The following is part two of our mini-series on Scientology's long-time stance against homosexuality, its discriminatory practices against gays within its ranks, and how founder L. Ron Hubbard's own early sexual "experiences" may have unduly affected his view on homosexuality.
Outing and Ousting
I’d been a fan of TV’s Laugh-In and one of my favorites had been Lily Tomlin. One night I was in the office of Division 6, the part of the Centre responsible for bringing new “public” into Scientology, when a woman named Eileen Zee burst in, crying. A number of us tried to calm her down and found out that her boss, Lily Tomlin, had been hitting on her and Eileen was afraid of losing her job. So Lily Tomlin was a lesbian? Well, I thought, that’s just Hollywood.
Ultimately, Eileen didn’t get Lily into Scientology, which the Division 6 staff had been coaching her on doing.
John Travolta’s sexuality has been questioned in the media for years, but while on staff, I never heard anything about it. He’d been brought into Scientology by actress Joan Prather, someone I’d had a mad crush on in high school, when she appeared daily as a go-go dancer on a TV music show out of Dallas. I figured if Travolta (right, using e-meter) was dating Prather, he was quite a lucky guy.
Later, when the Centre was on La Brea in Hollywood, I talked to Travolta once and had no inkling there was anything gay about him.
But I had worse things to worry about in 1977, when many Scientology executives like myself were told we had terrible spiritual problems and “evil intentions” against Hubbard due to items that had shown up in our auditing sessions. We were told we could either go work on the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) to get all fixed up spiritually, or be banished. I joined the RPF long enough to figure out that this event just happened to coincide with Scientology purchasing the former Cedars of Lebanon hospital on Sunset, and that we were a slave labor force there to fix it up.
I took my exit from staff and found out that I wasn’t banished after all. I just had to pay for all the auditing and training I’d received in four years, which added up to around $15,000. To the shock of former staff members, I ended up on a game show and won almost exactly that amount in cash and prizes. I wrote a radio script and sold it, helped start a magazine, and within a year, I was an up-and-coming personality in Hollywood and a celebrity in my own right.
That’s when I met Paul Haggis and we began a writers group of Scientologists at the Celebrity Centre, one that ran for years. As I became well known as a professional writer in the Scientology community, people began to explain things to me that I had only wondered about before.
For example, while on staff at Celebrity Centre I’d found out about John McMaster (left), Clear #1, who had been an amazing ambassador of goodwill for Hubbard in the early years. (Hubbard said McMaster was “the first real clear.”) I couldn’t find much material on McMaster, so I asked questions, and one night the top auditor at Celebrity Centre explained it to me.
“He’s not around any more,” he said curtly. “He’s gay.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Homosexual,” came the explanation. “1.1 on the tone scale - Ron hates homosexuals. Didn’t you read Science of Survival?"
Once off staff, I found out people had loved McMaster, but he apparently couldn’t stand the homophobic hostility and irrational behavior displayed by Scientology’s founder. He left the organization in 1968, only to be “declared” a “Suppressive Person” by Hubbard. Yvonne Jentzsch had been tight-lipped when I’d asked her about McMaster, but she told me that he had “gone PTS” (become a Potential Trouble Source, meaning someone under the influence of a Suppressive Person, or “SP”). She did reveal though, that McMaster had invented the Power Processes of Scientology, a precursor to “going Clear” on the “Bridge to Total Freedom” Scientology chart of progress.
I learned that Hubbard had made McMaster the "Pope" of Scientology in 1966, but McMaster protested some of Hubbard’s crazy behavior and they grew apart. Maybe it was when Hubbard imprisoned a 4-year-old child in a chain locker on board the Scientology “Sea Organization” ship Apollo, after chewing up one of Hubbard's papers. Or, perhaps it was when McMaster was forcibly thrown into the ocean (which Hubbard called “overboarding”) and struggled in the water with a broken collarbone for hours.
Post-Scientology, McMaster told an interviewer: “I saw that he was in it for the money and personal power, and his actual intentions were not as stated. The basic function of auditing is a wonderful thing, but Hubbard perverted it."
Perverted? The way homosexuals supposedly operated?
Ron Rules Rhodesia
One of the more compelling audiotapes that staff members and Scientologists would refer to in those days was “Ron’s Journal ’67” in which he said:
“In 1966, knowing that the world would not go on forever without war, and knowing that it might be very advisable for us to have all of our materials in a safe repository, I went down to southern Africa in order to establish an area where this could be effected.”
Specifically, it was Rhodesia (LRH in Africa right), and what Hubbard left out of the story was that he had tried to take over the country of Rhodesia based on his personal charm and Scientology “technology.”
I’d asked Yvonne Jentzsch about that, because she’d told me she had nursed “Ron” back to health after he did the mental/spiritual research in developing the vaunted “OT3” (Operating Thetan, Level 3, thetan being the Scientology world for spiritual being coined by Hubbard from the Greek word “theta” meaning “life”). Supposedly, Hubbard had broken his back while breaking through the “Wall of Fire” psychic traps put in place by space aliens and had confided many things to Yvonne.
Okay, so it sounds nuts to the normal person, but Scientology was layered on you bit by bit, and the more encapsulated you became in the community, the more likely you could believe the next bit of balderdash. Besides, Yvonne Jentzsch, like McMaster, was highly likable and since she had three kids she wasn’t a lesbian, so why shouldn’t I believe her?
In the Scientology community, I was known as a writer after being off-staff for little more than a year. I’d been on national TV, I knew people in Hollywood, and people came to me with stories.
One such acquaintance, John Ausley, had been married to Paulette Ausley, the person in charge of the Qualifications Division of Scientology worldwide, reporting directly to L. Ron Hubbard. Paulette had been responsible for the “tech error” that had supposedly allowed all the southern California executives to be sent to the RPF, only to have it “discovered” by Hubbard about the time the renovations on “the Complex” (the former hospital) were being completed. John’s sister, Liz Gablehouse, was Hubbard’s personal Public Relations Officer. So I figured he knew what he was talking about.
Since more than one Scientologist had told me Hubbard was certain he had been Cecil Rhodes (the man who gave the country its name) in a former life, I asked John about a picture I’d seen of Hubbard (left) standing smugly, hands on hips, on the tomb of Rhodes. Had he tried to take over the country because he’d once de facto ruled it as Cecil Rhodes? Ausley laughed.
“Ha! He quit talking about that,” he said. “He got kicked out of the country because he was kissing the butt of Ian Smith, the Prime Minister, and people could see right through him.”
“So he didn’t think anyone would believe he’d been Rhodes?”
“Nah. He used to brag about that on the Apollo, then one night Kima Douglas said, ‘Sir, did you know Cecil Rhodes was a flaming homosexual?’ Never heard him mention it again.”
Kima Douglas, shades of Yvonne Jentzsch, had nursed Hubbard back to health on the Apollo after he ignored staff warnings and went riding his motorcycle dockside on a rainy night in a Mediterranean port and crashed horribly. I’d known that much about her, but hearing that she’d shut Hubbard up about Rhodes made me laugh, though I was still a somewhat loyal Scientologist. (I wasn’t laughing later when I found out that Cecil Rhodes had been instrumental in the Boer Wars in Africa, where the British established concentration camps that killed tens of thousands of people. Shades of the RPF...)
Quentin Hubbard's Suspicious Suicide
This prompted me to ask John Ausley about John McMaster, and he confirmed the good things I’d heard from others about the man. We also had discussions about the death of Hubbard’s son Quentin who was reportedly - like McMaster - a master auditor, much beloved, and gay. Ausley grew agitated discussing the situation, because he’d seen Quentin yelled at by his father, which in Ausley’s opinion had more to do with Quentin being gay than anything else.
I’d met Quentin (right) briefly but never thought about his sexuality, only found him to be quite affable and admirable in the way he (as Scientology royalty) conducted himself. On October 28, 1976 he had been found - as the story went - in Las Vegas, slumped over the steering wheel of a Pontiac parked near the McCarran Airport, a possible suicide attempt. Admitted to the hospital as a John Doe with no identification, he died two weeks later.
A few years later, a Scientologist named Cathy McCoy, who had met Quentin when he visited the Scientology organization in Sacramento, told me that Quentin was not gay, that he was bisexual if anything, and that he had been driving to California to be with her after leaving staff at Flag (the Scientology base in Clearwater, Florida).
A few years after that, I was dating Nikki Merwin, secretary and best friend to Mary Sue Hubbard, on the Apollo at the same time as the Ausleys and Liz Gablehouse, and she told me that Hubbard had considered his son an embarrassment and that Quentin’s death at the age of 22 would be bad “PR” for Scientology. (She later told me that Hubbard’s main reaction to his wife going to prison, taking the rap for him in “Operation Snow White,” was over her being strip-searched. Not exactly a font of compassion, that Hubbard.)
In recent years, one of my kids was a good friend of a son of the late Joe Lisa, one of the Scientology “Guardian’s Office” operatives dispatched to Las Vegas to “handle” Quentin. There were many oddities about how Quentin had been found, shocking to anyone who knew how Quentin usually comported himself, but the most shocking to me was hearing how someone had entered the hospital room, unplugged the IV, and put the “embarrassment” out of his misery.
It took many years for me to get to the point where I knew anything was possible with Hubbard and Scientology.
John Travolta Gay Rumors and LRH's Web of Lies
When I met John Ausley he was an aspiring writer and came to me for advice, which I readily gave him. We would talk about what various Scientologists were doing in Hollywood, and a big disappointment to both of us was John Travolta’s movie Moment by Moment with Lily Tomlin. We were both of the opinion that it came across as a gay guy trying to pretend to be in love with an older lesbian, as though both of them were straight. The movie was panned by everyone, and flopped at the box office.
Scientologists I knew would often discuss with me whether Travolta was gay, despite the girlfriends I knew he’d had. I knew that one of his managers, the late Bob Lemond, was gay. I knew Travolta’s auditor who helped him through illness and upset on the set of Urban Cowboy, who I was fairly certain was at least bisexual.
But I didn’t care! Why should I? If Rock Hudson could entertain me all those years playing straight, what did it matter?
What did matter to me was hypocrisy, and as the years went on I saw more and more of it from L. Ron Hubbard, with stories revealed to me by people who knew him very well, such as his long-time agent, the somewhat legendary (particularly in science-fiction circles) Forrest J. Ackerman.
I received a number of early Dianetics and Scientology books from a woman who had been Hubbard’s babysitter in Phoenix, who quit because of his explosive temper. I learned from more than one source that Hubbard’s stories of being crippled and blinded after World War II were an outright lie - they’d been in the hospital with him at Oak Knoll Hospital in Oakland. He wasn’t at all blinded or crippled, I was told, but he was a giant pain in the ass to staff. I met a man who told me stories of Hubbard from Hollywood parties pre-Dianetics who would give him a ride because Hubbard was too broke to own a car.
And then in 1996 I had my own split with Scientology, after being accused of having “withholds” from the organization. By then I was married with a couple of kids, flourishing as a writer, and not terribly active. My wife read the book A Piece of Blue Sky by Jon Atack and I followed suit, then I told Scientology I was through. A couple of people in Scientology Navy suits showed up unannounced in the middle of the night and tried to “dead agent” Atack (defuse his claims), starting with the accusation that he had been a heroin addict.
“A heroin addict like Chick Corea, you mean?” I asked. (I’d been to a giant party thrown by Paul McCartney with Chick and some other people, and knew things about him.) “Or Nicky Hopkins?” (I’d been roommates with Nicky while putting on plays at the Celebrity Centre.) My knowledge of the backgrounds of these prominent Scientology celebrities and other things helped shut down my want-to-be handlers.
They left and I never heard from them or Scientology again.
Photo credit: Lermanet.com