Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Risque

So I'm not letting "a friend" deter me. Because this is gonna be a pretty intense post. Short, but intense.

Does being gay mean one is sinning? I think I posted this way back in the early days of the blog, but it warrants reminding to the general population. Something that many Rabbis and people who judge in general, such as "a friend" in the last post's comments, assume that being gay means one is there violating a prohibition of the Bible. The most commonly accepted interpretation in Modern Orthodoxy of the verse against homosexuality, is that the Biblical prohibition is towards anal sex only. Does coming out inherently mean that one is having anal sex? No, no it does not.

People are too quick to put the two together, when, indeed, they are very different things. Maybe a religious guy is out but isn't having anal sex b/c he cant find anyone to do it with him, or maybe he isn't having it because of his religious beliefs, or maybe he is having it! But that's not for anyone to know about, or for anyone to make assumptions about. It's certainly not something for anyone to share on a public blogger forum. Just because someone is out of the closet, or just because someone is gay- does not mean they are violating that prohibition. They may not even like it, to be honest, because everyone enjoys different things in bed- this applies to heterosexuals as well.

So like I said, short, but a reminder that we should not assume anything about anyone's private bedroom behaviors. Gay or straight, in the closet or out, and this applies to me as much as it does to "a friend".

48 comments:

  1. So true- all that we should be asking the Jewish community at large is to accept people that are gay, as people, not representations of sins. We should be welcoming them into our communities and be treating them like the brothers and sisters they are. The same exact question could be asked- there are many people we consider frum in our culture that have premarital heterosexual sex- I don't hear anyone running around calling them out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ely this is so true. No one inquires into heterosexual couple's sex lives in this way.

    <3 this post!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good post.

    People need mind their own business. I didn't read that earlier comment, but it's this sort of sinat chinam and lashon hara that has brough down the Jewish people before.

    Keep up the good blog!

    -Aaron Steinberg

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm all for this; I have fought against people who said being gay means that people are going against everything holy in Judaism, and that they will burn in hell for sinning. It's sad that these people, who are quite brilliant in the way of learning and suchlike, have such a biased, brainwashed opinion of sexual orientation.

    At the same time, a lot of gay activism seems like a gathering where people can meet one another and become friends or even more, like a singles scene, and from that standpoint I have to agree that it seems a little shady. Surely something like shomer negiah or yichud applies to gay people as well, and even if they are instituted at shabbatons and such, it may be portrayed as a recipe for disaster.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I do have a question here.
    On the one hand, you say that it's none of our business what goes on in someone's home, or to use the more taboo term, in their bedroom. I agree wholeheartedly with this. If someone is mechalel shabbos or eating treif at home, there's nothing I can really do about it and it's not much of my business (beside for kol yisrael areivim and trying to help him do teshuva).
    But on the other hand, I think we shouldn't be busy knowing what's going on in people's heads and what type of desires they have. If a guy made a blog about his intense, innate desire to be mechalel shabbos (or to fornicate outside of marriage) and talked about how his friends react to his desire and how it's innate, and writes about how the only thing assur is actually to be mechalel shabbos, and not just holding the desire, but then said oh, don't you dare think I'm actually a mechalel shabbos, it's none of your business what I'm doing at home.
    To me, this seems intellectually dishonest and I'm having trouble with it. Please help me out here.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A friend is an idiot... don't let him to deter you.

    Stay strong, and your real friends have your back.

    In terms of the post most people are assuming married couples are observing Taharas Hamishpacha, when in fact I'm sure many aren't.

    The same dan lkaf zchus should be applied to everyone else, and whether their private lives are halachic.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Whatever you do is right.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree with you that not everyone who is gay is having anal sex. But what I always wonder about this when the point is made is what about the prohibition to waste seed? Yes, everyone, gay or straight, probably struggles following this prohibition. At the same time, that does not mean it is something that is OK then to do. It is still a prohibition that everyone should try to avoid doing, no matter how many times they fail at abstaining from it.

    From that angle, it's harder for me to accept the point that we all must not assume what gays are doing in their bedroom is a prohibition. Because lets face it, we all need our sexual outlet. And for straights, that sexual outlet eventually becomes having sex with a wife within marriage. For gays, there are only two basic sexual outlets: anal sex, and/or oral sex/mutual masturbation/acts that basically cause seed to be wasted. So while I agree that not every gay must be having anal sex in their bedroom, I just don't get what they could be doing regardless that would prevent them from going against a halachic law when they have to take care of their normal sexual needs.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's not important what, if any, halachik laws are being broken in the bedroom. The point is, why do heterosexuals get the benefit of keeping that private, and yet some seem to be demanding transparency from homosexuals. I am sure there are heterosexual couples that also violate the prohibition of wasting seed, or other sexual prohibitions, but we don't make assumptions and we don't request that extremely personal information be shared.

    I have not been a steady reader of this blog for all that long, but I don't think it ever touches upon such personal and intimate issues. It seems to me to be largely about one man's personal struggles for identification and acceptance, and, quite frankly, a very universal concept of grappling with who you are/want to be. I'm not sure why such material warrants or requires full disclosure of certain topics.

    And in direct response to RJJ, I don't know why it's intellectually dishonest to decide to discuss some things and not others. If the point of this blog is for all the things I spoke about above (and I'm sure more), Ely has decided (and has a right to decide) what is relevant and appropriate in addressing those issues. I don't see why bedroom details would support what I think he is trying to do with this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Not saying Ely should discuss bedroom details on this blog and I really do applaud what Ely is trying to do with his blog. At the same time, I am pretty sure the reason why people in the Orthodox world have the need to mention the behaviors of a homosexual individual, even those that go on in the bedroom, is because if homosexuals want to be accepted by the orthodox community, their basic existence of what being a homosexual is all about should at least be able to be mandated by halacha. But as far as I am concerned, there is absolutely nothing a homosexual can do in his bedroom with his partner when they need to take care of their sexual needs that will not go against basic halacha. This is simply not the case by those who live straight lives. If Ely wants to broach this whole issue, as to why homosexuals seem to get extra scrutiny about what is done in their bedrooms, I am pretty sure this is the reason. Because using just basic logic, homosexuals will one way or another, violate Torah law if they act out.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm really unclear as to why acceptance (something that I am assuming is at least partially on Ely's mind when writing this blog) is dependent on our knowledge of a clean bedroom relationship. Even if we knew, without a doubt (which is rarely the case), that a man was performing some sin, be it sexual or otherwise, why should that inhibit their right to seek acceptance in the Jewish community. There are so many, in situations similar to Ely's as well as different, that leave our fold because they are fed up with how they are treated, ostracized, etc. Here we have an individual that clearly wants so badly to have a relationship with God and his people, and we are going to shun him because he cannot or will not prove he is guiltless of some sin. And we are speaking of a potential sin that is wholly between himself and God.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree with Anonymous 3:00 PM who wrote:

    "There is absolutely nothing a homosexual can do in his bedroom with his partner when they need to take care of their sexual needs that will not go against basic halacha."

    Putting aside the Biblically forbidden male to male intercourse, wasting seed is a serious prohibition, too. That eliminates acts like fellatio and mutual masturbation. Even deliberately bringing about an erection is a problem (see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 151). Then there are what's called hirhurim and machshavos zaros, improper thoughts which poskim maintain are a Biblical prohibition transgressing 'v'nish'marta mikol davar ra.'

    Fine, most of them heterosexuals probably aren't keeping everything as they should either (i.e. emitting seed exclusively in a woman's private area when she's not a niddah) and you might argue they get an unfair pass. Well, it's understandable because at least the relationship itself is not prohibited and there's plenty a straight couple is permitted (and encouraged) to do in the bedroom, whereas there is absolutely nothing a gay couple can do in bed that's not violating halacha.

    I do hear your larger point, however, that it's unfair for people to assume a gay identifying person must be engaging in anal intercourse. But to identify as gay itself is a most public announcement to the world about very private desires for a forbidden relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Another Winkler writes...February 18, 2011 at 3:04 AM

    Hmm,... I'm going to take an ultra-simplistic approach here, but let me write a few words after: Marry a Jewish lesbian (former, in transit, etc). Well, there's much you two would have in common!


    Since homosexuality is ruled as an undesirable condition, is it so much the role of others at large to receive the news of one being or struggling as one? Must they? Likened to say, oh hypothetically-speaking, I'm schizophrenic or suffer from bouts of gas, or I am an insomniac?... must others know aside from those directly afflicted or involved? If my bus was late do I tell that to everyone? Well, humans. They like to gossip. Perhaps that's why it's a juicy topic. And sex, whoa! Yeah,... add fire to the flames.

    Sure, others in the area might wonder why I do the things I do. Their business ? Nah, I don't think so. Unless, I was supposed to present to them and my bus was indeed late, but sometimes we just say "Oh, spare the details". A direct effect elicits a response but otherwise, nobody needs to know, unless I'm making a point: "My bus was late because our transit system is underfunded!"

    But regardless of said sexual orientation, nobody should be taunted... for anything. Bullied, mistreated, looked down-upon. No!

    I think by announcing one's sexuality while in conflict is a way of asking for help? Oh, who knows.

    Coming out of the closet is courageous; closing its door, packing up the room and leaving for elsewhere is a bit more of a labor. I'm not sure if you get my intended message. If you return to the closet people might just mock you as what surfaces with the ex-gay movement folk. It's certainly against the tides of society, at least in those where most Jews reside.

    I wish you well. There's quite a few of us. More to come as civilization takes its course (unless!) My one sentence solution would be to : marry a Jewish lesbian (former, that is). Who knows... but try not to feel too consumed by it. There are so many other wonderful things to focus on (I'm writing this as advice to myself). But of course,... marriage is such a fulfillment... right? I mean,... if you're gay, you must have female friends? Imagine being married to a woman whom you share so much with... and feeling fulfilled. I used to pretend that when in public with another female friend.

    My apologies if I come across ignorant in the realm of Judaism. I'm certainly not an observant type, though, who knows, I could become.

    Nonetheless, it's an interesting topic. Be well.

    ReplyDelete
  14. enovick: I am the anonymous poster from before-never did I say or will I believe that Ely should be shunned from his community because he has homosexuality. That was never my point. In fact, the Torah itself is very clear that its the act that a homosexual may commit that is the problem, not the homosexual himself. However, if Ely wants homosexuality to be accepted in the Orthodox community (as opposed to himself), that is nearly impossible, because nearly every sexual act that comes with being homosexual, even when its not anal sex, is still prohibited by the Torah.

    I do hope people show open arms to Ely all the time in the Torah world, but I highly doubt that they will gladly be cool with any of the sexual acts that come from being homosexual.

    ReplyDelete
  15. @RJJ,

    See if this helps. I think you need to understand that the Torah prohibits one thing, which is not the same as defining what it is to be gay. Many straight people think that a gay main is "someone with an appetite for anal sex" - and then they may concede, "some gay men may do other things instead". This definition misses the point. Instead, it would be better to try to think of gay men as people who are emotionally and sexually attracted to, and complemented by, people of the same sex. Lesbians are basically the same, and it may be easier to understand if you think of them instead of gay men: very few people would say that a lesbian is "a woman who has an appetite for touching another woman's genitals".

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ok, last time I'm going to make this point. Accepting does not go hand in hand with condoning. Let's forget about homosexuality being accepted and work on accepting homosexuals. We can welcome someone who is openly gay into our community like anyone else and that does not mean we are signing off on every action they may or may not do. It just means we are being good people.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Some comments mention Halachah, "wasting seed", etc., and I think these are very valid questions. Should "wasting seed" always be interpreted in the same way, regardless of context? Does it matter if the person doing it is single, teenager, married, or a gay couple? Poskim shouldn't be afraid of exploring these distinctions; I think it's precisely thanks to them that Halachah keeps in touch with life and remains a meaningful system.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ely,
    There is nothing wrong with having sexual urges for someone of the same gender. (as I have never said otherwise. My issues is that you claim that you are happy now that you are "out" and you try to convince some people to come out, when in fact you told a close friend of yours that you were just as sad when you came out. Unfortunately this shows your dishonesty. Also you have told this friend thata you dont even try to control your desires. That is my issue.

    You seek to guide others without telling them the full truth. Tell us do you recomend people to NARTH or JONAH? Or has the gay establishment brainwashed you that these organizations never work? Are you so confident that it doesnt work? If it didnt work for you, could it help for others?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh and Ely...
    Dont delete my comment this time...

    ReplyDelete
  20. @A friend- Ely has consistently made it clear that if you want to discuss something personal with him, you can get in touch with him privately. Continuing to do so in a public forum is rude, disrespectful, and beyond inconsiderate. And that's just my way of putting it politely.

    Not only do these organizations and their therapies not work, but pretty much every medical, psychiatric, and psychological organization known to mankind maintains that conversion therapies are damaging. DAMAGING. Enough said.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dear "a friend",

    You really have some nerve. Where do you get off embarrassing people like this? YOU are the one making the chillul Hashem by not discussing the matter privately with Ely, like he has asked you to! It is hypercritical, self righteous individuals like yourself who are bringing us down. Are you claiming to keep all Taryag mitzvot perfectly? If you are, then mazel tuv; you must be G-d's gift.

    But if not, and I really think that you aren't, I suggest that you eff off and leave my friend alone.

    Ely, you're amazing. Ignore this loser, who as many others have stated in other posts, is clearly a closeted gay who isn't getting any.

    Love,

    a fan and real friend

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am sure Ely appreciates all those who have written in response to the bully. However, I urge everybody to limit the scope of their comments to Ely's blog post itself, instead of replying to this person. That is why Ely writes the blog and that is what the feedback should be about. The more we address this person, the more encouragement he receives to re-comment.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I agree with Emily.

    @A friend:

    1) If you don't struggle with homosexuality, the BEST you could achieve is empathy for what Ely and others like him have to struggle with, and recognize that he/they did not consciously CHOOSE to be this way. That they struggle at all instead of giving up is one of the most admirable things any human being can do, and to draw meaning from that struggle is beyond what most people do.

    2) It is neither your right nor your place to determine HOW Ely or anyone else struggles with their life challenges. To presume you may do so is arrogant and self-absorbed. At best, you may ask quietly or make a suggestion... and knowing Ely, he's probably thought through more of your "suggestions" than you can come up with.

    3) Ask ANY ethical mental health professional and they will tell you that it is WRONG to tell a client or patient how to fix their problems. The MOST they do is use an empirically proven treatment or orientation to guide their interactions with the client and provide suggestions or tools. Given that research has shown aversion therapies to (at least potentially, if not seriously and severely) cause distress and damage in treating homosexuality (as if it were some kind of disorder) I'd easily dismiss that comment offhand.

    4) Using words Ely may or may not have said some time ago to prove some point that YOU would like to make... both violates his trust (in that friend and whomever happened to report that to you) and does not reflect your genuine desire to support Ely. Most of our emotions, especially when we talk about them, reflect a moment or experience. Ely may well have been sad at some point after he came out because of certain responses people had (if the broken trust reflected in your comments from his "close friend" and your own words are any indication, it makes complete sense to me).

    5) Regarding your allegation that Ely said he doesn't try to control his desires... clearly a man who attempts to maintain halacha, remain in the Orthodox Community and struggles outwardly with his homosexuality is making an attempt. If you refuse to acknowledge that, you don't recognize how difficult it can be for a homosexual man to maintain an Orthodox outlook. Perhaps we should not expect as much from you, since you likely have not truly considered what it may be like to walk in his shoes, if only for a moment. And if you'd really like to find out, perhaps you should ask Ely, or someone else with that same struggle, and genuinely listen before trying to "fix" it or tell them what you think they should do.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dear 'A friend'..
    Like many others have mentioned, humiliating someone in this systematic way is not only bullying, but it is also going against a mitzvah that specifically states that one should not humiliate or cause unnecessary shame towards another. We learn this concept in many different ways- both small and large.
    The truth is that this has nothing to do with what Ely said or didn't say- or even to whom he said it to...it seems that your ploy is just to shame him enough to possibly stop him from writing. In the end with out a powerful and rational voice like Elys, many of those who receive hope, will hide because they will fear people like you. Which is probably exactly what you want- for those to stop challenging the way that orthodoxy views homosexuals and your own opinion. The bottom line is that you are afraid of people like Ely!
    shameful coward...

    ReplyDelete
  25. There has been some good stuff said here for and against.
    But lets face it there are two prohibitions here.
    One sex with a man like you would have with a woman which as Ely pointed out is anal sex and yes as Ely said lets not presume that all homosexuals are having anal sex, there are other entertaining sexual behaviors.
    But then that will invoke two to happen 99% of the time and that’s wasting seed.
    I mean if you going to have oral sex its bound to happen.
    And yes heterosexuals do it as well, waste seed that is.
    Even those who take the pill are in reality causing seed to be wasted even if the mans penis is entering the vagina there will be very little risk that the seed will produce.
    So what are we saying, a homosexual should have no fun just kiss and don’t do any thing else.
    Bottom line, no pun intended, but a good one, I say leave it to G-d and when the time come get punished by him and let the rabbi’s let us live the life we want to live.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I agree with anonymous 5:58, we only give credence to this bully by responding to his heinous attacks. At the end of the day, Ely will go on blogging, his friends and supporters will continue to gain strength from him, and "a friend" will have accomplished nothing but reminding us that there are disgusting people among us.

    Ely, you need not answer to this individual. You have tried to address him/her in a responsible and mature way. You have done your part. Now I think it's time we all put this bully to rest and completely ignore him.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "A friend" posts one comment, and it sets into motion a storm of angry comments. As Enovick said, his ridiculous arguments have been thoroughly rebuked. If and when he posts another comment, let's not pay any attention to it.

    ReplyDelete
  28. @"a friend",
    Does the word "rechilut" mean anything to you? Maybe "motzi shem ra"? "Lashon hara" perhaps? Passing on information that isn't true? If you're so concerned about other people transgressing, first take a look at what you write - the tongue/keyboard can do maaany more types of sins than the genitals (shocking!).

    -Yacov

    ReplyDelete
  29. "a friend" has only asked an appropriate question. Eli should answer his question. if one point can be openly made, why cant a question be asked. Eli was so eager to discuss the personal life issue of marriage and kids in a post a month or so ago. Why cant he answer this question. it is an open blog, with an open floor to questions. its online, its not blocked. its open. so no, a question does not need to be approached in the private. You shouldnt criticize and shun out one for asking questions. rather this should be what eli's blog is about. answering tough and controversial questions. NOT shying away from a difficult and controversial post. Your Frum and Gay. that in itself is unbelievable, even if it only last for a few months. its something i can never understand. but it comes down to whether you answer the question, and please dont be a coward. I happen to agree that what Eli or whomever else does is there own personal business, but if Eli cant answer a question bc its controversial or difficult, im sorry but he isnt a good source of inspiration, rather a coward. please eli, dont come off as a coward. you are very intelligent, and this blog is rather successful. i hope this post isnt deleted. im sure i will be called all sorts of names and such. but i feel this must be said.

    ReplyDelete
  30. @anonymous 9:20,
    The question was difficult and controversial, AND completely inappropriate. What makes you think that, because someone shares some personal things, you have a right to know whatever you want. It seems that your intentions are to discredit Ely.

    - Yacov

    ReplyDelete
  31. The person with real information has finally decided to speak up and I am tired of being quiet. Everything that "a friend" has said is true as he has received the information from me. If anyone would like to contact me my email is lshemshamayim613@gmail.com.
    Ely is not happy nor is he a martyr, however the innocent people that he has impacted are the martyrs.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi, I don't know who you are or why you insist on spreading such slander, but I would appreciate stopping it, or at least discussing it with me privately. I assume you know how to contact me. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks for the support, everyone, but addressing such hatred will only entice the bully further. Please try and let it go. Or email him directly.

    ReplyDelete
  34. What started out as a question, a badly-phrased and most likely not-so-nicely motivated question, has become a purposeless attack. I do not know why these people believe that they have been silenced (exaggerate much?) or why they see themselves as victims, but what I am witnessing is extreme selfishness and lack of integrity.

    I am not saying that those who disagree with Ely's views need to be disliked, but there is a difference between having an exchange of opinions and exchanging targeted comments meant to incite and inflame.

    Ely, don't give these individuals the power to hurt you. They hide behind anonymous screen names and super religious email addresses, and you -- COURAGEOUSLY -- write a blog that details your struggles and thoughts--a stark difference that is appreciated and recognized.

    ReplyDelete
  35. im sorry, and please dont take this as disrespect. but i have difficulties in understanding how one can say that they want to live as a "frum" orthodox jew whilst also saying they want to live a life as a married homosexual with children? i am not attacking, i just wonder how these two things go one in one... I know that no one is perfect, we are all farrrrr from it! but i just wonder how one can openly choose that lifestyle and still call themselves "frum"

    as for the comment regarding heterosexual relationship in regards to halacha, you are probably right, a lot of people are not keeping niddah laws correctly. but at same time, if one did write a blog about there choices of not keeping niddah (halachick niddah, not shomer negiah), believe me, they would also get a backlash of harsh comments.

    the comments made to eli are not fair. 100%
    but it is a public forum and difficult questions should not be shied away from.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I don't understand who gets to decide what "frum" means. I KNOW people that are openly not shomer shabbat, but who are accepted in the Jewish community, who have children whom they are trying to raise to be Orthodox and send to Jewish day schools and try to inculcate with all the Jewish values that they struggle with. Who has made the decision that certain "averot" are tolerated and others are not. Ely's, and everyone else's, decisions are his own to make. Do those decisions bar him from our community? From one day having a family and raising Orthodox Jewish children? Who gets to make these calls?

    And just for the record, a quick google search will reveal a number of Jewish bloggers who detail their personal struggles with their observance. But I have yet to find any with such pointed, harsh, and disturbingly aggressive comments.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This blog would be so much better if Ely would just try to answer the not so easy questions, and if people would not freak out when Ely is asked them. Yes, Ely has the right to stay quite and just let the drama ensue on its own. But imagine the impact it would make if people could stop being so defensive, and thought honestly about some of the questions that others ask. And imagine how much stronger Ely would look if he answered questions from people who may not agree with his lifestyle.

    I strongly believe it's better to have answers to those who disagree with me than to get all emotionally riled up that there are such questions.

    ReplyDelete
  38. There is a severe difference between asking tough questions (I enjoy the back and forth dialogue, it's why I like posting) and aggressively pushing someone to publicly state whether he is having anal sex. I'm sorry but anyone who doesn't see that as highly inappropriate, and frankly completely irrelevant to what I think this blog is all about (self-discovery, search for acceptance and open-mindedness, etc.) is fooling themselves.

    The ironic thing of course, is that the second Ely, or anyone else, begins speaking about what goes on in the bedroom, he will begin to hear backlash about how inappropriate it is, and how homosexuality should not be talked about in such an explicit manner (anyone who doesn't believe this need look no further than some of the comments made following YU's Gay Panel that stated just that in response to some of the more intimate details that were shared).

    ReplyDelete
  39. first of all, that is not a running dialogue, two seperate people wrote each of the previous anonymous post. on the other hand... I dont believe I am asking Eli to give explicit details, i am merely asking how running a family as a homosexual couple can be said to be orthodox. thats all i ask bc yes it is different than shomer shabbos... shomer shabbos is something one can change over time. homosexuality especially once entered into a union of marriage, really cant be changed. it is what it is... so i apologize if i offend u enovick, but honestly, i was hoping ELI would answer that question not u considering that is a lifestyle he hopes to pursue. I never once said he shouldnt be accepted, i just asked how can one put the two together... this is not a rant or a bashing, this is an honest question. a question directed towards the hopeful answer of ELI and no one else, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  40. And I didn't mean to imply it was a running dialogue between just you and I. That's what so great about this internet business. Lots of participants weighing in on this dialogue. No offense here.

    I know you are looking for Ely's answer but i find these conversation interesting (and again, I think the point of this ability to comment is not just to have a dialogue with Ely, but with this whole community of readers). Ely can choose to answer but I will just say for the final time, I still don't see the difference. It's the constancy of his choice that runs in opposition of being "Orthodox?" The
    "lifestyle?" I don't see how you can see choosing to be shomer shabbat or not as anything but a lifestyle choice. I just don't understand why the performance of some averot, however constant and internalized they are, forbids one from trying to live an orthodox life in other respects. And I'm not sure what it means when we say "running a family as a homosexual couple." Would they "run" it differently then heterosexual couples, encourage their children to sin, or to go down the same route the parents have? I know when I was younger I, as I'm sure many of us did, thought my parents were infallible. But there comes a time when we realize that is untrue. And in truth, it gives them more credence as parents to guide us, having had their own struggles and their own mistakes. But those mistakes, whether it is a ongoing, inseparable lifestyle choice or a one time slip up, don't take away from our ability to parent.

    There is no question Ely will face further challenges of acceptance if he chooses to start a family as a homosexual couple. My question and concern is where will it stop? If he does decide to father a child, will that child be accepted in the community or will he/she be writing his/her own blog in a couple of decades? We have to start realizing that we can accept without condoning. Also, questioning should always be allowed from all sides and it's why this blog is so great. And it's nice to see some respectful questioning after some time of angry comments.

    ReplyDelete
  41. i am merely asking how running a family as a homosexual couple can be said to be orthodox

    Ok, so this is a socio-semantics question. If people around Ely who call themselves frum/orthodox keep excluding him (i.e. not allowing him to call himself Orthodox) then maybe he'll end up having to call himself something else. For example, "a person who tries his best to live a life shaped by Torah and mitzvot". What's in a name. On the other hand, if people don't exclude him, he'll call himself a frum gay Jew which is what he seems to want to go by. The particular details that you're asking for are totally irrelevant to this point.

    -Yacov

    ReplyDelete
  42. I don't think it's crazy to ask Ely whether he is living happily today, especially if one has heard otherwise from Ely himself. Ely is discussing his life on this blog, we want to all see him happy, and gay Jews like him will want to know the answer to that question.

    I don't think it's crazy to hold Ely accountable in being honest. We all want to know the truth. We all should seek the truth. It is ok to make sure that Ely is being honest in his dialogue with us.

    I don't think it's crazy to ask Ely whether he has met any individuals in JONAH or who have tried to change. If he has, and feels they were successful, it's ok for him to be asked about those cases. And their existence does not in any way mean Ely is doing the wrong thing.

    I don't think that every one here who has asked the hard questions has asked whether Ely has anal sex. Enovick, I am simply not sure why you have connected the two, or at least would disregard the hard questions because someone out there asked the hard questions while at the same time asked whether he has anal sex.

    This blog is really becoming too dramatic. People avoiding the tough questions, getting defensive when they are asked, and people avoiding trying to find the truth to some important matters. Shame.

    ReplyDelete
  43. @Anonymous 4:51

    I do believe it is fine to ASK APPROPRIATELY, with respectful curiosity.

    However, there are two things that should be noted. Firstly, that Ely ALWAYS reserves the right NOT to answer a question; it is his private life and thoughts and nobody is ENTITLED to them whatsoever, regardless of how much they want to know. Secondly, that in asking appropriately and respectfully there are no implications or accusations. It's important to come from a place of support (eg. showing pride and admiration that he cares about and works towards living a frum Jewish life as we all do).

    Most of the issues I've seen above seem to stem from the WAY questions and issues are brought up instead of the actual CONTENT of those questions.

    It's one thing to ask if Ely is happy that he's come out but it's quite another to publicly state he is sad (based on hearsay from a friend of a friend). It's also disrespectful to air out a private conversation in public.

    It's one thing to wonder how fully and honestly Ely speaks when he chooses to disclose certain aspects of his life and private thoughts (which we also have no right to demand, but may respectfully ask and he may choose to graciously grant a reply), but it's quite another to demand full disclosure. It implies he is being dishonest (or at least that those demanding it do not trust his honesty).

    It's one thing to ask if Ely has had experience with JONAH or come into contact with those who have (and what his experience of them has been). But it's quite another to accuse him of being brainwashed by the gay community.

    People become defensive when they see themselves as being attacked. There is a way to ask questions that doesn't put the person on defensive as though they are being judged for socio-religious execution and excommunication. Whether or not that is the intent, clearly that's how it is coming across, as evidenced by the multitude of responses (and Ely has repeatedly mentioned that he WELCOMES the questions, though not publicly in such an abrasive and bullying fashion).

    It's one thing to bully in the name of truth, and another to respectfully and curiously ask - the difference is in approaching Ely as a supporter and equal, NOT tearing down the image of his religiosity because of his homosexuality (especially given that we do not choose or control our sexual preferences).

    ReplyDelete
  44. Yishai

    I'm the anonymous that you responded to and I completely agree with everything you said.

    I just still feel like when people ask the way you outlined, people are quick to overreact in general, and call it hateful bashing, instead of take a step back and realize it is simple truth seeking.

    Thanks for the very clear and thoughtful post.

    ReplyDelete
  45. @Anonymous 10:45

    Thanks for your comments, and I understand what you mean - the issues can be quite touchy. As far as truth seeking, I think we must seek that in ourselves as well. I'll give an example here.

    One of the questions raised above is how a homosexual man can call themselves orthodox if they (very likely) will not have a relationship that gives them a Halachically mandated outlet for sexuality. I recognize that those who asked often put it in terms of themselves ("I don't understand") instead of just pointing the finger. Still, it has the strong implication that any homosexual man cannot maintain Halachah and so cannot be considered orthodox.

    However, the implicit assumption there (though one person mentioned it and then tossed it out) is that heterosexual orthodox men do not struggle tremendously with sexuality. Instead of coming from a place of "I struggle with sexuality, and most likely will continue to struggle with that even in my marriage, so I wonder how your struggle will be" it comes from a place of "I will be having kosher sex and have as much of an outlet as I need (or at least some outlet and that will be enough), so it's not a problem for me (despite what I do now). But YOU can't do/say that, so clearly you will fail and cannot call yourself orthodox."

    I see that assumption/presumption as ludicrous. Men (and women too) struggle (to varying degrees I'm sure) with sexuality REGARDLESS of sexual orientation. The ENTIRE idea of the Blog/OP is that things are not so black and white; and yet some comments reflect that very thinking. Perhaps we should also examine ourselves as we seek truth.

    If being frum/orthodox is dependent on never violating a prohibition - pretty much everyone is doing SOMETHING wrong, or has in the past, or will in the future. Many of us do the same thing repeatedly, struggling with our own demons. But whereas in other areas, that seems "normal" in that it is part of life's struggles, there seems to be tremendous resistance in accepting sexuality -and in particular homosexuality -as an individual's life struggles in being frum.

    On the other hand, if it's about "potential" to do right, then every moment a homosexual man is NOT acting on the impulse to engage in violating Halachah/Torah prohibitions, they are absolutely fulfilling that potential to do right. It is comparable to how a heterosexual frum Jew would be when they have tremendous desire and opportunity to violate prohibitions regarding sex and refrain.

    The way I figure, and I'm definitely open to being wrong, but the idea of dedication to Torah and Mitzvot (and Halachah) overrides our individual violations of Halachah; that's what makes a person frum - the dedication, not the individual infraction(s). Which is (relating to the OP) why "private bedroom behaviors" are completely irrelevant (as well as nobody's business).

    I have noticed, however, that some may have more resistance applying the above thought process to sexuality, and perhaps in particular with homosexuality. Given the gravity that Chazal place in their prohibitions regarding sexual behavior, I'm not surprised to see that attitude.

    To clarify, I am NOT saying violating Halachah in any context is okay, but recognition (perhaps we can call it acceptance) that we all struggle and as human beings fail from time to time allows us to move forward (instead of losing hope and/or giving up) and therefore continue dedicating ourselves to the Torah, Mitzvot and Halachah.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Yishai,

    I'm the same anonymous poster from above that you have been replying to. I like the way you think, and really do agree with most of your opinion on this. I do believe that being Orthodox should not be defined by how many halacha's a person is breaking, but how motivated such a person is in keeping the halacha's. True, every time a person is fighting an impulse to go against halacha, he/she is being a good Orthodox Jew.

    At the same time, it was I who did also ask the question to Ely regarding what can he really do to maintain observance in Halacha while getting his sexual needs met. I think every human needs to fulfill their sexual needs, and I honestly want to know what form of this can Ely practice that will not force him to break any Halacha. In that question, I am not implying at all, in any shape or form, that Ely must therefore not be Orthodox because he does not have an answer to that question. If Ely is trying to be Orthodox though in the definition that "Orthodoxy" is doing ones best to live according to Halachic Jewish law, I sure as bet hope he does have some sort of answer, and will one day be willing to share it with others in order to help other Orthodox Jews in his situation.

    But let's say there is no answer. Let's say that as of now, the only thing an Orthodox gay Jew can do to get his sexual needs met is go directly against halacha. If so, then I believe under Halachic law, saying that as a gay person, my lifestyle should be accepted, by the Orthodox community and they should completely accept me and all my gay Jewish friends, is something not possible for the Orthodox community to do. Because, outwardly saying "I am gay" without providing a basic framework for ok, fine, you have attractions to the same sex, but how under Halachic law are you going to be human and get your sexual needs met, is basically the same thing as saying I have an impulse to do something against a halacha, and there is nothing I can do to not go against that halacha.

    On the other hand, when the Orthodox community is confronted by heterosexual's who have strong impulsions to have sex with many women, or do other sexual sins, they do have answers to the Orthodox community when they are asked, ok fine, you have this impulse, but how under Halachic law are you going to be human and get your sexual needs met.

    Yes, we all struggle as human beings, and we all fail. It's part of life. Chazal teach that a righteous person must fall down seven times to get back up once. It's part of human nature and how it is supposed to be. But intrinsically part of that is finding ways to recover. We fall, yes, but how do we get back up? Is there a solution, a way to prevent ourselves from breaking the halacha again? Right now, I don't know what that solution is for homosexual individuals who are acting out on their impulses.

    So basically, what I am trying to point out is that until Ely and other Orthodox gay Jews can explain how their behaviors can meet Halachic standards while still allowing them to be human and get their sexual needs met, never will their homosexual lifestyle be accepted in the Orthodox world. HOWEVER, that does not mean in any way, that Ely as an individual, composed of so many other traits and facets, should be rejected from the Orthodox community. Because again, we reject the sin, not the sinner.

    ReplyDelete
  47. @ Anonymous 3:11pm

    I appreciate your responses and your candor. I do, however, find the same fault with your question that I outlined above.

    Laws don't exist for things embedded in our natures. There is no law that states we must eat; there are special times to make a feast and certain situations that talk about what may be eaten (ex. non-kosher during wartime or when deathly-starving with access to no kosher food), etc. There is no Halachah that states we must breathe, because those things we are built to do.

    Laws guide us, and help us channel ourselves, create opportunity for growth and connection to Hashem. If I was built to do everything The Almighty wanted, then I'd be an angel without free choice. If there's no (natural) desire to do something other than what halachah mandates, then there's no free choice, and no reason to have the halachah in the first place. Yes, there are laws that tell us to appreciate and bring The Almighty into the way we eat, thanking him for life (breathing) in the morning, but no law says we must eat/breathe, only that we should use our natures (and perhaps curb them) in showing appreciation (or service) to The Almighty, connecting to him and growing.

    Just because we struggle with different desires and different challenges, that does not make us any less frum, religious, observant, orthodox... whatever you want to call it.

    I object to the FRAME. The assumptions underlying the question. I find them faulty. Also, in a way, arrogant.

    I guess that I presume we will -as human beings -slip up with regard to halachah, which doesn't mean it's allowed, only that I observe and accept it happens (post-facto). There is no Jew exempt from Yom Kippur, who has nothing to do Teshuvah for. Because I realize that, I understand very well that in the struggle to remain frum a homosexual Jew may slip-up, the same way I may slip-up myself in halachot regarding sexuality. I acknowledge the struggle will very likely become more intense and difficult as I age, especially if I have no outlet -in my case, marriage, and even then I will struggle tremendously when the woman I'm married to is considered a niddah. Thus, I recognize it may be more difficult for a homosexual Jew, but the difficulty does not make them less Orthodox or less part of the community as far as I'm concerned.

    I don't make the giant distinction between being homosexual and heterosexual regarding struggles and slip-ups that creates such a chasm and allows people to somehow say that homosexuals can't live a frum life. I understand when you say the homosexual LIFESTYLE will not be accepted, particularly because that lifestyle includes sinning. However, all lifestyles (and life itself) includes the inevitability of sinning. I just don't make such a huge distinction, because I recognize my flaws, my weaknesses and the temptations I have, especially the habitual or deeply ingrained ones. I just don't see the difference and I believe the perspective comes from a place of humility in my own flaws and humanity.

    My measuring stick is simply DEDICATION to Halachah. For someone who is dedicated it matters not how they are challenged, and I know that they (like me) may slip-up. For someone who is not dedicated, regardless of what their challenge is, chances are they do not keep the Halachah and have little motivation to work on themselves and do better.

    ReplyDelete
  48. First nobody should be exposed to infection. How widespread is the strategy?... of "BEFORE we have sex let's get tested TOGETHER for A VARIETY of STDs." Do sexual health checkups reduce the ambiguity?... Can sexual health checkups be like anything else POTENTIAL sex partners do together?... If you needed surgery would you want the surgeon to wash before operating?... If you needed a blood transfusion would you want the blood tested before or after the transfusion?... see also
    http://notb4weknow.blogspot.com
    http://continuedat.blogspot.com

    "tested together" alerts
    http://alerts.google.com
    http://www.google.com/search?q=%22tested+together%22

    ReplyDelete

It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews