Thursday, July 21, 2011

Role Reversal

I've been thinking lately- gay and Frum, Frum and gay, my perspective has always been about the problems I have with Orthodoxy and how to be more accepted in my communities and all that. But I recently came to realize that there is a whole other perspective to take into account. The gay community needs to have room for Orthodoxy!

Too often, friends and I are uncomfortable wearing our Yarmulkas and other religious articles in public, because we're scared of being pigeonholed into the negative views that so many people have of Orthodox Jews. This shouldn't be so. The LGBT community is one of acceptance, love and tolerance for all- including various religious beliefs- so why should I feel uncomfortable in my yarmulka? I too often feel that if I walk into a gay bar with a head covering, people will look at me differently or be scared to approach me because I don't fit the LGBT stereotype- I defy it by imposing religion into that community. However, I feel strongly that the two need to go hand in hand and for that reason I do not take off my Yarmulka.

My point is simple. I feel that my religious beliefs should not exclude me from being part of any LGBT community, the same way I feel that sexuality should never exclude me from a religious community. People judging is part of this 21st century life we lead- but we need to make sure other's judgments aren't something we let bother us or we let control our actions and behaviors. As much as I want to be openly gay in my religious communities, I want to be openly religious in my gay communities.


  1. First of all, shkoyach. This had to be said.

    The next job is to articulate a real critique of the anti-Orthodox positions that the gay community has. Based on the reigning gay orthodoxy, religion is nonsense, since life is primarily about personal fulfillment. Religion in general is about obedience to a law that you did not write yourself, whether it be Faith and Love, the Church, Halacha or Shariah. Most importantly, the reason you don't feel welcome is because no one has questioned the reigning dogmas of the LGBT community from the right. Should the currently accepted gay lifestyle--come out, leave your church, get married in a civil ceremony to a man, adopt an Asian baby and a dog, live on the UWS---really be the highest value? If you want to be accepted, you have to make an argument why your paradigm for life is legitimate. You can't just demand acceptance.

    If you want to be accepted as a gay Orthodox Jew by the LGBT community, you need to have a real argument as to why your orthodoxy, and orthodox viewpoint, is legitimate, and why their implicit demand that you renounce your Orthodoxy is wrong.

    People will only tolerate other lifestyles when they see value in them, even if you don't agree. And not all lifestyles have inherent value, so you need to articulate a defense of yours (and an attack on theirs). That's the only road to acceptance.

  2. Yes! I completely understand where you're coming from, Ely. I've dressed according to halacha for the past ten years, and I've been thinking of changing that, but I haven't changed completely yet because I don't know why I want to change- I'm not sure if it's because I actually want to or because I feel like I wouldn't be accepted in the LGBT world dressed tzniusly.

  3. Great post! Trying to be accepted by two different worlds, neither of which want to accept the other, sounds like a very difficult challenge. Good for you for not giving up and holding on strong to both sides.

  4. I'm not sure if the concept of tolerance necessarily needs to extend to communities who are by the words of God, not fully capable of being tolerant towards you. Can a feminist group have full tolerance towards women who adhere to sharia law? Just because the women didn't write their religious rules doesn't make it any less insulting towards progressive western views of gender roles.

  5. Feminists absolutely must be tolerant of women who choose to live by Sharia law so long as they are not seeking to impose it upon anyone else. Feminism is about a woman being able to educate herself and choose her path, and if that includes living within what is, for them, a traditional lifestyle, then that choice must be respected... the problem is, of course, when women are living within a patriarchally-imposed system because they know nothing else, or because they don't understand the alternatives, in which case it becomes a sort of stockholm-syndrome situation... but anyway...

    But the core of what I think you are saying, that we do not need to be tolerant of intolerance, is absolutely true. However, what I believe Ely's point is, is that though Orthodox Jewry is in large part intolerant of LGBTQ folks, this is not universally true, and stereotyping someone wearing a kippah is an unacceptable form of intolerance.

  6. Great job for standing up for what you believe in! In a world full of judgmental people, we should not be bothered and let them put us down because of our sexuality and beliefs.

    Lisa @ Best Kippah


It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews