CONTENT WARNING: SUICIDAL IDEATION
Our guest this week, Geoff Law, was raised a Jehovah's Witness in Northern California. As a Witness, he spent 35 years devoted to bible research using only Witness-approved publications, attending three weekly meetings, and spending upwards of 70 hours each month spreading the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, trying to convert future members. His zeal for his beliefs led him as far as moving to Shanghai, China to proselytize underground, an activity that is currently banned by the government. Geoff grew up identifying as gay in a religion that does not allow its members the ability to identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. The constant bombardment of homophobic rhetoric, being taught to believe being gay is a choice and is wrong, forced to come out to leaders in the congregation, to confess thought crimes and “sins”, and told to pray the “same-sex attraction” away, eventually caused so much self-loathing and depression that suicide seemed the only option.
In 2019, Geoff decided to come out to his friends and family and leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses for good. Since leaving the organization, he’s been on a journey of self-discovery, unwinding deeply ingrained ideologies of sexuality and spirituality, instead of learning to live authentically as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. He is focused on getting the truth about the Jehovah’s Witnesses out to the general public and encourages anyone that identifies as LGBTQ+ in the Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization or in other similar high control groups to find freedom and self-love as they live an authentic and truthful life.
In today's conversation, Geoff walks Rachel through his experience of growing up gay as a Jehovah's Witness. He explains the difficulties of discovering his sexuality as a young man while navigating the shame and self-hatred he felt because of the archaic and homophobic beliefs of the church. He explains how the homophobic rhetoric of his high control church created in him intense feelings of isolation that eventually led to suicidal ideation. Geoff details his guilt-ridden confessions to the church and also reveals some of the ignorant and hateful writings on homosexuality that can be found in the Church's official archive to this day,
Before You Go: Rachel examines the intolerance of some fundamentalist religious households and explains what a virtue and gift acceptance is not only for families but for society as a whole.
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