Thursday, July 29, 2010

Frustration

I'm upset for a number of reasons. One, because I have other topics to write about. Two, because I have to address people who think they know all about my life even though they've never experienced it, and three because people can't be happy with small accomplishments. I'm mostly responding to this- Hirhurim.

I can't explain the thought process of other people who are unhappy with the Statement of Principles (now in Hebrew!) issued and signed by over seventy Orthodox leaders and the list is growing. Those who haven't signed have said as follows: Don't ask, don't tell. We don't need to know who in a congregation is gay, and who is straight, all that matters in a Shul is that a person is Jewish. I would ordinarily agree on a fundamental level, but realistically, Rabbi's, that's not true! It's not true that no one judges in a Shul, and it's not true that a person can just grow old and single and no one will try and set them up other than their parents. And even if a few of this person's friends know that they are gay and word doesn't spread (not possible, but let's just say) those friends will watch the person in Shul, and wonder if the Rabbi will accept him, or if he belongs in the congregation. Further, when I've been in congregations and I wasn't out, I felt very uncomfortable taking honors like everyone else. I just felt like I didn't belong. This statement assures me that regardless of the congregation, if the Rabbi has signed on I know that I belong, and I feel comfortable just being like everyone else.

Also, enough of this don't ask don't tell. Don't tell me that the only people who need to know are my parents and maybe a few friends. You know as well as I do that everyone's Shabbos table revolves around who was in Shul that is single and can be set up, or who is dating and who is not and why they don't want to be set up. It's much easier for a person to say "I'm gay" then it is to lie, a million times over, about why they're not ready to date, which, by the age of 25 basically a person runs out of excuses.
Number one pet peeve, stated both in Hirhurim and by R' Twersky at the infamous Shiur- as the line that caused me to walk out in the middle- that coming out is only a result and product of Western culture and the 21st century. Ifrst of all, historically that's just not true. And I will tell you from a personal standpoint, I did not come out because Western culture made it an option. I came out because I was miserable in the closet. I felt empty, alone, like I had no purpose, and like my life would never become anything worthwhile, and I hated myself. And since I came out things have only, Baruch Hashem, improved. So don't tell me why I came out, and why coming out is not necessary for a gay person to do and they should just keep it to themselves. You get to rub your marriages, perfect families and children and heterosexual dating stories in my face every day, I'm allowed to tell you why I don't have those things like everyone else. You get to say on facebook you're interested in women, I'm allowed to say I'm interested in men. It's as simple as that. Until everyone who is heterosexual keeps "don't ask don't tell" gay people shouldn't have to either.

80 comments:

  1. I agree, Ely.
    I would ignore the naysayers and instead focus on the incredible positive energy generated by the growing list of supporters of the statement.

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  2. i personally agree with his catch-22.

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  3. I am very ashamed of all the challenegs and taavos I have. Many of them are not my fault, and yet I am ashamed of them. This is what give me incentive to fight. If I wasn't ashamed of my ta'avos, it would be a lot easier to give in to them. Having homosexual inclinations are no different than any other taavah in that regard. It's probably more difficult, especially because it has an emotional component, but it is a taavah that one should be ashamed of, no different than other challenges. Western society "taught" the world that it's not shameful to be gay. That's why it's become easier to come out, and that's why it's becoming easier for people to throw away their G-d for the sake of their homosexual inclinations.

    About the Shabbos table scenario, I do have sympathy. Thank G-d I do not know what that's like, and it must be terrible. But the solution is probably education to the general public not to make dating a topic of discussion. Whether that's possible, I don't know. But "coming out", while granted makes life easier, doesn't make it the appropriate decision. I like to think of it as a person who (c"v) has a genetic defect and cannot have children. That's the reason he's not dating. People will talk about him (unfortunately) and wonder why he's not dating. But that doesn't mean he'll tell the world why he's not dating, because it's something personal and private. I don't think this should be any different, as difficult it is to be at a Shabbos table.

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  4. I wholeheartedly agree!

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  5. "You get to rub your marriages, perfect families and children and heterosexual dating stories in my face every day, I'm allowed to tell you why I don't have those things like everyone else."


    Absolutely agree.

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  6. I couldn't agree more! Well written by the way. It makes me sad and sorry that still in 2010 there is so much work left to be done in this area (esp in the Jewish community).
    I would love to talk to you sometime if you feel like it. I just starting working as assistant editor at the Rockland Jewish Reporter and would love to cover some of the issues gays and lesbians deal with in the Jewish community.
    Call my office if you feel up to it: (845) 362-4400 ext. 129.

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  7. Can I agree with both sides?

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  8. Sir, I honestly had no idea this blog existed, you just completely changed my whole view of the Orthodox community in Teaneck. I understand how difficult it must be to deal with the way the community acts around you, but the fact that you exist, the fact that this blog exists, is incredible. Thank you.
    I disagree, however; the notion of "coming out" is a more modern idea. Before then, we, as a people, were trained to be unhappy. It was a way of life. Being ashamed of who you are was felt to be the easiest way up to shamayim. That doesn't make it right by any means, but that's the way things were, back in the good old days before cars and cell phones and living past 50.

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  9. Are you telling me that if you are "Out" then you don't get an honor, I mean that's what I understood from your post and if that's true its not right.
    The Torah is compared to Fire and Water that means it can't be damaged by you.
    Every thing else you said I can agree with if your intentions are to live a "gay" lifestyle

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  10. Agree or disagree- please elaborate!
    And anon 9:22 - I don't mean being out means you don't get honors in Shul, that's just how I felt, whether or not it would've been reality.
    And I think the word lifestyle should be in quotes, not the word "gay". But that's if the expression has to be used at all.

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  12. Third try, hopefully I'll get it right this time

    1. Totally agree with the post. Good for you for putting it out there.

    2. The other incredibly obnoxious part of his blog was this:

    "…communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the synagogue and school setting

    "Of course the children did not make their parents’ choices. But how does a shul “fully embrace” a child while at the same time rejecting that child’s parents’ relationship? What is the rabbi supposed to say at the Bat Mitzvah? Does he acknowledge the parents (and laud them for their chessed, kindness, activism, what have you – common rabbinic practice), and indirectly project an approval for their family structure? (You could argue with that assumption of indirect approval, but I feel it would be there. You could also argue that we do precisely the same thing for parents who are not Shomer Shabbat. Fair point, but I see a difference.) I am not comfortable with the language in the statement, and probably would not have signed it for that reason alone. Or maybe they would have softened it if I had asked. Who knows?"

    The idea that children should not be accepted because of their parents is totally reprehensible. Really, this rabbi can't possibly think of a way to talk about a child's parents without referencing their relationship? To talk about them as individuals? Or, far more appropriate for a bar/bat mitzva speech, to talk about the child and NOT the parents?
    I disagree with him on the points you mentioned in your blog, but can attribute his view about staying in the closet to ignorance or general obtuseness. His objection to accepting Jewish children in an Orthodox community is something that I really just can't fathom.

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  13. Well said Ely!

    And I'll add one quick point:

    By telling people to stay in the closet you're likely asking them to give up huge parts of life- like the possibility of adopting children as a single parent- for very minor halachic concerns. Not even real halachic concerns, but simply the fear of sending the wrong message. But successful leaders can send pull off sending the right message and while allowing as many people as possible to live happier lives, completely within the bounds of halacha.

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  14. Tali -

    It is not a coincidence that Reuven Spolter (the author of the blog post on Hirhurim) made aliyah and is no longer functioning as a community leader.

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  15. That would be Rabbi Reuven Spolter, buddy.

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  16. Couple of things:
    First, I agree with most of what you said
    Second, I think that unquestionably not signing onto this document (give it another month to ensure it gets passed around to all rabbis) is clear disagreement with the document. I believe that no one can agree and not sign - there is no valid excuse for that
    Third, I hope that one day ppl won't be defined by sexuality. It has always bothered me that so-and-so is known as "the gay guy". Its just a guy who happens to be gay. BTW, I think that is not the fault exclusively of straight ppl. I think gay ppl often represent themselves as a "gay guy".

    Finally, I don't know who Rabbi Spolter is, but, its just one man's opinion. He is not a leader of our community - so, no biggie. The rediculousness of Rabbi Twersky's speach is far more significant in my mind. I hope he changes his mind, but I wouldn't bet the farm on that. He just doesn't get it - he is in another world (and that is on this and other issues - I have asked him many questions).

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  17. for all the tolerance you preach ely... i think its disgusting how this rabbi is being treated hear on your blog. Is no one allowed to disagree with you? Is that what this is coming to? Any rabbi who disagrees with your approach to homosexuality and judaism in ANY way is subject to ridicule and contempt from your readers without any moderation? without fear of upsetting you?

    There is a reason why the signatures on the statement of principles is a whose who of left wing modern orthodoxy! (give or take a few people) I think its immature to be upset just because there are people who dont see the world exactly like you do.

    For all the tolerance you preach do you agree that they have a right to their opinion? Do you agree that its not one person and not some rabbis on the fringe that are opposed to the principles? Do you care at all about THEIR reason why?

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  18. DB speaks the truth.

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  19. To steven -

    Rabbi Twersky is in another world??? Is that your way of getting rid of the responsibility of actually examining what he said and why he said it? Just because you dont like something or dont agree with something someone says... doesnt put them "in another world"

    I highly doubt you would appreciate rabbi twersky or any rabbi categorizing an idealogical opponent as simply someone not in this world.

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  20. DB- I am not tolerant to intolerance.
    His post was written with an attitude that seeks to exclude homosexuals from the Orthodox community, or at least have them "hushed" like we don't exist- like so many other issues that the Orthodox community pretends doesn't exist (sexual and domestic abuse, mental illness, drugs, alcoholism...)- so forgive me for trying to affirm my right to exist.

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  21. Reading his post as trying to pretend you don't exist is twisting his words, and shows your intolerance based on your emotions getting the better of you.

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  22. I will admit, I wrote this post out of anger and through a lens of emotion, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

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  23. There's something wrong with letting your emotions getting the better of you and unjustly twisting someone's words and unfairly criticizing him. There's something wrong with thiat.

    On apersonal note, I hope you can get over your anger and lead a healthy fulfilled life.

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  24. im still sooo split on the coming out issue... on one hand... it lets awesome well meaning individuals like you function as a part of society with much less mental issues and worries, and function more normally within the confines of orthodox judaism.

    on the other hand... tax cheats do not identify themsleves as tax cheats... they try to hide it... ppl who dont keep shabbos in the orthodox community dont go around telling everyone and saying that is their essence. There are no pride parades for tax cheats... why the need for such public identification for homosexuality within the orthodox world?

    fighting to be who you are without the threats of homophobia is one thing... but publicly creating a group within judiasim that solely bases itself on its sexual orientation is another... which is what is the crux of the arguments made by rabbis like twersky and spolter!

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  25. DB, that's accurate except for tha fact that the tax cheats and mechalilei shabbos are actually committing sins, rather than just WANTING to. However, your point is still true: we don't "publicize" our taavos. That is not a Jewish concept.

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  26. And also, many ppl do publicize their mechalel shabbos habits, at least those who don't care. and cheating on taxes is illegal according to secular law as well, and usually brings a whole slew of Chillul Hashem with it.
    But either way, those things are conscious choices, and generally speaking, homosexuality is not a choice, it's just something that those of us that were challenged were given.

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  27. FG, you might be right that you have no choice, but that still doesn't mean that "coming out" that you have a taavah (that, admittedly, isn't your fault) is suddenly an approved Jewish concept. Even if there's nothing inherently wrong with the person who has this issue, it doesn't make that a valid way to go about it.

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  28. Anon 1:29- I highly doubt there is an inherent Issur in coming out itself. It may not be a "jewish concept" but there is nothing invalid about it. And as I explained in the blog, the alternative was a miserable lonely life in the closet lying to everyone I know. So if you doubt my struggles or do not empathize with my plight, then fine, but to say coming out is not a valid way to cope with my life...? Feel free to contact me privately with any suggestions of a better idea, that's not suffering alone.

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  29. I never said that it's necessarily an inherent issur, but there are many things that we don't do as Jews that you might not be able to pin down under a specific lav, wouldn't you agree?

    (And for all we know, there might be one of these larger blanket issurim that it falls under, kind of like how "kedoshim tihyu" covers lots of stuff. I'm not saying it is; I'm just saying that for all we know it might. We'd have to ask someone who knows this stuff. Heck, maybe it's a chillul Hashem to announce this kind of stuff. Again, I am NOT NOT NOT accusing you of being over any aveiros, but I am saying it pays to find out.)

    As far as suffering alone: I don't think ANYONE is saying you can't tell anyone. All I mean is that it's discreet. You tell people who need to know, who are very close to you. For example, I (a fellow YU student who vaguely knows you) shouldn't know about it. Many people have things about themselves that they manage to talk to a few necessary people about and otherwise keep private - I know I do. Why does this need to be any different?

    I think there was a comment earlier comparing this to a genetic defect - someone can c"v have a health problem that causes them much, much mental anguish, and prohibits them from marrying. That doesn't mean they'll necessarily broadcast it to the world. What they'll do is talk to be certain people, people who are trustworthy and discreet and helpful. Is that an unreasonable comparison?

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  30. (I'm the same person as the last couple of anon comments - I'll identify myself as Fellow YUer to make this easier.)

    I'm also not saying you shold be excluded, not given aliyos, etc. Chas v'shalom. I've danced with you at more than one lchaim/wedding. All I'm saying is the strategy of "coming out" should be rethought, and not that those who utilize that strategy (which, obviously, in my opinion is a mistake) should be ostracized in any way.

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  31. Yeah, I'd say straight out( no pun intended) that unless the so-called "advice" in these responses come from fellow gay men and women, unless they offer support, understanding, and the humility to know that they haven't experienced being gay or coming out and have no analogy to it in their own lives, than they aren't valid. None of you critics know what it is to feel that you're not allowed to feel something, that you're literally not allowed to be who you are because it's forbidden, to be judged simply on the basis of being born attracted to your own gender than attracted to the opposite.

    FrumGay, your frustration surrounding the responses and an inability to understand the unwillingness for people just to accept; it comes from hate, in some cases( more than like to be admitted) self-directed, and hate which is institutionalized. It is this institutionalized hatred which makes even the most otherwise rational Orthodox rabbis and Jews react with discomfort and even disgust when they encounter homosexuality. And it is this institutionalized hatred which is even more stringently reacted against as leaders in the community actually have began to act appropriately and publicly call for the tolerance and acceptance which has been the only human response all along, and the typical response simply the opposite of that.

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  32. I dont get it. How are you supposed "keep it in the closet." Say you and your boyfriend live together. Are you not allowed to bring anyone over for lunch? Must you keep the community that he claims should embrace you at arms bay? It's lunacy. Keeping it in the closet would be paramount to exile. Part of your being or not, being gay is definitely a core part of your lifestyle. How can you hide that?

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  33. DaBeetus, you're skipping way ahead. Who said anything about having a boyfriend? That's not a lifestyle that fits with halacha.

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  34. Pointed Rambler...

    how convenient for you to silence opposition... hey everyone lets be quiet on this subject because pointed rambler only wants to hear people who think like him!

    is the point of this blog for everyone to agree with ely? I think he would wholeheartedly disagree with you! I dont hate myself or hate you or any gay person or anyone else for that matter. Disgust for the act of homosexuality and hatred are extremely different things! I can be friends with someone even though i think what they do or have done is disgusting.

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  35. I can't speak for Ely's intention in writing the blog, but I can speak for the merits and demerits of having a conversation with those who are intolerant. Mostly I've found that it's not worth having a dialog with the latter, because they have already presumed more about me than I would ever presume about another human being. Therefore, I say to those people, actually live feeling the way I do and then you can presume those things, but since you can't, you should really shut up.

    "Disgust for the act of homosexuality and hatred" especially when you put it like that, are pretty much synonymous. Grow up, DB, I don't get disgusted when presented with the near constant barrage of hetero-sex which is ever-present in mainstream culture, you don't have to be "disgusted" when you mostly aren't presented with gay sex. It's a choice, or merely a convenient branding to give to something. Have you ever considered that most gay men or women, when they're told "Let's be friends, even though the way you express your love for the people you're in love with is disgusting" wouldn't want to be friends with you. I certainly don't. So mostly, it might be better to keep your perfectly-entitled-to views on the matter to yourself, because they say more about what's wrong with you than they do with two men or two women making love.

    To summarize, opposition to my position is intolerance and hatred, and I'm sorry, but those things have enough of a platform in the world already for me to allow them to have a further one. Sometimes it really is better for a so-called "opposition" to be ignored or brushed-off, because if allowed to speak they will simply attempt to silence, and anyway, as I said, they have more than a broad platform to do so already. Doing the same thing back may seem to be reciprocating the problem, but honestly, in my experience, and historically, in terms of queer liberation, it has worked.

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  36. I wonder if Pointed Rambler understands how ironic it is for him to say about others "if allowed to speak they will simply attempt to silence" - it's pretty funny.

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  37. It may be ironic but I understand that I'm doing the exact same thing, namely silencing, but like I said it's effective, and I believe that my approach will help people, rather than hurt them, as it's been known to do. This isn't entirely about morality, it's about effective political action also. So I'll decline a conversation with a bigot, or attempt to silence that bigot by making sure others don't speak to him, also, if it's a protest situation, I'll try to draw attention away from the speaker by holding an alternate, better attraction, or just sometimes to make more noise than the other person. I'm willing to risk a few hurt feelings on the part of an intolerant hater than I am the propagation of his hatred.

    In any case, the tide of history and society is against their views. Hopefully this will be the last generation of LGBT to experience shame and guilt about being who we are.

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  38. This is great, I don't even have to say anything for people to realize how ridiculous you sound.

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  39. I agree with much of what you said, yet must respectfully disagree with at least one key point you have made:
    "You get to rub your marriages, perfect families and children and heterosexual dating stories in my face every day, I'm allowed to tell you why I don't have those things like everyone else."
    A statement like this, especially while attempting to gain support for your cause, sounds bitter and exhibits an unfounded cynicism towards the heterosexual orthodox community. Those among us who are straight are not "rubbing" their lives in our faces, they are living and loving just as you wish to do. Blaming them for doing this will only bring about more about negativity.
    On the other hand, I do not agree with the following comment of Rabbi Spolter:
    "The statement bothers me because the very notion of singling out people with homosexual tendencies and their place in the community highlights the very thing that I feel is no one’s business but their own. I (community member) don’t want to know. I should not know, and should ask the single man to daven for the amud, lein, give shiurim, and live a full and productive life. I don’t want to treat him as a “male with homosexual tendencies.” I want to relate to him like a fellow Jew. To do that requires that he keep his personal struggles, as strong as they are, private."
    His closed minded view, that to treat a gay Jew as a fellow Jew he must be unaware and ignorant of their struggles, is absurd. Perhaps THE most important part of being Jewish is sharing in the communal wealth of kindness and empathy. For him to disregard this irrevocable aspect of Kehilat Yisroel proves, at least to me, that he does understand the importance and relevance of the Smecha that was bestowed upon him with the intention of his acting as a leader within Am Yisroel.
    To surmise, we all must be more conscious of our interactions with one another, regardless of sexuality. As gay frum Jews, we must know that some community members will be uncomfortable with the choices we've made to pursue what we feel is correct and we must not rub these decisions in those peoples faces. However, the heterosexual community (as a general rule) needs to acknowledge its sick obsession with shidduchim. Members of this community should acknowledge what they have been blessed with, but at the same time be conscious of the fact that there are many frum Yidden-- whether gay, widowed or simply single-- who have not been so blessed and that when they publicize every juicy detail of their romances it pulls on the heartstrings of us less fortunate few.
    Ben Lewis

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  40. Ben, I don't agree with a lot of what you said, but I will definitely second the notion that there is an unhealthy obsession with shidduchim in our community, and that's even without the fact that it hurts those who can't take part. Once you add in that issue as well, and it becomes an even more major problem. Good point.

    That being said, I think the obsession is with the active shidduch process, and not the aftermath (which is the more important thing anyway), and therefore also agree with you that "You get to rub your marriages, perfect families and children and heterosexual dating stories in my face every day" is a bit harsh - but only a bit. I definitely won't claim to know what it's like to stand in FG's shoes and declare "nah, there's no way that can be hurtful."

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  41. FellowYUer, ridiculous or not, these are the ways things get accomplished, often not through the condescending bluster of people like you, but through protest, actions which not everyone will like, but which work.

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  42. I agree, Ely. On all the points you made, but especially that coming out is not a result of Western culture, and that "Until everyone who is heterosexual keeps 'don't ask don't tell' gay people shouldn't have to either."

    Looking forward to reading about those other topics you mentioned :)

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  43. Also, I second Ben's sentiments, especially the first part. It's important to not view heterosexual-homosexual relations as necessarily antagonistic, the reason the coming out process is essential is because it is the only way for gay identity to assert itself as equal and valid with straight given the predominance of the latter in mainstream, and especially Orthodox Jewish, culture.

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  44. Fellow YUer,
    I'm not saying it's not hurtful, far from it. I know first hand just how very difficult the situation is as I to struggle with living life as a frum gay Jew. My point was simply the hurt we feel is most often not because of some purposeful and knowing desire to "rub" things in our faces.

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  45. Pointed Rambler, you're missing the entire point. "Gay identity" has no place in Judaism, just as "pork-craving identity" has no place in Judaism (and yes, I know, the two taavos are not fully comparable, but for this particular point the analogy works). That IS most certainly a product of Western culture, and that is why "coming out" has no place in Judaism.

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  46. Anon 8:10 - I realize that. I don't disagree with you.

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  47. Fellow YUer: Forgot to sign the post. Anon 8:10 was me, Ben (Lewis).
    I must ask you, wouldn't you rather people admit to their "flaws" so that they might receive support from the community so as not to succumb to their desires? Craving pork and eating it are two different things, just as a same-sex attraction is not the same as engaging in forbidden acts. I do agree with you over the fact that a "gay identity" has no place in Judaism. We are not discussing a "Gay identity"--one who defines him/herself solely as gay. There is a big distinction between one who identifies as "gay" and one who identifies as "frum" and happens to be gay.
    Ben Lewis
    p.s. thanks for agreeing with me, Rambler.

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  48. Ben, I'm not sure where you disagree with me. I'm not saying people shoudln't "admit to their flaws" (if that's what you wanna call it). I'm saying there's admitting them to the people who should be hearing it but otherwise keeping it private (good), and there's announcing it to the world (not as good).

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  49. Fellow YUer,
    I'm saying we should accept people for all of who they are, their entire identity & personality. We disagree on this because you want to only see a fragment of reality.
    Ben Lewis

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  50. Huh? What large part of reality do you think I'm ignoring?

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  51. Trust me, fellow YUer, if you know me you know I did not run around campus with a rainbow flag. I just told my good friends. I simply came out to a few friends and family, and it spread. I'm even going to stop calling it "coming out" because that has negative connotations; but it really was the act of sharing my most personal thoughts and "desires" with friends. And then the Orthodox community did their part in "announcing it to the world".
    Now let's move on, shall we? Fellow YUer, Ben, DB, Pointed, let's move on.

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  52. Very well thought out, nuanced response to "Hirhurim."
    I also, on some "fundamental" level agree with this "dont ask dont tell,"approach. Wouldn't it be nice? It sure would be a lot easier for the gay orthodox community if such a reality could actually exist. BUT, given the fact that in reality people ask, and people tell, it is simply a myth, a fairy tale we invent to tell gays to stay cramped up in the closet.
    Way to go Ely for this thoughtful response. Your astute insights on people and your yiirat shamiyim are always an inspiration to me.

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  53. HAHA, FYUer, now you're being funny and ridiculous, "coming out" as in an abridged version of "coming out of the closet" is a product not of the 21st century, but of the past 1000 years of sexual repression and an inability for LGBT individuals to express their sexuality openly, for fear of being ostracized, expelled, or straight out killed . Without these oppressive constructs, there would be no "coming out" process, people would simply be straight, gay, or both, without any kind of arduous process of feeling shame, being afraid, feeling compelled to hide, then wanting to be open, then being open, we would simply be whatever we were.

    Judaism values truth, and I can't imagine a religious person being able to feel spiritually vital while he is lying to himself and isn't living the life that God set out before him. Speaking of Western Civilization, Modern Judaism is as much a product of it as modern homosexuality is.

    Its leaders are charged with dealing with the world as it is, not as ideologues like you would have it, with some kind of infinite separation existing between the Judaism they practice and the world they live, and as is such it was essential that they issued a "Statement of Principles" on an issue directly affecting their community. Smartly, and as other great Jewish leaders have done in the past, they saw that integration, rather than alienation and excommunication was the most intelligent, Jewish, and ultimately only really human action to take. They could have gone farther but I'll take it for what it is. The question remains: where does that leave you?

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  54. To Anonymous @ 12:57PM

    Outing oneself as gay is allowing for the same social breathing space as the normal presumption that someone is heterosexual. It is not publicizing taavot for a heterosexual to let others know his or her orientation any more than it is to remind heterosexuals of theirs.

    Sexual orientation is not a desire for something like chocolate or alcohol or gambling, though anyone addicted to a substance or a bad habit should feel free to let other people know, which destroys your argument even if you understood homosexuality. Sexuality is so large and implicit a part of a person's identity, and Torah does not tell us it should be otherwise, no matter how much it emphasizes reigning in our desires.

    Sometimes I wonder if some heterosexual people just don't get that homosexuality is no different or less fundamental than their own sexual drives.

    Is "coming out" more attention attracting by nature then continuing to be viewed as a heterosexual? Yes, but its not criminal, nor can it be compared to someone who tells people their personal fetishes, or their desperate desire to turn lights on during Shabbos or whatever other nonsense people say on this issue.

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  55. Frum Gay, what is it u would like to move on to?

    You've set a glass ceiling over yourself.

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  56. I just meant move on from those same 4 people and their fairly private conversation and back-and-forth on a public forum.

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  57. Pointed Rambler, what are you talking about? How is he "lying to himself and isn't living the life that God set out before him"? How do you justify the "ability for LGBT individuals to express their sexuality" in a frum context? I suspect you're simply not looking at this from the frum perspective, in which case I'm not sure what you're trying to do here, unless you're proselytizing.

    Also, don't pretend that the people releasing this statement are "leaders" of modern Judaism - they're not. And nice try trying to pin me down as an extremist, as someone with "some kind of infinite separation existing between the Judaism they practice and the world they live" - it's not true, and not fair. You're the one with a distorted view of how the world should change to fit YOUR whims - but there are more important things than your whims.

    FG, let me see if I have the metzius of this straight: you told only close friends and family members, asked them to keep it private, and still the news spread? If that's the case, I'm sorry, it looks like you need some new friends - who would do that to someone?

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  58. im a little concerned about how the secular jewish media can run wild with this. They have an uncanny ability to pervert anything orthodox to meet their socioreligious needs

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  59. To the first Anonymous (closeted),

    "education to the general public not to make dating a topic of discussion."

    Are you really Jewish?

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  60. did you see the documentary about Homosexuality in the Orthodox community? it's a really good one. I think it is on Hulu

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  61. to the first Anonymous-
    A taavah itself is nothing to be ashamed of. You can fight a taavah without having to be ashamed of it. I have a taavah for a lot of things and I'm not ashamed of that. It doesn't neccesarily mean I give in to those taavos...but anyway..
    I think there is more to the being Gay thing than just Taavah anyway. MUCH MORE

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  62. Very well put, Ely. Yasher Koach! There are Rabbis in YU BTW, who very strongly called R' Twersky on his shiur and subsequent writings.

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  63. Ronit-
    I would hope you're not willing to tell me about all your ta'avos. Because your ta'avos do not define you, they are your yeitzer hara. Homosexual desires is no different, it's a yeitzer hara. Again, it has emotional aspects to it, it may feel like more a part of you because of that, and the fact that secular culture recognizes it as an alternate lifestyle doesn't help, but it is a yetzer hara. It's not something to be proud of, it's not something to announce. It's something that should be dealt with discreetly like any other yeitzer hara. Like I said before, a yeitzer hara in some ways is similar to (chas veshalom) an embarrassing genetic defect (it's not a perfect analogy because a genetic defect is not necessarily something you fight, its just something you deal with). Even though everyone has some form of this defect, and it's not your fault, it's something private and personal. Whether ashamed is the right word, I don't know but something in that ballpark. Forgive me for being blunt, but homosexual desire (like any other immoral and inappropriate, sometimes natural urge) is a defect, and should be treated as such.

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  64. To Anonymous-
    I wouldnt neccesarily equate taavah with the yetzer hara. Taavah is a great and powerful thing. Without it, we would all die out as a human race. SPECIFIC Taavas on the other hand are different and depend on the person and the time and place. Yes because it is powerful, it can also do a lot of spiritual damage (which is what im assuming you are really refering to when you call it the Yetzer Hara.) Keeping something in control and private does not neccesarily mean you are ashamed of it. On the contrary actually. I would agree that "shame" would be the wrong term. The only place I can see shame fitting in this equasion (Taavah) is if you find your Taavah totally controling you or your behaviors and then you find yourself faced with the reality of what just had happened. Taava ITSELF is not IN ANY WAY a defect. It's the "out of control" aspect (which can really be applied to any of our human capacities, not just taavah) where you find yourself almost like a SLAVE to your taavah (ie drug addiction is a good example of how this can happen). That tendency that we have to being CONTROLED by something is what I would more specifically call the yetzer hara. And maybe, maybe for THAT you could possibly use the term "defect". But even in that sense, I would be hesitant because did G-d really create us with a DEFECT? (and even if He did...it would be almost rediculous to be ashamed of the way you were designed...considering you werent the designer in the first place)...Im just sayin...

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  65. In the berachah of borei nefashos we praise HaShem: borei nefashos rabos VECHESRONAN- who creates many living things WITH THEIR DEFECTS. We praise HaShem for creating our defects, not because HaShem made a mistake chas veshalom, but HaShem deliberately made us with defects, with faults and challenges and yeitzer haros that we're supposed to rise above. So in response: yes... G-d created all of us with defects and we thank HaShem for it every day.

    And when I say ashamed, I mean personal and private. Not ashamed for having it, but ashamed if other people knew about it, like many things in life that are private and personal.

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  66. I think we may be using the word "defect" differently

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  67. I'm sorry, FellowYUer, by opposing "coming out" on dubious bases of some kind of "not being in Judaism" rationale, you place yourself in an extremist position. You're right, it doesn't fit into religious Judaism, but then neither does much of modern life, and since I assume you're a part of the modern world and you go along with those things anyway, maybe you should step back from something you don't understand, nor have any experience with, and really, hold your tongue, as is the only intelligent and respectful response sometimes. But since you have no shame, nor humility, both of them have ample space in religious Judaism, I'll just say good luck.

    My so-called "distorted views" are ones readily accepted by much of American, European, and Israeli society, amongst them, increasingly, Orthodox Jews. Sorry, FYUer, it's becoming apparent that you're the one living in the fantasy world, surrounded by your carefully protected values which ultimately have no basis in either religion or morality; they simply exist in your mind, and what you are personally comfortable with. And since that doesn't have any bearing on a conversation about what should or shouldn't be done, again, it might be better for you to be quiet until you can provide a position which is justified.

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  68. Pointed Rambler, nice try, but you're clearly just trying to skirt my questions (and do more of that silencing you're so against).

    And, besides the point, the contention that "much of modern life" "doesn't fit into religious Judaism" is comical, unless you're referring specifically to modern values, in which case you're spouting a Reform ideology. So you're either being ridiculous, ignorant, and/or irrelevant.

    Maybe, to you, actually being Orthodox is considered "extremist"?

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  69. Once again, FYUer, I'm for silencing those who espouse intolerance and hatred. Whether you mean to or not, you're espousing views which are intolerant and feed into hatred.

    What questions have I skirted? It's obvious that homosexuality itself isn't prohibited by the Torah, therefore coming out should similarly not be prohibited. It's simply like saying "I'm Jewish" or "I'm a human being," except that its so laden with weight due to the judgment which predominates the Orthodox community, and to a lesser extent, the rest of society, that it is a huge deal and pivotal for most gay men and women to perform in order to live healthy, fulfilled lives.

    Personally, Orthodoxy is not my main concern, I was raised Orthodox but no longer practice, but because I have that background I know the unique shame and fear which comes with being gay in such a community.

    As to whether Judaism and modern values mix, I believe I was saying that Judaism has adapted so that it's concessions to modern values appear as if they were always part of the tradition. Reform ideology, which has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion, does away with much of the Law-based structure of Judaism, which is not what I was proposing or saying at all, but that was a nice straw man. Rather what I was saying is that in the same way that other things which aren't specifically prohibited by Judaism are still allowed to be incorporated into a Jewish identity, so too coming out is in no way prohibited.

    So after that long-winded response, I'll say that I think when the choice comes between being compassionate, understanding, and above all, empathetic based merely on a natural human impulse to do so versus some divinely-commanded writ to hate, the most ethical choice is the former. And I think that any book which calls a natural expression of human love an "abomination" qualifies as a commandment to hate. Luckily more and more Orthodox men and women are coming to trust their better instincts than the ones which created that clause in the first place.

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  70. OK, I guess that's settled then. Thanks for the admission, Rambler.

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  71. It's sad that people use the Torah as an excuse for their close-mindedness! While I can excuse most of R' Spolter's post as just a very different opinion which though I struggle to understand, I can accept his right to have an opinion.
    However, his opening statement concerning the children is too shocking and hurtful for me to even begin to understand. I must assume that he himself does not fully understand what he is saying as he admits that this same principle would apply to parents who are not shomer shabbas. He claims theres a difference but never explains what this difference could possibly be. Would he also display insensitivity and turn away a child who's mother happened to intermarry. I would hope not! And yet, if he feels that accepting the child would be synonymous with stating his approval of intermarriage, then he would have no choice but to turn away the child.
    I hope that this is not the case and in reality he would be accepting of all children, regardless of their parents!

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  72. FYUer, that was no admission, and that's no reason to ignore the rest of my perfectly valid comment. The end was simply a statement of personal opinion, but since you like to live in a straw man world, you're unwilling to accept that two contradictory explanations can exist in the world. In any case, it's still no reason to be a bigot, you should seek some help.

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  73. Look, you can keep calling G-d a bigot, but it won't help.

    (And no, I don't think I'm G-d; I just realized many posts ago that your arguments were tinged with anti-religious sentiment, and not just anti what I'm trying to say, so I've been trying to tease that out of you. You just made it really easy fo rme, because people like you think you have the moral high ground to the Torah and G-d, and looooove announcing it. Go back and read your comments again, and you'll see that all your arguments are tipped with that sentiment. A good day to you sir, and I think you no longer need to say anything. Although of course then I'd be utilizing your copyrighted, hypocritical silencing argument, so I guess what I'm really saying is go ahead and say what you have to say, because people now realize where it's coming from and how irrelevant it is to this discussion.)

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  74. Fellow YU'r and Pointed,
    Ely asked that we stop the personal argument a while back. I complied. It would only be polite of the two of you to do the same. If you want to continue your conversation I suggest you swap e-mails and be done with it.
    Ben Lewis

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  75. Ben, you're right. I was actually planning on saying that I looked at the conversation, and there's so much blustering (by both of us) that, well - there's a heck of a lot of blustering.

    Sorry, Ely.

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  76. Oh, sorry, I missed that. Yeah, I feel no need to continue the discussion, I apologize to Ely for taking up so much space on his blog.

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  77. Sensitive but realisticAugust 8, 2010 at 11:09 PM

    On a practical level it will be virtually impossible to accept children of same sex couples (whether biological or adpoted) into an orthodox school with out "accepting" the union of his/her parent's.

    I teach in an Orthodox yeshiva and the following comes top mind. Would the school adress the mailings to Mr. and Mr.? Would faculty be forced meet with both dads or two moms during parent- teacher conferences? How would a Rebbe address the issue to the kid/ class. Would he say "Ploni are your father's coming to..."? When you learn Masechet Kiddushin how would you teach it without either causing emotional pain on the child or accepting the union of his parents?

    Ideally the child of same sex couples deserves a Jewish Education, but what if the cost is legitimizing the union of his parents? Will we not be fostering an environment where homosexuality is ok?

    Should our students really think that it's normal for some to have a mom and dad and others to havetwo dads or two moms? Won't we be damaging our youth.

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  78. I shared my thoughts on the Statement here.

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  79. Lol, if heteros kept the dont ask dont tell, then there would even be a bigger Shidduch Crisis!!!
    ...btw Wink, at some point in ur life you should forget about getting frustrated and enjoy life, no matter how you live it, stop letting others make you feel anything more than you want to. ((and by that i mean stop writing this blog, live your life dont just be a gay advocate, be a nice guy trying to be happy in the world who happens to be gay))[[that sounded like a command, i just am saying that as an outsider, it seems that this blog is a very important part in your life}}]

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It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews