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Ex-Scientologist Sounds Out Church’s ‘Big Gay Problem’

Last week, LA author Skip Press delivered a fascinating three-part report about the Church of Scientology for The Morton Report, a blog created by British author and journalist Andrew Morton. No surprise there; as a former Scientologist (1973-1996), Press knows his subject as thoroughly as anyone.

The focus of Press’ must-read and refreshingly condensed three-part investigation is the Church’s seemingly conflicted dealings with gays and lesbians. In Part 1, Press recalls how a Church case supervisor made disparaging and confidentiality-breaching remarks about musician Jimmie Spheeris, brother of film director Penelope. He also revisits a disastrous auditing session involving Rock Hudson.

In Part 2, Press examines the departure of long-time Scientology advocate John McMaster. But it is in his final installment, published September 23, that Press veers into the most explosive aspect of his “Scientology’s Big Gay Problem” series—the idea that church founder L. Ron Hubbard had some early formative homosexual experiences.

Sourcing an unpublished but corroborated manuscript, Press (pictured) touches on a trip Hubbard took around the age of 12 with his mother aboard transport ship the USS U.S. Grant, traveling from Seattle to Virginia via the Panama Canal. The vessel’s commander was 48-year-old Joseph Cheesman Thompson:

In one scene, Thompson invites young Hubbard to his stateroom, and teaches him about hypnotism. One thing about L. Ron Hubbard is certain–he was a master hypnotist. And then Thompson teaches Hubbard about something else–sex–and young Ron goes along, because there is much to learn…

In previous years, I might have doubted writing that claimed young Ron Hubbard had sexual relations with “Snake” Thompson but Hubbard’s own words convince me otherwise. Specifically, Hubbard’s “affirmations.”

Indeed, Press goes on to share a leaked Hubbard affirmation that appears to echo the unpublished manuscript’s early-days account, although he is careful to frame it all as grounds for further investigation. Since leaving the Church, Press has worked extensively in Hollywood as a journalist, author, screenwriter, director and creative consultant.

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