How do I help my best friend who just told me he is gay?

by justwantohelp 13 Replies latest social relationships

  • justwantohelp

    A little background for you...

    My best friend (a 44 year old baptised JW with a wife & 2 preteen boys) told me a few days ago that he is gay. To me, not a big deal as I am also. BUT, he is so tormented by this with regard to his relationship with God. He says he has had relations (gay sex) and in the past, but we never talked about this.

    I am not "out" to anyone close to me who is alive (I told one of my siblings prior to his death). Correction: After his admission, I did tell him about me, and he was shocked! I am not partnered. I was married as a young man and lost my wife and son in childbirth. I am not obvious nor is he. We had never talked about religion prior to this, much less, homosexuality.

    We started a business together several months ago, so I see him almost every day. The business was my idea and I continue to work my "9 to 5" job. When I told him that I was going to launch this project, I asked if he knew of anyone who might be interested in working for me. Long story made short: he quit his job to come work with me and although we struggle a bit as any new business does, we are making progress.

    After long and tearful talks about sexuality and religion and his current conflict, I began to search out information on the internet. While I believe in God, I do not practice any formal religion. (Raised Roman Catholic, but haven't attended mass in decades.) He has expressed that if not for his conflict and his children, he would leave the congregation. Yet I can see that it is very ingrained in him and wish I could offer some help. I can also see that this is tearing him apart emotionally and spiritually.

    While I knew that he was a JW, we never discussed religion until now. I see that he is very depressed and now understand some of his conflict as I begin to research the JW society and beliefs.

    Does anyone have any suggestions about how I proceed in helping him? I don't want to offend him in any way. Are there support groups within the church? He is more than a little shy about asking for help. I am not, so, PLEASE HELP! Obviously he is not ready to leave the JW's at this time.


    P.S. The project is in Mexico near the US border and he lives there (Mexico) too. He only speaks a little bit of English and I am fluent in Spanish.

  • jgnat

    Boy oh boy this is complicated. You are building a relationship with a married man!

    The Jehovah's Witnesses will be no help at all. They'll disfellowship him in a heartbeat if he is unrepentant. Which will mean separation from his family. Tragedy!

    I know from my gay friend that the uncloseting process is difficult at the best of times. It helps to be connected to a local gay community to make the transition. Except, you two are complicating the issue. You are getting emotionally involved.

    I've had conversations with a neighbour of mind, Catholic, who found out after twenty years of marriage that her husband was gay. She told me soulfully, "I wish he had told me many years ago. All those years, wasted, in guilt. All those years, wondering if I was attractive." She obviously still loved him and accepted him. But I don't see a positive outcome for this family. If he confesses to his wife, she will be obliged to go to the elders. Then the marriage, poof!

    No wonder this man is depressed.

  • EmptyInside

    He needs professional counseling. This is a complicated situation,and he needs to proceed with caution. And I feel,it would be the best way for him to figure everything out.

  • pirata

    I know a brother who is gay, but single. Most in the congregation did not know, just the elders I believe. He suppresses it and is treated as kindly as anyone else in the congregation.

    As long as the brother is willing to suppress his gay sexuality, he is welcome in the congregation. But if word gets out, there is more than likely to have gossip go around the congregation. Not all members are as understanding as others. As an aside, when the Watchtower classifies pornography for elders to see if someone has looked at unclean or grossly unclean pornography, both gay and straight pornography is put in the unclean (but not grossly unclean) category as long as it is between consenting adults of legal age.

    If he wants to explore his gay sexuality, then he will be disfellowshipped. Homosexuality is considered a sexual sin, as are fornication and adultery.

    There are no "support groups" per se in the JW religion.

    But I am more worried about his wife and family, and really don't have any insights on that kind of situation.

    Was he suppressing his gay sexuality at the time he got married?

  • DesirousOfChange

    to: justwanttohelp

    Check for a PM (Private Message) by accessing the blue envelope icon in the upper right hand corner of the page.

    Often is fails to work on the first attempt.

    Try, try again.

  • freetosee

    Are there support groups in your area?

    Maybe this interview by Publishingcult can give some helpful information..


  • justwantohelp

    Thank you all for responding.

    jgnat: I am not building a relationship with a married man. He is my friend. I love him as such, but have no interest in having a "relationship" with him, other than the buisness arrangement we have and the friendship we have cultivated over the years. I would never get involved with him or anyone else in an intimate way knowing they have a significant other... male or female.

    pirata: He says that he had not had any gay sexual experiences until after he was married. We have not talked about if he was supressing his sexuality at the time of his marrage.

    DesirousOfChange: Thank you for the message.

    Freetosee: There are support groups here in the US, however he is not able to cross the border. I don't know if there are any in Mexico.

    Yes, I know this is complicated. That is why I'm asking for help. I know his wife and children and suspect that she has some idea of his orientation but I do not know this with any certainty. I too am concerned for his family as well as for him. As I have said, he is not only my friend, but also my business partner. I have no concern for the business with regard to his or my sexual orientation. I suggested that he take as much time (off) as necessary and he knows that I will support him in whatever decision he makes. When we spoke briefly about this today he asked me for my thoughts... I reassured him that he has my friendship, no matter what. I also told him that I could not imagine that God, who is LOVE and created us in his image would expect his own creations to live without love.

    I truly appreciate your comments and suggestions. Thank you for offering them in the spirit of compassion. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Thanks again.

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    At best, if his local congregation gets to hear of it if he has any privileges in the congregation he will lose them and he will be on silent reproof (no privileges at all, not even handling microphones) until he changes his sexuality. Yes you can be 'half-open' gay but you can not have any privileges with it. If you are openly gay and advertise this to others in the congregation you will most likely be considered an apostate and be treated as such (disfellowshipping & shunning).

    If he acted upon them recently and admits this to the leadership in his congregation, he will be disfellowshipped (shunned) by all his friends and family for at least 6 months and if he does not change his sexuality, coming back will be harder than those that just 'sinned' between man and woman. The reason he will be disfellowshipped even though he may be repentant of his actions is because he is not (and probably can not) be repentant of his sexuality.

    Depending on where you live he might have some leeway if the congregation is very liberal (eg. in Europe) but in the US and most Latin countries at least one macho will have his manhood offended by his sexuality. Offending an elder during a Judicial Committee will almost always result in a disfellowshipping.

    If it gets out into the rank&file of his congregation he will be forever stamped as such and will be treated as a leper by most. Some think gays are sexually deviant (as that is the official stance of the WTBTS) so they'll keep their children away as well so if he has children, they will be affected as well and isolated from the rest (they are already isolated from society).

    I am an active Jehovah's Witness with very intimate knowledge of the way Judicial Committee's go and how things get decided.

  • jgnat

    Thank you for clarifying, justwantohelp. What you said here was very valuable:

    I reassured him that he has my friendship, no matter what. I also told him that I could not imagine that God, who is LOVE and created us in his image would expect his own creations to live without love.

    My (JW) husband is very self-condemning, and when he feels condemned, he withdraws from God. I say things very similar what you have to give him comfort and reassure him of his self-worth.

  • nugget

    This has the potential to be extremly messy.

    If your friend feels he has to act on his feelings then his wife will find out eventually. She will either discover her husbands sexulaity herself, he will tell her or someone else will. Any wife in this situation will feel shock, betrayal, anger, embarrassment and grief but a JW wife has the potential to react at a whole new level. The likelihood of divorce is extremely high and it is also not going to be smooth and calm.

    The situation will get worse if elders get involved with judicial committees being set up to judge him and he may be excluded from the congregation.

    his children will be told to have little to do with him and may possibly shun him since the embarrassment of finding out they have a gay father will be made worse because the congregation will be disapproving, their mother will be upset and the humiliation will be terrible. They will be pitied by others and will be made to feel the shame brought about on their family.

    Your friend knows this he will feel trapped not only in his marriage but also in his faith. He has nowhere to go and maintain his dignity within the organisation. This is something that will get worse.

    This mess needs more help than you can give him. All you can do is be supportive because if this comes out his world will be crazy and he will initially lose so many friends and family he will be crushed and depressed will be putting it mildly. This may be one for the professionals they will not stop the crisis but they may be able to help him navigate through it.

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