My name is Kevin Jarvis.
I’m a Virginia native, having been born in Richmond in 1964. From age 4 until I left home in 1988, I grew up on a small late 19th century styled farm with my older sister and brother. My dad worked in Richmond at DuPont in the research and development of synthetic fibers used in many governmental projects, namely the Stealth Bomber and the Space Shuttle. His swing-shift work schedule left him little time with us kids, so my mom was a stay at home mother. We had no religious upbringings. All I knew is what people said, that there was god and his son Jesus. No church to go to and no bible reading. I was a very shy kid and had very low self esteem. Going to school was difficult and not knowing I had hearing losses, I did poorly, sat at the back of the class, missed much from not hearing instructions, and then by 4th grade was removed and placed in remedial class. I was 2 grade levels behind and was made fun of for being slow. I had trouble making eye contact with people which ended up showing I was this tiny, quiet and bashful kid, easy pickings to be bullied. I experienced it really bad throughout school, but especially in 8th grade. I gradually caught up in Reading, spelling and Math. Never to a very satisfactory degree, but I got by. At home during the summers, I created my own world. I had little in common with my brother and sister. They were 4 and 5 years older. Little did I know that my mom had lost 3 other babies in between my brother and I. I played in the dirt a lot and rode my bike all over the place.
Gradually, I did make friends on the school bus. I was the first generation to have gone to school with integrated kids of African heritage. Due to overcrowding from integration, my last name ending in J as well as many of the black children having last names ending in Harris, Jackson and Johnson, I was a minority being white. I stood out of the class, and was noticed by my straight blond hair and blue eyes. I had long hair in the 70s. The black girls loved handling and braiding my hair and wished their hair was straight like mine. This was a time that black culture was afro and black power, something I didn’t understand. They were attempting to straighten their hair with high heat and what looked to be torture in order to get a more “white” look in their hair. Society was trending black people to change their looks.
Little did I know my parents went through the revolution of segregation and the fight to desegregate? Their prejudices toward black people was really so awful to see. I once played with my black friends up the old gravel and dirt road and they followed me back home. We were all thirsty and I told them I’d go get all of us water. I went in the house and started getting some of our usual drinking cups from the cabinet and momma asked what I was up to. I said some neighborhood friends are here and we are thirsty. She looked out with a sigh, and disgust. She said don’t use these cups. She got some disposable cups and a jug filled with water. I went out and we all indulged in the cool water. Then we all were going to go pick blackberries. Momma called me back and told me to tell them that she needed me to do some things and for them to go home. I resisted this and argued that they are my friends. She said I don’t ever want you to bring them back here and stay away from them. I didn’t understand. Momma ended up telling them to leave. I couldn’t. Gradually, the prejudices of my parents, formed my feelings by their stories and how I should be towards the African race. My other white friends had similar racist feelings. It really affected me.
It’s taken me my entire life to see through all the fog of racism. For me to realize that all people, all races are equal, regardless, of where they are from is of utmost value in my life.
I was introduced to religion by Mormon missionaries in 1990. I was asked to read the Book of Mormon. I had never read an entire book in my life and still haven’t. I was challenged to, so I read some of it. It seemed a pretty good story and not knowing much and see how the people were so nice, after a few nights of instruction and challenges and visiting the Sacrament meetings, I finally accepted it. The parts about the Curse of Black skin seemed odd and cruel and didn’t set well with me to keep black people, even then, under that curse. I wasn’t going to say much about my sexual orientation, but being gay in the church ended up, for me, feeling ashamed, unaccepted.
I could tell I was being tolerated, and only imagined what they said behind my back. They were being what I considered, to being too nosey about my private life. I did get to the Temple, took out my endowments. I went back there countless times to do Temple work in Washington, DC. I only live 90 miles south. The Temple workers there, being older and some elderly started asking me why I wasn’t pursuing a young daughter of Eve, and starting a family. This made me really uncomfortable and it really was the last straw of me going inactive. I asked in the Celestial room of the men about different things that were in the endowment ceremonies, sealing’s and so forth. None had any answers for me. I was told at church, I’d get answers there. Since I couldn’t discuss outside of the Temple walls anything, it was all so weird to me. So I became inactive in 1993. They attempted to revive me from the dead, but I resisted. I finally told them to stop contacting me.
I started working for the postal service as a letter carrier, almost 25 years ago and this has helped me see, how being a Public Servant to my fellow man, can really be impactful on one’s life. Serving many of the same people, nearly 700, then see other’s move away and more different Ethnic groups of people move in to apartments has been a very enlightening experience for me. I love all of them as a people, no matter where they come from. I’ve broken bread with them, and we’re all good friends. Today, I never meet a stranger. This has helped me with my shyness a great deal.
A few years back, I was online looking at religion and homosexuality and how it has caused so much harm and suicide, especially in our youth. I took note of how especially Mormon members have had to endure the strict guidelines and all this has brought so much harm.
I questioned myself, am I really going to the depths of hell for who I really am?
I knew I couldn’t simply change my behavior and feel whole. It would rip me to an endless misery. So I looked further and saw this elderly lady, Ida Smith. I love old people and wanted to know what she was talking about. Her busy church life and how she was excommunicated. Then this led to Christopher, this long haired hippy guy, sort of reminded me of a former boss who had his own small church. I listened to Christopher’s messages. When I found out for sure that religion is just a control mechanism as I had felt in my own life that short time, I could surely see what he was saying as real truth. It just made since to me. I don’t know religions and all those scriptures and stories, but when it made since, that was very powerful for me. I could care less about the profanity that used as I cuss myself.
His wit and silliness made me feel right at home as a real living person who I can relate and find out a lot of good shit that can make me a better person and help solve poverty in this world. Ending Poverty, being nice, helping those in need, be a good person- I am glad Christopher is my true messenger.
I will read all of the books! Ida said so!