My name is Phillip Jackson and I have lived my entire life in a Jehovah’s Witness family. I was raised by my mom and her family, since she had divorced from my dad before I was born. I was educated in a deeply religious environment and I found out that it was my father’s fault that our family broke down. I started suspecting that something was different about me when I was in first grade. I could feel the attraction towards boys of my age and at that time I knew it wasn’t normal, because the discussions that were taken place in my family. According to my religion, the one I have been raised in, homosexuality is a sin and I was bound to go to Hell if I was to embrace such a thing. So I hid, not only from the world, but from myself.
Several years passed and when I have reached 11 my mom passed away. She had been diagnosed with cancer and there was nothing that could have been done. This literally shook my world from the ground and my only support was gone. I was left to live with my uncle and aunt and with my mentally disabled sister, whose condition worsen with the years. She would try to drown me when I was a little boy.
Aside from this, those who were now raising me, my mother’s relatives, had become mentally and physically abusive and this threw me into a spiral of depression as the time passed. As I kept growing, my sexuality was becoming more and more powerful and I simply could not deny it anymore. But I was still afraid of the family I was living with. I no longer felt that the religion I have been educated in represented me in any way. It seemed abusive and intolerant and had very little in common with the love and acceptance that it preaches.
But the fact that I could not be myself, free and happy, was tearing me apart and I felt my sadness increasing with every day. I was crying a lot when in school breaks because I had no one to share the joy of life with. I realize now that the environment I was forced to live in was all about religious intimidation and bullying and having to obey other’s rules. As I grew, I knew I could not hide for much longer and I finally came out to my friends. I couldn’t believe how receptive and supportive they’ve been and I am extremely grateful for that. I have had my first boyfriend when I have reached 26 and that is when my family finally found out about my true self. They threw me out of the house and I was forced to go on my own way.
Since then a lot of things changed. I am living now with 2 roommates and I finally found out what’s like to be free to be who you really are and not be afraid of what others may think about you. My relationship didn’t work out eventually, but it’s not like the end of the world. I have found out that freedom of expression is the most important thing of all and it’s not worth living a secluded life, where you cannot overcome the prisoner’s status. A life where you’re not free is not worth living and I am now free to be whoever I choose to because nobody has the right to impose a specific lifestyle in others. I have met my father and his family since and I have discovered that I am much like him. He is such a nice guy and I can’t wait to get to know him better. I realize that I have been living a lie for my entire life and I have realized one more thing. Religion is incompatible with human happiness. I know what you guys think. It is people who were bad, not religion, right? Wrong! They taught me that religion prohibits homosexuality since it is a sin. They taught me that homosexuality comes from the Devil and it is unclean and blamable. These are actual religious specification, not invented lies. I know now that religion has been invented by people who didn’t understand how reality worked and I believe it is unfit to appreciate in a modern society.
I am gay and proud and I will live my life accordingly, free from any chains, religious or otherwise.