Update: This post has generated fairly significant traffic. It’s worth noting, as several people have in the comments section, that Mr. Pearce (from whom I have not yet heard back) has used similar stock photos in the past – so it is likely that he added the photo, rather than it having come from the ostensible mother.
A post by Dan Pearce titled “A Teen’s Brave Response to ‘I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay’” has gone viral on social networks in the past day. But something about it doesn’t sit right.
Most of the post is a reproduction of an email from a mother who details a heartbreaking course of events during which her teenage son came out as gay in spite of her hostility toward homosexuality. The mother describes how her son wrote an essay in response to a previous blog by Mr. Pearce, and how she eventually came to accept his sexual orientation.
As compelling as the message of the email may be, it doesn’t read quite right – sort of like a cross between a Sarah Palin transcription and the Hallmark Channel. Of course, I’m sure there are people who write like that, so that’s not much of a criticism. But something else is much more suspicious.
Accompanying the post was a photograph of a smiling young man. I did a TinEye reverse image search on the image and found that it was a stock photo from 123RF.com, originally snapped by Danish photographer Yuri Arcurs, which has actually been used commercially on several occasions.
Here’s another photo featuring the same model. And another. Here he is on the website for an orthodontist, and again on a tutoring service.
Unless the purported brave teen moonlights as a model in Denmark, I doubt that’s him in the photo.
That the image is a stock photo casts some doubt on the veracity of the email, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the story was fabricated. It’s a long shot that a real mother would have attached the photo to a real email, but it is conceivable that for difficult-to-imagine reasons Mr. Pearce may have added it himself.
I emailed Mr. Pearce asking for clarification, and will post his response here.