At least that is what my dad and his religion tried to make me think.

I grew up in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was a very strict and confining household. The religion bombards you with its ideals and brainwashing as soon as you can speak. I have suffered the effects of this manipulation into my adulthood even though I haven’t stepped foot into a Kingdom Hall for almost 14 years.

There are many reasons why I turned my back on the religion I grew up with but I am only going to highlight one today. The one I think was the biggest trigger.

There is no exception to homosexuality in this religion. You are taught that it is gross, immoral and wrong. You are taught that anyone who participates in such activities has the devil in them and Jehovah will punish them (kill them) when Armageddon comes. This wasn’t something I was told just once; this was something that was drilled into me constantly.

Two of the older in the congregation use to watch my sister and me often, we were very fond of them. Then all of a sudden the girls were never at meetings anymore and we had new babysitters. One day our parents set us down and started asking us some really weird questions like did ______ or ______ ever touch you in weird places.. I remember being so scared and confused our beloved babysitters were nothing but wonderful to us, they loved and spoiled us. My parents then explained that the girls were disfellowshipped because they had experimented with each other and were now dating.  They were implying because they were lesbians they would be tempted to touch little girls too. They then went on to tell us how nasty and horrible those girls were and that Jehovah would surely punish them. I was seven at the time.

Being shocked and scared like that at such a young age made that mentality stick with me until I was 14 and had a rude awakening.

It was my freshman year in high school and a girl I had been friends with for a few years asked to talk to me and a mutual friend privately. I remember we went to the corner of the lunch room and how anxious she looked. She started out by saying, “I am telling you two this because I need to tell someone and I trust you guys the most.” She then proceeded to tell us she wasn’t interested in boys like we were and that she liked girls. I remember the desperation in her eyes; our mutual friend hugged her and comforted her by telling her that we would be her friend no matter what. Then they both noticed my mouth wide open standing all ridged with the most disgusted look on my face. I remember asking her how she would know what she wanted, we were so young and I remember telling her she was confused. All she said was she just knew.

It is hard for me to admit what I did next. She reached out to touch me and I quickly pulled my hand away and yelled (I mean yelled), “don’t touch me you sicko lezbo.” I then told her to stay far away from me and we could never be friends. I can still remember vividly the hurt in her eyes. She was being so brave and I was such a coward. When I told my dad he said I had done the right thing. But her eyes haunted me and inside I felt gross, it didn’t feel right to me. Needless to say I lost multiple friends that day. And I felt they were justified because deep down I knew I was the wrong one.

From that point forward I started listening to myself and my gut more. I started tuning out my parents and the elders at the congregation. It was hard to shake the hate that had been instilled into me. It was hard to defy my dad and his religion. My choice to start searching for my own truth, my own answers was a jagged path of loneliness. And needless to say at almost 30 I still have daddy issues. Luckily I found the will power to fight my indoctrination and now I can look at myself in the mirror with a clear conscience. (I did eventually talk to that girl and apologize profusely and explain why I said/did the things I did and she being a sweet soul forgave me)

I have a real problem with parents teaching such hate. I have a real problem with believing in a god that would ostracize people for being different. We are all human. We are the same. This kind of single-minded thinking is why we are so divided in the world. Is it that hard to just love somebody for who they are? Why not teach love, acceptance and hope. Why not praise people for their individuality and creativeness. Let’s stop being a world of sheep grazing in poisonous boxes. Stop being afraid!

Macklemore’s song, “Same Love” may be overplayed here in his home state of Washington but if a song is going to be over played I am glad it is that one. It is a beautiful message that everyone should hear.

“No matter what god you believe in we all come from the same one”

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