A Baltimore, Md. woman, who claimed a neighbor left her an anonymous note complaining about her "relentlessly gay" yard, says she will return $43,000 in donations she received amid hoax allegations, the New York Daily News reports.
Julie Baker, a mother of four, became an Internet sensation in June when her complaint about a "grumpy neighbor" who took issue with her rainbow-decorated yard (a string of colorful mason jars) went viral. A friend shared photos of the yard and a link to a GoFundMe page that even made its way on to George Takei's Facebook.
Baker also took to social media when she first found the note.
"Your yard is becoming Relentlessly Gay!" the note reads. "Myself and Others in the neighborhood ask that you Tone It Down. This is a Christian area and there are Children. Keep it up and I will be Forced to call the Police on You! Your kind need to have Respect for GOD."
To retaliate, Baker wanted to "make my home even more 'relentlessly gay,'" she wrote on her GoFundMe page.
"Needless to say... I need more rainbows... Many, many more rainbows...," she wrote. "...If we go high enough, I will see if I can get a Rainbow Roof!"
Though she asked for $5,000, donations flooded in and Baker received more than $40,000. But it wasn't long before people started to think the note was a hoax. The New York Daily News reports people online pointed out "a striking similarity in the use of capitalized words used in the note itself and Baker's description of the fundraiser."
Baker, however, told the authorities about the note and promised donators that she wouldn't spend the funds until critics believed her. The authenticity of the note has never been proven. The local Patch newspaper reports Baker waited a month before turning over the note to Baltimore County investigators.
Though she's giving back the $43,000, authorities said they are still investigating the case.
Two months after the alleged incident and Baker has yet to add any rainbow decorations to her house, the Daily News notes.
She wrote online:
A few months ago a fearful and ignorant act set off an avalanche. The avalanche was a thing of beauty, of support and of love. The snow kicked up into the sun and created a crystalline rainbow.
Avalanches are relentless in their movement and breathtaking as they rumble down to the earth, shaking the ground.
While thousands donated and thousands more offered support, the truth is that this project went from an artistic snow ball tossed in the face of hate to an avalanche.
To deal with the debris, which includes taxes and an overabundance of resources it is with a saddened heart that all donations will be returned.
If a time machine were available, it would have all ended at the original requested amount. It was never about the money but being happy in the face of intolerance.
Do not for an instant think the support of spirit, art, love and monetary donations were for naught. A statement was heard across the globe, loud and clear was our avalanche. I ask you to take your donations back and give to local artists or educational nonprofit organizations.
The Daily News reports that as of Wednesday afternoon, Baker has yet to return any of the $43,000. According to GoFundMe officials, once she returns the money, the fundraiser's progress meter will go back to $0.