Former president of the Church of Scientology’s Youth and Human Rights organization, Michelle LeClair, looked like a poster girl for the Church of Scientology. In her memoir, Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love (Berkley, Oct.), LeClair describes following her mother into the Church at 15, attempts to reconcile the church’s anti-gay doctrine with her same-sex attraction, and how she finally found her way out in 2011.
Why write about your experiences with Scientology?
In the very beginning, I was so naïve. I had been brought up in a family that was very loving. I wasn’t taught discernment and I had a mother who was floating from one religion to another. In Scientology, you are made to believe that they have the secret to the universe, and that you are becoming this all-knowing, all-powerful being. They tweak the definition of spiritual so that it is about your ego and controlling the world more than what I now believe spirituality actually is, which is humbleness, love, gratefulness, and something much bigger than me.
Where does the Church of Scientology stand on homosexuality?
The Church of Scientology will tell you right now and has said in public that they believe in protecting everyone’s rights, including same-sex couples. That is 100% false. We are made to read Dianetics, in which L. Ron Hubbard describes homosexuals as the lowest of the low. We are also made to read Science of Survival, in which he wrote that homosexuals “should be disposed of quietly and without sorrow.” Per Church scripture, there is nothing that the Church of Scientology believes is good about homosexuality or gay relationships. In the Church, homosexuality is something that needs to be “handled.”
How did you and your publisher go about releasing the book?
There was no pressure on me to not publish it because I believe that the Church didn’t know about it. We kept the book under embargo. That’s why the book was not sent out ahead of time for reviews. I wrote on computers that were not attached to the internet. I worked with a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, Robin Gaby Fisher. We were extremely careful with this book, and I believe that the Church of Scientology was blindsided by it.
What will surprise readers most about your book?
I think readers will be surprised about the conspiracy that the Church created around me when I came out as gay. It’s unbelievable. I talk about everything from the details of the computer hacking to a spy in my company.
What do you hope readers will take away from it?
I hope that when readers talk with their kids about not taking candy from strangers and not walking up to a van and pet a puppy they don’t know, that that also tell them to never ever walk into the Church of Scientology. As parents, we have to balance how to teach unconditional love and acceptance, but also teach discernment and a little bit of a critical eye so that groups like this cannot pull them in.