enough to make a difference and not be intimidated by Craig Jungwirth. The post has been removed from my Facebook page, and I am blocked.
This post has been on the news, and it has been brought to the attention of the police. I have no clue how Facebook justifies censoring me for being the one to initially post it. Will they ask the news or other media to refrain from broadcasting it as well?
I thank all of you for continuing to spread the word without being intimidated. I am in Facebook jail. Facebook is allowing an individual who threatened our communities to bully the person who called him out by silencing my ability to continue posting or communicate on their social media. In the meantime, Facebook allows cyber bullies like Craig Jungwirth to remain on Facebook to post freely.
I will continue to speak out. I hope that you will too.This is further proof of the need to lobby for better and more proactive anti-bullying guidelines implemented by social media like Facebook. News items broadcasting potential cyber threats against the lives of countless LGBT people should not be grounds for punitive censorship that protect the perpetrator. This type of response from Facebook is what helps to maintain any bully’s sense of entitlement.

There is still much work to be done.
Thank you.

Much Love,
Joe Mannetti



“Onstage, it’s one thing…But the shit people say on the Internet, it’s, like, How do you not understand that you’re saying this about a human being?” – Leslie Jones

By Joe Mannetti



In an article published on August 26, 2016 titled “The Shameful Trolling of Leslie Jones,” author Andrew Marantz writes;

Earlier this week, someone hacked Jones’s Web site, posting what seemed to be nude photos of her, an image of her passport, and a picture of Harambe the gorilla. This is the sleaziest chapter in an ongoing saga that might be called Jones v. the Worst People on the Internet. Who are these people, and what could they possibly want? The most insidious possible justification for their actions is “free speech.” Last month, the notorious troll Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter after insulting Jones. Yiannopoulos and his supporters immediately declared themselves free-speech martyrs. At, the site that employs Yiannopoulos (and was run, until recently, by the C.E.O. of Donald Trump’s campaign), a commenter wrote, “It looks like social media is banishing the first amendment.”

He continues;

Yelling fire in a crowded theatre is not protected speech—unless the theatre really is on fire, in which case it is… Are Jones’s tormentors expressing a compelling ideology or are they merely using fighting words? Either way, it’s hard to imagine a court taking seriously the argument that a Twitter ban can be a First Amendment violation, for the simple reason that Twitter is not Congress and a company’s security policy is not a law… Just as not all speech is protected speech, not all shocking gestures are shock humor. A picture of Harambe is not a punch line; it’s just a punch. A transgression of social norms might be clever or artless. It might tickle the same part of the brain stem that good comedy does. It might even elicit a laugh. That alone does not make it defensible.

I have previously stated in articles prior to the Jones cyber bullying incident that bullies and cyber bullies act out of a sense of entitlement and invincibility. They also consistently cry victim after instigating attacks on their targets, especially when the bully’s sense of superiority over others is challenged or called out. This is nothing new. Statistically, any bully along with all the bully’s cohorts will never, under any circumstances, accept responsibility or be challenged to face consequences for their behavior if they can avoid it. The intent of bullying is to annihilate the self-esteem, the reputation, and any sense of value the target of the bullying may have had before the assaults began. Bullying is an aggressive and often relentless act of emotional, mental, and sometimes physical abuse intended to shatter and destroy the spirit and well-being of its intended target. Cyber bullying is no different, and it is no less damaging. The suicides that have been linked to it attest to this sobering fact.

Marantz concludes;

… I’ve been imagining Twitter as a kind of comedy club. There are hecklers in the audience. At first, it’s all in good fun—Jones turns on them one by one, and, using her superior wit, destroys their entire existence. But they don’t know when they’ve been defeated: they continue yelling racist epithets, then they take Jones’s wallet and scatter her personal possessions, and then they cover the stage with lewd imagery, ruining the show for everyone else. There’s no question that the club would be within its rights to eject the hecklers. What I find harder to predict is what would happen next, when the hecklers gathered on the sidewalk outside the club, now even angrier than before.




By Joe Mannetti


Bullies and their supporters do need to be called out and confronted. They all need to face responsibility and consequences in order to make the bullying stop. It is a misconception to think that ignoring or avoiding them will make the bully and the bully’s cohorts go away or cease their behavior. Here’s why. Bullies and their followers thrive on a sense of entitlement and invincibility. This is reinforced when they are not held accountable, forced to face consequences, or take responsibility for their actions. They gloat over over getting away with the bullying behavior, seeing their targets suffer, or witnessing the focus being placed on their targets.
Bullies never work alone. It’s part of the bullying system. All must be held accountable and provided with learning moments in order to change the dynamics that allow bullying to thrive in the first place. Support and effective coping strategies must be provided to the bully’s targets. But, it is not enough, and it is not effective without equal emphasis placed on confronting and calling out the bully and all the bully’s accomplices and supporters. These include the bully’s cheerleaders, the quiet bystanders who witness bullying and do nothing about it, and the followers who support any bully.
Accountability and facing consequences responsibly must be what we focus on with the bullies and all those who make their bullying thrive as well. Otherwise, we are just spinning our wheels.



By Joe Mannetti


It is important to acknowledge an important aspect of bullying during any discussion about it.


We all play roles when bullying takes place, and they all have a significant impact. In an article published on April 17, 2013, the author defines bullying as;
“…abuse committed repeatedly against a victim that escalates over time, where the perpetrator appears to enjoy the power to intimidate and hurt. It shows a lack of empathy, compassion, and respect for others. It is predator behavior and we are charged morally and legally to prevent it from happening, and to take swift action when it does.”

The author goes on to identify the following roles involved in any bullying situation. They include:

  • Victim (target of the bullying)
  • Perpetrator and co-perpetrator (the bullies) – The perpetrator and co-perpetrators decide on a target, someone they perceive as weaker and more vulnerable than they are. They make a decision to tease, demean, threaten, dominate, and hurt the victim, and then they corner and attack.
  • Ally (defender of the target) – An ally or defender is a bystander or member of the audience who makes a decision to do something to stop the bullying. It could even be a cheerleader or co-conspirator who has a change of heart and realizes it is wrong. The ally steps in and advocates for the victim by telling the bully to stop, helping the victim get away from the situation, and telling an adult or authority figure what happened.
  • Bystander (is aware it is happening) – A bystander is aware of or actually witnesses the bullying, and the audience stands by and watches the bullying happen. In both cases they do nothing to intervene and help the victim. Their choice allows the violence to continue and, by their silence, they become accomplices.
  • Audience (congregates and watches) – This is not a passive or neutral stance. As stated above, this choice allows the violence to continue and, by their silence, the audience become accomplices.
  • Cheerleader (actively encourages the violence) – Cheerleaders actively encourage the attack by verbally egging on the bully, suggesting things to do to the victim, laughing and cheering, and verbally abusing the victim. The perpetrator and cheerleaders feed off of each other and escalate the violence. Cheerleaders can easily cross the line and become co-perpetrators.

Each of these roles are a choice made by the individual. Each one involves consequences, and each role impacts the lives of those being bullied. This includes verbal, physical, and cyber bullying. Bullying involves all of us, and all of us have the opportunity to choose roles that can prevent, confront, and stop it.




By Joe Mannetti


Bullying is not just about what happens to young people, including LGBTQ youth. When I witness LGBTQ youth today flashing epic entitlement while trashing and rudely dismissing their LGBTQ elders who made it possible for so many of them to have the opportunities that they have today, it infuriates me. LGBTQ youth 
are displaying inexcusable behavior when they ignore and dismiss the value of elder folks who volunteered their time for them, supported them with grass-roots fundraising, fought for the rights that so many of your privileged young selves enjoy today, and buried so many of their peers along the way in the process. When you deliberately snub the older folks who fought and paved the way for you, that is a form of bullying too. Wise up, young ones None of us got a free ride. You don’t get one either without rolling up your sleeves, helping your communities, and learning some history so that you know enough to realize that the older queer you just insulted made that housing project possible, that LGBTQ youth event happen, or that program supporting you a reality. Knock off the shade. There is a world that was happening long before you came on the scene. LGBT liberation did not suddenly begin with your generation, and it won’t thrive without you acknowledging the contributions of others who came before you. Supporting young people is important. No argument. But, making the overwhelming focus on youth and young people while negating and ignoring the needs of our elders is wrong, and it needs to change. The core of all that is valuable is not solely based on glorifying one race, one gender, one sexual orientation, one finacial bracket, or one age group. In the meantime, learn some history, and start showing some respect.


By Joe Mannetti


In an article by Noreen Malone and Amanda Demme titled “I’m No Longer Afraid’: 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen” that was published on July 26, 2015, thirty-five women came forward to tell their accounts of alleged abuse at the hands of famed actor and performer Bill Cosby. The number of similar accounts has grown to almost fifty plus as others have come forward to recount strikingly similar incidents of being duped, drugged, and sexually violated by Mr. Cosby.


When Christina Crawford published her account of the decades of abuse she reported enduring at the hands of her famous adoptive parent, movie star Joan Crawford, celebrities in Hollywood and others came forward to attest to the truth of her tale. In both cases, there have also been naysayers denouncing the validity of the claims made against both Mr. Cosby and Miss Crawford respectively. During one public appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, Lana Turner’s daughter Cheryl Crane even admitted confronting her own mother asking her if people in the community had known about what Christina was enduring as detailed in her horrific account in “Mommie Dearest.” Cheryl reported that her mother admitted that “we all knew.” But, “we were trained to take care of our own, and keep quiet back then.”

She also admitted, as others did, that people were afraid of what might happen to Christina if an intervention failed after anyone dared to speak out resulting in even more potential abuse being perpetrated against Christina in retaliation by her adoptive mother. After all, Joan Crawford was a very famous and powerful woman with many connections. Ditto for Mr. Cosby.

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and public figures are commonly used for target practice by countless individuals inside and outside of the media. The issue here is how bullying and abuse works when the truth is hidden and people choose to remain silent in any given situation. I think that it is important to appreciate that silence is what bullies, sociopaths, and other predators rely on in order to maintain their sense of power over others. It is also what allows them to continue their rampages against numerous targets without ever facing consequences. In some cases, they get away with wreaking horrendous damage to multiple individuals and even entire communities if they are never exposed and called out. 

Bully and abuse targets usually have to find safe ways to remove themselves from their tormentors before they can effectively call them out and make them held accountable for their behavior. In the case of a target, silence can have a different power. Sometimes, until the target is safely in a place of empowerment with an effective support system, the silence is strategically necessary – for a time. But, the silence maintained by others is another story.

As countless reports reveal after the fact, there are consistently throngs of people who knew what was taking place all along. But, they chose to do nothing about it. These can include peers, locals in any community, and even public officials and law enforcement. The choice to remain silent or even support and protect a known bully or predator can be made due to:
(a) Fear of being attacked or maligned themselves by the bully/predator.

(b) Connections to the bully/predator that prevent them from feeling comfortable calling him or her out (co-worker, friend, friend of a friend, or connected to an ally in public office).

(c) Secretly or not so secretly sharing the bully/predator’s agenda and actually choosing to take part in their attacks for the sense of superiority it offers them.

(d) Being convinced of falsehoods told to them by the bully/predator that convince them to join in with attacking their chosen target. A bully/predator will be as deceitful and manipulative as possible in order to gain support. He or she will even go so far as to convince others that HE or SHE is the actual victim and not the perpetrator of the bullying. As a rule, bullying behavior relies on ruthlessly maligning and damaging the character and reputation of any chosen target.

(e) Knowing of the bully/predator’s connections to individuals in positions of authority, and fearing repercussions as a result of them.

Bullies and predators, as a rule, are cowardly. They need the support of gangs, mobs, peers, businesses, and public officials who they invariably latch on to with promises, favors, lies, or even threats based on dirt they may threaten to expose about others if they do not remain loyal to them. The deafening silence that surrounds anyone who abuses others is based on fear and the sense of helplessness that others around them internalize. Exposing the truth about anyone who you know is abusing or has abused others without ever facing consequences is not about being vindictive. It is about calling out abusive behavior, offering those who have suffered in the silence a sense of support and closure, and presenting the abuser with an opportunity to finally face consequences and take responsibility for abusive behavior honestly and directly. Then, the healing can finally take place.




By Joe Mannetti


I will keep this brief, concise, and to the point.

Please, let’s address her (Caitlyn Jenner) as she, since that IS her gender identity.
However, you may refer to the media that misguidedly promotes and celebrates shallow and vapid values as IT.

Thank you.