Influencer “repurposes” hateful anti-LGBTQ+ comments into beautiful poetry

Sarah Kate Smigiel
Sarah Kate Smigiel Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

Sarah Kate Smigiel, a nonbinary influencer on Instagram, has turned the worst part of the internet into a remarkable project.

Smigiel takes the hateful and angry comments that people leave on their posts and, with the help of their followers, turn the diatribes into beautiful poems.

“At first, I wasn’t sure what to do with all of the hate. I would read it and flush with shame and embarrassment,” Smigiel said in a Pride essay. “I would dissect the comments and then type out long, educational responses, to then just delete them instead.”

“I realized, however, that the hate I was receiving was not something I could solve. The people on the other side of the screen didn’t want to learn anything about me or the community, didn’t care to bridge the gap of understanding, and did not have good intentions when connecting with my page.”

Smigiel helps their followers with questions about coming out as nonbinary or trans, surgery and hormones, and navigating the world as a trans person. The account started after they had top surgery and realized “someone else out there who felt like me could use my experience as a guidebook for their own journey and feel a little less alone.”

“I asked myself, ‘Is creating this safe bubble of non-adversity actually preparing my community for the conversations and comments they’ll be faced with in their lives? Surely I’m not the only person experiencing this. Is there a better way to address the volume of hatred I receive?'” they reasoned.

Instead of just ignoring or erasing them, “I began to not simply delete the hateful comments, but instead repurpose them into affirming love letters and poems to turn back over to my community.”

They note that while they originally did all the work of turning the comments into poems, their followers have become so invested that they do a lot of the work now. Eventually, Smigiel turned the poems into a book.

“When I see a particularly lengthy or interesting hate comment, I screenshot it before I delete it, and save them in a folder on my phone. For a while, I would choose one weekly and use the editing features on my phone to erase away the words that no longer served me and leave behind a new and improved message of love, empathy, or kindness (and sometimes a little bit of humor, too),” they said.

“After initially sharing these erasure poems on my page (and in my book) I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from my community about the experience of tangibly seeing hate bloom into love right in front of them. So, I decided to open up the transformative and creative process to my followers to be able to experience for themselves.”

“These days,” they note, “I post one of my hate comments in my stories every week and allow others to create art or poetry and send their submissions to me. I choose some favorites each week and share them in a post, allowing my community to now see how multiple folks have interpreted and found magic woven through the words that were once hateful.”

“Seeing this ripple effect of positivity and widespread reclaiming of empowerment has been more moving than anything else has been during my content creation journey.”

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated