Saturday, March 28, 2009

From Jehovah's Witness to Fruit Fli? Jamie wins!

The next time you see a Jehovah's Witness at your door, or in the subway holding up their "Watch Tower" pamphlet, I hope you remember this story:

On St. Patrick's Day, I was hanging out at the Boiler Room with my friend Jamie, the original Fruit Fli. Over several Guinness, and later several Jameson (not a good combo!) she shared with me the story of her earlier years, before she morphed into the fabulous Fruit Fli she is today.

When she was young, a babysitter swept her impressionable young mind into becoming a Jehovah's Witness. You know, those crazies who go around ringing your doorbell? I met a gay guy once, who grew up Jehova's Witness. When he came out, his family refused to speak with him at all. They still refuse to speak with him. Imagine.

So Jamie was a really staunch Jehovah's Witness. She was such a good example, they selected her among thousands to lead tours at their gigantic WatchTower headquarters over there in Brooklyn! Jamie says they have a vast network of tunnels under there that spread out and lead all the way to Red Hook. Scary!

Eventually, Jamie found another Jehovah's Witness man and they married. She didn't have much contact with her family, thanks to the religion. But she did have a sister who was lesbian. And then one day the lesbian sister got into a horrible car accident, and was on life support in the hospital. It didn't look like she was going to survive.

Of course, Jamie wasn't supposed to have contact with sinners like that. So she went through a kind of reckoning, and when she approached her husband about it, about maybe going to see her sister in the hospital because she might die, her husband spat, "Who cares? She's a lesbian."

And that's when something clicked in Jamie's head, something just and compassionate. Because in that moment, Jamie understood that despite anything, her sister is a human being. She went to see her sister in the hospital, and by the time she came back she had decided to leave her husband---and their religion.

But because divorce is also actually illegal with the Jehovah's Witnesses, her husband would be kicked out too. Jamie did him the favor of not disappearing. She went before the very heads of that cult and admitted the reason their marriage was over was her fault. She didn't want to be part of their flock. She was no longer willing to accept what they were offering.

Inspired by her sister, Jamie then explored the forbidden world of the gays. And she's been a fruit fli ever since. This kills me because you'd never suspect that this girl who loves the gay boys had ever experienced such a storied past. The girl keeps poppers in her purse, for chrissakes!

Her lesbian sister is paralyzed from the waist down, but she survived. Then, six years ago, Jamie met her boyfriend Marco...at Splash! Ha! Ironically enough, Marco was just getting out of a marriage to a Jehovah's Witness!! He has a daughter, but the Jehovah's Witness wife will not let him see his daughter.

At the bar on St. Patrick's Day, Marco told me that his daughter was now 7 years old and recently celebrated her birthday. For the occasion, he bought her an American Girl doll. But, according to rules, the ex-wife forced him to leave it with their neighbor so his daughter wouldn't see him. She sent Marco pictures from her phone of their daughter opening the gift.

Legal proceedings are under way in that case. But needless to say, my post St. Patrick's Day hangover was compounded with the reminder of how many of us have been heartbroken by spiritual terrorism. Beware! If I did believe in sin, devout religion would be first on my list of offenders because far too often it ignores love. And isn't love all you need?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG Jesse, your post really hits close to home today. I was a JW until my mid-twenties and it took me till I was 30 to come out to my family. It is the saddest thing to see what that religion does to families. Everyone but my mom, step-dad and brothers has cut off contact with me. Thanks for bringing awareness to this. Sometimes I resent that it took me til I was thirty to get the courage, but then again I could have been 60...phew.

xo Miguel

Anonymous said...

remember the movie footloose? well that is my life story. I was Kevin Bacon. lol. i always said they didn't like sex cos it might lead to dancing. I never got sucked in but saw how hard it was for my friends - especially gay friends...
ick.

c

Anonymous said...

You know, Jesse, I have had patients in the past who were JW. It is a hopeless, frightening experience to be in a position to help (maybe save) a human being who cannot accept or even believe that anything technical or modern is acceptable to God and thus to them. Each time I consulted with a JW patient in my office, I prepared myself to have an entourage of "supporters" come with that person to tell me what I was forbidden to do as it
was against one of God's demands. I often wondered, why bother to seek medical help at all? BL

Bob Frank said...

Hi Jesse,
This was a wonderful blog. It's sad how some religions are so controlling that you absolutely cannot think for yourself. The rule should be, if a teaching hurts other people, it should be discarded.
I'm a Buddhist, and the Buddha said not to accept any teaching, no matter who said it, until you have carefully considered it and it makes sense to you. If it doesn't, put it aside. Bob

Mark in DE said...

OMG - Spouse & I are coming to NYC in May. Can you arrange for me to meet Jamie and Marco? I'll be in touch with later with the exact dates of our trip, and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see you and Bam again.

Jesse Archer said...

Hi Guys,
Bob--I'm totally with you. Where's the love?
Mark--I'm sure Jamie & Marco would love to go out. I linked to her site. You should write her, she's a great friend & fruit fli!