The WBC loves and thrives on publicity, so I joined Twitter in 2009 to run the church’s account. I was very zealous and adamant that my beliefs were the truth, but I began to realise that the 140-word limit meant I had to drop the throwaway insults or conversations would die. Over time, I found I was actually beginning to like people: to see them as human beings rather than people to condemn. For the first time, I started to care about what people outside the WBC thought of me. As my feelings towards my faith wavered I’d boomerang between thinking “none of this makes sense” to “God is testing me and I am failing”, but it was only in the four months before I left in 2012 that I actually started to make a plan. I cornered my sister in our room one evening and told her I was going to leave and asked her to come with me. She initially said no and told me I was being silly, but over time we’d have stolen conversations about it and she came round to the idea.
My mom was so broken by the news – I’d never seen her face like that before
Leaving was unbearably sad. Having dinner with my grandparents or bouncing on a trampoline with my brother for the last time; asking my parents about their history in detail because I knew I’d never be able to ask them about it again: I was consciously saying goodbye to my family while they had no idea. I was trying to keep as much of it as I could. On the day, my younger sister and I sat down with my parents after they’d heard that we had planned to leave. They were really upset and my mom was so broken by the news – I’d never seen her face like that before. We told them we didn’t believe anymore, then went to pack. The adrenaline pumping through me made my hands shake as I stuffed my things into bags. Word spread among the family and several of my aunts and uncles turned up to talk us out of it. It started with: “You know better than this” and spiralled into shouting as we left. I went back the next day to pick up the rest of my stuff and knocked on the front door of the house I grew up in for the first time. The cold was immediate. I knew straight-away that I was not a part of the church any more. I was out. I miss my family every single day.