About 2 months after I arrived at Bethel (late spring), I took my place at the breakfast table...awakened, as usual, by the 6 a.m. bell, a quick shower, and arriving with great anticipation for the 7 a.m. Daily Comments, with a few words from the "head of the table" (usually Knorr, but they had recently started a weekly "cycling" of Governing Body members; part of the impending organizational elders restructuring). The norm was to start eating at 7:30 a.m. (read "scoop the bowl and wolf it down"), and on the clock by 8 a.m.
But, on this day, something completely beyond my anticipation. Knorr starts off by saying that we should be prepared to sit for a while, as he proceeds, for 3 hours, to outline how a homosexuality "ring" has been operating at Bethel for some time, including some Gileadites. The modus operandi was for "new boys" to be invited to join a Bethelite for a couple of "welcome here" drinks (the drinking age in NY was 18, and thus many of us were able to legally drink for the first time), and then to take advantage of them (what other phrase can I use?). We sat there, our hearts sinking to the floor, as name after name after name is revealed, and offense after offense is delineated, and one person after another is dismissed and from Bethel, with summary multiple disfellowshippings.
This went on for the entire week. At times, Knorr was so incensed that the spittle was literally frothing at the corners of his mouth.
About 40 were involved.
How could this be? How could this be??? I was shocked beyond words...none of us could talk about it...this couldn't possibly be happening, at the Capitol of God's Organization!! But it was, and it did.
I was so stunned that it's hard, now, to imagine how I was able to keep going. But (and here's where the psychological set-up by my upbringing comes into play) I found myself able to set it aside as being "God's Organization has been purified, and the sinners have been found out and removed." I had no choice, really, other than to accept that seemingly logical explanation: my entire life had been invested into that religion, and, at the young age of 19, having destroyed all other options, what other perspective could I have?
Denial began to grow like a weed. It was insidious, almost imperceptable...but the seeds had been sown both in the way I was raised, and by my own consequent gullibility. Such a fertile field I was, ripe for the reaping. And, of course, my folks reinforced that conclusion: "Jehovah will take care of it." Somehow, I found a way to sleep at night, putting this distressing episode behind me, like some bad dream.
Then, comes the summer.