Thursday, February 24, 2011

Don't Hate

My "cheesy" slogan ever since I started this blog, now apparently a forum as well, has been 'don't hate, educate'. The purpose of this blog has always been to explain the struggle of being Frum and gay, and maybe help others see that life isn't always so black and white.

It seems that I need to clarify that this blog, while here to discuss topics and situations that have too often been ignored, is still MY blog. I have the right to answer whatever questions I feel like I want to answer, and I have the right to keep private certain things that I feel should be kept private. I have never shied away from a topic bc it may have been too controversial- but I confront every topic that I feel I want to blog about. They may not answer all your questions, but they are what I feel needs to be discussed.

Next, I have never and will never lied to my readers. There have been claims of question to my character and my 'happiness' but what you read here is true. I'm not happy golucky one hundred percent of the time in my personal life because no person is. I have moods and struggles and stressors every day- just like you. But since coming out two and a half years ago (wow!), my life has only gotten better, and I have only gotten happier and stronger as a person. And I wouldn't trade that in for anything.

I appreciate the readers, the followers, the commentators, and everything you all have to say, and I do try my best to answer your questions, but at the end of the day, the blog is mine to write and the content is mine to control, and my life is my own- to keep certain things personal, while trying to be open and honest with you all at the same time. So I hope I do you justice through it all.

And finally, how can a married homosexual with children call themselves Orthodox? Because who decides what the definition of Orthodoxy is? Who decides what it means to be Frum? Despite years of struggle and rejection I am still here, and I reserve the right to call myself Orthodox because I am Shomer Torah and Mitzvot, just like everyone else. Is there another added layer when gay- that I may or may not be sinning because I may or may not have the desire to go against a commandment that most of you do not have to deal with? Yes, there is the extra layer, which is why gay Orthodox Jews struggle. But that fact alone should not and does not exclude me from Orthodoxy.

This is what I ask all my readers, followers and commentators to keep in mind when reading, judging, and discussing my personal life and my choices as the author of this blog in your conversations below.


  1. Also, this blog is not about sex. So pretty much... stop asking. ;-)

  2. YES!"the fact alone should not and does not exclude me from orthodoxy". That is absolutely the point. I love that you are owning this, the blog is yours, the content is yours to decide, and your life is yours. Just because you are a public figure does not mean your life belongs to them. Reveal what you feel you need to say, not what others demand to know. may this blog continue to be a source of empowerment for you, catharsis,self expression, and education for us all.

  3. GO ELY! youre amazing and your neshama is a shiny shiny beacon.

  4. Very nice post!

    It's good to see you standing up for yourself :)

    I still hope that one day you are able to help other Orthodox gay Jews by explaining to them what you do to continue to be a Shomer Mitzvos Halachic following Jew (which is what I at least think is the proper definition of Orthodoxy). Help with this, particularly regarding how such Jews can get their sexual needs met, would be a fantastic thing to do for Jews in your situation, in my opinion.

    Keep up the great work!

  5. Agree with Shira, brilliantly expressed, and absolutely on point.

  6. while i am not 100% satisfied with that response, because i still feel there is def more to discuss and would hope that some more questions would be answered, i completely understand the sense of privacy and believe this is definitely a well written fair and appropriate response. thank you very much

  7. ... because I am Shomer Torah and Mitzvot, just like everyone else. Is there another added layer when gay- that I may or may not be sinning because I may or may not have the desire to go against a commandment...

    This is a lie as you told me that you engage in Toeivah and are not trying to stop. THerefore you are notfrum.

  8. You are doing such good things for the modern orthodox community as well as the gay modern orthodox community. Never stop! keep going...

  9. To my followers: please DO NOT reply to 'Anon. 6:34am'. As he is aware, any and all correspondence from him is being referred to the authorities in consideration of a previous legal matter in which he is involved. I therefore ask that you disregard this remark, and any others that appear from this alias. Thanks.

  10. you use the internet as a vehicle in which to post your feelings because it is an open forum. but to censor others does not provide a fair side. while i agree with your decision to live the life and i believe firmly that others do not have the right to tell you how to live... to censor others is to stifle them as well.

  11. o please follower- on what planet is Ely trying to "censor" others. you honestly think this should be a public forum to attack Ely personally? That is all he is saying- he never said that people cant disagree with him- all he is asking is for people to be respectful. Honestly- if you think allowing others to be disrespectful, hurtful and bullying than you need to reevaluate the lens that you are using to read this blog. Ely presents issues and feelings, and we the readers should respond in a manner that should represent the torah values that Ely is trying to explain that he strives to have for himself. He is explaining that his struggle and the dichotomy between what he wants to do, and what he knows he should do- is difficult. thats all he is trying to say. He is not censoring anyone, just asking people to be respectful and not down right abusive.

  12. @Follower:
    No on has been "censored"; Ely has simply asked posters to respect his desire not to feed the trolls on this forum by refusing to reply to him. He has singled out ONE individual's comment and alluded to legal issues that seem to be ongoing with him/her, and has requested that in consideration of the bigger picture at play, people refrain from responding to him. "Censorship" would have been deleting Anon 6:34's comment altogether, or deleting any associated remarks. If you have something to say to Anon 6:34, no one is stopping you, but the author of this blog has made a request that you not do so. Nonetheless you are free to do what you want with no regard for what Ely has respectfully asked.

  13. I am not saying that what occured on the previous post is right... to abuse and bully someone is absolutely wrong. but to define the term bully as someone who disagrees with your feelings is incorrect. it is NEVER ok to abuse someone but to delete a comment bc it is not agreeable is contrary to an open conversation.

  14. Follower: I think the term bully is defined by actual bullying. Someone who "declares Ely is not frum" and that he is a liar in this public forum is trying to bully him. "having an opinion about Ely" is one thing, but trying to publicly embarrass him and to call him on false claims is ridiculous and not a valid opinion that anyone wants to hear.

  15. As your supporters have stated you have the right to free speech- ok so in line with that logic here is me expressing my right to free speech as well...
    I can see we have begun the game of who said. Basically what you had said Ely is not that I'm orthodox according to all definitions of the word rather I have created my own sect of Orthodoxy and have begun calling that being frum. Sounds familiar.
    So yes you are indeed living the "openly gay" sect of Orthodoxy. The sect of orthodoxy which stands to cause as much damage as many other liberal facets within the frum world have already done.
    The obvious problem with calling yourselves frum is that all major Talmidei Chachamim think that the way you have decided to live openly as you are is against what the Torah stands for. You might claim to have prominent Rabbinic Figures backing you up- however as Tosfos in Bava Basra 51a states "when you argue on the Gedolei Hador your opinion is completely irrelevant."
    Yes this is your blog. And yes you have the right to answer the questions you want. However as long as behind when no one is looking you are not trying to conquer the taivah you have and you are even engaging in activities which will only enhance your taivah to perform the Doraisah act, you have no right to have an opinion on how someone who truly wants to overcome their taivah should live.
    I would also disagree with the notion that you do not have to speak about your experiences with JONAH or other groups. People should be able to hear from you about this. As well, have you tried all of the different options? Is there any taivah which is impossible to overcome? The answer is NO. Hashem only gives us a nisayon we can handle and therefore although you might not reach the point of being able to have relations with a woman, you certainly have the ability not to person a cardinal sin.
    I daven for you everyday: I daven in Shema Koleinu that you and those like you have the siyata dishmaya to change. I also daven in Vlamalshinim that you should have ZERO negative impact on klal yisroel.
    Again this is a public forum. I am not harassing anyone. Just merely sharing my thoughts.

  16. (Maybe I shouldn't, but I couldn't resist to respond - in case anyone read Anonymous 4:38 above and is confused.)

    Anonymous has a right to free speech, and that covers even his right to say things that are false. "The way you [Ely] have decided to live openly as you are is against what the Torah stands for": this is just false, no need to go over the details again. And, come to that, the way he (or others like him) has tried to misrepresent and embarrass Ely in this blog IS against what the Torah stands for.

    Regarding his claim that Ely shouldn't be considered frum, hm, hello, don't tell me you didn't know that there's always someone who thinks YOU are a kofer and your kitchen isn't kosher enough.

    Anonymous seems to long for a monolithic religion with an infallible head? Good news, it exists and it's called Catholicism (by the way, his use of the phrase "cardinal sin" sounds to me as if someone has been lapping up homophobic Catholic shtus).

    Anonymous, since this is indeed a public forum and you have shared your thoughts, I'll share mine: your promotion of bogus "reparative therapies" is harmful, may even be motivated by ulterior reasons ($$$), is not without problems halachicly, and is definitely against ALL scientific gedolei hador if I may use that phrase.

    And, finally, I was taught to say Ulamalshinim more quietly than the other brachot because I should never be too sure if in God's eyes I'm included in that category or not. Anava is important, a "cardinal Jewish virtue" if you will. Its lack may lead us to believe that we are morally superior, or even that we can do God's job and judge our fellow human beings. Fortunately God is not on holiday, and God (not you) is the one true judge.

    - Yacov

  17. Dear Ely-

    Firstly, I am an avid and regular reader of your blog. I think you’re doing a great job; you connect to a lot of people, and have broached a subject that remained untouched for far too long. That being said, in light of recent events, I do have some concerns.

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but it seems you view yourself as a spokesperson and leader on the Gay Orthodox front. Perhaps I am reading the situation incorrectly but through authoring this blog, being the subject of a number of wonderful interviews in the last few weeks, appearing in the “It Gets Better” campaign, and your active involvement with JQY, you are one of the more recognized individuals who has come out as a Frum Gay Jew.

    Like any leader/public individual, you have a certain opinion and stance on issues and as it is with any other leader, the road is not always smooth. In no way am I defending recent posters but I do believe that there is certain validity behind some of their points. When someone runs for office and makes themselves into a public figure, they will be dissected in every way-from public to personal life. That’s just the nature of the beast. If you want to be a leader, you deal with both the positive (uplifting stories, people Ely Winkler has affected for the better) and the negative (bullies, heated comments).

    The one thing you don’t get to do as a leader is pick and choose what you want to discuss. It is unfair to tell your readers that certain topics are off limits, especially with such a sensitive issue. What started off as your personal blog has skyrocketed into something much more. Look no farther than the business cards you printed with your name and the link to your blog. How do you determine where you get to draw the line? Again, “a friend” went about his business all wrong and came off as an attacker, but what if people come with those questions looking for a real answer? Are they turned away because you decide what can be asked of a public figure (you) and what can’t? Again, positives and negatives when you reach the levels of success that you have.

    My 2nd point is short and simple. You mentioned in your last post that you don’t know who decides what is orthodox and frum? I believe that you are correct in those statements because those words are subjective. One thing that is not subjective is the Torah. The Torah decides on someone’s level of religious observance. You are either keeping it or you are not.

    Anonymous also said “Regarding his claim that Ely shouldn't be considered frum, hm, hello, don't tell me you didn't know that there's always someone who thinks YOU are a kofer and your kitchen isn't kosher enough”? Once again this is an emotional and subjective argument. Anonymous why does it matter what other people think about you? The only thing that should matter is what the Torah thinks of you. If you are keeping the Torah then people’s opinion shouldn’t matter. You said this yourself actually, “Its lack may lead us to believe that we are morally superior, or even that we can do God's job and judge our fellow human beings. Fortunately God is not on holiday, and God (not you) is the one true judge.”

    The Jews said Na’aseh V’nishma. We accepted the Torah upon ourselves to be our guide to life. This guide is what should define your religious observance, not people. We, forget gay and straight, all struggle with this as Jews. We all have our battles. We all have our challenges. But when it comes to who decides the rules, the answer is pretty clear.

    I hope you continue to find the strength to lead the discussion on this front. Again, I think you’ve done a tremendous job and believe that you’ll only continue down this path.


It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews