My story is long and complicated.
I was only 19 when the witnesses came to my door one Summer Sunday in 1975. The young couple had some interesting things to say so I invited them in and spent about two hours talking with them. They left me with the magazines and a truth book which I finished reading in one day.
At the time I was very confused about my sexuality having been with both sexes and I thought the religion was just radical enough to “fix” me.
Also, back then the organization was different. At that time there was a huge influx of young adults who were disillusioned with the system and the Watchtower sounded very appealing and offered what seemed to a lot of us as a beautiful alternative.
I Bought it Hook, Line and Sinker
I quit college and I got my sister to study and we were both “rushed” to get baptized before the year was over. Remember, it was 1975 and I remember distinctly being told that Armageddon would come before the year was up. It came and went, but I was still faithful. That lasted about two years before I moved away from my home state of Florida to Texas, where my non-JW family lived. That started a long stretch in the organization where I would drift in and out, active and inactive, zealous and lukewarm for periods of time. During my inactive periods I would party, smoke pot and have sex with worldly women but I never fessed up to it to anyone.
In 1985 I decided I wanted to settle down and get married and start a family. I had a really good job with my family’s business so I did. I had a daughter and a son. Around 1994 we became inactive due to moving again. Over the course of our life we had moved back and forth between Texas, Florida and California a million times. I realize now it was a way of avoiding things I didn’t want to face, much like my drinking.
In 1995 I read a Watchtower article about “the new generation teaching” and it left me full of doubts. I faded from the organization. The internet was just becoming popular at the time, and I went on some “apostate” sites to investigate. Back then however most of what I could read was basically just grievances some had from being treated poorly, and there wasn’t a lot of substance.
My wife buckled down one Sunday and took the kids to a meeting. She met a sister and brother that would become good friends to both of us eventually. So she reactivated, and my inactivity was becoming more of a divisive factor in our family life. I figured I would take this elder up on his offer for a study, and I came back. That was right after 9/11 and also, my non JW mother had just passed away so I was pretty emotional. We immediately moved to California (again) and we were both very zealous. We had book study in our home and auxiliary pioneered at times and were very social with the friends. I never was interested in becoming a ministerial servant or anything so I never made it that far.
I became employed in a JW owned company that only employed other JWs. That eventually proved to be the eye opener and straw that got me to leave.
I saw so much bullcrap while there
I saw so much bullcrap while there. The owner had a habit of employing elders and ex-circuit overseers and servants, and would place them in management positions. I had worked there for about four years and was still working my butt off in the warehouse. He brought this ex CO in, and made him a manager. When I inquired why, the owner said that his experience in the organization more than made him qualified. I remember this CO and I would get into some big fights because he was an arrogant blowhard that didn’t like to get his hands dirty. I also found out he was making more than me, and that’s when I gave the owner an ultimatum. It worked out for me, but my whole time there was a constant stressful back and forth of trying to stick up for myself and being run over and pushed aside. It was absolutely the worst company I ever worked for. No one lasted very long and there was always a lot of fighting and arguing. People who were hired that had positions in the hall would try to carry that over into the workplace and it was horrible. Nothing was fair. I lasted there for 8 years.
One of our area elders, someone everyone knew and looked up to, was arrested and it came out he was being accused by a family in our hall of molesting their two daughters.
At this time there was a lot going on in the hall too. One of our area elders, someone everyone knew and looked up to, was arrested and it came out he was being accused by a family in our hall of molesting their two daughters. No one could believe it, especially since he spent no time in jail and was continuing to come to meetings and socialize with the friends. After a while he was removed as an elder but still no one got it. I found out later that the elders all knew he was guilty, but he had confessed (after being confronted) and was repentant, although he lied about one other molestation. He spent about 6 months in our hall before the trial came and he was sentenced to 45 years to life. Come to find out he had done the same thing years earlier. Of course his family was devastated, but what I am ashamed to say is that I never actually thought of the victims. We were told that it was all lies and the family had committed the evil of going straight to the police when the daughters told them instead of the elders. I remember driving by their house one time when we had my wife’s family with us (all JWs) and my mother in law saying “Oh that’s where the weirdos live”. That was a huge red flag. One of the elders that was involved in the trial was a close friend of ours. There was some controversy on whether they would testify at the trial and he was very upset about the direction they were getting from the GB. He was afraid he would have to go to jail because he was told not to cooperate. As it turned out they did, but he was never the same after that. This trial was highly publicized all over the country by the way. This was about the third time we were faced with this problem in our area.
A little while later a prominent elder in the Spanish congregation was arrested for murdering his wife. Of course he had a ton of supporters who just knew he was innocent. He was guilty as hell to anyone who knew the facts. I knew him he was an arrogant jerk who looked down on anyone that didn’t have as much as he did. His wife was no bargain either actually. Her murder was cold blooded. He’s in prison for life now and was featured on a 20/20 episode.
And then there was the famous case detailed in “America’s Most Wanted” about the MS that took his daughter’s friends camping and molested them. He’s still on the run. This guy was actually in my house once for book study. The elder conducting asked him to give closing prayer and he declined. I thought that was weird but he was gone a week later. I felt sorry for his wife and kids. It took her a long time but she eventually rebuilt her life and would be at social functions with us. Her son worked with us at the company for a short while. I was happy they seemed to move past the scandal.
And there was the beloved elder in our hall that left his wife at the airport and ran off with another woman and the congregation’s money.
It wasn’t long after that I started having serious issues with the witnesses on other levels. I began to feel constrained intellectually. It was getting harder and harder to sit with them and listen to the ignorant bullshit they would spout. I remember being shouted down whenever I would try to voice anything reasonable.
I was also finally fed up with the homophobic hate speech and slurs that I had to endure ever since I became a witness. And I was going through something emotionally too. I had gone through periods of viewing porn but I started more and more looking at gay porn and wanted to be with men again. One day I went on a gay hookup site and posted an alter ego profile of myself. I was literally floored by the response I got. Guys actually thought I was “hot” and handsome. It wasn’t long before I met a guy for sex. I remember being a bit nervous but I enjoyed it and didn’t feel a bit guilty. That started a period of hooking up with a lot of different guys and I was shocked to find out that a lot of them were married with families also. I settled in with one guy on a regular basis. He was married as well, with teenage sons, but his wife knew about him. My wife knew something was up, and I eventually came clean to her because I knew she was going crazy and I felt I owed it to her. I fully expected to get stabbed or shot, but she was actually very understanding. We figured we would split up though because I didn’t figure we had any other option.
Disfellowshipped and Shunned
She made the mistake of telling our son and daughter right away though. My daughter worked at the same company I did and that Monday I came into the office where my boss told me that she had told him I was being DF’d (even though that was still not decided). That day was the last time I spoke to my daughter. She and her homophobic husband immediately disowned me. I told my boss that it was probably true and when he found out why (which I knew he would, he was a district overseer) he would want to fire me. He assured me that wouldn’t happen.
I was DF’d about a week later.I lasted about a week when he and the owner called me into their office and said they wanted me out and offered a nice severance in exchange for my signature that I wouldn’t pursue it legally. I accepted. They told me I needed to leave immediately and gave me my last paycheck. I had to wait outside for my wife to pick me up, the company car was no longer an option. My wife was cleaning the office on the weekends and they had her turn in her key and she had to clean during the week when they were there. When I picked up the first of my severance checks I had to text them and wait outside for them to come out.
I remember the last days of working there was a pure nightmare. No one would even say good morning to me and I had to communicate to everyone through email or messenger.
I remember the last days of working there was a pure nightmare. No one would even say good morning to me and I had to communicate to everyone through email or messenger. Only one girl that had been disfellowshipped at one time bothered to treat me with respect and talk to me. Coincidentally her husband, who I knew briefly turned up on an ex JW forum. It turns out he worked for the company too temporarily after I left. He had asked for my employee file for some work and they said it was sealed and he couldn’t see it. Obviously because they knew they had discriminated against me. My ex boss told him that I was fired for watching porn on the company computer, and that I had stole some money. Both false. There was no cash in the office to steal and my desk was right in the middle of everyone else’s where they could clearly see what I was working on.
All that aside, leaving there was one of the best things that happened to me. After I had told my wife, we had the elders over where I told them what I was doing and I wanted a JC as quickly as possible. I wanted out. I remember one of them being shocked and saying he never would have guessed I was gay. In my JC meeting they started to press for details telling me that sometimes what seems like sex really isn’t (seriously?). They asked me how many times. They couldn’t believe when I told them countless times with about 24 different guys. When I started to go into detail two of them had a look on their face of utter disgust that I will never forget. They asked me stop and to leave the room for a few minutes. It was about 5 minutes later they called me back in and told me that I was history.
I Never Looked Back
I left that hall feeling so free and liberated and happy for the first time in a long time. That was December 2010. I never looked back. My wife and I separated and I moved in with one of my gay friends who turned out to be the best friend I had ever had and still have. Something I never found in the org. Of course all the friends quickly found out what I was doing and it became a huge scandal. My wife told me that they even had a part on the next circuit assembly about the dangers of the internet and hooking up. I immediately experienced the shunning as I always seemed to run into the witnesses at the store or mall. There was one elder who presided over my JC that I always seemed to run into a lot. One time I had my friend with me and when I saw him I started hanging on and cuddling with my friend to shock him. I had to have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Interestingly enough, he and his wife divorced sometime later.
I had an incredibly hard time finding a job and eventually my severance ran out. We were having a hard time holding on to the house, so after a year I moved back in with my wife and son to try and make things work. We lost the house, and I had to move back in with my friend. She and my son moved in with my daughter and her husband. It was hard for them because my daughter eventually decided she didn’t want them living with her and asked them to leave. I was appalled. After everything we had done for them. We had let them live with us twice rent free in better times. Loaned them money.
My best friend I was living with had to move to Florida for a job transfer and my other friend decided to end things with me and go back to a former lover. I had found a room with an older couple who after moving in I found out they were witnesses although he told me they don’t go anymore. It was a combination of things like this and the loneliness that contributed me to getting a DUI. So I had that to contend with that as well though I got through it (counseling, AA meetings, license suspended, huge fines and months of community service) relatively quick.
I was also going to school at night working towards a degree on a state grant. I got a huge tax refund and my wife and son and I got an apartment. After a few months my unemployment ran out and we had nothing. I finally found a job 60 miles north of where we lived in LA county, for a company that made weed bongs LOL. I couldn’t keep it up as the pay was so low (I quit after a month because the owner didn’t like paying anyone on payday) and we had to move out of our apartment. My wife and son moved in with her sister and her husband who were witnesses. I didn’t have anywhere to go and still had three days of community service to fulfill. None of my wife’s family or my daughter would allow me to spend the night with them so I fully expected to sleep in my car. I called my brother in Texas and he paid for a hotel for me and a plane ticket to come back to Texas. This was a really hard time. My son and I were very close and it pained me immensely to have this happen to him. My sister-in law’s husband treated him poorly.
I flew back to Texas minus my family and moved in with my JW sister who had been mad at me but decided that shunning was too much trouble. She still doesn’t shun me. I went to work immediately for Marriott where I had my last few hookups (with guests :/). My family came out a few months later and I decided to turn my back on the cheating forever. We got a nice apartment in one of our old neighborhoods and I eventually came back to work for my brothers. My wife and I are stable now after all that and doing well. I did a lot of soul searching and it’s been an incredible journey.
I’ve been told that I need to write a book, which is what this story is turning out to be (sorry about that).
I am no longer religious. I classify myself as a Deist. I believe in some higher power but nothing about the bible, Jesus or Jehovah! I believe in Science. I never really felt that any label completely defined me sexually. When I was younger I thought that since I liked having sex with guys, that I must be exclusively gay. Having sex with women after I was married would have been unthinkable as it felt more like cheating than being with men. There have been times in my life that I felt more straight than gay and vice versa. Sexually fluid is the term that comes closest though I tell people I’m bisexual to ease confusion. LOL. But I’m in a monogamous marriage and I’m happy.
I’ve thought a lot about what I put my family through, and my wife has been there with me the whole time refusing to give up on me. We don’t talk about religion and she doesn’t insist that I go back to the organization, as I’ve made it plain that it’s not an option.
Sadly my daughter refuses to acknowledge me. My wife and her are on sketchy terms too though. Unfortunately my son got married last year and moved out of the house. He decided to shun me. I’m sure it is the influence of his new wife. I haven’t spoken to him in 9 months. My wife tries to talk to him about it but he’s evidently adamant. This is undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve had to endure and it pains me everyday. The whole time I was still a JW I still tried to instill in him the necessity of treating people with respect regardless of their religion or sexuality. We had such a great relationship the whole time after I left the org. He even thought my gay roommate was really cool, him being a musician. I hold out hope everyday he’ll come around, and I really think he’s smarter than all that.
So that’s my story in a nutshell. There are tons of experiences I’ve had being 35 years in the org. some good, a lot not. I was 54 when I left, I’m 60 now. I’m working everyday to be a better person, a better man and also a better husband.
Thanks for reading, I know it’s long. I’ve shared my story elsewhere but just in bits and pieces. This just came pouring out.
My facebook page :
I’m also in the facebook group :