Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm not speaking

This tuesday night 12/22, The Wurzweiler School of Social Work and the YU Tolerance Club are hosting an event called
"Being Gay in the Orthodox World
A Conversation with YU Community Members"
I love this event. I am involved with coordinating various aspects of it, and totally agree that it's time for something like this to happen at YU. However, I am upset that students are still bashing, taking down signs, and plan to protest the event - why? Because YU refuses to publicly take an official stance on the issue of homosexuality. Rebbeim refuse to say "this is an issue that needs to be understood and discussed". Instead, they let their students become bigots and hateful Jews.

Putting that aside, I will not be speaking on the panel. I would love to speak on the panel, to share my experiences to put a face to the issue of homosexuality and have everyone know that this isn't something going away or a problem to keep hidden. However, for personal reasons- for my reputation as a student leader, my future in the Jewish community, and for my relationship with my family- I do not feel it would be appropriate for me to speak. I'm out of the closet- which has caused enough controversy already and I really do not feel the need to push it in my family's faces any further. I wish I could share my story at an open YU forum, but I guess that's why I have the blog, To do what I can, but take a more subtle approach for everyone to see only if they want to.


  1. I would like to ask what I think are fundamental questions to this issue. Does Orthodox Judaism approve of homosexual conduct in any way? What exactly needs to be understood about homosexuality and orthodoxy? Is there anything to gain out of this meeting besides public humiliation and condemnation by fellow Jews?

  2. Orthodox Judaism, from a Halachick aspect does not approve of homosexual CONDUCT.
    The event is to help the orthodox community understand that many people's friends and families struggle with this issue, and it's important to be aware and understanding to people don't have to feel shame and depressed over their struggle.
    The point is to stop the humiliation and condemnation of fellow Jews- a grave sin in itself.

  3. I really do not feel the need to push it in my family's faces any further.

    I understand this. At first I was going to criticize you, but then I realized that while I'm "out" as a non-believer, I'm not sure I'd want to speak publicly on a panel of ex-Orthodox Jews, and for exactly that reason.

    Many of the rebbeim themselves, if they are like the rebbeim I knew, are themselves bigots and hateful Jews, so it's not so surprising that they don't speak out to prevent their students from becoming the same. They probably see it as a feature, not a bug.

  4. What does the Orthodox community - actually, let's limit this further, to the YU community - not already understand about this? We know that some people are unfortunate enough to have to face this, probably for the rest of their lives, and wish you all the best. I'm not sure what a forum would accomplish.

  5. Another Orthodox StrugglerDecember 23, 2009 at 1:31 AM

    I totally agree with you for not speaking.
    I just finished reading a transcript of the event, and it really left me depressed as hell and not realy knowing what to say.
    On one hand it gets the point out to the masses but in no way does it make it any easier, in my opinion, for the many closted gays out there who want to be out but cant, for whatever reason. oh well...There are the few who make it out into the world as true to themselves, and the rest of us are left to their sad lives. I guess a few more generations of openness to the issue until more ppl can actually feel comfortable being themselves without fearing all the backlash and stuff...

  6. To Another Struggler:

    I'm sorry to hear that you didn't come to the event tonight. I'd hope that it would have left you feeling not depressed, but encouraged. We sat in a room full of 500+ people who all came to lend their support and sympathy to people in your situation.

    If there was any lesson from tonight, it was that the fear of backlash is actually much larger than the reality. Each and every panelist told us that they hardly experienced any backlash at all. The throngs of crowds showed us that they are there to listen and learn and help.

    Chin up. Don't wait generations. Make your life better now!

  7. Having been there, I'm sorry you didn't come. All those people were there to show their support for you. So please, at least watch the video of the audience and their cheers and take that as your due.

  8. Another Orthodox StrugglerDecember 25, 2009 at 1:44 AM

    Perhaps you're right. But I cant bear to believe how these guys all did this to their families and to themselves. Personally, and I know I am not alone in this regard, even with this whole outpouring of support and "validation" it doesnt make it easier at all on a personal level which each person struggles ALONE with. And all of the outpouring of support in the YU circle does not translate at all into other (not as modern) circles of judaism. Just sorry for us I guess...

  9. I think the event was a failure. It drew a crowd from people who already knew what was said. All the people who needed to hear what was said, boycotted it and this will be a source of negative publicity for a long time.

    What should have been done was a highly publicized speech by Dr. Pelcovitz about the issue, maybe even in the YU Beis Medrash. Sure, it wouldn't have been as much "the talk of the town", but it would have gotten the tolerance message across to those who needed to hear it.

    Anyone who says the event was positive is feeding off of the people who would have been tolerant in the first place.

  10. To Another Struggler:

    What is there to "bear" about guys doing something to their family and selves? They told us that, despite their fears, their families treated them with respect, kindness, and compassion. Listen to their experiences, not to their fears (and yours) before the event. The whole point is that you are NOT as alone as you think. Look around you and let yourself be loved. Stop wallowing in fear, and come and see how understanding your peers and family can be. The hardest thing to do is to continue to live in fear and isolation (which is sometimes a self-imposed isolation). Break your own cycle. Take steps to end that isolation and find your support.

    To this last Anonymous: while it may seem to you that the panelists were preaching to the choir, voices have emerged that have said that they felt that they learned much that evening, and many people who were in the "middle" have come to see that there is greater space for empathy than they have previously allowed.

    Dt. Pelcovitz is not a specialist in sexual behavior, and people are putting far too much pressure on him to be the spokesman of a very complex issue. That the yoshvei beit midrash would refuse to hear fellow members of am yisrael is really quite silly.

  11. Nice Event arrenged by the wurzweiler the school of social work.

    Thanks for sharing some nice moments with us.



It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews