American film critic and filmmaker Chris Stuckmann came out as pansexual in a moving video posted to his YouTube channel Monday where he also discussed his troubled experiences growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness. Stuckmann's YouTube channel boasts over 1.87 million subscribers and almost 600 million views.
“I am pansexual,” the 32-year-old said in the video. “If you don’t know what pansexuality is, essentially you are attracted to all genders. And that’s me.”
He made the revelation at the end of the video, entitled How I Left the Jehovah’s Witnesses to Pursue Filmmaking, which discussed his experiences raised from birth in the church and how it tried to strip away his identity as a both a person and a filmmaker. He also revealed the response of his wife, Sam Liz, when she learned of his pansexuality.
“When I first told my wife about this, she was welcoming,” said Stuckmann. “She is demi-pan, and so she was actually very excited. And, if anything, this has made our relationship even better and more open.”
As a teen, Stuckmann started a YouTube channel to post film reviews and his own homemade movies. The problem was that some of the movies were considered sinful by the church. They convinced him to shut down that enterprise and focus on being a better disciple. At the time, he posted a cryptic video saying he was deleting his channel, but did not reveal the true reason why he deleted.
According to Stuckmann, local church leaders known as elders routinely used the threat of “disfellowship” to frighten compliance by those who displeased the church. Disfellowship completely cuts off the ex-member from all remaining members, even family and friends — other religions have similar processes like excommunication. It was fear of disfellowship that made him delete his account.
“I couldn’t just say the Jehovah’s Witnesses were forcing me to shut down my YouTube channel, which is exactly what was happening,” he explained. “That is the reason I shut down my first channel.”
He fell into a deep depression over the next six months, saying he had never been in a “darker spot” in his life. It was at this point he had an epiphany, that he had been using his love of “movies, games, anime, books and media in general” to distract himself from the depth of his depression as well as his crisis of faith.
On the advice of a friend from outside his the church, he restarted his channel.
“Naturally, the elders were very dissatisfied, and things went downhill from there.”
He eventually left the church, and now is risking disfellowship and ostracization for speaking out both about his experience as a Jehovah’s Witness, but also about his pansexuality.
“I referred to myself publicly as straight for a long time because I was afraid of being officially disfellowshipped and losing my family,” he revealed, saying his family will most likely comply with the order. “So now that I probably will be, fuck it.”
Stuckmann said he was reaching out now because he wanted to help other former members of the church who are lost and feel alone, and also because he wanted to start the new year off right.
“There are just things that I am tired of fucking keeping in,” he said. “It’s 2021. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be as honest about myself as possible. And I have definitely kept that resolution.”