For so many people, being gay is not an option. It doesn’t fit with their lives, with their plans, with their communities, with their friends, with their families or even with themselves. In addition to just the generic societal values, classic Orthodox Jewish law and belief are almost entirely heterocentric. This is what complicated my life growing up. At the early onset of my teenage year, I began to feel different from everyone around me. I wasn’t like the other boys for whatever the reason, and I wasn’t attracted to girls like my guy friends always talked about. When I came to realize I was gay, at about 15, I never thought in a million years that I would ever be able to accept such a reality. I fought and fought, until finally I realized that I was fighting no one. That there was no one in the world that had the right to tell me that I could not be religious and gay. So at the age of 21, I came out of the closet. However, that was not the end of the struggle- it was the beginning of a whole new one.
My closed Orthodox community was not used to someone trying to break the mold like I was, so I found a gay Jewish community that I made my closest friends- but went home every day to my Orthodox community where I had close friends that would always love me, but had so many other people I wanted in my life, but who didn't necessarily want me in theirs, or that's how I felt. I love my friends in the my Jewish community and I love my friends in the gay community- and I ended up creating for myself a double lifestyle. Many people, especially those in the closet- even create fake facebook pages for finding gay men and the gay events for them to attend, all under a pseudonym so they never have to come out, while still having their other profiles with their other friends and their more public lives. I’ve heard it described as a superhero syndrome- one world by day, another world by night. To a certain extent this is how I felt for a very long time. There was the part of me that went out with my gay friends and he was this very different person from the man that hung out with his straight friends. For me, and many people in the shoes of growing up in a heteronormative world, but attempting to be true to themselves and create and supportive LGBTQ community to be part of, there is a daily balancing act. Which group of friends do I hang out with tonight? Who haven’t I seen in a longer time? Which identity do I want to assume today? The important part is integrating the identities within ones self, until you’re comfortable enough on the inside to make the right decisions on the outside.
Why does one have to choose? Why does someone have to feel so pulled between two worlds? In my life, thank God, the choice has not been too difficult as I create that community that accepts gay Jews, while still upholding the religious values and being a part of the Orthodox community I grew up and and know and love. This way I don't have to feel like I'm living a double life anymore.