Andy / United Kingdom
“My name is Andy, and a religious cult survivor.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family and part of a religious cult (Jehovah’s Witnesses). I was bullied at school, sometimes beaten up cause I looked and acted differently, and on top of it I was professing another religious idea. First suicidal thought came when I was around 8. I become more and more involved with the church, I was trying to find comfort in an illusion, in a community that was accepting only because I was pretending to be someone else. When my father retired, I couldn’t stand his abusive presence, so I decided to leave home, and moved to London praying god to make me like the others.
London kept me busy, even more involved in the cult, I was trying hard “to pray the gay away”, spending all my energies and resources for the religion, going on missionary work in other countries, but a storm was brewing within me. It felt almost like I was imprisoned inside myself, while a robot was taking care of my life outside. Hiding my depression and my desperation behind smiles and jokes. After the last missionary trip I couldn’t integrate myself in the community back in London, so I decided to leave England for Scotland and start fresh new; things went well for the first few months, until I started getting discriminated in the religious community for being “different” and not acting like a real man, same old story. I couldn’t fit in the religious community, and I couldn’t fit in the world society, I was a freak wearing human skin.
The less hectic lifestyle helped a self discovery process. A voice inside me was screaming, a voice that I wasn’t allowed to listen to, that the only way to shut it was to kill myself. I couldn’t live as part of the community, and I couldn’t possibly betray god and live in the world as a queer man. The night before my suicidal date, that feeling was begging me to live my own truth. The decision to leave the cult didn’t come easy, and it did kill me, a social suicide. My family begged me to stay, so my friends, as once left, they wouldn’t be allowed to talk to me anymore. A type of love that’s only on conditions.
Here I stand, 2 years later, stronger than ever, living my own truth, even if it came with the price of leaving all my past behind. I’ve only seen my parents twice, and my siblings don’t want anything to do with me, nor my old friends. It’s hard to face rejection to such a core level, when you show who you are and they decide to turn the other way. It hurts being rejected and refused for who you are, while at the same time hearing them preach love to strangers.
Nevertheless I stand tall and even if it came at a high price, freedom was and is worth it.”