Los Angeles, CA. November 24, 2000 - Vol. 6: 142
I'M HERE, I'M QUEER, I'M A SCIENTOLOGIST! Keith Relkin, a gay Scientologist from West Hollywood, responds to Patrick Tsakuda's article in Fab! last month on the organization.
by Keith Relkin
Well it's about time someone noticed Scientology is "invading" West Hollywood ("Scary Scientology Saga, Fab! issue 140)!!! I just wonder why it took so long for you to realize WE are here!
That's right, I'm a Scientologist living in West Hollywood. I'm also openly GAY, very involved in the GAY community, GAY civil rights and AIDS activism... in case you were interested.
In fact, there are quite a few of us happy little Scientologists here. And considering that this community is confronted by the same problems of drugs, unhappy relationships and the stress of living which all communities are faced with, Scientology is likely to continue to catch on here... because those are the things Scientology addresses and has answers to.
But I just don't recognize the Scientology you describe in your imaginative article, Patrick! Of course, you are probably more familiar with it than I am... after all, I've only worked for three Scientology organizations, two in Seattle, one in Los Angeles, and I volunteer at the center in Beverly Hills. Most of my family are Scientologists. My "ex" is a Scientologist and a staff member in Beverly Hills. Many of my gay friends have taken Scientology and staff courses and been greatly helped with their relationships.
By contrast, we have the "facts" cited in your article...oops! I can't see ANY! The "quote" you attribute to L. Ron Hubbard is from a book that doesn't exist and the "Cult Awareness Network" you "quote" went bankrupt years ago from lawsuits. (Apparently they tried to deprogram a Catholic nun and the Pope wasn't too happy about that. But you should also be aware that deprogramming is often used on homosexuals in the form of "aversion therapy" and "conversion therapy." I guess anyone who doesn't agree with the maintstream is a "cult member" in certain parts of this country!)
[Note: actually CAN went bankrupt after they have been found guilty by an unanimous jury of favoring the kidnapping and "deprogramming" of a Pentecostal Christian.]
The IRS ruled favorably on the religious nature of Scientology and its tax-exempt status years ago. Not sure how Fab! managed to miss that "minor detail" in their not-so-fab "fact checking department." Let's face it, YOUR story reads like science fiction.
So, just for fun, here's a REAL quote by L. Ron Hubbard, you know Patrick, from an actual book he wrote (can we say "library" Patrick?).
We Scientologists read this at the beginning of every Sunday service in every Scientology organization across the world: "Nothing in Dianetics and Scientology is true for you unless you have observed it and it is true according to your observation. That is all." .
On a personal note, it was Scientology that got me off drugs. It was counseling from a Scientology chaplain that helped me deal with coming out as a gay man and how to handle that with my family and friends. It was a Scientology Communications course that gave me many of the tools to rebuild my personal and family relationships, and also greatly improve my dating life! But most of all, Scientology has given me the opportunity to handle the effects of the oppression that all gay people grow up with, and to regain self-confidence and self-respect.
What's more, Scientology has the most iron-clad, non-discriminatory policy I've ever come across regarding sexual orientation. Have there been abuses of this policy by people in the church who are ignorant of it, or who were raised in the Midwest? (Sorry, bad joke.) Yes! Of course! I mean, what planet are you living on? But whenever I have personally written reports on policy violations to church management, my reports were acknowledged and the offenders were untimately corrected. That's more than I can say for our U.S. government's record handling civil rights abuses of gays.
Fact: Approximately 60% of the population of California voted FOR the Knight initiative. We have alot of work to do! But just because Dr. Laura is Jewish doesn't mean all Jews are against us. Similarly, we have many allies in the Church of Scientology, many of whom are my dear friends.
I believe that we in the gay community have a responsibility to: (1) Educate and (2) Set a good example in what a gay is and does. It has been and continues to be my mission to forge stronger ties within the Church and to increase communication and understanding about who gay people are. The Church of Scientology of Beverly Hills is totally welcoming of the gay community, for example, and has frequently invited me to lead Sunday services there.
As to L. Ron Hubbard himself, he wrote hundreds of works over half a century on the subject of mind, education, drug rehabilitation and related subjects. If you, Patrick, pick an isolated quote from 1950, you will NOT understand what Hubbard had to say about homosexuality. Remember, in 1950, the American Psychiatric Association had homosexuality labelled as a "Mental Disorder." It took the work of Frank Kameny and the Mattachine Society many years to get them to change that finally in 1963. Yet, in 1967, two years before the Stonewall riots and only four years after the American Psychiatric Association stopped calling us mentally ill, and long before any other major church instituted policies of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, L. Ron Hubbard wrote the non-discrimination policy I referred to BELOW in bold capital letters:
"It has never been any part of my plans to regulate or to attempt to regulate the private lives of individuals. Whenever this has occurred, it has not resulted in any improved condition... Therefore ALL FORMER RULES, REGULATIONS AND POLICIES RELATING TO THE SEXUAL ACTIVITIES OF SCIENTOLOGISTS ARE CANCELLED."
There are several points on which Scientology and the gay community totally agree: (1) Human Rights. There is zero tolerance in Scientology for any violation of human rights and you always have recourse in the Church if you feel that your rights have been violated. As I've said, I've used these on more than one occasion myself; (2) The committment to fight the drug problem in our communities. This is obviously not just a problem of the gay community, and pharmaceuticals are offenders as well as recreational drugs. Scientology has solutions to not only drug abuse, but to the toxic residuals which stay in the body for years afterward and can cause lasting physical and mental effects.
There are many gay Scientologists and there will doubtless be many more in the future, right here in West Hollywood, because Scientology's popularlity and visibility keeps growing. This is in no small measure due to the fact that Scientology upper management has made huge efforts in recent years to standardize all organizations so that they are uniform in their application of polcicies and procedures, which means that we, in the gay community, can expect the increased compliance with policies that affect us.
We're not living in the 50s or the Stonewall era. As a gay community, we should remember our past, but let's not live there. We've made incredible strides and it wasn't always due to our lack of skill in battle, but our diplomacy and skill in forging alliances. Haven't we had to do that all of our lives? Maybe, just maybe, it's time for a "reduction of hostilities."
For example, as a point of etiquette, calling someone's religion a "cult" is like yelling "faggot" out a car window while speeding down Santa Monica Boulevard. It does not promote a sense of compassion or tolerance. I suggest that we continue to be vigilant but also set an example of the tolerance we ourselves as gay people expect, and move into a better future for all of us, gay and straight." .