Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-11-14
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOK REVIEW Perfectly Clear
by Lauren Emily Whalen
2018-09-19

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Author: Michelle LeClair, with Robin Gaby Fisher

$27; Berkley; 289 pages

Michelle LeClair is an openly queer Scientologist who thought she could have it all.

She was very, very wrong.

Perfectly Clear, LeClair's memoir about an adult life in Scientology followed by a life-changing revelation — that she was in love with another woman — opens with a raid. For years since leaving the church ( as she refers to it ), LeClair, her four young children and her partner have been stalked in the grocery store, outside of their schools and offices. In the prologue, the Los Angeles Police Department is invading LeClair's home in the middle of the night, bearing a search warrant, terrifying her and her family.

Yes, Scientology's reach extends to law enforcement.

With co-writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robin Gaby Fisher, LeClair chronicles her relationship with perhaps the most confounding "religion" in modern history. As an 18-year-old Los Angeles transplant by way of Oklahoma, she took a summer job as a saleswoman for a training facility that turned out to double as a Scientology recruitment facility. Young Michelle was pretty, intelligent and had a head for business: looking back, she reflects, she was a ripe candidate for Scientology from day one.

The only hiccup? Back in high school, Michelle once fooled around with another girl.

Scientologists are notoriously homophobic. As an "ethics officer" in the church explains to Michelle, "[h]omosexuals get sick easily. They get AIDS. They cannot procreate. Many have committed crimes of sexual deviance. You don't know one because they hide their crimes. Is that the group you want to be a part of?" Of course, a terrified teenage Michelle says no.

This brief and youthful tryst would haunt Michelle for decades during Scientology's notorious "auditing" sessions, during which church members must plunge the depths of their past memories. If this sounds like therapy, it isn't: first, Scientologists are notoriously anti-analysis, and second, these auditing sessions ( often conducted by young, inexperienced church members ) are meticulously recorded and filed. It's speculated in documentaries like Going Clear that famous Scientologists such as John Travolta have ultimately stayed with the church because of the dark secrets they have spilled during auditing sessions.

But Michelle's secrets would only get darker. After attaining the status of Clear ( which Scientologists define as free of the "reactive mind", and which comes with a price of thousands of dollars of courses and auditing sessions ), Michelle becomes the unofficial "poster girl" of the church. She also endures an abusive marriage to her teenage sweetheart, and grows more terrified as her small family grows. When contemplating divorce, Michelle discovers she's pregnant for the third time. But when she turns to her beloved church for help, Michelle is subject to a litany of double standards — and there's that dirty little homosexuality secret again. Michelle then meets and connects with a wealthy, intelligent music producer — who happens to be a woman — and her persecution really begins.

LeClair, who raised millions of dollars for Scientology's charity group Youth for Human Rights International, deftly exposes the church's blatant money grab from its members — often encouraging broke parishioners to open new credit cards — as well as its nasty treatment of ex-members, or SPs ( Suppressive Persons ). She tells of her own mother, who initially joined the church through a corporate recruitment program and ends up in Sea Org, the highly prestigious Scientology organization that forces its members to live in squalor and do menial tasks for a fifty dollar stipend per week. And she tells in vivid detail of the church's far-reaching influence, especially when it comes to intimidating journalists searching for the truth and fellow outspoken ex-members such as film director Paul Haggis ( who left the church after his lesbian daughter was repeatedly mistreated ).

For those like me, who are endlessly fascinated by this cult of the heart, mind and wallet, some of LeClair's details aren't new. You can't read a Wikipedia article on Scientology without learning about e-meters, silent births and Tom Cruise. What makes Perfectly Clear unique is its queer perspective. Even Haggis, one of the first celebrity ex-members to speak out against the church, can't give a personal account of what its like to be in a forbidden relationship as a Scientologist. LeClair can, and LeClair does. Even those who've read and seen Going Clear, or are familiar with Leah Remini's various anti-Scientology outlets, will be shocked by LeClair's experiences and Scientology's influence on powerful LA organizations such as the police and the district attorney's office.

Though LeClair's copious exclamation points get a little old, Perfectly Clear is a fast, fascinating read from the perspective of a gay Scientologist who survived — but just barely.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Author Miriam Frank headlines CTU LGBTQIA+ event 2018-11-14 - Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America author and Pride at Work founding member Miriam Frank was the featured speaker ...


Gay News

Brynn Tannehill: Trans activist calls for action in new book 2018-11-14 - Many readers remember Dr. David Ruben's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex ( But Were Afraid to Ask )—a 1969 best-selling ...


Gay News

Queer Eye's Karamo Brown in Evanston Dec. 5 2018-11-07 - Television host and culture expert on the Emmy-winning Netflix reboot of Queer Eye, Karamo Brown says that the key to his success is ...


Gay News

Ex-Neo Nazi talks about what spurred him to change 2018-11-07 - To look into the eyes of Christian Picciolini—eyes that seem to smile in a nonthreatening and empathetic way—one would probably not believe at ...


Gay News

Michelle Obama giving book-tour tickets to groups 2018-11-07 - Michelle Obama and Live Nation have announced a selection of the local and community organizations that will receive free admission to the former ...


Gay News

David Jay Collins readings Nov. 9 2018-11-07 - Chicago author David Jay Collins will read scenes from his locally set novels Gaybash and Summerdale on Friday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 p.m., ...


Gay News

A Cradle Song: Part Four 2018-11-07 - A Cradle Song, written by Mark Zubro and illustrated by W.S. Reed, debuts in the Windy City Times as the new holiday classic. ...


Gay News

BOOKS Some of Chicago's LGBTQ-friendly book clubs 2018-11-07 - Reading is a solitary act, and sometimes a lonely one. A number of individuals have gone the extra mile to start book ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Streisand, GLAAD book, Spice Girls, Boy Erased, Rhapsody 2018-11-06 - Barbra Streisand has released an LGBTQ anthem that doubles as a statement against President Trump, NewNowNext.com reported. The legendary singer's latest album, Walls, ...


Gay News

Atwood discusses impact of 'The Handmaid's Tale' at NU 2018-11-05 - Author Margaret Atwood spoke before an at-capacity audience on Northwestern University's Evanston campus Oct. 30 to discuss the implications of her classic 1985 ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.