Having raised the bad news of the pornography industry in my blog for Monday, I’m glad to be able to relate some good news on this dreary subject: the recent conversion of Jake Genesis, former “gay porn star” as he is described on several websites. I had not heard of him until Terry Nelson, blogger at Abbey-Roads, mentioned him in a recent post.
“Gay porn star” is not a promising job description. That Genesis spent several months living that life only goes to show, as such stories do, that God’s mercy is everywhere – indeed, perhaps alive and active more urgently in those who lead flamboyantly sinful lives. But Genesis also sounds a little unusual for the pornography industry; he has a philosophy degree and has served as a police officer for eight years. He is also a Catholic.
He begins his confession by quoting a famous poem of the metaphysical poet, George Herbert – “Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back”. If it seems a little odd for a 17th century Anglican minister to be quoted in this context, don’t be put off; great poetry speaks to everyone in every age; indeed, there is something hugely poignant in Herbert’s careful and elaborate conceits being linked to this very 21st century prodigal son.
Genesis, who has resolutely turned his back on his former “work”, makes it clear that it was his decision to agree to “filming in the adult entertainment industry”, and that he is responsible “for the effects and consequences of [his] actions.”
Although he admits to depression and low self-esteem, he does not use it as a way of excusing himself. He states baldly, “My choice was arrogant and it was selfish…I hurt my family. I hurt my friends. I hurt my brothers and former colleagues in the police department.” He adds with moving simplicity, “With a contrite and broken heart I ask the mercy and forgiveness of those who were hurt by my involvement in the pornographic industry.”
If, in my Monday blog, I might have seemed to imply that pornography is acceptable for adults if not for children, I certainly did not mean to. Genesis makes it clear that everyone involved in pornography is a victim of it. “100% of the actors in pornography are victims to various degrees…everyone is harmed deeply by the experience and no-one escapes the knife that cuts deeply the innate dignity of the human person.”
The only aspect of this former life that does not cause him pangs of guilt is that he never recruited other young men into the same tawdry business. Indeed, despite his own involvement it seems that some small voice of conscience might have been at work in his adamant response to those who asked him, “How do I get to be a porn star?” He told them, “Put the idea out of your mind completely. Go to school or finish school…We are little more than prostitutes…It will also ruin your romantic life…Do something else. Do anything else. That’s my advice.”
Genesis relates that he is now on a journey of “reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption” within the Church. He knows God’s mercy is “infinite”; naturally, at the same time, he struggles to work out how and why he lived “8 months of my life in absolute contradiction to who I know I really am.”
The story of our lives might be different from his, but we are all, nevertheless, on a similar journey. Genesis’s story reminds us to pray for the other victims, adult and children, of the hellish world he has now abandoned.