Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Struggle, pt II

What does it mean to be happy? How does one achieve a feeling of everlasting happiness? This post isn't about happiness, per se, but about the struggle of my life, and why I'm scared I might never be completely happy.

I'm not trying to say I'm a sad or depressed person or that I will never be happy. I am just saying that a feeling of sustained and permanent happiness feels like it will be very hard to come by. Because I want the Chupah. I want the wedding and the sheva brachos, and I even wish I could be standing up there with a woman whom I love. I wish I could hold her in my arms and spend the rest of my life with her. But I can't have any of that. I am gay, and I don't love women to fill my heart or her heart enough to spending the rest of my life with a woman. And while, yes, I am confident in who I am, and happy with where my life is, there are things, such as an Orthodox wedding, that are out of my grasp. I do stare at a wife and husband and wish I could be them. Why has God given me this challenge? I don't know. Do I wish I could make it go away? Of course.

I hope, and pray, and somewhere deep inside me, I know, that I will find true love one day. I will find the person who completes me, whom I feel proud to be with and proud of, and he will feel the same about me. I will be by his side for the rest of our lives. But there will always be a part of me, and I know this sounds a bit self-defeating, that wishes it could be different. That wants to live the life that I was raised to believe was normal and right. But I know that life isn't for me as badly as I may want it.
All I know how to do for now is be as happy as I possibly can, for as long as I can, and share whatever happiness I do have to the entire world. Because moments of sadness like this one only make me stronger and more willing to focus on the good, and the complete happiness I wish for me, and for everyone around me.


  1. Can't you just stop being gay?

  2. Can't you just stop being gay?

  3. Long time reader, first time posting...I was just wondering- how do you reconcile being confident with who you are and wishing it would go away?

    Your writing really makes me think. Thank you.

  4. Who is truly happy?

    Is fulfillment in marriage, be it a fairy tale storybook marriage, or even a gay marriage, the norm?

    Americans enjoy the right to "the pursuit of happiness."

    Judaism argues that simcha is more than a mood state, more than the fulfillment of an individual's needs. The need for love and sex and belonging yearns for more. Happiness is an elusive goal. Instead, we settle for relative happiness.

    How do you know anyone really "completes" another?

  5. anon 12:54- thank you for your compassion and understanding, but no that's not how it works.

    anon 1:09- i don't know, i juts know i have to be confident even if i don't feel it, and somehow it all comes together.

    anon 1:13- thank you, excellent points.

  6. "Can't you just stop being gay?" like seriousy, even if you feel that homosexuality is something you can turn off like a lightbulb, don't you have the decency and sensitivity not to casually recommend that insane notion to someone who has just poured out his heart and shared his pain over the fact that he will never have an orthodox wedding? Like, don't you think if he could "just stop being gay," he would have maybe done that while he was in the closet, scared to death to disappoint his parents and friends and G-d?

  7. Your post is well written, poignant, and rings with truth. I particularly like how you do justice to the complex, ambivalent, contradictory, and paradoxical nature of your feelings. I too experience happiness mixed with sadness, and hope mixed with doubt. Thanks for your post.

  8. #1) I'm sure it was just a figure of speech (er, writing) but you know that you need to be complete in order to find a life partner, right? Your expressed desire to find someone who "completes [you]" is a scary one - be truly happy and complete yourself, because no one else can do that for you.

    #2) Take it from me - it's about a lot more than the wedding. Although it seems easy to romanticize the moment of "kiddushin" with the adoring friends and family gathered 'round, cheering for you, that moment is fleeting at best. Once the haze of the party fades, you are left with someone in your life who you may not want there.

    #3) No, you may not ever be completely happy (or perhaps you will be, one day), but I doubt strongly that it will have to do with your relationship status as much as other factors in your life; your health, career, family, etc.

    You are inspiring so many people. Just live your life, live it honestly, live it to the fullest. Be safe (as I always tell you!) and strong, and the pieces will fall into place.

    And, for the love of god... NO MORE SILLY BANDS!! ;)

  9. Hey,
    I'm a gay Jew, originally from an Orthodox background, now no longer practicing(unrelated to coming out) but first I want to say that from what I've read, it seems that you're looking at it from the right angle, or one of the best you can, but that there is more that you can do. If you're unhappy, you have to seize happiness now, go out and find the person you want to be with, who is looking for the same things as you, maybe someone from a similar background who will understand the difficulty and contradictions of coming from an Orthodox background and being gay.

    I know that even not being observant it was and continues to be a difficult process. Not everybody you meet and are interested in will understand the extent of the complex emotions which go into dating and being with another man. This is true for all the gay men I know, but being the only one from an Orthodox Jewish background it was especially lonely and difficult and in many cases still is( I'm recently out to friends, about a year, and still not out to my family), but I've gotten out there and it has done wonders for me.

    Knowing that you are observant, I'm not suggesting random hookups, but J-Date is a great way to meet available Jewish guys who come from Orthodox or ex-Orthodox backgrounds from what I hear ( I'm pretty sure it's the only way, Saw You At Sinai isn't exactly the place), and dating really might change your perspective on a lot of things and it'll definitely make you feel less lonely.

    I'm sorry if I'm being presumptuous here, I don't even know if you're looking to date, I know that I wasn't and my first dates ended in disaster and sent me into crisis mode, haha. Anyway, I hope my advice is helpful, and I hope you find what you're looking for.

  10. Also, reading some of the comments made by homophobic idiots of all shapes and sizes, I applaud your perseverance in dealing with them, as well as the courage it takes to write this blog in the face of the wholly ridiculous opposition from those inclined to that type of thinking in the Orthodox Community.

  11. Ironic... I really wanted an unOrthodox wedding, but ended up with an Orthodox one as a "compromise" with my parents.

    I know I'm a broken record, but... you can't stop being gay but you can stop being Orthodox. Life is too short for this shit.

  12. THANKS! What you discuss in this post is really difficult, and it's very honest of you to bring it up. I've been thinking about the same things for a while. We've been brought up with so many expectations, that sometimes it's difficult to tell which is which (your own longings etc., or other people's). It may be useful to try to break down that mental image (of the chuppah, the wife, etc.) into its different components, and see how you can/can't achieve each of them. For example, when I catch myself thinking "ahh what a pity, why can't I meet a nice girl, marry her" etc., I may be longing for
    - Finding "the one" - someone to love and be loved by, and who is compatible with me on a number of different levels.
    - Acceptance and support from my family, extended family, and community. That is, that my people love me and my partner and like us being together, or at least accept us, or at least behave in a civilised way around us (and, knowing my family, I'm afraid a female partner would be no guarantee that this would happen...)
    - Predictability. As a gay man, I often miss having a "road map" to know where I am, what the next step is, and so on; straight people's relationships seem to be more like that (though I know this isn't quite the case).
    - A sense of permanence. When people get married they normally intend to stay together for life. So it's a proof that you take each other seriously, envisage a future together, and are going to support each other come what may.
    - Continuity. Having children, educating them, trying to pass on to them what I've learnt.

    Some of these things are easier to have as a gay man, most may seem very difficult. Or rather, a big percentage of it all is out of your control: for example, no matter how hard you try, your family will be ok with you if and when they want to. But there's also a percentage of stuff that IS in your hands, and that's where life is exciting.

  13. hello this is a very sentimental blog

  14. There are two things I want to say: one about happiness and one about being homo.

    Happiness is over-rated. Happiness never achieved anything. What brilliant ideas have happy people ever came up with? Nothing. Humans act precisely because they are unhappy, we innovate because we are unhappy with our current situation. If hunter-gathers were happy then our species would have remained as primitive as it did back on those days. It were the unhappy hunter-gathers who pushed for agriculture and eventually to the computer based world that we have today. Happiness is so counter productive but paradoxically it is pleasant. This is why Friedrich Nietzsche "blessed" his friends with a life of suffering and misery rather than joy and enjoynment. So instead of trying to find happiness embrace your misery and suffering.

    Now about the homosexuality part. I know that Pascal's wager is a logical fallacy but it is surprisingly effective at persuading people. Consider for a moment that what you were taught about homosexuality is wrong. Consider the possibility that perhaps it is okay to be gay and it is okay to love a man and it is okay to be intimate with a man whom you love. Consider that everything you were taught about homosexuality is wrong. What happens if you have a gay lover but he you end up being wrong about homosexuality? Nothing. Nothing will happen. You would have just mistake. But what happens if you wrong about having a gay lover and never find one? You lose a life which could have been filled with love. You lose so much. Why not take the gamble and find yourself a gay lover? You deserve to be loved like every other person.

  15. You deserve eggs, benedict.

  16. ur situation is unfortunate, however the torah says that no matter what desires or thoughts you have the most important thing is to not act on them. For example, you CAN be with a woman, and have a wedding and kids,and be hapy with her. Does it mean you will love her? no. But you will learn to love her, it exists, especially in arranged marriages. The whole american concept of love is a bit obscure b/c no one can really define it. Many people have married someone they don't love for the sake of power, and family, and wealth, and look..we're all here aren't we? This may be a bit FOB, but the point is it has happened. And unfortunately, ur going to have to choose who ur gonna put first, g-d or ur own feelings.


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