It is critical you look after your mental well being. The following information is confronting and may cause distress. If you are depressed or suicidal, seek help immediately. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you may not yet have any trusted friends you can be open with yet. I Feel Suicidal links to anonymous support numbers that you can call for free in almost 100 countries. Also reach out to the exJW community at Reddit.com, where you will find many people to support and advise you without judgement.
Being raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is exceptionally difficult for anyone not heterosexual or cisgender. Before having a concept of sexuality, a child is exposed to comments in Watchtower publications and at meetings that anyone engaged in homosexual practices is abhorrent to Jehovah. This takes a terrible toll on Jehovah’s Witness children that identify as LGBTQ+.
Any Jehovah’s Witness youth that leaves the religion is subjected to the pain of shunning to some extent, particularly if disfellowshipped. This is amplified for LGBTQ+ youth. It gives parents extra reason to judge you, partly because they have less hope you will return. Even when LGBTQ+ Jehovah’s Witnesses chose to remain in the religion, either because they believe it is the truth, or to avoid being shunned by family, they are never able to be their true self, or fully experience the joy of a loving sexual relationship.
The direct nature of this introduction is not intended to make you feel worse about your situation, but rather to show we recognize what you already realize. You were born into a difficult situation not of your own choosing. You are not weak if you suffer from depression, doubt, self loathing or suicidal thoughts. These thoughts and feelings are common for LGBTQ+ Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they are for anyone that is told they are as unacceptable as they are, yet know there is no way to change.
JW.support aims to help you accept yourself as wonderful just the way you are. It includes directions on how to build a great life with people that love and accept you, and the tools required to survive the journey. This includes articles to guide you, links to support lines to call whenever you feel lonely or down, and experiences of people that have been in your situation and can talk first hand on what to expect and do.
An important step for everyone that leaves Jehovah’s Witnesses is to research its history and beliefs, as this quickly shows it is not the truth and there is no reason to fear Armageddon. As with all high control religious groups, Watchtower controls by use of fear and guilt. Only by taking the time to research is it possible to become aware of just how much of your beliefs and actions are incorrect and how this affects your current behavior and happiness. Fortunately, there is a wealth of great information available to help. The Beliefs section of this site is a good place to start.
It is not easy to risk losing people you love in order to be true to yourself, but the outcome is better than being part of a group that constantly condemns the person you are.
Whilst the majority of articles on JW.support offer relevant advice, the following address topics specific to the LGBTQ+ community.
Around 100,000 people leaving the Jehovah’s Witness religion every year, including thousands of LGBTQ+. The following experiences highlight the issues to expect and the joy that can be found down the track.
backseatdevil.com contains a mesmerising story of a gay Jehovah’s Witness that went to Bethel, with tragic consequences. Warning – the story is long and explicit.
Inside and Outcast: Multifaceted Stigma and Redemption in the Lives of Gay and Lesbian Jehovah’s Witnesses is a PDF providing a detailed look at growing up as a gay Jehovah’s Witness.
Being raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you received no education on issues specific to your needs as related to LGBTQ+. There are a vast range of topics that you need to consider specific to your mental, physical and sexual well-being. Two Australian websites with useful information on a broad range of topics are acon.org.au and abbi.org.au.
The following links provide access to global suicide support lines and sites specifically designed to assist people in the LGBTQ+ community.
gayxjw.org/support-facebook-group has links to Facebook support groups.
facebook.com/sparkletg is an active LGBTQ+ UK support group, not JW related.
It Gets Better
“It Gets Better – Dan and Terry” was uploaded to YouTube in 2010 to help teenagers experiencing bullying and rejection. It went viral and led to the channel “It Gets Better Project” which ten years later had over 70,000 stories and links that will inspire and help you.
The following was put together by NBCNews to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the It Gets Better Project.