Over the past fifteen years of being Sonny/Santino, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Most people, including friends, have no idea about the full details of my personal life, they have no idea what I did and said back when I was writing fanfic or writing free fic. All they knew about me was that I was a fast, capable writer and that we got along on a personal level. All they knew was that me and my family had been doxed over the past year and a half.
Now, twenty-four hours after this has exploded, I’ve had some time to think about what I want to say and what I need to say. And it seems like I need to tell the whole story even if it’s not one people will be satisfied with or believe.
I know there are a lot of people who are accusing me of not being who I say I am, and that’s not true despite the tapestry I’ve made of my personal life in the past nearly two decades of reading and writing under this name.
Long story short—fifteen-eighteen years ago, I never expected to be a writer. I never even expected to have the same online friends then that I have now. I was a young guy who just discovered the internet, Nifty, fanfic, chatrooms, and I loved it. It was a whole new world for me, and I wanted a whole new world and a whole new life. I met friends online who became real life friends, and later real-life romantic partners, in chatrooms like ‘Japanese Animation’ on AOL, and they introduced me to the world of fanfic, yaoi, and slash.
It’s how I learned about Gundam Wing and, long after one of those friends was writing fanfiction, I created a handle called “Sonny” and became an asshole, usually high, somewhat troll-ish, fanfic reviewer. I didn’t try to write fanfic until way later when she had already lost interest. We briefly lost touch, but I remained friends with other friends I’d met in that community.
That’s pretty much whole story of how Sonny came to be. During that time, I made online friends, and I changed a lot about my background. You’re gonna think this sounds like an excuse, but the reason I changed so much is because my family is very conservative and at the time they were homophobic. I didn’t want anyone to know who I was, so I created a different but similar version of myself. The things I kept at that time? I’m tall, I drink too much, I used to do a lot of drugs, and I’m a bi guy.
After a while, I started writing myself, and that’s when I realized I was capable of creating good stories. Also, that I loved it. I’d always written poems and short stories, but long fiction was different. Being able to create a whole new world with new characters was amazing. By then, years had passed, and I was still friends with those same people I’d met several years ago, and by then I felt “caught” in some of the lies I’d told about my background back when I was a young mostly drunk dude screwing around on the Internet (my appearance, age, the names of family and people I had relationships with).
Ultimately, this is how this shit has snowballed over time. I kept writing as Sonny, ICoS got a cult following, and I still had my same online friends. My personal life had also undergone several ups and downs, and drastic changes, where I had complicated real-world relationships that crashed and burned, health issues popped up, I became a father, my family was a shitshow, and later I reconnected with and married my long-time friend who’d introduced me to fanfic years ago. It’s not a typical situation, but we are legally married.
I didn’t tell anyone online about the full details of my personal life, and instead told a kind of half-assed version of events. By the time I decided to start writing professionally, it was 2015, over 15 years after I’d created Sonny/Santino, and that’s when I realized I couldn’t sustain this weird woven persona that was seventy percent me and thirty percent the product of half-truths of years in the making.
It was then that I started telling people the real things about my life, never going into full detail because at the time it seemed unnecessary for people to know the nitty gritty, and I started writing. That’s pretty much where we are now.
Yeah, people did dox me, and yeah I still think that is criminal and dangerous especially when they started listing addresses, my kid’s school, and people’s jobs just to prove a point. I know there are people who are turning them into heroes just because they’ve exposed me for being a liar, but them helping to uncover my mistakes doesn’t make them saviors. The original people still threatened my family, posted pics of the inside of my house, and you should probably think twice before you communicate with them. They may have taken those things down now, but I have the screenshots, and I’ve seen people talking about coming to my house.
But besides that, the rest of this is my fault. 100%.
I should have been brave enough to be real with people I’d met online years ago, and I shouldn’t have kept clinging to this comfortable version of myself that my online friends liked. I should have been more careful, and more respectful, with people who trusted me and trusted them in return. I shouldn’t have talked about my version of my reality online, because there were twists and turns that have now left people feeling duped.
I should have been more careful with who I spoke to and how I spoke to them back before I was writing professionally. In short, I should have done a lot of things differently.
Ultimately, I messed up. I’ve been messing up for a long time. I don’t expect anyone to forgive me or to understand, but this is the story.