Saturday, April 14, 2018

Never Wear Fruit Leather When it's Humid

“I asked if she thought we liked each other more than just friends. I got a solid “idk,” and by the end of the night we were eating unicorn beef and cheese together.”

Welcome back to the Tapir/Sparlock Signal Blog. Today’s episode is the latest installment in our series about heathen helpers, those volunteers who have never been Mormon or a Witness who nevertheless get their jollies from helping out disaffected members. You’ve already met FSM_Noodly_Luv and Erin.

This week, meet Ryan. You probably know him better as Cece’s husband. He grew up Lutheran, now considers himself agnostic, and his in-laws are kind of weird.

How did you meet Cece?

When Cece and I started dating, we actually were long distance. We met online. I saw a person on a nerdy community site (RoosterTeeth) with a girl’s name, flower profile picture, and no pictures of herself. I assumed there was a chance that she was secretly a guy.

However, that didn’t stop me from chatting with her. We had met through a mutual friend on the site, and together with him and two other people from the site, we started a podcast for fun. Our little podcast group grew closer and closer as we started hanging out more and more when we weren’t recording. Eventually, Cece and I started DM’ing more and more until I realized that we had a little thing going on. I asked if she thought we liked each other more than just friends. I got a solid “idk,” and by the end of the night we were a couple.

What was it like when Cece began questioning her religion?

I think the biggest thing was that I didn’t force anything. I would have supported her whether she woke up or not. I just knew what I believed, and that I would never be converted. She found the ExJW subreddit and other such places on her own. I just tried to give the unconditional love I saw missing from a religion that would threaten forced social isolation.

What did you know about the Jehovah’s Witnesses before you met her?

I more or less assumed they weren’t all that different from other Protestants. The only difference I know of is that they were a little more hardcore because of the whole door-to-door thing. When Cece told me she was a JW, we began to talk and compare beliefs and I was shocked at some of the crazy.

What was the craziest?

There were some weird differences in interpretation. Adding one letter to “and He was God” to make it “and He was a god” can determine whether or not you believe in a trinity. I think the craziest thing, though, was the disfellowshipping (when members shun a member who has committed certain sins). The fact that people would so willingly accept such a manipulative practice was mind-bowing.

So this isn’t the politest transition ever, but speaking of crazy, how was it meeting your in-laws?

So Cece and I dated long distance, occasionally visiting every six months or so (secretly of course). However, when she came to visit me for the first time, her parents got suspicious why she made a long stop in my state during the trip she was on. She told them about me when she got back, and it was the day we had been dreading. I made one last trip to her state, we loaded up both our cars, and she moved in with me and my roommate.

When I came to pick her up, her mother wouldn’t even look at me. Her father was about as cordial as one can be when a random guy shows up to take your daughter to another state. He helped us pack everything into our cars, we talked a bit about who I was, and I gave him my contact info.

When we got engaged, she invited her parents to the wedding, but we weren’t sure if we would even get a response. We didn’t until the weekend before. I got a text Sunday morning as I was sitting there in my boxers that they were in town and wanted to meet me at Wendy’s. Cece wasn’t invited.

They tried to explain why they couldn’t go to the wedding, why cutting her off from everyone she knew was a form of love, and quoted the “head of the household” Bible verses that I already knew. At one point, her mother straight-up said that she didn’t want to be talking to me. At another point, her dad said, “You know how women can get a little headstrong.” I nodded and tried to be polite for the whole thing. They also said they had “driven past our place, and it looked nice.” LinkedIn told me once that her dad had checked out my profile.

That is … incredibly frustrating. I’m mad right now on behalf of both of you.

It’s been quite the experience.

What made you decide to volunteer with the Sparlock Signal?

It’s a situation I am familiar with already. I’ve seen how hard it can be to make that transition from physically in to physically out. I joined when Cece told me they were looking for website help. Since I do that for work, I figured it’d be a great way for me to help.

If you are in need of help, you can reach us here.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-784-2433 (outside the US, these calls are free via Skype).

If you are LGBT+ and need to talk, please contact the LGBT National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564 or find them online here.

Know you are safe and among friends and we will do whatever we can to help.

Lastly, if you would like to be involved or volunteer, you can reach out to us here.

Tapir/Sparlock Signal is always looking for volunteers in a variety of areas including housing, employment, and other practical concerns as well as LGBT issues and suicide awareness. Contact us for more details.

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