Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology’s homophobia and its disconnection policy — still producing refugees today

[Justin Rybacki]

One of the questions we’ve run into numerous times since Leah Remini’s series began airing come from people not very familiar with Scientology who ask why it is that the people who appear on the show all seem so prosperous and living in lavish homes.

We’ve explained to them that some of the homes used in the program were selected by the production company and weren’t actually where the interviewees were living, but we did want to address the idea that former Scientologists are all prospering since leaving the church.

That isn’t always the case. We hear from people who have struggled mightily after leaving the church or the Sea Org, and who have had a difficult time adapting to a very different world than the one they might have grown up in.

We were reminded of that when we talked this week with Justin Rybacki, a 31-year-old who grew up in Scientology and who left it recently. He spoke to us from Moreno Valley, California, where he’s been staying on a friend’s couch since being laid off from a job in Las Vegas. He’s driving for Lyft to get by while he tries to figure out what to do.

Justin was born in Michigan, and his parents were very busy at the Ann Arbor Scientology mission while he and his siblings were growing up.


“My parents prioritized the church over spending time with us kids. Scientology teaches that being born was a choice, parents were ‘picked’ by their kids, and anything that happens to you is ultimately your own responsibility. It would be many years later that I’d realize the abuses my siblings and I suffered weren’t our fault,” he says.

Justin was auditing on the E-meter before he was 10 years old. And after he did turn 10, the family moved to Orange County, California, and his parents became heavily involved in the org there. “My parents fought constantly over finances, among other things. I remember my younger brother once suggesting that maybe we spend less on Scientology and caught up on bills. He was pounced on by my parents for even considering the notion. It was obvious that Scientology came first.”

His parents today are completely dedicated to the church, even though neither one of them is particularly high on the “Bridge to Total Freedom.”

“Dad was Clear at one point, but he had his status revoked during one of the many times they did that. Mom was co-auditing up through the Grades and hadn’t gone Clear. Neither of them are in the OT levels.”

His parents were divorced in 2009, about the time Justin was coming out publicly as gay — but he says they had known about it since he was 14 or 15.

“When my parents caught me looking at gay content, they reported me to the local church. I was removed from the normal public services I was on and programmed for a tailor-made ‘confessional’ that was highly invasive and pertained to every sexual thought I had as a teenager,” he says. “I was then turned over to the Ethics Office to make amends and handle my ‘out ethics’ in life by following the Condition Formulas. It has made for some real deep self hatred and doubt.”

He later joined staff after graduating high school at 16. “I worked in the Department of Special Affairs… until it was discovered through my Qualification Security Checks that I was gay. I was dismissed from that office the very next day after I confessed.”

Scientology’s homophobia was part of the reason he decided to begin telling people, about three years ago, that he was leaving the church. “Why do I want to be a part of this group that obviously doesn’t give a crap about me or queer people in general?”

At the time, he was living in Las Vegas and had just gotten laid off from a tech startup there. He went to live with a friend in Vancouver, Washington. The friend was a Scientologist, who then learned Justin was still friends with someone who had been excommunicated from the church. “They kicked me out. So then I went to Austin and stayed with my older brother, who hasn’t done services for many years.

“The toughest part for me has been depression. You feel completely duped. You feel like a really dumb person,” he says. “I’ve been questioning any success I had. I ask myself, did I do that, or was that Scientology? I did really well in the corporate world, but after being laid off from the startup, I’ve struggled.”

Just recently, Justin has made the step of starting therapy. “It terrified me, going to a psychiatrist. From such a young age you’re told these are people who are keeping everyone down — in the universe.”

His parents and two sisters have disconnected from him, and his two brothers have struggles of their own, he says, so he hasn’t been able to count on them.

He launched a GoFundMe page to try and raise some money two months ago, but it’s stalled.

“My family has disconnected from me for refusing to disconnect from childhood friends who left Scientology. I also fought back against the dogmatic teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, openly disagreeing with my parents about LRH being infallible. It’s been a little more than a year since my family disconnected from me, and it’s been a fucking haze. I’m between places and trying to get into a stable living situation.”

So when you watch season three of ‘Aftermath,’ which begins on August 15, and the interviews take place in nice homes, keep people like Justin in mind. They’re out there, and they’re struggling.


Fed up with the LAPD/LADA

Danny Masterson accuser Chrissie Carnell-Bixler, on Twitter last night…



Jeffrey Augustine talks to Peter Nyiri

Here’s the latest from Jeff…



Bonus items from our tipsters

In Warner Springs, California, the Narconon there has lost its sign. Could it be rebranding? We don’t know.



And now…

And another thing… The indefatigable Erin Hodges Plumb continues to keep a close watch on Int Base, and recently she noticed that there are suddenly some new sentinels constructed on either side of the highway that bisects the base…


Erin theorizes that Scientology has quickly erected the pointless sentinels in order to dissuade the county from widening the highway — any construction effort to alter the roadway would have to deal with knocking these things down.

It’s so stupid and obstructionist, that’s probably exactly why they’ve been put there.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,167 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,770 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 313 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 201 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,376 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,150 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,924 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,270 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,836 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,504 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,764 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,804 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,516 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,042 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,131 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,271 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,591 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,566 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 922 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,224 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,330 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,733 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,605 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,187 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,692 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,936 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,045 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 6, 2018 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email