Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gay Marriage, pt. II OR "Normal"

Last week, I discussed the institution of gay marriage from a legal/political/religious standpoint. This is gay marriage, but with a very different definition. Recently, there has been discussion over a controversial article from Ha’Aretz Israeli newspaper, about a Rabbi who sets up gay men with lesbian women, to get married and raise a family in the Orthodox community, as a means of keeping up their religion and finding happiness. (Article HERE) So far, 10 of the 12 couples have stayed together. They keep up appearances, sleeping in the same room but not sleeping together, and they procreate through artificial insemination.

Now when I first came out, this was something recommended to me by many people. Why can’t I just marry a lesbian? I felt this was not the means to a truly happy life- and I would feel too depressed and unfulfilled and I was not willing to “keep up an appearance” for the rest of my life. How can anyone be happy in such a position? But these couples say they are.

I think the place where the individuals in this article differ from my path, is their use of the word “normal”- 4 times in direct quotes from these couples, and once from the author of the article. I have chosen, yes chosen, to change the definition of “normal”. To look outside what I grew up to believe in, and instead create my own normal, create a world, even within Orthodoxy, where a gay couple can be normal, and not accused or assumed to be violating Torah law. Instead of forcing myself to go with Orthodox communal definition of “normal”, I thought outside the box, thought to change “normal”, to step outside the bounds of what had been accepted by everyone else.

Orthodox Judaism has never been a static movement, and there has never been one definition of “normal”. There has been change, progress, growth and development every year, in every community- conversations and issues that change the definition of “normal”. Forget about damaging human emotions, lying to your own children, and all the psychological ramifications, I simply ask, why does homosexuality have to be pushed under the rug, pretending it doesn’t exist, just for the sake of a “normal” that is always changing?

39 comments:

  1. Good post. The Orthodox community has a very defined view of what "normal" is and it usually refers to living in a borough outside of Manhattan and everything being perfect. The ortho-comm is a great community to be in when everything is perfect, but as soon as something goes amiss it makes it really difficult (gay or otherwise). The problem with waht the rabbis are doing in the above article is that it gives the answer to our "gay problem". First there ws Jonah as a "cure" and now theres a miracle shadchan who is thinking he came up with this amazing solution to our problem. It might be a good idea for some, but its not the answer for everyone in this situation.

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  2. Major supporter of your blog.

    Couldn't help but disagree with you when you state that this is a step back.

    I think this is a grey area which can be seen as an option for people who, unlike you, are unwilling to give up a traditional orthodox lifestyle (traditional in the sense of belonging and acceptance to the kehila at large . This is in opposition to the more modern trend of many people, like yourself and like myself, who believe that gay people can continue to live in an orthodox setting with another man and raise a family).

    This is a viable option to live openly or closeted (the choice stays with the individual) but still be a member of the Orthodox community.

    I do not think you should write this off as moving backwards. There are many people who can and will benefit from this system.

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  3. Great post.

    I thought you might find this blogger's post interesting. It seems to best the best way of formulating the logic behind the lavender marriages describes in the Haaretz article. You might want to share your thoughts with the blogger.

    http://jewpsy.blogspot.com/2011/03/new-proposal-gay-marriage-orthodox.html

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  4. Ely,

    I've been reading your blog for a while now and have found it very enlightening and thought-provoking.

    However, your perspective reminds me of the saying 'people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'. You call on the Orthodox community to extend more tolerance and pluralism towards homosexuals; perhaps you should as well.

    Live and let live.

    Just because you get emails from married men asking to have sex with you doesn't mean that the couples in the article can't work. You mentioned in your previous blog post that for the married men who contact you, you recommend that they speak to their spouses about it and be open. That would imply that the marriages happened on the premise that the man was heterosexual.

    The couples discussed in the article apparently are aware of the sexuality piece from Day 1 and are willing to make it work for themselves. I personally can't imagine living with someone I'm not attracted to, but I have respect for the lengths people will go to create a traditional Jewish home.

    "Traditional Jewish home"-- yes, perhaps you will attack me for using that term as being synonymous with man and woman, but guess what kid- as long as the Old Testament has Adam and Eve as the original cast, heterosexual marriage is tradition. The world may be changing and accepting new norms, but certain things will always stick as 'tradition', regardless of whether Rabbis change/questions/tweak the halacha.

    Also, stop talking as though you've figured it all out and already lived a successful life as a frum gay married man. You don't know everything. You don't even know the obstacles ahead of you for you and your future family. Maybe once you're there you'll better understand why these couples have decided to be married, even with as complicated as their marriages may be.

    If you're gonna preach tolerance, practice it.

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  5. Wow Ely, you are super quick at deleting any comments that may challenge your perspective.

    So much for your 'open' discussions....

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  6. I have not deleted anything. Blogger automatically censors some things. Please do not attack me for that. I will put the comments through ASAP.

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  7. Anon 10:56, presumably also anon 11:10-
    If you have indeed been reading my blog for a long time, you would know I never claim to have all the answers, I give my opinion and explain what I think may be best. No one is forced to listen to me or agree with me.

    I never said the couples in the article wouldn't work, never. I never said this was not a solution for some or many people. I didn't say any of that. I simply explained why I do not agree with it, and why I feel it is not the best path for me. I questioned how these people feel the need to fit into the box of "normal", when normal is always changing in Orthodoxy. I respect everyone and their ways, including the couples in the article- to whom I wish much luck.

    An don't tell me I have no right to speak because I don't have it all figured out- of course I don't. No one in this world does, and I never claimed to.

    Thanks.

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  8. Yes, normal is subjective and can change (and maybe should change in certain situations). At the same time, Orthodoxy when defined by the adherence to Jewish halachic law, is something that can not change. An Orthodox Jew is someone who should do his/her best to follow halacha, and those halachic laws do not change. They are essentially the blueprint of Judaism.

    This is why I think it is important for you to one day tell us how being in homosexual relationship will fit the guidelines of following halacha to the best of your ability. I understand that not all homosexuals must be having anal sex and committing that prohibition. But as humans, we all have sexual needs, and need sexual outlets. These needs are non-negotiable. And until you provide an explanation as to how homosexuals find ways to meet this need without doing the many other halachic prohibitions related to sex-particularly wasting seed, I just don't understand how you can expect "Orthodoxy" as defined above to accomodate homosexual relationships.

    Unless, of course, you are proposing that even basic halacha, along with decrees that have been passed down for thousands of years, should be changed. If that is the case, well then, I'd start to question a much larger expanse of your views of Orthodoxy and Judaism as a whole...

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Hi. As a heterosexual, I certainly am not someone who can declare a particular option for gay frum man and women the "right" one. However, I do know (as do you) that sexual preference is just one aspect of a person's multi-facetted personality. Therefore, each homosexual person, despite their shared sexual identity, has his or her own unique way of relating to both the spiritual/halachic and the social/communal aspects of Judaism.

    I would venture to say that many people who share your outlook of "making your own normal" would place a high value on individualism even if you were hetero. For others, though, especially in Haredi communities, fitting is tremendously important and is integrally connected to their religiosity, their social functioning, and even their senses of self. (This might be extreme, not by much, but obviously there are gradations.

    For people from those communities, coming to terms with their sexual identity is a complex endeavor, because of their own internalized homophobia, and because of the quandary that it presents for them. There are studies that show that more a community is externally-focused in their religiosity—tied in with how others behave and how things appear, instead of seeing religion as a personal, internally-focused process—the more likely they are to reject people who are different then they are. They often frame it in religious terms, as in the case of homosexuality, but that same exclusion would occur toward other races, etc.

    So basically, a homosexual person in those communities really does not have the option to "step outside the bounds of what had been accepted by everyone else" and still be accepted by anyone else. They have to choose between keeping secret and holding on to friends, family and community, or come out and give it all up. For some people those aspects of their lives and identities are simply too dear to abandon.

    You can fault the communities on many levels, but for the person in that bind, he or she never asked for this. For those people, an option like the one in Haaretz, while FAR from perfect, might be the best of the worst.

    I wrote a post on some of the advantages that I see in this "cross-marriage" plan: http://tinyurl.com/crossmarriage On the broad level, I think one of the biggest things is that it is a start even if the only thing that changes is the inertia. I would love to hear your take on it. I think I could learn a lot.

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  11. Ok, as a religious Jew, I am against gay marriages from a religious perspective, but as an American, I am open to civil unions. I personally do not care with whom you sleep with and I believe neither should the government. That being said, how would you justify gay marriages in the Torah where it clearly states "it is an abomination" and the penalty is stoning to death?

    True, the term "normal" changes with each generation, but certain laws are static through time. If you feel this law should change, there are other branches of Judaism that you can explore that hold your opinion. I do not think you can expect orthodoxy to change and nor should they.

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  12. Anon 12:28, please see my last post which addresses gay marriage on a religious level.

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  13. I understand what PsyJew says, the problem is very complicated. In some ways this may be a step in the right direction, in that it recognizes that there are frum gays and tries to find a solution that is kind of creative from the point of view of halacha. This sounds to me like a bit of a social experiment, and the following question comes to mind: is it better to experiment with children, or adults?

    Marrying gays to lesbians makes everything look normal and acceptable for the community. And if it works for the individuals, good for them. I'd point out that if there have been 12 such marriages in the past 5 years and 2 of them are already divorced, it isn't such a good record. Perhaps the desire to fit in is strong, but not strong enough to keep a family together. And what about the children? Can children be happy, grow normally, and not notice anything odd, when their parents don't love each other and are together for the sake of appearances? IMHO this type of experiment is very easy on the community, at the expense of being very hard on children.

    Gay people living together and adopting children, on the other hand, may be difficult on the community. But perhaps rabbis could rise up to that challenge and try to be welcoming -- as Ely said, "redefine normality". Perhaps they could even think of halachic innovations (BTW marriage with no sex and only artificial insemination IS rather problematic halachicly). I think I'd much rather be the son of two gay people who love each other, than grow up with parents whose hearts are somewhere else. But that social experiment places the burden on the community of grown ups, and Orthodox rabbis are less willing to take that path.

    - Yacov

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  14. I would have to say this does seem like a step in the wrong direction.
    The love in a Jewish marriage is suppose to be like the love for Hashem, but these types of marriages are nothing more than "business arrangements". No attractions, no passion, no deep connection. I disagree with anyone who says these are real marriages.
    However, there are a few reasons why these marriages are a step back. One, even though the article says these marriages are not for all gays, people will view it as a viable solution the this issue of gays and othodoxy. When in fact how is this so different that what we have seen in the past. We already know that marriages in the past of homosexual people married to straight people (mostly to have a normal family with kids) does not work. The theme of the failed marriages is that there is no real love beyond a friend or family type love, and thats not enough to sustain a marriage even when there are children involved.
    These marriages only prove how bad the stigma is for homosexuals in the orthodox community. The lengths people will go through just to be deemed normal. What the poeple in this article said is they could not have a family and be openly gay, they had to choose between who they are or having what they want. These marriages solve no issue, like previous commentors write, this is a bad experiment that involves kids
    PS... lets be honest here, I would be very surprised if people in these marriages were not having gay sex. Basically this business relationship gives these two people the opportunity to say to each other, your gay I am gay Will have an "orthodox" family,and everyone will think were "normal" but we can each go out and take care of our needs...The article does says its up to the people how they run their marriage....

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  15. Interesting that no one poses the idea that for these types of people, maybe they should look into trying to change and learn to love their opposite gender. After all, there are many effective places and organizations for Jews to go that offer resources for this that do produce SOME success (albeit not in everyone).

    But of course, we all just throw out any such idea because with out a doubt that is just plain ridiculous in this so very politically correct world!

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  16. Ely,
    "Orthodox Judaism has never been a static movement, and there has never been one definition of “normal”. There has been change, progress, growth and development every year, in every community- conversations and issues that change the definition of “normal”."

    This satement is indeed true.

    However, each community and individual can only stretch this definition of 'normal' as long as it stays within the guidelines set forth in the Torah. Once this line is crossed the term "Orthodox Judaism" can't be used to anymore...

    Just something to keep in mind.

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  17. McGreevey, as always, I have never and will never advocate leaving the guidelines of the Torah.

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  18. To the guy who commented March 17 3:33 pm if you have been paying attention to this discussion at all you would realize that most homosexuals in this situation (are gay but want to be orthodox) have looked into trying to change. It doesnt work because this is how these individuals are wired and just like I believe no one could change me or you into being attracted to our own gender no amount of therapy or whatever could make someone who is actually gay straight. So before the next time you comment maybe you should do some research, maybe read up on what your actually commenting on
    For what Gov McGreevey said what really are the [important] guidelines of the torah . What really is orthodox Judaism. I have been to some wealthy "orthodox" communities in NY where I have seen blatant violations of shabbas , snious etc. We all know what going on in these communities yet we would never say these people are not orthodox. If they came to our communities we would give them ALiyahs and other honors
    In addition I see single "orthodox" people not being shomer, in fact everyone has heard of a Teflin dates and how they are rampant on the upper west side. Go to a club sat night in the city and you will see kippas. So for those of you who are attacking gay individuals who just want to be religious yet also have a loving family,lets be honest there a double standard here. We have made homosexuality a focus so much so that its almost like if we accept these people Judaism is over. I think people are so against any type of compromise on the homosexual issue as a defense against what else is going on. So let be real the act of homosexually is what the torah forbids (not the homosexuals)just like it forbids premarital sex, not dressing snious, breaking shabbas, kosher, etc. Its time for the orthodox communities who accept and condone the later of this list to accept homosexuals....You cant have it both ways
    --B.

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  19. I've been reluctant to raise this in a public forum for risk of sounding judgmental or being offensive. But this seems like a forum where I can get some honest guidance as a frum psychologist interested in learning enough to push forward change in a way that is true to those it involves.

    Some people talk about being homosexual without acting on it sexually. Does that actually happen in a long-term, loving, same-sex relationship (i.e., marriage, unions, etc.). My assumption with heterosexual couples is that, no matter what they say or hope to be regarding negiah, etc., in most situations, the drive gets too strong. So is "living together as a committed couple" the same as saying that the partners are sleeping together? Or is this not an issue. Meaning, those same-sex couples who choose to take that step, to live together as a couple, have made the conscious decision that what best fits who they are is to have a "full" relationship in the same sense as the average hetero couple has.

    Feel free to contact be via my profile (linked at the "PsyJew" at the top) about this or just to help me get context/put me in my place.

    Thanks.

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  20. We must not use any form of beliefs in judaism, rather i think we should move towards a religion of just facts! back in the day, they had to convince the people it was a sin, when merely it was just unhealthy, now we have protection. People must be open minded and recognize that we should our intellect in order to understand what applies now and what applied only then. we no longer must follow that which is said in the talmud, for we are much more scientifically advanced than the rabbis of that previous period. the morals of today have evolved, and homosexuality is no longer "queer". we must embrace science and use only facts to direct our life on the correct path.

    Friedländer

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  21. @3/17, 3:33,
    "we all just throw out any such idea because with out a doubt that is just plain ridiculous in this so very politically correct world!"

    I hope you realize that your bottom line isn't an argument, it's just a reactionary's way of brushing aside scientifical consensus without even addressing it. You could say that Obama is a Muslim, Stalin is still alive, or the Earth is flat, "but, we all know, how's anyone going to say it as it is, in such a PC world". There IS a consensus among doctors, therapists etc. that 1) homosexuality isn't a psychological disease, and 2) "reparative therapy" is dangerous and almost never successful. No matter how hard you wish otherwise, that's the way it is; no use in repeating the opposite and blaming the gay lobby, or "political correctness".

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  22. ^
    |
    |
    Well you're welcome to prescribe to these beliefs Mr. Friedlander, but they are not Orthodox ones. And Ely is an Orthodox Jew. Believe it or not, the Talmud and all of Torah remains very relevant for all practicing Orthodox Jews today.

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  23. Anonymous March 18, 6:32

    Actually you are wrong. Even Ely in previous posts has admitted that for some individuals change works for them. He just believes that change does not work for himself.

    I am curious as to how much research you (and others here) have really done on the topic of change. Have you extensively looked into the programs to see how wrong they are? Have you only read about the first attempts in reparative therapy that suggested the obviously ridiculous shock treatments and "pray it away" methods? Have you even done any reading into what some organizations say? Have you understood their psychological basis? Have you even attempted to be open to meeting individuals who claim they have changed, or only opened your mind to all the ones who claimed that it did not work for them? Have you only listened to the APA who declared their statements against reparative therapy using a group of gay men who did their own "research" into the matter? Do you entrust blindly your faith into politically run organizations and the media when they make their statements about reparative therapy? Do you really know anything about this topic to truly claim that ALL reparative therapy today is harmful for individuals and is almost never successful?

    I doubt you do, because I think if anyone has actually spent their time doing research into the matter they'd never make such blanket statements as you have. But go ahead, continue living in your ignorance, it sure is blissful after all, isn't it?

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  24. Eli,
    It seems you understand that the Torah does not accept gay unions or marriages, but then you switch to Orthodox Judaism not accepting it and you wish they would. Orthodox Judaism preaches that words of the Torah are eternal and can never be changed. Words of the Rabbi's can be changed. Gay relationships are explicitly prohibited from the torah so there will never be a change in that unless g-d comes down from Mt Sinai again and changes the law. It is not an issue with Orthodox Judaism but with the Torah.

    Not to be offensive,(and yes, I hate that cliche) how do reconcile yourself considering yourself religious and being gay at the same time? Curious.

    I agree with your last post that civil unions should be allowed via government. But then how do you also stop polygamy? Bestiality? or any other form of relationships without opening a can of worms? Why can't a man marry two wives who are consenting adults? Why can't a man marry Betsy his cow? We can eat her, but not marry her? Where does one draw the line? Why should gay's be treated different than the Mormon's whose life style is banned?

    I apologize in advance for any offense, but since you are gay I would love to hear answers from a gay perspective.

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  25. Anon- 8:31
    "Not to be offensive,(and yes, I hate that cliche) how do reconcile yourself considering yourself religious and being gay at the same time? Curious."
    My entire blog is about reconciling the two. Please read up :)

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  26. @ 7:37,

    "Even Ely in previous posts has admitted that for some individuals change works for them."
    --That's why I said "_almost_ never works".

    "Have you extensively looked into the programs to see how wrong they are?"
    --No I haven't, I'm not a psychologist. I trust the judgment of professionals who have done their reasarch and have a more qualified opinion than mine. I haven't done any research on asbestos, but I trust doctors who say it's not a good idea.

    "Have you even done any reading into what some organizations say? Have you understood their psychological basis?"
    --Yes to both. As I said I'm not a psychologist, but what they say runs against my common sense and my life experience. I also understand that these organizations don't start from a neutral position, they have an agenda that's given by their understanding of what being gay is and how it affects the individual. I strongly disagree with them.

    "Have you even attempted to be open to meeting individuals..."
    --I haven't met either one or the other. I've read testimonies and watched videos made by both types, though. And found that, unlike the "failures", the ones who said it worked for them are on a mission to convert everyone else to the cause.

    "Do you entrust blindly your faith into politically run organizations and the media when they make their statements about reparative therapy?"
    --I don't. Do you entrust blindly your faith into organizations that are run along un-scientific principles, sometimes operate fraudulently, and whose success rate is ahem questionable? Oh, I forget, you're probably straight, you're just clinging to something by the skin of a nail to justify your ideas without having any personal stakes.

    The rest of your post is kind of cavalier so I'll respond to it with a dignified silence.

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  27. What an awful situation to be raising kids in. Parents who don't love each other but just got
    married and had kids because they wanted to appear 'normal' in the eyes of their community. In my opinion its a very selfish act. How long do they plan to keep up the act before they divorce?

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  28. At March 18, 10:52 continued


    "--I haven't met either one or the other. I've read testimonies and watched videos made by both types, though. And found that, unlike the "failures", the ones who said it worked for them are on a mission to convert everyone else to the cause."

    -Again, another close-minded statement: "Everyone is on a mission to convert..." Seriously? You just don't have a clue, I'm sorry to say. Ely himself would agree with this, I guarantee.

    "--I don't. Do you entrust blindly your faith into organizations that are run along un-scientific principles, sometimes operate fraudulently, and whose success rate is ahem questionable? Oh, I forget, you're probably straight, you're just clinging to something by the skin of a nail to justify your ideas without having any personal stakes."

    -You're statement about me is the same as me saying that you are also probably just straight and clearly not a happy homosexual who clearly is trying to drive an opinion without any personal stakes. Basically, don't assume anything about me that one can't turn right back at you. That is a sorry way to discuss this matter to begin with.

    Finally, you are welcome to live your life however you want, but you can't dictate what others should do with their lives. Especially those who want change, and find proven ways to make it work.

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  29. At March 18, 10:52

    "--No I haven't, I'm not a psychologist. I trust the judgment of professionals who have done their reasarch and have a more qualified opinion than mine. I haven't done any research on asbestos, but I trust doctors who say it's not a good idea."

    -It is quite interesting that you are comparing human behavior to human physical conditions that doctors take care of. I'd suggest realizing that the two really are vastly different fields, and I think it's faulty to say that the professionals that study how human bodies work are equivalent to the professionals who study something as complex as the mind. Particularly, the professionals who study sexual attraction: something which is never black and white. The fact that bisexuals exist should show you that. That point, along with how much politics are infused into the whole issue, in my opinion, makes understanding something like homosexuality much more complex than just trusting what the professionals say.

    Now I am not meaning to say no professionals should be trusted. Rather, the ones you hear readily in the media and tied to a political organizations should not be immediately taken for fact. If you'd even consider being open to it, there are tons of professional psychologists and researchers who have documented change thanks to proper forms of reparative therapy. Or are you really close-minded to believe that they are ALL run by some agenda?...

    "--Yes to both. As I said I'm not a psychologist, but what they say runs against my common sense and my life experience. I also understand that these organizations don't start from a neutral position, they have an agenda that's given by their understanding of what being gay is and how it affects the individual. I strongly disagree with them."

    -I'd be curious to know what approaches you have read then. And regardless, you can't define how YOU see it to being how the rest of the world MUST see it. Fine, teachings of reparative therapy go against your common sense, but they don't do that for many others. The fact is, for many, change has worked. Peer-reviewed research exists that shows it works. The problem is, people are too close-minded to care to see it.

    Hence, your very flat statement that none of the organizations that exist start from a neutral standpoint and are all run by an agenda. That is just flat out wrong. And it sounds pretty close minded. Obviously, some super religious organizations may appear that way. But there are many others that preach the notion that change is offered to those who want it and feels that it can work for them. To those individuals who want change, they then find it, and many see success. These organizations could care less about the people who are content living homosexually.

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  30. There is nothing normal about being gay. "Normal" mean the "norm", and the norm is just what most people are. Therefore, gay is not normal as it is not part of the norm.

    But why should it matter? Who cares if it is normal or not? I am not normal, I masturbate to gay hentai porn sometimes. The norm is booring, and there is nothing desirable about being normal. There is no virtue to be gained by being normal among other people.

    Instead of trying to convince yourself that you are normal rather insist that you are different, but you will not let it bother you. You can be strong and say that you will live as an individual without trying to bend your will to the will of a certain group to be recognized as normal.

    Just look around you. Look at the average person on the street. Look how dumb he is, look how boring he is. You really want to be part of that group called "normal?". I certainly do not.

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  31. Eli, I dont know you that well, but you are definitely a good person, i see that. However, your pics on facebook at your Gay Purim bash are disgusting and against Halacha. You and the other gay members who spoke at the panel ( not you, them) are engaging in dancing and inappropriate touching and disgusting costumes. you have stated that you want to keep halacha while being gay- which is something many encourage and wish you luck on. but you and some other guy from teh panel look like hypocrites when you engage in things like that. I wish you all the best in your struggle with being Gay and Orthodox, but doing that is not the way to go

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  32. Thank you for the respectful comment.
    While I understand your concern, and that you may not have found the Purim pictures the most appropriate, what did you see in them that was anti-Halakhic and directly involving me?

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  33. Pretty sure, i once again could be wrong, saw a girl with a dildo on, grinding with a guy. Maybe I do not know the halachos carefully, and you can for sure enlighten me, but does shomer negiah apply? what about tzniut, with revealing costumes. maybe i am not speaking to you as much as i am speaking to the community. I distinctly remember the "bride" from the panel. he stressed how he wanted to live his life an orthodox jew- is that the proper way? Do you feel being orthodox associates with that? maybe anti-halakhc was the wrong choice of words, and i can retract that, but i seem confused- although i do enjoy reading your blog- there are some lines here that should not be crossed- no matter what.

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  34. Well, my friends are my community, so I will respond even though there is no such thing as "guilty by association".
    Shomer Negiah has not been addressed for the homosexual community because that would mean Halakhic authorities would have to acknowledge religious Jews who are gay- which they have yet to do. Further, in my Orthodox community of 99% straight frum Jews, most are not Shomer Negiah. This doesn't mean everyone having sex with each other, it just means I will put my arm around a friend for a picture, especially since I am gay.
    This is Purim- crossdressing is rampant on this day in every community- Hassidic, Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, and the gay community- it's a day to wear costume and so many take the liberty to put on clothing of the other gender. We are still Orthodox.
    If you enjoy my blog, then you have realized I preach an open community, that accepts all, especially if there is nothing anti Halakha supported or going on. Just because something makes you uncomfortable- like a sex toy in public, or someone dressed not to full Orthodox standard (where, again, most people in my community do wear pants or short sleeves)- doesn't mean it's wrong, and certainly doesn't mean that I can't associate with it as an Orthodox person.

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  35. in response to "doesn't mean that I can't associate with it as an Orthodox person."- YES, yes it does. "kedoshim tihiyu"- we have a biblical commandment to remove ourselves from issues that are detremental or in fact assur. wearing a dildo in public is semi arayot in public, one cannot legitimately call himself or herself orthodox if they participate in parties like that. Your are right, halacha is revolving, but cross dressing on purim has its boundaries and to make a comment and say that it is "rampant" is false. did you attend the Purim chagiga at YU? you could count the number of crossdressers on maybe 1 hand, not even. And the number of revealing crossdressers, none. I am not going to criticize you not being shomer negiah, but I would assume that just because Orthodox Rabbis have not said anything, it doesnt mean that you can take your own "shitah" on the matter and make your own psak. Rabbi Blau Shlita, who many of you have called your spiritual advisor, would never tell you it is ok to not be shomer negiah. Essentially, my point is, if you start making compromises here, in a stage in your life where things are in gray areas, it becomes a downward slope that does not end. I.E- what becomes of legit halachot issues in the future, (when hopefully the RCA or someone comes out with guidelines for this)? it is important to be consistent, and not hide behind terms such as "Orthodox" or "Modern"

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  36. I must agree. Dildos would not be acceptable at a straight Purim party, so why should they be acceptable at a gay one? A sex toy at a Jewish event is offensive and antithetical to Torah values. Indeed, the Jews of Shushan were deserving of death because they celebrated at Achashverosh's depraved parties.

    That being said, I agree with Ely that one can associate with people who engage in such behavior and still be Orthodox, just like I can associate with friends who eat cheeseburgers and still be Orthodox. However, I would not pretend that either activity was sanctioned by halacha.

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  37. I am a psychologist. I am very familiar with the research. Engaging in programs to reprogram your sexual orientation is a bad idea. The research is overwhelming. Results are that participants are more likely to fail and suffer a major depressive episode (which could lead to suicidal ideation) than change sexual orientation!

    I find it entertaining though that so many heteros think it can be done. As though someone could train us to be attracted to someone of the same sex?

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