Social media is providing a new type of freedom for many people as they access and share information. This past Saturday, a lifelong Jehovah’s Witness chose this medium to not only come “out” to his family and community, but to the world.
David Gilbert, a distance runner for Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, shared his letter to the world on Facebook.
David told the journal that proclaims to be “the galactic leader in gay sports,” “that he knows that by sharing his story and his feelings that he will connect with other young athletes and help them through their struggles.”
Part of the letter says, “Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, I have been told many times whom I can and cannot be.”
“I would like to let everyone know that I, David James Gilbert, am bisexual.”
“I’ve read many stories about people coming out of the closet, so I’m prepared for the worst reaction possible. I’m 100% okay if I lose support from my family, my friends, and my team. It is my choice to be myself and it is your choice if you support me or not. I understand that it might be difficult for you to accept.
“My whole life I’ve been taught that “being gay is wrong” and that it is a choice; an urge that will go away if you ignore it. Well, I would like you to think about things we actually choose in life.
We choose what we eat, who we are friends with, what we want to do with our lives, and so on. Things we cannot choose are what color our eyes are, if we have crooked teeth, who our parents are, or even what gender we are sexually attracted to.
That’s right—the gender you’re attracted to is not a choice. You didn’t choose to be straight just like gay people don’t choose to be gay.”
“If you are gay or bisexual, I will share a message that helped give me the final push on making this decision to go public with who I really am:
“Please don’t give up hope on life or yourself.
You’re very special to me, and I am working very hard to make this life a better and safer place for you to live in. Promise me you’ll keep trying. My son gave up. I hope you won’t.”
These words were said by Mary Griffith, whose son killed himself because she and the rest of his family didn’t support his homosexuality. His family and friends thought this was a choice he made and judged him for it. They did not understand that he was born this way and could not change himself.”
LGBT have a particularly difficult time when raised by Jehovah’s Witness parents or if they want to be part of that community.
David Gilbert has been brave in not only coming “out” as an athlete. This decision could not have been easy given the beliefs of his family and friends.
JWR reported in November 2014, on the experience of author and former JW, Scott Terry, who wrote a moving and emotional account of his life growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness in Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How a Gay Child Was Saved from Religion.
Scott’s words no doubt echo what David Gilbert has experienced. “I did not choose to be gay. I fought it. For years, I prayed to God and asked Him to cure me.”
Scott recognized his own indoctrinated homophobia and denial of self and continued in his 2012 blog post:
“Everything I believed about homosexuality had been learned from my father and my religious upbringing with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and none of it was nice.”
Along with Outsports.com, JWR congratulates David Gilbert for having the courage to come “out” despite significant fear and prejudice, and thanks him for wanting to help other young people avoid the struggles he experienced.
College runner, a Jehovah’s Witness, pours his heart into coming-out letter on Facebook – Link
JWR Jehovah’s Witnesses and Gay intolerance Link
Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How a Gay Child Was Saved from Religion – Amazon Link
Photo credit – Outsports.com