Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's Yours, Pt. II (or, No Day But Today)

Roughly 16 months ago I posted "It's Yours" to encourage my friends to understand their sexuality and understand where they are in their sexual lives, in order to ease the tension of painful marriages and uncomfortable situations of homosexuals dating heterosexuals and not even knowing themselves that they're not actually attracted to the other.

To expand on that, over the past few years I've been watching how many struggles so many people go through because they feel the need to act a certain way when that's not really who they are or how they feel. This post isn't just about sexuality. It's about your life. Your life is yours to own, yours to control, and yours to make decisions with. Too many people suffer because they insist on doing things other people expect of them, instead of doing what they need to do for themselves.

So many just succumb to their "roles"- be it in their families, with their peers, based on their religion or their gender expectations- but not because it's the role they are meant to fill. People expect that if someone follows societal norms or does whatever is expected of them, everything will magically work out.  They do not take the time to think what would be best for them- and how to integrate who they are with their everyday lives. They will find happiness, love, or whatever they desire- because that's what "everyone else" has. But no one really has any of those things unless they take the time to understand who they are themselves, what they want for themselves, and how to go about getting those things.

So the next time you rethink a decision because it's not what is expected of you, ask yourself what you truly want. Don't expect that being perfect in the eyes of others will make you perfect in your own eyes. Find out what career path is best for you, what hobbies you are most interested in, and, yes, find out what gender you're attracted to. Because your life is yours to understand, yours to control, and yours to own. And no one can tell you otherwise.


  1. Beautiful, Ely. Thanks for writing this.

  2. Though I agree with the sentiment, you are downplaying the importance and meaning that "roles" bring in the lives of some. It offers people acceptance, validation, and spiritual and religious meaning. Just because someone has conflicting desires, does not diminish the satisfaction that can be achieved by fulfilling a religious/cultural/societal expected role. But your point was taken and heard.

  3. I couldn't agree with you more Ely. At a certain point you gotta realize that you have to do things for you, and not for anyone else. That is what is going to give you a happy and fulfilled life- being conscious that every decision you make is the aright one for YOU.

  4. Shira,

    I do agree with your position that people's socially expected "roles" (especially in Judaism) do bring people acceptance, validation, and spiritual and religious meaning. However, what if those roles aren't yours to play? What if the roles that you desire so strongly to accept are antithetical to your being and clash with your biological make-up? People do get satisfaction from fulfilling expected roles. But is that satisfaction everlasting? I would argue not. As someone who attempted to fulfill my expected and desired roles with all of my effort for over 20 years, it just wasn't good enough for me and I was burned out from doing it. Coming out and being who I actually am has brought me the content and happiness I never had from attempting to fulfill my so-called "expected roles." So, yes, fulfilling these roles might give someone some semblance of acceptance, validation, or satisfaction. But I want to argue strongly that this satisfaction is not genuine or long-lasting - it is merely ephemeral. This post by Ely is completely accurate and I agree with him 100%.

  5. While your point is very true with regard to some areas of life such as sexual orientation, it's hard to say that it is universal. Do you think that when someone is choosing a career path for the right reasons, that means he's doing it because he has some sort of innate desire or purpose for that career?
    "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."- Albus Dumbledore

  6. This attitude should be applied to everyone in all circumstances. And I'd stress particularly with regard to sexual orientation: the way we judge others when they live as a homosexual AND the way we judge others when such a person chooses that homosexuality is not what they want in spite of his/her attractions for the same sex and then chooses to find ways to change.

  7. I like you post very much.
    I commented the other day to a post of yours and stated if I could turn the clock back...
    Well its to late to do that, I have a wife and family.
    Things were different 20 years ago, it was harder to "come out" but now people except more than they did, yes there are those frum Jews who will not but as you said happiness should come first, and one has to think about his or her happiness.
    Always be yourself, because the people that matter don't mind and the ones that mind don't matter.

  8. "This post isn't just about sexuality."

    Oh but it is. You wouldn't be complanining about roles as much if you weren't gay.

  9. Oh but it isn't.
    While my sexuality is the driving force behind these posts, my words are not meant to only apply to a persons sexual preference, but to many different areas of everyone's individual lives.

  10. But isn't succumbing to our roles in the society also one's own decision? I mean, if we are all for deciding which way our life is to go- then all that matters is that we should have the poer to make the decision we want to make- not whether such a decision is morally wrong or not. So these gay men who succumb to religious pressure, lead closeted lives and sometimes marry women, arent they also in fact making a decision of their own? What I mean is that to "succumb to expected roles" is also a decision, a conscious choice. What if succumbing to these roles is what a person "truly wants"? What if my own sexual freedom doesnt matter as much to me as other things in life?

    - a gay man, who was married to a woman for 24 years

  11. just curious you say was married for 24 years... what happened?


It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews