Why do I do it?
I've often questioned the reasons why I stay Orthodox. And for a while, I had little to no answer. The community tries to reject me, leaders put me down, and people consistently disappoint me in the Orthodox world. So why do I put myself through this? Reasons in the past have included family, friends, just because it was all I had ever known- I didn't want it to change.
However, last week I celebrated Shavuot, commemorating the day God gave the Torah to the Jewish people. I heard a unique perspective that help me put something into words that I was never able to articulate before. I realized that while various aspects of what laws to keep and what defines "Orthodoxy" are confusing to the nth degree, being Orthodox, and identifying myself as such helps me feel part of a bigger picture. Each day I am able to belong to a strong movement of people, to a larger nation that believes in something, that has a passion and commitment that has lasted close to 6,000 years. Being Orthodox makes every step I take purposeful. Almost everything I do has the ultimate goal of betterment of myself, of humanity, and of the Jewish nation. I have the goal of being close to God at the forefront of my mind, and it's something I wouldn't trade for anything else.
I believe in God, I believe in Judaism, I have pride in that and couldn't imagine my life not being Orthodox. It doesn't seem like an option. For the first year or so of being out, I would say I struggled greatly with whether or not I was going to be religious and how I could go to a gay bar with a yarmulka. But then I envisioned a life without a yarmulka and that was an even scarier thought. It was a process and it took time.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.