Gary gave voice to a struggle I lived with in silence and shame for 20 years. I remember finding YBOP online and thinking "oh my God, this is me". Without the slightest exaggeration, Gary's bravery, tenacity, and commitment to speaking the truth about an uncomfortable subject saved my life.
And that was before I had ever met him.
When we finally did meet, I discovered a humble, kind, generous man. Inspired by Gary's example, I had waded into the world of porn addiction advocacy, and before that first meeting, I worried that Gary might see me as an upstart. Those fears melted when we spoke. Gary was warm and encouraging. Together with his amazing wife Marnia, he became an enthusiastic collaborator and a trusted, understanding friend who stood by my side during some of my own most difficult moments.
I was only vaguely aware of Gary's health struggles, but I had a front-row seat to the relentless, unfounded, unhinged abuse he absorbed almost daily over the internet; undue recompense for speaking his mind about a controversial topic. But I never saw him waver or back down from his mission to gather and disseminate information that he knew would help people find their way out of problem porn use and toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.
For me, Gary's dogged determination in the face of adversity brought to mind the Wordsworth poem, "The Character of the Happy Warrior" (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45512/character-of-the-happy-warrior), and in particular this passage:
Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be?
'Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill,
And what in quality or act is best
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He labours good on good to fix, and owes
To virtue every triumph that he knows:
Gary met his adversaries with reason, facts, and an abiding, always-good-natured belief in the virtue of sharing knowledge so that truth can prevail. He never backed down from his principles, he tended to his family and friends, he gave his time and energies generously, and he carried the burdens of his fame with humility.
He was, in other words, the type of person we all should wish to be. Someone (to borrow another passage from the Happy Warrior) "whose high endeavours are an inward light, that makes the path before him always bright".
Thanks, Gary, for lighting the way for so many of us. We love and miss you.