TMI About me

Submitted by Larry on 22 March 2017 - 3:49pm

Recently, I've become aware of a whisper campaign going around the Drupal world, discussing details about my personal life. I do not know where it started or who all has been part of it. However, it's become apparent that it's not going to settle down, and has now had a major, direct impact on me and my professional career. Only a few people have bothered to speak to me directly, but there's been enough back-chatter that I feel I have no choice but to clarify some private details about me, in public, and address the actions of some fellow members of the Drupal community.

Yep, this is one of those "self-outing" posts. I'm sorry that they still need to exist.

About Drupal

One of the things I've always liked about the Drupal community is its openness to diversity. The tech world in general has a well-documented problem with diversity and Drupal is by no means immune to that, but the Drupal community at least makes a strong effort to buck that trend, very much to its credit and benefit.

There are gays and lesbians in Drupal, many of whom are open and out about it. There are transgender people involved in Drupal. If event attendance is a guide the community is about 20% women, far lower than most would like but far higher than is typical for Open Source projects. There are people who are polyamorous and people who are asexual. There are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, and probably a few others I've not met personally yet. While the community as a whole definitely skews liberal, I know there are plenty of people far to the right of me politically on various topics, as well as far to the left.

That eclectic background of our community is an asset. Every study shows that teams of mixed backgrounds, along many axes, do better. Even if that mixed environment makes people a bit uncomfortable at times, that's a benefit. There's even a session on the topic at DrupalCon Baltimore (that you should all go to).

In short, "ignorance", "prejudice", and "bigotry" are words I never thought I would apply to Drupal.

What I don't bring to work

While western culture has grown dramatically more tolerant of diverse practices and lifestyles in the past few decades, there is still much work to be done. In particular, there is still an enormous stigma around those who practice alternative sexuality lifestyles, such as the BDSM community, Leather community, and so on. Why there is still so much bigotry about what consenting adults do in their private lives I don't know (and speculating on that would be off topic at this time), but it's definitely prevalent. Even the mention of practicing a Dominant/submissive relationship, despite being consensual and healthy, can be enough for over-active courts to take children away from their parents. The mere mention of an unequal power dynamic, or finding enjoyment in mixing pain and pleasure, makes people assume it must be abusive, despite there being no scientific evidence to back that up at all, and at least some interest in unconventional sexuality is extremely prevalent. That's why I generally avoid talking about my personal life with people I know professionally, and until now none of my employers have been aware of any of this.

Yes, I am one of those people.

There are as many variations on "hierarchical relationships" (the generic, academic name) as there are people in them, and there are tens of thousands of people in them. The level of in-relationship inequality varies, as does the terminology used. Sometimes they're limited to certain times or places, while other relationship dynamics are all-encompassing and part and parcel of someone's life and relationship. Some people like being in control in a relationship, while others like someone else having control.

The broadest terms are Dominant and submissive (or Dom/sub, or D/s), but other terms used include Daddy and little (for those who enjoy roleplaying with age), Goddess and servant, Sir and sub, or Master and slave (or M/s), depending on the couple and their emotional approach. Despite the terminology being similar to the (rightly) illegal practice of treating people as legal property, that is not even remotely how people and communities involved in such relationship choices act. First and foremost, such relationships must always be based on informed, active consent.

I am involved in two such communities, specifically the BDSM community and the Gorean (Gor) community. The former is by far the larger of the two and more varied, although I spend more of my time and activity in the Gorean community. It's a small community, and sadly much of what is found online about it is utter crap, just as most in the BDSM community find the "50 Shades" representation of BDSM to be harmfully misleading. The Gorean subculture is inspired by a science-fiction book series written from the 1960s onward to today, and predicated on a strong sense of personal honor, integrity, and community. It also practices consensual Master/slave relationships, and has a strong gender bias toward male-Dom/female-sub relationships, but that is not the cornerstone of Gorean culture. There are other groups that are biased the other way, or have no gender bias. There are even groups in Chicago (where I live) that have regular "fem-dom" parties. To each their own.

The idea of consenting to give your significant other outsized control over your life may seem strange or uncomfortable to some. That's fine; it's not for everyone, nor does anyone claim it is, nor should anyone ever be forced into such a relationship. It may seem like it flies in the face of the progress that has been made in recent decades in allowing women to choose their own path in life rather than being forced into a box, a change that is still a struggle and a work-in-progress. But that's the whole point: Everyone, men and women, should be able to choose the life, role, and relationships they prefer and that they find fulfilling. If someone finds a life, role, or relationship fulfilling that you do not, who are we to tell them they're wrong, whatever it is? If being submissive (or dominant) in a relationship is what makes someone happy, then as long as it's consensual what right does anyone else have to tell them no?

Yes, I have been involved in several consensual Master/slave relationships with women. I will continue to do so, but only with those who are also interested in such relationships. I discuss the social and personal dynamics of such relationships on private forums set up for people with similar interests. I know many people who are happily coupled in such relationships (Male/female, Female/male, Male/male, Female/female, and other combinations), many of them married with kids who are perfectly well-adjusted.

I also have adopted a few minor "cultural quirks" derived from the Gorean novels, as have many (but by no means all) Goreans. For instance, I often applaud single-handed, which is a cultural quirk from the book series, or say "be well" or "I wish you well" to end a conversation. These are aspects of a culture, albeit a small one, that harm no one. They're about as significant as showing a Vulcan salute and saying "Live long and prosper".

Do such D/s relationships offer a potential for abuse? Certainly, yes. But potential is not actual. Unfortunately, any intimate relationship can be abused by malicious people. It's disgraceful and abhorrent that so many women are forced to flee abusive relationships in this day and age, and I’m speaking entirely outside the context the D/s or Gorean communities. If anything, the D/s and Gorean community in general places a heavy emphasis on explicit, active, informed consent and constant communication precisely to help avoid abusive situations. The few studies that have been done have found that people involved in BDSM or D/s are not any more likely to have been in abusive situations than the general public; they're just more honest about it with themselves and each other, which is something I appreciate as someone who has been a victim of an abusive relationship.

Yes, that's right. My very first romantic relationship was, in hindsight, emotionally abusive, with me on the receiving end. I am acutely aware of what that's like. It took me years to recover. I would not wish that on anyone, which is why I frequently work to help those I am intimate with to be stronger and more self-aware people so that they can recognize and avoid such situations. I've even worked to pull friends out of abusive relationships when they needed someone to have their back.

Recent events

Despite the total lack of evidence that alternative lifestyle cultures offer any harm to anyone, there is still a great deal of prejudice and bigotry regarding it. It is for that reason that I rarely discuss my personal life, and am generally not "out" in the Drupal community, although there are a handful of people I have opened up to over the past decade when I felt safe. I even know a handful of people in Drupal who are also interested in unconventional relationships or sexuality, who are also not "out" about it (for, seemingly, very good reasons).

Nonetheless, in recent months knowledge of my personal life has "leaked", and turned into a FUD campaign against me that has now reached Drupal's leadership. Therefore, I feel I have no alternative but to lay out who and what I am, and express my utter disgust with the way many in this community have behaved toward me .

From what I've been able to piece together, it seems that last October someone, I do not know who, stumbled across my profile on a private, registration-required website for alternative-lifestyle people, with some 5 million members, on which they apparently had an account as well. They were Offended(tm) and took screenshots of a post I'd made 7 years ago at a D/s friends' wedding I attended, to pass around and show what a terrible person I am. It should be noted that such behavior is a direct violation of that site's Terms of Service (duh).

Eventually that information made it to the Community Working Group (CWG), who concluded "there was no code of conduct violation present for [them] to take any action on". While it should have stopped there, the gossip campaign continued (apparently with even more excerpts of stuff I'd written) and the CWG informed me of the situation, in broad strokes. I made it clear that if anyone wanted to speak to me privately to better understand my personal life I was open to doing so.

The only person who did so was Klaus Purer, who seems to have set himself up as the primary antagonist. Klaus pulled me aside to talk at Drupal Iron Camp in Prague, although by "talk" he apparently meant berate me and stumble over declarations of how terrible a person I am without any details or any apparent desire to ask me questions or hear me say anything. He ended the conversation by stating that he was going to "distance himself from me", and I ended it with an offer of a handshake.

It didn't end there, though. Apparently, Klaus took it upon himself to sign up for the site for the express purpose of going spelunking through my posting history to find the worst-sounding things he could, out of context. (Once again, a gross violation of that site's Terms of Service, not to mention my privacy.) Apparently he also had someone forward him excerpts from my profile on a dating site, too. Since the CWG still held that I had never violated the Code of Conduct they recommended that he contact me to "work it out between yourselves", which he did.

Klaus and I had a single Google Hangout conversation in January, although again "conversation" is a generous word. It's hard to call an exchange a conversation when it begins with one party berating the other for their private life, calling them an abuser (of whom? No one), and demanding that they resign from all positions within Drupal and excommunicate themselves. He strongly implied that he was speaking on behalf of other, anonymous individuals as well. It's also not a "conversation" when Klaus informed me that I need to do so or he will bring in more "others" to help pressure Drupal's leadership to throw me out. I informed him that his statements constituted blackmail, with which he partially agreed.

I do not suffer threats and bullying lightly. I immediately referred the matter back to the CWG, who tried to set up a mediation that consisted of a single conversation with each of Klaus and I and concluded once again that I had in no way violated the Code of Conduct.

Apparently, during this time, Klaus continued to "monitor" my posting on the private forum and share further excerpts from there with the CWG, at least, in a continued effort to get them to kickban me. (See previous statement about their Terms of Service.)

Then on 24 February I got a phone call from Drupal project lead Dries Buytaert. Apparently Klaus was insisting that I be removed from DrupalCon (where I have been a track chair for many years, and was selected as a speaker) before speakers were announced the following Monday (the 27th). It seems Dries and Drupal Association Executive Director Megan Sanicki had been informed of the situation weeks earlier, but neither had reached out to me once about it. Now, in my first contact with Dries, he asked me "to step down from Drupal", including as a Drupal advocate for the PHP community, "in the best interest of the project".

I informed him how impossible that was, given that Drupal has been the cornerstone of my career for the past nearly 12 years. (My work to grow the community in that time, and to build bridges with other communities, and to mentor newcomers in Drupal, and the utter lack of any indication that I had treated anyone with less than dignity and respect didn't seem to be relevant.) Simply abandoning Drupal would be direct material harm to me and my career, not to mention Drupal. (Telling the PHP world "Sorry, I can't say nice things about Drupal anymore, they don't like me" would reflect very poorly on the project and community.) It would also be giving in to bullying and blackmail from another Drupal member.

We talked further, but Dries wouldn't budge on me leaving, including making it clear that it wasn't an option, but an instruction. The conversation ended with Dries saying "think about it, let's talk again, maybe soon", and indicating that he needed "time to process".

I should note that the Drupal Code of Conduct says:

We expect individuals to first try to resolve conflicts between themselves in a constructive manner

Bullying, blackmail, and ultimatums do not constitute a "constructive manner", yet is exactly what I was receiving.

The next communication I received from the Association was an email from Megan on Monday 27 February, informing me that I'd been summarily dismissed from my position as track chair and as a speaker at DrupalCon, "per [my] conversation with Dries".

I do not know if "per my conversation with Dries" means I'm unwelcome in Drupal because of my sex life, I'm unwelcome in Drupal because Dries was afraid Klaus would go public and embarrass the project otherwise, or something else. I have been given no further information than that and still have not been.

I never expected to be subject to prejudice and discrimination in Drupal, least of all from Drupal's leadership. I therefore referred the matter to the Board of Directors, as I didn't think they would approve of discrimination within the community. The Board's only available time to meet was while I was presenting at a conference and thus was unable to attend, instead submitting my case in writing, at length, detailing the same information as I've presented here and then some. They sent me no questions in advance of the meeting. I know nothing of the Board's internal deliberations. I only know that their response came back "The board has voted to affirm Megan’s decision to revoke the session for DrupalCon Baltimore and end the track chair term."

To say I am disappointed in Drupal's leadership is a gross understatement.

Wait, what?

In summary, then, a group of people decided that they didn't like my personal life. They don't approve of Gor, and so feel it appropriate to talk about me behind my back, violate my privacy, threaten me, bully me, and run me out of the project. And they may have succeeded.

Now take that paragraph, replace the word "Gor" with "being gay", and go back in time 15 years. Maybe even 10. Imagine being told that you need to leave Drupal before people find out that you're gay and it embarasses the project.

Now try replacing "Gor" with "Muslims", and think about it today.

Bigotry and prejudice are directly against Drupal's stated values. Against anyone. From the Drupal Code of Conduct:

We expect members of the Drupal community to be respectful when dealing with other contributors as well as with people outside the Drupal project and with users of Drupal.

And the DrupalCon Code of Conduct:

Sponsors, volunteers, speakers, attendees, and other participants should strive to treat all people with dignity and respect, regardless of their culture, religion, physical appearance, disability, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

Gor is a culture. D/s is a sexual orientation. No one in this matter has even claimed, much less shown, that I have treated anyone in Drupal or elsewhere with anything less than "dignity and respect".

We will not tolerate bullying or harassment of any member of the Drupal community.

And yet here I am, being bullied, harassed, and excluded because of my personal activities, which I don't even publicize much less advocate for in tech circles.

Does Gorean culture have things to say about sex and gender? Yes it does. You know what else has things to say about sex and gender? All abrahamic religions.

Yet no one would even think to exclude someone from Drupal because they were Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. Some (although certainly not all) practitioners of those religions have cultural traditions and practices that others find distasteful, but no one would tolerate a "religious test" for Drupal participation or Drupal leadership. If someone suggested that certain "religious symbols" from Judaism or Islam were unwelcome at Drupal events there would justifiably be a riot. Hell, I'd join it.

Are we not now already engaged in a cultural and social battle against excluding people because of their religion or culture? Just what side of that fight are you on? (I'm on the "refugees welcome, #NoWallNoBan" side myself.)

And yet here I am, being bullied, harassed, and excluded because of my personal activities, which I don't even publicize much less advocate for in tech circles.

This is not the Drupal I know. The Drupal I know wouldn't excommunicate people because of the books they read or what they do in their private lives. The Drupal I know doesn't force people to bare their personal lives to the world as their only recourse to a gossip and bullying campaign.

The "charges"

So what have I said or done to drive people in Drupal, up to and including the project lead, to try and ostracize me? Putting aside the "he must have deserved it" implications of that way of thinking, here's what's filtered back to me (which is apparently not everything, since not everything the gossip chain has access to has been shared with me).

Larry gave a speech at a wedding saying all women are slaves

False. Seven years ago, friends of mine in the BDSM community were already in a consensual M/s relationship and were getting married, and asked me to officiate a small informal after-event the next day for the power dynamic side of their relationship. Who am I to say no? I worked with them to design a brief ceremony that was meaningful for them, including a speech by me (because this is me; I give great speeches). In it, I referred to the voluntary act of submission they were showing (remember, they just got married the day before) as an act of love.

Several of the other attendees really liked my speech and asked me to post it on my profile, which I did. When posting it on my profile's journal I noted "I do believe that", in reference to the ceremony being an act of love, not of debasement. Which... is true. A healthy D/s relationship (yep, that's a thing) can and should be very loving, caring, and supportive. I have no interest in demeaning or debasing anyone, regardless of the relationship dynamic, and no one else should, either.

It was apparently a screenshot of this post that started all the hullabaloo. Why a private ceremony for two loving people that talks about love and community is offensive to people I cannot fathom. Why a private ceremony posted on a private forum is anyone else's business I do not know. Is some of the language in it rather flowery? Of course. It's a wedding speech! I've also been part of the wedding party for Catholic friends, which had overly flowery language about submission to God, too.

Larry run a Meetup group for Goreans in the Chicago area

... Yes. I run a book club, which meets at a public library that knows the sci-fi book series we're talking about. I also have friends over for dinner from time to time. Why anyone should give a damn is beyond me.

Larry promotes Gorean symbols at Drupal events

If by "promote" you mean "has a few cultural quirks that are meaningful to him derived from the books that inspire his culture", then yes. Try telling a Jew they're not allowed to say "Shalom" at a Drupal event. Imagine what would happen if a Muslim woman was berated for wearing a hijab at DrupalCon (or for not wearing one). You'd get sued even faster than you were fired (and rightly so).

I've been advised that I need to stop... applauding, or telling people to "be well", because somehow that is offensive. True story. What's offensive is the cultural intolerance that even cares, and yes, I do find that statement offensive and discriminatory.

Larry is going to abuse his positions in Drupal to force women to be his slaves

... Because any man with any kind of position is of course going to use it to abuse any woman he's around. Yes, there are people who have abused their positions like that. This line of thinking implies that any man with any power will somehow use it to abuse any woman he's around. That is nonsense. As far as I'm aware there have been no actual complaints about my behavior toward anyone, woman or otherwise, or of any abuse of any kind. Judge me by my actions, not by what some fear without cause that I might do.

In the nine years that I've been a core subsystem maintainer, I have never once been accused of using that position to pressure anyone into, well, anything. That's because I haven't. Frankly the idea that I could leverage my role in Drupal into pressuring people for sexual favors is laughable, even if I wanted to (I don't).

If we let Larry speak at DrupalCon, he could influence others to become Gorean!

I've been speaking at DrupalCon for a decade without that happening, so yeah...

That aside, "if we let a homosexual present at DrupalCon, other people there might catch the gay!"

Really? Are we as a community still at the level of ignorance of "catch gay"? Is that really the discussion we're having? I hope your stomach is turning at that thought, because mine is. The only thing anyone "catches" at DrupalCon is... Drupal. Which is the point.

(And possibly Drupal Flu, but that doesn't discriminate at all.)

Larry is a proponent for the enslavement of women!

Patently absurd and absolutely false. I have never, ever advocated for treating women, as a class, with anything other than dignity and respect. I am a proponent of honorable behavior, strength of character, community building, teaching, explicit clarity and honesty in relationships of all kinds, and of allowing people to practice whatever sort of personal, cultural, romantic, and sexual relationships they like as long as it's consensual. That anyone in Drupal would disagree with that position is disturbing.

The kind you like may not be the kind I like, and vice versa. S'ok. That's the whole diversity thing. I don't judge you or force you into anything you don't want and you return the favor. That's kind of what diversity and tolerance means.

I spent ten years working at one of the most women- and family-friendly companies you can imagine (although again, I never discussed my private life with my employer). Some of the best projects I have worked on, I was the only guy on the team.

I have actively encouraged places I've worked to hire more diversely.

I've been a DrupalCon track chair since 2011. For most of that time I was the global chair for the Core Conversations track, and I'm happy to say that it generally beat-the-average in terms of getting women up on stage. The conference selection team, though, always felt unbalanced, and I pushed hard to get the Drupal Association content lead (Steph El-hajj and after her Amanda Gonser) to select women to be the co-chair on my tracks. (I don't recall if I ever outright threatened to step down if they didn't, but I know I implied it.)

Later on I switched to chairing the PHP track, which has had a challenge getting session submissions from women. My co-chairs and I have debated how to improve that, and have tried to reach out to more women in the community. This is an area we're still working on, or rather were until I was summarily dismissed.

I've informally mentored a number of people in Drupal and elsewhere, but on balance I think I've spent more time mentoring women. That includes actively pushing some to take more risks, be more outspoken, get up on stage and speak, helping them with ideas for presentations when asked, and otherwise doing my best to encourage everyone to take steps to succeed.

These are not the actions of someone who wants to "put women down".

So here we are

I've been working in Drupal for more than a decade, personally and professionally, working to teach, educate, and build bridges. I have treated everyone I've worked with, men and women, with respect as peers and equals. But now because a few people are squeamish about my private sex life and what I say on private forums I am being attacked as an abuser, excluded from the project, and my career actively undermined. These actions have already caused me direct, material, professional harm.

When prejudice, bigotry, and bullying became accepted behavior in Drupal, I don't know. Maybe they aren't, except for a few people. I would like to think so. Unfortunately it takes only a few people to cause massive personal damage.

The only way to combat this sort of coercion and behind-the-scenes abuse is to short-circuit it with transparency; I am left with no alternative but to share my personal life with the world, for I will not slink away into the night just because some bully decides to feed the rumor mill.

So, here I am. This is me. I will not deny or hide who I am or what I do, though I will protect and respect the privacy of those with whom I associate even as mine was not. I am not ashamed of the relationship-styles I prefer, and I reject the idea that there should be any stigma associated with anything consenting adults freely choose to do. I will not back down from my beliefs or my nature because of a few bigots. I am the exact same person I was yesterday, and will continue to be the same person tomorrow, despite what a few bullies may want.

I will continue to do what I do: Write good code; teach others to do so; try to inspire people to do good in the world (technically or otherwise), regardless of their background; and encourage everyone to do the same for others. I will continue to build bridges, help, and teach. Because that is simply who I am.

If all this is far more information than you ever wanted to know about Larry's personal life, well, I agree, and I am sorry that the situation called for this. If you still have questions, then as I have stated since the beginning of this matter I am willing to talk to people one-on-one if they want to better understand where I'm coming from.

But I will not be bullied.

(Comments on this post are allowed but for obvious reasons will be moderated.)

Giorgos Kontopoulos (not verified)

28 March 2017 - 2:51am

We stand behind you ... Take these comments of this thread and go to DA ... They have done wrong and they should correct it ...

random (not verified)

28 March 2017 - 3:03am

Ok you can wear religious symbols around your neck,
But wearing a something akin to a buttplug around your neck when giving a speech, thats a different story.
Otherwise private shit is private and drupal is wrong for what they did.

Holy crap, seriously? I left the drupal community about 10 years ago. I switched over to WP because well... I liked the ease of updating and Merlineofchaos wouldn't build an auto-update feature for me! ;) Anyway... I've been to a few Drupalcon's and even snowboarded with Dries who I've always respected and loved. There are great people in the drupal community: chx! webchick! you people know who you are. ;) But this just seems really out of context to me. If there is proof of someone (Larry -- we've never met I don't think) berating people, then it needs to come forth. Right now as it is... this situation is crazy.

I say "be well" all the time to people. Had no clue it had BDSM connotations, but that's not going to stop me saying it. It means I want you to be well! I care about you.

*sigh* I'm posting not because I support BDSM... but I think what people do in their bedroom is no one elses business and as such should be left that way.

Let's grow up and move on.

Cas Tuyn (not verified)

28 March 2017 - 4:59am

I feel terrible that Drupal management chose to exclude/excommunicate you over your hidden lifestyle. If anyone should be punished it is the over-sensitive people who went CSI on your well-shielded private life with no other purpose than to expose you and get rid of you.

I am not gay, but I don't mind other people being gay (less competition, haha), I am an atheist, but I don't mind other people believing in something AS LONG AS they do not hurt anyone or do something illegal. That's why I do oppose IS and Salafism but get along well with moderate muslims.

I remember long ago the Reiser case where the very promising Reiser File System got sidestepped after Hans Reiser was arrested for killing his wife. He commited a crime that rubbed off on his work. But I see nothing illegal in your private behaviour, so there is no reason to treat you like this. I urge Dries Buytaert to reinstate you and educate the Drupal community that personal lifestyle is personal.

You don't know me (not verified)

28 March 2017 - 6:31am

It takes a lot of guts to come forwards like this although it really is the only option besides giving in to extortion. You did the right thing and I admire you for that. I don't care about your (or anyone elses') personal matters as long as it doesn't cause any harm to others (yours don't, as explained in your article). So why would anyone care? This is not about your preferences. This is about other people who still feel the need (and justification) to judge others. Judging is always done with respect to your own personal opinions and beliefs which do not necessarily apply to other people. If you do feel your belief system applies to others you better question your believes instead of judging others.

I wish you all the best and that you can continue doing what you love doing. If you can't do it from within the "official" community do it from the outside. There will be many people who will appreciate you and your work. Hold on to those people because they are your friends. The rest are just critters.


Sloane (not verified)

28 March 2017 - 10:48am

Larry - I'm sorry that this has happened. I urge you to contact the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, as well as the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. You're quite right in that being interested in or engaging in power exchange relationships does not mean that we translate those internal relationship dynamics to our professional or community relationships; I'm sorry that folks are stuck in a space of conflating that. And for what it's worth, if the Drupal community suddenly banned every kinky person in their ranks, the group would be decimated (or worse). Ask me how I know that :)

If I can offer any support, let me know.

Sorry for the false logon a moment ago, I was under the impression that you had to register but couldn't find an option, so I tried to enforce that (using this same alias but a silly password). I just had to vent.

I wanted to thank you for your post and to share my sympathies with your endeavors. I came here courtesy of 'El Reg' (The Register, an online IT news website) which carried the story around your person and well... It disgusts me. If your personal interests and activities didn't affect your work within the project then I really fail to understand how that should have been an issue.

Its the same with people being offended about certain harmless "double" remarks which could have a different meanings. Referring to comments which might imply something erotic or sexual while in fact nothing is mis said at all. You know.. the "We do it twice a day!". Some people will immediately pick that up as a sexual remark, others might not. So here's the noodle: wouldn't you agree that the way you pick up on something like that tells us more about you than about the comment itself?

To me this is no different. I definitely understand that some people are not into your sexual preferences and might even be a little put off by it. But just because they are doesn't mean that it would affect the whole project. It only affects those who let it affect them, and those are more than often people who preach equality and tolerance yet will immediately show an extreme amount of intolerance the very moment you disagree with them.

Not to mention that people higher up in an hierarchy will more than often get negatively affected by that as well. You know... "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". I see some serious parallels here. A healthy community and good functioning hierarchy would have ways to prevent all this. Well, going by your story here and what I read on El Reg I have my doubts here. Even when I keep in mind that, no offense intended, we mostly get a one sided story here. Several things simply don't add up.

As stated on El Reg, and I'm dead serious: I'm not a Drupal user myself. But if I was then I'd seriously be looking out for a replacement right now. I'm the kind of nutjob who doesn't only like and appreciate Open Source and software freedom, I also try to help make it work. By doing my (small) parts from time to time. You know: trying to help people out with problems, trying to share my opinions on certain issues (backed by motivation) and so on. I do that because I believe in the movement and ideals behind it. Freedom.

This display of intolerance seriously has no place there in my opinion and it's why I don't want have anything to do with it anymore.

I wish you all the best here!

knibals (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 6:46am

Hi Larry! You are right about homosexuality and the Abrahamic religion. Being a muslim myself, I have very strong positions against homosexuality and such, but...
You don't deserve all the shitty things who happens to you. What you do in private, anyone should give a damn. You were, you are, one of the greatest/eminent member of OUR community. I respect as a human being and as a major Drupal member. I'll keep learning from the great materials you give us on Youtube and Github.

Continue to be strong. You have all my respect.

John Doe (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 6:52am

It is really sad that you were trated that way.
And I respect you much for having balls to talk about it publicly, i mean both, about your life style and, how you were treated by that company.
What they did is pure discrimination.
It is time to ABANDON DRUPAL COMPLETELY, if they treat you that way so I don't want use that product anymore. Peace.

KC (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 7:22am

I only use Drupal to make websites, not to have sex. Therefore, I have attended previous DrupalCons to learn things about making websites, and I have consistently learned things from you. (Normally I don't give a crap about people's personal lives, but I read this because it's from you, so interests me).

I assure the Drupal leadership that I haven't changed my sexual practices at all despite attending many sessions and even evening events you were attending during those conferences.

I wish I hadn't already decided not to attend Baltimore for political reasons so I could not attend in protest of this action against you.

Tom Whiston (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 7:22am

I'm extremely saddened to hear that this happened to you Larry, any time I have heard you speak or have a discussion you always brought something constructive and exciting to the table and it's awful that you would be bullied and discriminated against for something that is frankly no ones business but yours, and which takes place within a consensual environment. I would expect better from the Drupal community/leadership than this and frankly it makes me angry to know that this occurred to such a key member of the Drupal world. Please know that many of us value all the contributions that you have made to Drupal and will continue to do so.

Beth (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 8:53am

No one should have all their professional work diminished by workplace bullies. And thinking of their motivation - likely envy they are (for any number of reasons) incapable of achieving the output that you are able to. ALMOST makes you feel sorry for them, that is, until they bully you.

I suffered a workplace bully, a ruthless venomous developer who was great at self-promotion. I felt helpless, victimized, and unsupported. Larry, you standing up publicly is an inspiration to all who have felt that same powerlessness.

Best of luck to you and best wishes for you future. TBH, this is probably going to be a turning point you look back on with gratitude (though it may take a lot of time to see it).

John Connor (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 9:00am

I am so saddened by these actions against Larry. He is a great presenter, a nice person and a fine advocate for the Drupal community. I think he should be reinstated now and the person who took private conversations from a private site and made them public should be removed from the any association with the Drupal organization and DA now. What is going on Dries?????

E (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 9:44am

This is Discrimination, plain and simple. Sue their asses.

Ben Gong (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 10:52am

Well, when I was a very Drupal beginner in 2014 (heard the name for the first time in Feb 2014), I bought a book of which Larry Garfield is one of the authors (Drupal 7 Module Development). Then in the summer of 2015 I attended the Drupal camp in Minneapolis, MN. There I attended two presentations by Larry Garfield and I was very impressed. Then I attended the final discussion that was also attended by Larry. During the discussion, Angie Byron (the webchick) said that she would like Drupal to become such a tool that Drupal users do not need to take computer sciences classes any more. But Larry said that Drupal users should learn more computer science stuff in order to make better use of Drupal. I happen to agree with him, because as I am learning Drupal, I find out that is is rather challenging to do input in Drupal without writing some customized modules! As some other people here, I have a difficult time understanding what BDSM/LGBT people do, but that is totally their own private business and it is none of anyone else's business! I am going to read Dries' post soon and see what he has to say.

Hang in there Larry.


Well, I read everything Dries has had to say, but he has only alluded to some confidential information that has led him to make his decision. I think we need to see such information revealed in a way that also protects Larry's victims, if Larry does indeed have victims. But from all the posts that I have read, only one woman complained about Larry being "hostile" towards her.

f.k. (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 11:24am

Unfortunately I do not speak good English, I hope I can express it in English. I am stunned what I have to read here, I am infinitely sorry that you have to bear that. I can only wish you a lot of strength to get through that.

I have drupal built a fetish community and private latex site, I must now fear that the page will be deleted only because Drupal leadership think differently. That is ridiculous. I'm still speechless what happened to you. I would never have thought of Drupal not Dries.

I wish you all the best

F.k. Germany

Nathan Frerichs (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 3:40pm

WTF, Dries? WTMFF!!! I'm seriously taking a long, hard look at Wordpress.

JustKristin (not verified)

30 March 2017 - 6:16pm

I am a beginner Drupal dev who has gained from your involvement in the community. I am also involved in the BDSM community. I hope that the actions of the Drupal board isn't a sign that I should be switching my career path. I can't support a group that punishes people for consensual activities that have nothing to do with their subject matter.

Luke (not verified)

31 March 2017 - 5:18am

This bullshit and you have my support. I don't care what you do privately it's your business. You have conducted yourself professionally as far as I can tell.

I can't speak for the community and each person should do as they see fit. As for me, I am suspending my Drupal commitments as of right now. That means no bug fixes to contrib or core, no meetup groups, no conferences, no DA membership ... basically no contribution.

Joshua Freeman (not verified)

31 March 2017 - 11:01am

I was said to read this story. You expressed yourself very well. I think Dries and others in the Drupal leadership would be smart to re-think their attitudes and their actions. You are owed apologies, to be sure. I hope this does happen. I am 'no one' in the Drupal community but if we were voting you'd get mine!

Joshua Freeman (not verified)

31 March 2017 - 11:01am

I was *SAD* to read this blog post. not *said*... sheesh.

As said in my comment on your later post, thanks a lot for sharing this!

However, I do have one point of criticism: It feels to me (after some reflection) that including Klaus' name in this post was neither necessary nor wise. You might (justly) feel he hasn't treated you fairly, but apparently there were more people behind the scenes and he was just the only one with the guts to actually contact you. Publically shaming him like this, while all the others hide safe in their anonymity seems unproductive, and rather petty. (Especially if, as Dries and Megan mention, there are now CWG investigations into their actions, too.)
If one feels attacked in an unjust way, it's important (though hard) to not stoop to the others' (perceived) level.

em (not verified)

2 April 2017 - 4:48pm

Dude this is absolutely terrible and dumb beyond measure. If this happened in alabama or some place, it would be understandable. You're looking at intelligent people working in tech and unwilling to look beyond their shit.

I should open with, "So you're a Gorean? lolz...",

But I'll save you the friendly jab with my elbow. You already know that despite the fact that whatever your particular flavors are within the lifestyle, especially with respect to the D/s dynamic, whether it's Male Het Leather or whatev, is just as valid as furry's, little's, well... You know the saying, "Your kink may not be my kink, but you're still okay and that's valid" - paraphased of course.

Nevertheless, Gorean subculture is relegated to the margins of the lifestyle, and many don't take it seriously. I give a chuckle myself at times, preferring to live in a full time M/s relationship where possible.

I'm going to berate you now a bit. Because to me, it is unacceptable for nilla's to condescend me. I simply dismiss that type of bigotry as coming from the insignificant and downtrodden, backward thinking bigots who, like Jack Nicholson said when speaking to Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, "They're afraid of the freedom you have - that's why they hate you". Again, paraphrased.

I'm going to say that, and I'm in the minority here, this is your fault and you brought it upon yourself because you don't wear your lifestyle on your sleeve without apology - congrats for finally coming out and declaring your pride for your life choices, but a day late and a dollar short IMNSHO, to avoid damage to your career.

Would you have experienced prejudice, ignorance, and discrimination had you always worn your self and your lifestyle on your sleeve? Well, sure, but you would have amassed a command of a fair career with no skeletons in the closet so to speak - to wit: Nothing to fall from grace over. Being upfront and out in the open is, to me, one of my greatest strengths, and I choose not to do business with anyone who takes exception to the way I live my life, so... their loss if they don't like it.

In your case, however innocently, you held your lifestyle secreted, as the majority of folks do, but always in the back of your mind you knew that if someday it surfaced, that it would seem as if you had something to conceal - this is exactly what happened my friend. Fuck them. Easy to say now, but as far as I'm concerned, they would have had to accept you for ALL of who you are waaay baaack, and there would be no grace to fall from when some stupid vanilla decided that their morals were correct for everyone on the planet.

In all of my dealings professionally, I make no agenda to hide my lifestyle, and even comment at times on what's going on in my life, when my woman and I are going to attend a dungeon party instead of attending a company function, or whatever. If they don't like that... fuck 'em.

It hasn't hurt me a bit over the decades, yet it has prevented me from some professional opportunities. Being upfront about being WHO I AM IN REAL LIFE, prevents me from having to associate with nilla's that are prejudicial bigots.

One thing you said above I found laughable. An old joke from, Hustler Magazine I think, back in the 70's when I was a kid has stuck with me my whole life. Back then there were Pussycat Theatres and such, and the cartoon depicted two couples - one going into the theatre and one coming out.

They know each other, neighbors, fellow churchgoers, co-workers, whatev. Point being, they really don't know each other because one couple says, "Joan, Dan! What are you two doing coming out of a place like this?", to which the couple leaving following the movie says, " We just wanted to see what kind of people come to a place like this.", lolz...

In truth, and you know where I'm going with this, both couples were in denial, and both were lying to themselves and each other. They just wanted to go and watch a pr0n movie - and there's nothing wrong with that, unless there's something wrong with you (Klaus and Dries - that means you two boneheads!).

So at this point, I'm quite inclined to rally up some folks over in the communities that I'm sure I don't need to mention, and let them know just how moronic these two drupaliers are, and urge thousands of folks from the community to barrage them with phone calls and emails. I'm still on the fence about that. I feel your pain, and have little sympathy for you at the same time, as much as I empathize. I think you understand.

I'm noted for saying a couple of catch phrases that I've come up with over the years. The first being an axiom in the industry - "You can do it right, or you can do it twice.", and this one, which I think you'll appreciate especially, which I urge you to conjure the next time a nilla demonstrates just how idiotic they're false sensibilities and self-important moral fabric really is, because it's a lesson for those nilla's from one of the greatest leaders in history:

For it was enough, not to eat what you did not like.
But he who reflects on another man's want of breeding,
shows he wants it, as much, himself.

-Gaius Julius Caesar-

In short, it means, "You're lucky I don't have you eviscerated and hung upside down from the roof of your house, for insulting the way I dip my corndog into catsup instead of mustard like you do - I am the Emperor of this realm and you are but a vassal.

From here on out Larry, do all of us in the lifestyle a plus and wear your lifestyle proudly on your sleeve. Be not afraid and even less apologetic for insisting on exhibiting the freedom to be who you are.

Kindest regards,

Bradley D. Thornton
Manager Network Services

Sylvain Lecoy (not verified)

4 April 2017 - 2:12am

Larry, in behalf of all the men victim of this kind of abuse. You need to take legal actions.

I am following you and supporting you till 5 years now in the drupal community, we cannot let this happen. I am angry and every men should be angry about that. This is not acceptable. Take legal action and speak up for you, for us.

Sylvain (not verified)

4 April 2017 - 3:09am

Have you never noticed people claiming they are the more tolerent never tolerate different people ? And on the contrary people which are pointed as different are the most tolerent ? Man I am so angry for you, this is something I see coming since years, a society which allows any talk - even the most radical speach - in favor of women's right but systematically silent or threaten men's right is part of the problem.

You have rights Larry, the same as any one here. You need to pursue them. This is unacceptable.

I left the Drupal community 4 years ago, when I started to understand what kind of people were running it. I am sorry it took you so many years to realize. People who dump their best employees like garbage should not call themselve tolerent. You always has been a model for me during my 3 years working with drupal project. All your work and speach has been inspirational. Any way you might not know me I was the guy constantly against Views.

This will only get worse and we need to react to this injustice. Do not let this happen, the world needs to know.

nick (not verified)

5 April 2017 - 1:24pm

I have never imagined that Dries could be blackmailed that easily. Who needs such a weakling in a lead position? It is Dries who should handover all positions. Let's get together and remove Dries from Drupal.

triple5 (not verified)

6 April 2017 - 1:09am

Private things should be private. Although I am convinced that relationships should generally be strengthened by empathy and not through power, I am sure that this can be done in different ways.
We need to work together may we follow any path on this earth but when it comes to things like public work, open source, freedom and liberty, it is even more important to speak out, to cry out for exactly these values.
As a Muslim member of society I get to feel this personally in similar ways as you, getting cut of from certain communities that claim to serve society. And no, it is private, yet in our time we cannot help make some things public, in return we must refrain ourselves from assuming wrong about anyone based on some of those public fragments.
I know little of exactly what happened, and I don't know you or your work, but still speak out, because this is what our society needs: that we make Assumptions for the better of a person. In Islam a saying of the Prophet (sunna) goes:
I will post this also to Dries somehow.

D G (not verified)

10 April 2017 - 11:56am

Hi Larry,
You've always been respectful of me as a woman, colleague, and human being. You are a wonderful giving person. No one deserves to be treated poorly. You certainly don't.

I appreciate your courage and bravery.
Be well,

Frank Moore (not verified)

12 April 2017 - 9:00am

"Diversity and inclusion except for people we don't like." Please don't grovel. These people do not accept apologies. Once you've become a target, you need to own who you are and what you're about.

KT (not verified)

14 April 2017 - 8:43am

This post scares the crap out of me because I work at a company where they tout 'high Christian values' and I have been quietly existing in the ranks as a bisexual, polyamorous, kinkster, heathen. Over time there are details that have unavoidably come out - such as conversation regarding my girlfriend having a husband, and how we all live in one house or my lack of belief in God as most see it - but other details have thankfully remained in the dark because of the atmosphere at the office and there being a literal 'morality clause' in my work contract. Should rumors of this nature surface about me I could - and likely would - be fired on the spot and I'm sure it would ruin my prospects indefinitely because the tech industry talks, as you've pointed out.

I applaud your standing up to unequivocally denounce the rumors, every word rings true about lifestyle/orientation and the society that judges it just like it used to do against homosexuality. Until I am self employed, having a skill set that is utterly indispensible, or independently wealthy, I don't see myself ever having the freedom to do so.

Matt (not verified)

16 April 2017 - 5:59am

I'm in a long-term (30 years now) vanilla heterosexual relationship. It's taken me and my wife years to learn to communicate as openly and honestly as you have here. I also have little knowledge of any of these relationships and don't care to. So long as there's mutual consent, it nobody's business.

It's mind boggling to me that groups who claim inclusiveness resort to this kind treatment. And I'd wager in any lifetime, most people have said or done things that if made public would not be looked upon kindly by friends, family, co-workers.

I'm reminded of a gay friend of mine who was being emotionally abused by her partner. It was in the shadows, with her being restricted in what she did and who she had as friends. She was unhappy, it was not her choice, and we encouraged her to leave that relationship. And yet we would never consider an argument to eject other gay women from a community.

Voluntary sexual activities are just that, voluntary. It's time for these aggressors to look themselves in the mirror and be honest about their own prejudices.

I don't like, at all, what DA and its "leader" is doing. I think this intolerant behavior is unacceptable.
I don't like, either, Dries role. In fact, I don't like permanent leaderships (Dries/Aquia): I prefer Debian model and I think Drupal community should work is that direction.
Finally, I don't know Larry, probably I won't meet him (because I didn't pass the Atlantic sea :-) ) but I like his post, and I'd like give him my best wished and thank him his courage.
Thanks for fight:

There are men who fight one day and are good.
There are men who fight one year and are better.
There are some who fight many years and they are better still.
But there are some that fight their whole lives,
these are the ones that are indespensable.

Bertolt Brecht

Dean Van Greunen (not verified)

18 April 2017 - 12:49am

Shame on those whom have done what they have done. I agree fully with you, I read your story, it may be late. Just got an email at 6am from codeproject which stated and included this from [ref 1]
I hope we all can stand together and unite as a community against this outrages matter.
Its a major concern as well. in perspective to what the owner/CEO said about and to you. what an Unprofessional way to conduct things :(
and here I thought, people stood by their words, especially big and strong words on a code of conduct, yet even the owners cannot follow. How childish have things started to become.
I feel like exploding in a massive flame and just lighting a candle for all those whom have "Personal Issues" with you "Personal Life".

I'm a straight male guy. I wear females clothing with no problem and I like it, I'm not a drag queen or anything like that, just a fetish. yet people still will look at you funny (not in a "ha ha" way), as it is not "their" norm.

ref 1. link:…

Krishnan (not verified)

18 April 2017 - 9:00am

If you're ever in need of a job, or just a place to hang out -- we live in Paradise!, give me/us a shout.

Random interne… (not verified)

19 April 2017 - 5:28pm

What a mess. I literally have zero clue or opinion about Drupal, you, or anything you do with your private sex life, and that's as it should be. What has happened to you is simply horrible and is an awful reminder that, no matter the "day and age" some people are willing to abuse their positions to force their ideals down other people's throats; no doubt those same people would see themselves as bastions of "freedom". Very sad. .
I hope that it all works out for you in your favour, and that you can go back to living your life the way you see fit.

And remember - it will be OK in the end and if it's not OK, it's not the end :)

SR (not verified)

20 April 2017 - 11:40am

We should include or exclude people from our community based upon their actions. The "thought police" are just as despicable on the left as the right. This witch hunt is a disgrace.

Madge (not verified)

22 April 2017 - 11:52am

If a Gorean couple has a baby girl, does she have to be Gorean? Is she born into a female Gorean role? I'm curious.

I don't know that there's a universal answer there.  Also, "female Gorean role" is not a single thing.  Does a Christian couple raise their kids Christian?  Does a Progressive couple raise their kids Progressive?  They probably try, but kids don't always listen. :-)

Do Gorean parents try to instill a sense of honor, responsibility, and strength in their kids?  I would certainly hope so.  Will they instill a sense of "the man of the house"?  Quite possibly if only by osmosis.  Kids will pick up on whatever their parents are doing (good or bad), so setting a loving example is important (and either a Gorean free companionship or M/s relationship can and should be a loving one).

If you mean "do they raise girls just to be slaves", then in my experience, fuck no.  Being in an M/s relationship is a personal choice that no one should be forced into, not even (especially?) by their parents.  I know one Gorean couple with kids personally; they have 2 boys and 2 girls (3 of them under age 10).  I've never seen them treat the girls as "lesser" than the boys in any way.  

Burt Lo (not verified)

26 May 2017 - 4:34am

Pardon if I misspeak with regard to nomenclature here... I don't want to be misconstrued because I used unfamiliar language for some of what's been discussed about Larry. I can't help but feel compelled to share my thoughts and feelings about these circumstances.

My notable (IMHO) contribution to the Drupal community has been two presentations of "Emotional Fitness for Techies", which was hardly popular, but favorably commented on by a few that attended. Emotional development has been a primary pursuit of mine for close to fifteen years now, and has fundamentally benefitted my lifelong career as a tech professional; both in my personal experience working in a predominantly intellectual capacity, and also within all my professional relations.

Larry, thank you for demonstrating healthy emotional maturity. I've had only the smallest exposure to the sexual lifestyle that people are discussing, and my only opinion about it is that it's Larry's inalienable right to choose how he expresses himself in this way; I honor his personal freedom as I would hope others would honor mine.

I had only learned of this today after a catchup meeting with a friend from my previous Drupal experiences. I was aghast at all the effects of Larry's personal life being exposed, angered that people would behave that way towards ANYONE, let alone someone that has been such a longtime, deep contributor of this community. I was deeply disappointed that leadership wouldn't take this opportunity to honor the freedoms of Larry, as opposed to castrating him publicly from a shockingly judgmental perspective. I had mistakenly believed that Drupal represented a leading edge of humanity, being such a champion of Open Source, demonstrating a bond within humanity that knew few boundaries. And yet, the fallout has been documented, thankfully, for others (like myself) to review, consider, and comment.

Thus, I primarily want to thank Larry for his dignity and grace, maintaining his integrity and self respect amidst this horrendous treatment by others, and I want to acknowledge that his depth of compassion for himself, and demonstrably for others, is a quality that I find admirable, and necessary, for humanity to move forward progressively in a way that is far more important than through technology.

Larry, you have my gratitude and deep respect for sharing yourself as openly as you have. I wish I could have an effect on those that have mistreated you; I know that in my past, I was poorly educated on how to respond to wildly different ideas and lifestyles, that I, too, have behaved poorly.

What I've learned is that "amends" are a step towards healing, where we amend our behavior. Whether an apology is made or not, recognizing when I cause damage, admitting that to the one I hurt, and committing to not repeating that behavior, is a means of making progress towards a kinder, more loving world; it is a means towards me becoming a better human being.

I hope that the people involved in this situation (especially the leadership, whomever they are) will consider, and become willing, to make amends as they see fit. I, for one, commit to acting in a respectful manner when someone's private life is inappropriately exposed; and/or when their lifestyle is so different than mine, that I pause and seek counsel of others before reacting in a way that could cause harm.

Casper Voogt (not verified)

14 June 2017 - 10:40am

It greatly saddens me to see this sort of behavior from people in the Drupal community. Not yours - the puritan bullies. I think you have handled this well. You're a major asset to Drupal and I just can't believe the shortsightedness of the bullies.