Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm Sad and Kinda Angry

And I'll tell you why I'm sad. This is why I'm sad. ARTICLE. I will deconstruct the lies, and the most bothersome statements in the article, then end with my overall feelings.

"The Torah is very much based on the concept of Na'aseh V'nishmah. Who you are is predicated upon your actions. If a man or a woman is in an exclusively heterosexual relationship, by Torah definition he or she is not gay."

-I'm not sure how she gets this Torah definition, but by no means does being in a heterosexual relationship define where someone's attraction actually stands. Just ask the thousands of men and women who are married or in hetero relationships, and cheating on their partners with members of the same sex.

"Which brings me to the first obstacles for change. There are gay men who are making it their life's cause to keep people from attempting therapy, by decrying the efficacy of change therapies in the media. They do this because of their own inability to achieve success in these therapies. "

-Her generality here is appalling. There are many who have spoken out against reparative therapy, yes, but who is this woman to just pretend that she knows each and every one of their motives? I know a few men who have had the courage to speak out against these therapies, and it's not because of their failures. It's because they were hurt, physically molested, and emotionally destroyed in the process, and felt the need to make sure others knew of these issues before they went for this therapy.

"But when a gay man succeeds in changing his lifestyle, he is met with displeasure and even coercion from the gay community in the form of social hostility for having betrayed them. On the other hand there is a tremendous amount of support among strugglers and ex-strugglers themselves."

-Excuse me, but define "succeeds in changing his lifestyle"? If, for any reason, the individual who has changed is involved in a gay community, they are going to doubt his successful change, knowing him and wondering how this was possible. Most likely because some of them have been physically intimate with this person. How can you just sit back, have someone simply say that now they have changed? She even admits herself, later in the article, that change is hard to come by and we should just accept attraction to the opposite sex whenever possible. If so, of cours the gay community is going to be confused when someone suddenly says they are straight.

She then gives the case of Reuven, a "textbook case" of a person with SSA: divorced parents, overbearing mother, submissive father, molested as a young child- as if this is the situation with every homosexual.
"If a homosexual lifestyle were a foregone conclusion of the above personal history then Reuven would never have had a chance. Today, Reuven enjoys a healthy marriage, Baruch Hashem, to a woman he is attracted to."

-What bothers me is not the ignorant assumptions of what every homosexual's history is, but more the implication, that anyone "suffering" with "SSA" (same-sex attraction) is automatically subject to a "lifestyle". In fact, what is a lifestyle? Because for me, who I am or am not attracted to is not a lifestyle. It's simply one aspect of who I am.

"Rabbi Rosenberg adds: "There's a message out there that if you have homosexual attraction you must be gay and will only be fulfilled in a homosexual life. There are sanctioned gay clubs in high schools and universities which make that claim and give legitimacy to a homosexual lifestyle."

-Here's that word "lifestyle" again. Homosexuality doesn't mean a lifestyle. Second of all, there is no message that one attraction means a sexual orientation. As I have said many times on this blog, sexuality is someone's to explore- it doesn't mean one thing or another. And if it wasn't for these clubs, you can guarantee the suicide rate would go up, from people like this Rabbi Rosenberg, constantly telling these kids and teens that their feelings are not acceptable and need to be changed.

" 'They need to see that marriage is a lifestyle and not about sexual prowess like the messages propagated in the media,' says Rosenberg."

-Who the hell in the media says marriage is about sexual prowess? If anything, Orthodox Judaism which prohibits premarital sex promotes getting married just for the sake of intimacy. And again, marriage is not a lifestyle. It's one fact about a person.

"But despite all these roadblocks, there is a great deal of change taking place out there, both in people's perceptions and in their willingness to embrace change. The road to teshuva, the road to mental health and the road to finding one's bashert are very, very long. "

- So wait, not only does homosexuality (which is just an attraction) need to be repented for (something I discussed HERE, but mental health is something that needs to be completely attained? There are many mentally unstable people who work hard and long on their lives but never achieve mental health. And is she saying homosexuality is a mental illness? Check the DSM, honey, it was removed in the 70s.

"Alan has gone from not being attracted to women to being attracted to this amazing one (who knows of his issues), and looking forward to spending the coming years growing in his relationship with her... If we're going to wait for 100% success rate for any life change or a life altering decision, we'll never be espousing change at all."

- Okay wait, so after an entire article about changing someone's life and l"lifestyle", we should never expect real change?! Are you kidding me? Let's see what would happen if this Alan wanted to marry this author's daughter.

But forgot about the ignorance, lies and presumptions, but I'm mostly saddened for parents and teens who read such articles and think the answer is right there, that it's so easy to change, that if someone's child is gay, it's not a big deal because they just need to get on this "proper path" to Teshuva and mental health, and they'll be fine.

17 comments:

  1. Mordechai from QueensDecember 14, 2010 at 2:16 AM

    im with you Ely. Someone really has to educate this women, she really needs to sit down with a group of us and understand that there isnt one type of gay.

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  2. "but by no means does being in a heterosexual relationship define where someone's attraction actually stands. Just ask the thousands of men and women who are married or in hetero relationships, and cheating on their partners with members of the same sex."

    Dude, that is EXACTLY her point! The torah does not judge based on attraction, it judges based on action. Her comment was "Who you are is predicated upon your actions. If a man or a woman is in an exclusively heterosexual relationship, by Torah definition he or she is not gay."

    Note the "EXCLUSIVELY." So you're arguing that she is wrong because plenty of gay men and women cheat on their heterosexual partners? She didn't say that is not the case! All she said was that by definition if one is an EXCLUSIVELY heterosexual relationship, according to halachic standard, they are not gay. Regardless of attraction. You're so out to "get her" that you simply overlook the trivial things she says.

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  3. Resh Lakish was a closet homosexual who basically outed himself to Rabbi Yochanan when he came across him bathing. Resh Lakish recovered his composure and regretfully said to R. Yochanan "Your beauty will be enjoyed by women". R. Yochanan on the spot offered Resh Lakish his sister "who was just as beautiful as he" if Resh Lakish would do teshuva (and presumably get straight). This sets the precedent for advocating gays should marry pretty girls (who look like pretty boys) and get therapy to ungay themselves.

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  4. Thank you very much for an insightful response to this idiotic article. As much as the frum community fights to keep us in a their narrow minded perception of how homosexuality works it is people like you who will help us to move forward and be who we were created to be by Hashem.

    Kol Ha'kavod.
    Akiva

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  5. interesting response.
    While I agree with some of what you wrote, I think "Anonymous'" interpretation of the 'naaseh v'nishma' paragraph is what the author intended.

    Additionally, if sexuality is something to be explored then why cant it be explored in the setting of a professional's office? It seems that if homosexuals would like to change (note: not 'fix themselves') then isnt this an avenue to explore? It seems to have helped some homosexuals achieve their goals.

    anyways, keep writing!

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  6. The article is a complete joke. She speaks without any legitimate resources and makes an enormous issue seem trivial and unwarranted. It makes me sick that she considers it a joyous occasion when the gay men turned straight marry "wonderful girls". As a married woman, I cry that these women will never be able to experience what a marriage with someone who actually wants to be with them is. Ms. Saltsman genuinely believes this is the answer to the homosexual issue. She does not realize how painful and consequential her words really are.
    Ely- I give you all the credit in the world for your work that you do. Although I will never be able to really understand your struggle, I am in complete support of you.

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  7. Ely,
    Thank you for commenting on her letter.

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  8. Thank you for posting this article with your comments. Very informative. -GGT

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  9. wow.. it is actually infuriating how ignorant some people are. Thanks for this blog.

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  10. Well said and well constructed arguement. As for Anonymous' reading of the'naaseh v'nishma' paragraph, I don't think the point is that these individuals are cheating. Even the desire to cheat, without any action, would point to a disgusting and hurtful relationship with their spouse. The point is that wherever this author came up with her "Torah definition," it is hard to say someone who dedicates him/herself exclusively to a heterosexual relationship but still has desires for the same sex is heterosexual. And it certainly points to an unhealthy and forced relationship.

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  11. Dear enovick,

    Every healthy male feels at times the desire to cheat. When Chazal tried to take away the yetzer horah for giluy arayos, they found that no animal on earth would procreate, no hen would lay an egg. So they prayed to bring back the taavah. And this is what makes the world able to continue. Yaakov Avinu married one of the mothers of klal yisroel, Leah, and loved her very much. But he still had a desire for Rachel and went and married her. Did he have a disgusting and hurtful relationship with his spouse? If he did then it must be sometimes god requires disgusting and hurtful relationships.

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  12. Would you say that a gay person who considers gay to be a lifestyle choice is wrong? Shouldn't each person's conception of his or her circumstances be valid? There is a significant portion of homosexual Jews who are starting from a vastly different origin than you. This article is for those people.
    In that regard, I think that this article still has its oversights, as you mentioned. But the purpose of the article was not to coerce people into such therapies. Rather, it was to give hope to the people who are looking for this kind of hope. The article is delicate and respectful for the most part, and that should be regarded as a step forward.
    We have to remember that there are people out there who WANT to change their homosexuality. There are people who have explored their sexuality and have found themselves wanting something other than what they desire. This article is aimed at telling those people that they have support in their decision. Its main vendetta was against those who would actively fight against this desire for change. As you mentioned, these people are not given fair treatment. Yes, there are people who have had traumatic experiences with therapy. But there are also people who have had traumatic experiences with homosexuality.
    Could the article have been more liberal? Definitely. It should have been! There are serious flaws in many of the author's statements. There is no easy change, and I hope no one gets that idea from this article. But this article is fulfilling an important role. It is supporting a Jewish homosexual with a different mindset. Those people, and their decisions regarding their own sexuality, also deserve support.

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  13. Dear discretegen4young

    You are comparing apples and oranges. Nowhere in the torah does it say that Leah was disgusting to Yaakov. In fact, the midrash says that Leah was beautiful but sad because she was destined to marry eisav. Yaakov was indeed attracted to her and was not fording himself into a relationship. Forcing a gay person into a heterosexual relationship is telling them to deny one of the basic constructs of their being. That said, while therapy may work for some, forcing it upon those who do not want it will be counterintuitive. As well, punishing those who do seek therapy because THEY view it as a disease is not something to degrade them for. it depends on the individual persons view of their issue. So please do not claim to be able to project Gods feelings and please have apt knowledge before you propose a counterargument.

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  14. @teeshirt18

    I think while, your intentions are good, you haven't quite thought out your argument. You believe, correctly, that many people seek out change therapy to become straight. However, you misunderstand their reason for doing do. You think they actually want to become straight. As you write, these people find themselves "wanting something other than what they desire."

    This, even in its grammar, is a fallacy. Yes, there are many young orthodox men who seek change therapy. But they don't suddenly want to like girls instead of guy. They want to be "normal." They want to "fit in." All they want is to be happy. And why do they feel this way? Could it be the inane level of pressure put on them by the orthodox community and articles like the one in question. Could it be by ignorant people like you who believe that there are certain "right" ways to live, and the homosexual Jewish community doesn't have a place in your utopia?

    You're right. Homosexual Jews who are seeking change therapy deserve our support. They've always had it. The support they really needed was before they decided they needed to change themselves to be happy. And Many of us would have been there. You, however, probably would not.

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  15. Good post, Ely! You sound a bit frustrated, I recommend you put that woman out of your mind by listening to this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK9VBxDlQOE

    Letters like that remind me of something Dan Savage said: the people who benefit most from the "ex-gay" movement aren't gays and lesbians who desperately want to change, but straight homophobes who desperately want to believe that being gay is a "lifestyle" that can be "corrected". Which is almost the same as saying that gays shouldn't exist.

    @anonymous 11.39:
    I don't think you do the Torah any favor, construing that gap between attraction and action. Take a look at REALITY: when you think about finding a husband/wife and building a life together, are "attraction" and "action" completely independent of each other?

    @doAndListen:
    Hmm, perhaps your reading of the story of Resh Lakish and R. Yochanan misses something... you remember the end of the story, right? (ouch!)

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  16. @anonymous I musta forgot the end of that story... He was really still kinda into R. Yochanan, wasn't he... Even after marrying the sis..

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  17. All I see is a bunch of stories about victims being socially forced to conform to a twisted view of hegemonic normality for what jewish life "has to be", or else they wont except or love them! Praying on the weak for your own agenda is not respectful in any society, and what separates a truly good therapist from a shifty one. It's just sad how truly intolerant the Jewish communities have become, for a group of people who always priding ourselves on being outstanding kind, generous and accepting individuals it is sad to see the day a Jew turns on his fellow Jew.

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It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews