Gay Jehovah's Witnesses. Huffington Post Story today.

by Balaamsass 11 Replies latest social current

  • Balaamsass

    August 30, 2012 The Internet Newspaper: News, Blogs, Video, Community.

    When a Homophobic Ex-Jehovah's Witness Fell for a Gay Cowboy

    Posted: 08/30/2012 1:28 pm

    Thirty years ago, during a bull-riding practice session, I met a handsome steer wrestler from Wyoming. Buck was taller than I was. Furry, blond, and beefy. He was sexy as hell. We travelled around the intercollegiate rodeo circuit and saved money by sharing a hotel room with other college cowboys, shacking up four cowboys to a room, two in each bed. More than once, when left alone in our hotel room, Buck tackled me on the bed to wrestle naked. I was not a willing participant. I was as homophobic as they come. Not only was I verbally homophobic, but my life was still absorbed by religious indoctrination and guilt. Words like "fag" and "queer" came easy to me in the company of others. In the privacy of my unspoken mind, I characterized my secret homosexual desires as "gay," a much gentler term for the desires that I didn't want, and a stark contrast to the epithets I used in public discussions of other homosexuals. Everything I believed about homosexuality had been learned from my father and my religious upbringing with the Jehovah's Witnesses, and none of it was nice. Two years prior to meeting Buck, I had run away from home and unintentionally abandoned the Witness religion in the process. I was 18 when I met him, but I still carried most of my religious intolerance with me. At that time, I was convinced that all gay men, except for me, wore drag. Gay men often sported earrings in their left ears, I had been told. Or maybe it was their right ears. I don't remember the specifics. I was clueless. I knew I was a homosexual, but there was no chance I would ever act on those desires, even when confronted by another cowboy named Buck who wanted to wrestle naked. Buck couldn't possibly be gay, I thought. More than once on those rodeo road trips, while he was in the shower, I jerked off and fantasized about him, but there was no way in hell that I would ever act on where I speculated his naked wrestling attempts were intended to take me. Religious guilt wouldn't allow me to go there. My religion had assured me that God hated homosexuals. So here I am, 30 years later, and I know that most organized religions still don't like me. Most people who go to church on Sunday tend to think less of me. They know nothing about my years of prayer, when I believed that God would cure me if only I prayed a little harder, and they have convinced themselves that my homosexuality is an activity, not an identity. It's an alternative lifestyle, they say. Homosexuality is simply a choice, they think, kind of like waking up in the morning and choosing between corn flakes or Lucky Charms. Personally, I like Lucky Charms, but I could just as easily eat corn flakes if I had to. The same can't be said for my sexuality. I did not choose to be gay. I fought it. For years, I prayed to God and asked Him to cure me. Some Christians believe that I didn't pray hard enough. That's why it didn't work, they think. I didn't pray in the right way, they say. What do they know? I gave prayer everything I had. Prayer did not fix what I hoped it would take care of. Prayer did not cure me of my desire to wrestle naked with Buck. Today, I no longer feel a need to be cured. I tend to think that God doesn't exist, and if He does, He sure as hell doesn't give a damn about my sexuality. It's also clear to me that He doesn't give a damn about starving children in Africa, either, which leads me to believe that He does not exist. A couple of years ago, I attended a conference for LGBT ex-Jehovah's Witnesses. Yes, I know. That sounds weird. Who would have thought that LGBT ex-Jehovah's Witnesses would want to hang out together? Turns out, there are many such groups. There are social gatherings for LGBT ex-Catholics, LGBT ex-Mormons, LGBT ex-Jehovah's Witnesses. Heck, there are even social gatherings for ex-ex-gay Christians -- people who once claimed to have been cured of their sexuality by prayer, and then came to realize differently. At that conference two years ago, I asked a question during a workshop: How many people had moved on to another religion after leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses? How many of the participants were currently attending another church? Out of 25 people in that room, two raised their hands. Only two. That's significant, I think. At one time, 100 percent of the people in that room believed that faith and prayer would cure them of their homosexuality. Today, less than 10 percent still hang on to some form of organized religion. You can say what you want about that, but I think it's healthy to not feel a need for an organized church to bring you to God. Perhaps there are churches out there that preach about love and inclusion and the wide and welcoming arms of God, but I'm not interested in joining them. I don't want to get swallowed up by another church. If God exists, I'm not convinced that He expects us to "worship" him. I'm not convinced that I will find Him in any church. My history with fundamentalism has given me an oversized suspicion of religion. Religious preaching all sounds the same to me today, and I no longer think that God or righteousness is found in a church. I just don't. So knowing what I know today, and being free of even a smidge of self-hatred for being gay, would I go back to my rodeo years, if I could, and explore what Buck was offering to me back then? Would I wrestle naked with him? Hell yeah.

  • james_woods

    Well, the JW intolerance of gay people is indeed regretable...but I don't see how this gay rant is of any help in opposing the JW position.

    It is entirely too self-centered and devoid of logic to serve much of a function to ex-JWs on this subject.

  • ohiocowboy

    I feel that the story will turn a lot of people off (Or on). It read too much like what you would read in a pornographic magazine. They should have focused more on his problems upon leaving the org, such as how his guilt affected him, how the loss of his friends and family affected him, how his self esteem was lowered, how his parents reacted to the news, how he conquered the shame he felt at first, and how he wrestled with (pun intended) his homosexual feelings in his mind as opposed to everything he was taught about homosexuality while he was in the org. He could have had a good story had he focused on the emotional logistics of his coming out that undoubtedly could have helped others who are in the same situation. Instead, I found the piece to be very embarrassing, and I am Gay myself. (Although the thought of a hairy Cowboy seducing me does make me quiver in my Wranglers-lol)

  • Balaamsass

    It was an unusual story. But I am at work and it showed up in my email (google alert), so I thought I would post it.

  • Quendi

    First, I want to thank Balaamsass for sharing this story from the Huffington Post website. As a gay man who was disfellowshipped for being such, I can identify with many parts of this story. So I would respectfully but strongly disagree with james_woods and his assertion that this story “is entirely too self-centered and devoid of logic to serve much of a function to ex-JWs on this subject.”

    A person’s sexual identity is “self-centered.” How could it be otherwise? As for “logic”, again this is a matter that goes far beyond cold hard facts but is about the very nature of a person’s soul. So we simply can’t reduce it to statistics, syllogisms, sorites and other logical constructs. It transcends them. Maybe james_woods means something that eludes my grasp and if so, I’d like him to expound more on his meaning.

    Being a gay Jehovah’s Witness is an oxymoron, a glaring and painful example of “cognitive dissonance”, as it were. There is simply no room in the organization for us, nor should any be looked for. Yes, I have known gay men who stayed Witnesses, but the ones I knew led unfulfilled, sad and incomplete lives. They were forced into painful and frustrating celibacy and denied the right to love and have a life-partner. The only approved family life was the 1950s-style model the WTS promoted. I knew men who were married but were “on the downlow”, leading double lives as they sought sexual satisfaction with another man.

    When I was disfellowshipped, I spent five fruitless and frustrating years seeking reinstatement. The judicial committee had no desire to reinstate me and constantly raised pointless objections. Yes, I had finally admitted the truth to myself about my sexual orientation, but I still believed it should be suppressed or, as the men on my judicial committee insisted, “slain utterly.” Like the narrator in the story, I prayed constantly, read all the phony experiences in the publications about men who had “changed”, and did everything in my power to tread the “straight and narrow path” to everlasting life.

    I had to go back to my study of the Bible and unlearn all the hateful and harmful doctrines Witnesses had taught regarding human sexuality. I learned to end my own self-hatred and fully embrace and love myself. I finally saw myself as a person fully worthy of honor and respect. The major difference between me and the story narrator is that I kept my faith in both God and the Bible; but I respect the narrator’s choice to go in a different direction just as others have respected mine. Today, I’m glad to be free and living a good life because I have known other gay Witnesses who were not as fortunate. I think this story will help many in LGBT people still in the organization who will identify with the narrator’s experience and learn from it.


  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    I thought it was a great story. It certainly was not intended as an argument to convince anyone that Jehovah's Witnessess are complete bullshit - it was just a story of a person trying to figure out life, just like we all are.

  • Scott Terry
    Scott Terry

    Hey all...thanks to Balaamsass for posting my essay from the Huffington Post. I wasn't expecting to see that piece posted here, but it was a nice surprise. I do think it is important, however, for people to realize that I did not write that post for For James, or anyone else who might be questioning how it is relevant to exJehovah's Witnesses, I would agree with you, but you should recognize that I didn't write that piece for exJdubs. I wrote that piece for the Huffington Post - Gay Voices page, so of course, it is written from a gay slant. They didn't ask me to write about Jehovahs Witnesses. They asked me to write about my experience as a gay cowboy.

    And for Ohiocowboy, I sure agree with your points about how much more detail you would like to have seen, but the Huffington Post had a limit of 2000 words. I couldn't possibly fit what you suggested in 2000 words...LOL. But I agree with your point. It would be so much more meaningful if I could tell the WHOLE story, which would require a book, and would you believe it....I have written that book. It is titled Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How a Gay Child was Saved From Religon. You can find it on Amazon, or at your local bookstore in October, if you really want to read the whole story. In fact, that is what the Huffington Post - Gay Voices essay was written for. It was written as a synopsis of my book for gay readers. Now, if the Huffington Post, or any other mainstream magazine, comes up with a page titled, ExJW Voices, and they ask me to write a short essay to describe my book for exJdubs, I will write it much differently.

    In any case, thanks to all for reading my story, and sharing your thoughts!

  • Steve_C

    Scott Terry, I just pre-ordered your book. Looking forward to getting it next month.

  • Scott Terry
    Scott Terry

    Thanks Steve. You might also find it interesting that my book was nominated for the Over The Rainbow List by the American Library Association in July. To the best of my knowledge, my book is the first exJW book to be nominated for recommended acquisitions for libraries around the country. I am very proud of that nomination. If you're in an area where I am scheduled for a book signing, please stop by to say hello. Take a look at my book's Facebook page for a list of upcoming book signings.

    And for Breakfast....I like your summary. Do you mind if I borrow that phrase to describe my essay? "A person trying to figure out life - just like we all are." That was very nice.

    And for Quendi...thank you for your very eloquent defense. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well, after leaving the organization. If you read the actual Huffington Post story, you'll see many comments from other lgbt people with similar experiences, and people who felt empowered by my essay. Thanks!

  • Quendi

    Scott , I will purchase your book when it is published next month. I also found the comments made about your story most enlightening and encouraging. Thanks for your kind words to me as well because I really appreciate them.


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