Monday, December 27, 2010

Gender Roles

Anyone who knows me personally, knows that one of my "favorite" topics to discuss is gender roles. Unfortunately, especially in Orthodox Judaism, men and women are restricted to specific limitations based on what there gender's can or cannot do.

The Torah certainly defines specific things for men and for women to do- but over the past millenia, those laws have turned into men having specific strengths, hobbies, and persona's that women and men must fill. While certain things may be true on a general basis, the idea that one person can or cannot do something based on their gender is ridiculous. Physical differences aside, there is no real codified law specifying gender roles. There is however, socially created limitations for what is 'acceptable' or not for men and women to do. There are people who do nothing but joke and make fun and perpetuate stereotypes of what a man should do and what a woman should do. Is this acceptable? Does every man and woman meet every criteria of their social expectations? Do they even have to?

This isn't to say that men and women can't do what society has set as their "place", but it is to realize that men and women by no means have to do what society tells them.
Personally, I have to mention the toll that gender roles can take on the life of someone who doesn't conform to what society believes they should or should not be doing. Be it hobbies, interests, skills or behaviors- too often I was judged based on societies "norms" and "standards" for how a man should act and what they should be interested in. I can tell you that not everyone fits that mold- and forcing them too, or expecting them too, or challenging them to- or making fun of them if they don't, will NOT impact who they are and how they behave. It will only hurt them.

It is up to us to look at each other, regardless of sex, to choose our friends, hire our employees, and just to relate to each other as individuals. Before we comment on what a man or woman can or cannot do, or who is meeting social norms appropriately or not, just think- how much does it really matter?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monogamy (My Future)

This may be my least ‘sensical’ and most ‘opinionated’ post. I don’t have facts, I don't have stats, I just have experience. I started graduate school about four months ago, a profession dominated by women and gay men. I thought I could meet some cute guys and enjoy the social experience in addition to the educational experience. That’s definitely holding true- but I realized that almost none of the men are single.

Even though a lot of them are gay, most of them are taken and in committed relationships. Similarly, I have awesome neighbors in a committed (gay) relationship. But this shouldn’t be possible! When I came out, or when I was struggling in high school, all I heard was- you don’t want that lifestyle- no one is truly happy, gay and lesbian individuals, specifically, don’t settle down- they live a life of misery, alone. Well I’m here to tell you, purely based of my experiences- that is not true. Homosexuals are just as capable of building stable lives, with friends and families, just like any heterosexual couple. For some of you this may be obvious, but for many people who grew up, like myself, hearing that homosexuals are never happy, never find stability, and definitely don’t settle down- just had to say it’s false.

I do hope to have a family one day, even a religious one. I think that a partner and I can raise children in the Orthodox world better than many of today’s parents and couples, and hopefully half as decent as my siblings do it- they’re the most incredible parents ever, all of them. As far as community- I know Yeshiva’s that will accept my children, and what more can I hope for? Will my child/children be made fun of? Perhaps, but what child isn’t? I also want to live in Israel, where I know other religious gay couples building families and lives. Everyone’s home lives are different- divorced parents, non-Kosher homes- all my friends growing up had their own story “in” the Orthodox world. My kids will have their own story.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm Sad and Kinda Angry

And I'll tell you why I'm sad. This is why I'm sad. ARTICLE. I will deconstruct the lies, and the most bothersome statements in the article, then end with my overall feelings.

"The Torah is very much based on the concept of Na'aseh V'nishmah. Who you are is predicated upon your actions. If a man or a woman is in an exclusively heterosexual relationship, by Torah definition he or she is not gay."

-I'm not sure how she gets this Torah definition, but by no means does being in a heterosexual relationship define where someone's attraction actually stands. Just ask the thousands of men and women who are married or in hetero relationships, and cheating on their partners with members of the same sex.

"Which brings me to the first obstacles for change. There are gay men who are making it their life's cause to keep people from attempting therapy, by decrying the efficacy of change therapies in the media. They do this because of their own inability to achieve success in these therapies. "

-Her generality here is appalling. There are many who have spoken out against reparative therapy, yes, but who is this woman to just pretend that she knows each and every one of their motives? I know a few men who have had the courage to speak out against these therapies, and it's not because of their failures. It's because they were hurt, physically molested, and emotionally destroyed in the process, and felt the need to make sure others knew of these issues before they went for this therapy.

"But when a gay man succeeds in changing his lifestyle, he is met with displeasure and even coercion from the gay community in the form of social hostility for having betrayed them. On the other hand there is a tremendous amount of support among strugglers and ex-strugglers themselves."

-Excuse me, but define "succeeds in changing his lifestyle"? If, for any reason, the individual who has changed is involved in a gay community, they are going to doubt his successful change, knowing him and wondering how this was possible. Most likely because some of them have been physically intimate with this person. How can you just sit back, have someone simply say that now they have changed? She even admits herself, later in the article, that change is hard to come by and we should just accept attraction to the opposite sex whenever possible. If so, of cours the gay community is going to be confused when someone suddenly says they are straight.

She then gives the case of Reuven, a "textbook case" of a person with SSA: divorced parents, overbearing mother, submissive father, molested as a young child- as if this is the situation with every homosexual.
"If a homosexual lifestyle were a foregone conclusion of the above personal history then Reuven would never have had a chance. Today, Reuven enjoys a healthy marriage, Baruch Hashem, to a woman he is attracted to."

-What bothers me is not the ignorant assumptions of what every homosexual's history is, but more the implication, that anyone "suffering" with "SSA" (same-sex attraction) is automatically subject to a "lifestyle". In fact, what is a lifestyle? Because for me, who I am or am not attracted to is not a lifestyle. It's simply one aspect of who I am.

"Rabbi Rosenberg adds: "There's a message out there that if you have homosexual attraction you must be gay and will only be fulfilled in a homosexual life. There are sanctioned gay clubs in high schools and universities which make that claim and give legitimacy to a homosexual lifestyle."

-Here's that word "lifestyle" again. Homosexuality doesn't mean a lifestyle. Second of all, there is no message that one attraction means a sexual orientation. As I have said many times on this blog, sexuality is someone's to explore- it doesn't mean one thing or another. And if it wasn't for these clubs, you can guarantee the suicide rate would go up, from people like this Rabbi Rosenberg, constantly telling these kids and teens that their feelings are not acceptable and need to be changed.

" 'They need to see that marriage is a lifestyle and not about sexual prowess like the messages propagated in the media,' says Rosenberg."

-Who the hell in the media says marriage is about sexual prowess? If anything, Orthodox Judaism which prohibits premarital sex promotes getting married just for the sake of intimacy. And again, marriage is not a lifestyle. It's one fact about a person.

"But despite all these roadblocks, there is a great deal of change taking place out there, both in people's perceptions and in their willingness to embrace change. The road to teshuva, the road to mental health and the road to finding one's bashert are very, very long. "

- So wait, not only does homosexuality (which is just an attraction) need to be repented for (something I discussed HERE, but mental health is something that needs to be completely attained? There are many mentally unstable people who work hard and long on their lives but never achieve mental health. And is she saying homosexuality is a mental illness? Check the DSM, honey, it was removed in the 70s.

"Alan has gone from not being attracted to women to being attracted to this amazing one (who knows of his issues), and looking forward to spending the coming years growing in his relationship with her... If we're going to wait for 100% success rate for any life change or a life altering decision, we'll never be espousing change at all."

- Okay wait, so after an entire article about changing someone's life and l"lifestyle", we should never expect real change?! Are you kidding me? Let's see what would happen if this Alan wanted to marry this author's daughter.

But forgot about the ignorance, lies and presumptions, but I'm mostly saddened for parents and teens who read such articles and think the answer is right there, that it's so easy to change, that if someone's child is gay, it's not a big deal because they just need to get on this "proper path" to Teshuva and mental health, and they'll be fine.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Superhero?

For so many people, being gay is not an option. It doesn’t fit with their lives, with their plans, with their communities, with their friends, with their families or even with themselves. In addition to just the generic societal values, classic Orthodox Jewish law and belief are almost entirely heterocentric. This is what complicated my life growing up. At the early onset of my teenage year, I began to feel different from everyone around me. I wasn’t like the other boys for whatever the reason, and I wasn’t attracted to girls like my guy friends always talked about. When I came to realize I was gay, at about 15, I never thought in a million years that I would ever be able to accept such a reality. I fought and fought, until finally I realized that I was fighting no one. That there was no one in the world that had the right to tell me that I could not be religious and gay. So at the age of 21, I came out of the closet. However, that was not the end of the struggle- it was the beginning of a whole new one.

My closed Orthodox community was not used to someone trying to break the mold like I was, so I found a gay Jewish community that I made my closest friends- but went home every day to my Orthodox community where I had close friends that would always love me, but had so many other people I wanted in my life, but who didn't necessarily want me in theirs, or that's how I felt. I love my friends in the my Jewish community and I love my friends in the gay community- and I ended up creating for myself a double lifestyle. Many people, especially those in the closet- even create fake facebook pages for finding gay men and the gay events for them to attend, all under a pseudonym so they never have to come out, while still having their other profiles with their other friends and their more public lives. I’ve heard it described as a superhero syndrome- one world by day, another world by night. To a certain extent this is how I felt for a very long time. There was the part of me that went out with my gay friends and he was this very different person from the man that hung out with his straight friends. For me, and many people in the shoes of growing up in a heteronormative world, but attempting to be true to themselves and create and supportive LGBTQ community to be part of, there is a daily balancing act. Which group of friends do I hang out with tonight? Who haven’t I seen in a longer time? Which identity do I want to assume today? The important part is integrating the identities within ones self, until you’re comfortable enough on the inside to make the right decisions on the outside.

Why does one have to choose? Why does someone have to feel so pulled between two worlds? In my life, thank God, the choice has not been too difficult as I create that community that accepts gay Jews, while still upholding the religious values and being a part of the Orthodox community I grew up and and know and love. This way I don't have to feel like I'm living a double life anymore.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The other side of the fence

I know I'm on the other side. And a good friend argued in his post HERE that it's easy to be on the other side looking in, which is true, but there is so much more to say. I know I represent a minority, not majority, of gay Orthodox Jews who have chosen to come out and be honest about their true feelings. But I don’t look back and judge those in the closet, and I empathize with their plight as I too have been there. But a situation of someone older than me, who has been struggling longer than me and who is in a more commitment-prone life stage, in a relationship with a guy but still dating girls does upset me, and I think I have that right to be upset by that.

Some say coming out is one of the most selfish things a person can do- and I agree. But in my case, I think it was selfish and also extremely selfless. Because there is a huge part of me that is so happy to be out, solely because of the impact and influence I can have on others. Call it haughty, call it egocentric,call it stupid, but I believe in inspiring people. And when I know people doing the more difficult and complex thing, by pretending to be something they are not for years longer than I have, I get upset. And no, they don’t have to come out- but think about the girls who meet the man of their dreams, but for come reason this man can’t love them back. And he gets frustrated that he still hasn’t found the right one. And he’s in “Shidduch Crisis” because he can’t meet his true soul mate. There’s a reason for that! Because it’s not going to be someone of the opposite gender.

I never push anyone out. If someone doesn’t want to come out of the closet, that is their right and choice. But for someone to continue dating girls, while in a relationship with a man “on the DL” is not fair to anyone involved, especially not the person themselves. And if someone does come out, it doesn’t mean that they can’t pursue relationships with a person of the opposite gender. Since I’ve come I have built many new relationships with women, and with every one of them I do think about what my feelings are and if they’re platonic or something more. Because no matter what I “identify” as, I know that I still have the right to decide what's best for me. And even in the closet, it’s one thing to know you have a strong relationship with a man and be okay with that, but don’t be scared to have feelings for a girl- and if you do follow through with them, but not at the same time you have stronger feelings for a man.

If a homosexual is giving himself the opportunity to be in a heterosexual relationship, that’s great, but give yourself the true opportunity to be invested in one relationship- be it a homosexual one or a heterosexual one. Don’t pretend you can pull off both.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Something that I have been learning in Grad School all year is the concept of “power”- what it means, is it good? Is it bad? Who has power? What determines if someone has power?

It's vital to recognize that power comes from all different places. Power based on social status, power because of race, gender, sexuality, your appearance, your behavior, your mannerisms. And given that, everyone has power. Everyone has power, everyone determines who they let influence them, and who they, in turn, influence. Power can be good or bad- depending on how a person decides to use it. But the key thing to realize is that everyone has power. Every person in this world. Everyone reading this blog. The only question is what will you do with your power?

You have tens or hundreds or thousands of people looking at your Facebook, or your Twitter, or many of the other social networking sites today. The web is a tremendous tool of power. What do you have to say on those sites? Is it fun? Is it serious? Is it self-centered? Is it depressing? Because people check your pages, people get your updates and they care about you and what you have to say- you can influence their thoughts, help create change, and can do whatever you want in the world, all by using your power.

If you want to make people laugh- do it! Speak your mind so no one will doubt who you are or what your intentions are. Sieze the opportunities that this century provides us to make change. I know this sounds cheesy and like a youth-group lecture, but I was stunned when I realized how much power if held by every person in the world, and how few people choose to utilize it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I wanted to post one more post about bullying before moving off the topic. Since the video was released just over a week ago, I've had the time to hear and read a lot of responses to what we posted. Also, bullying was covered in a recent episode of Glee, and there has been a lot of conversation sparked about that- whether or not it was done correctly. What I'm going to say is definitely not something that everyone agrees with, it's just my own opinion.

Bullying is wrong. It's wrong for any one person to feel they have the right to put down another person, physically or verbally- there is no excuse. This can be especially traumatizing in the elementary and high school years when someone is at the pivotal moments of defining who they are in life. Glee did two things- pointed out that gay bullying was wrong, and implied that a bully is just projecting their inner issues onto the person that they bully. It's not true that every gay basher is gay, although it does happen, and that's the scenario the show chose to present.

Now considering that bullying is wrong across the board, an issue that has been raised is why is gay bullying so much worse? Everyone gets picked on in high school, and everyone manages to get through it. Everyone is bashed in one way or another and everyone needs to learn how to cope in life, so why is gay bashing "a hate crime"? Does the world spoil and protect gay people like they're children?

My answer, yes. The world does spoil gay people. The world does promote gay bullying as worse than any other form of oppression. But I don't think there's anything wrong with that. The number of suicides and depression rates amongst LGBTQ teens is higher than any other teen population. Very often, being gay is a struggle that causes enough hurt and pain internally. When you add bullying to the issues already facing an LGBTQ teen, it only intensifies the terrible trauma they can go through. So again, yes, I thin gay bullying is an issue that gets a lot of attention and I think people who are gay do get protected and coddled a bit from society. But I think it's all for the right reasons, and completely appropriate.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It Gets Better

As many of you know, this week the gay Orthodox Jewish community released a video following Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" series, a statement from youtubers, celebrities, politicians and anyone nation-wide in response to the recent rash of teen suicides. You can find the video here.

I didn't think I would need to blog about the video, but after much encouragement I think I will. The video truly took everyone by surprise when 24 hours turned yielded about 10,000 hits. This video is not about what's right and wrong in religion. It's not about what underlying agenda the members of the video are pushing or what statements are juxtaposed to others. It's about the honesty, the struggle, and the courage that so many members of the so many different communities have gone through. Rumor has it that Yeshiva boys are sending the video around as a joke- and that's exactly what we would want. Because for every 9 boys laughing at the our pain, there is one of their friends crying, and hopefully realizing for themselves that it will get better.

Please share the link, and maybe this blog, with anyone you think could find it useful. Together we can save lives.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Two Roads

Recently I have been faced with different decisions which all seemed like viable options- I wished I could pick them all. How does someone know when a path is right or wrong? Is there something that is necessarily right or wrong? How does a person decide what path to take when faced with two options?

What I tried to do was choose whatever would be best in the long run. I wanted to choose what would be best down the road and stick with it, remembering all the reasons I chose one path over another. Not only that, but when making a decision for the future, I try to own that decision. I don't pick a path and constantly talk to others about how I wish I had done something else or maybe the other path would have been better. Because while that may be true, there's nothing you can do to switch paths once you've set a road in motion. I'm all for keeping options open and a person with the freedom to choose whatever is good for them, but there are times when you can't change something that's been set in motion (and to not contradict myself- sexuality is NOT one of those things, it is fluid and you can change paths even once you've chosen one). It's important not to foster doubt or constantly be confused over what I should be doing in my life, but instead understand what I've chosen and even when I doubt it, assure myself that I am happy with the road I am on.

When you're traveling on one path, it's only natural to wonder what life would be like had you made a different decision. However, there's nothing wrong with admitting that there was another path that could've been right for you. Just don't drive yourelf crazy wondering what if, and be happy with what is.

Note: this post has nothing to do with my decision to come out or not, I'm completely sure that being gay and religious was the right thins for me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Third Option

Hey, I would like to clarify a point I've made in the past, but that doesn't seem to be sticking with my readers.
I'm not obsessed with marriage. I discuss it so often because it comes up so often. My society, the Orthodox Jewish community is obsessed with (heteronormative) marriage, so I feel the need to discuss it fairly often. Thankfully, I have learned how to have a good outlook and stay positive about the issue although it comes up almost daily how a man should marry a woman.

Now, for most of my life I have been a very black-and-white person. Things were either one way or the other, with little room for gray area in between. I have tried to avoid that behavior and leave room for new ideas in my life, but I don't always succeed. I'm open to hearing that the only way for me to be happy is to give up being religious or to give up being gay. However, I promise you I've thought about it. I promise you I've gone through the motions of giving up one or the other- and neither makes sense to me. I know you might not understand my desire to remain religious, and I don't understand it so clearly either, but I know it's right for me. I also know it's right for me to be gay. So there they are- two areas that conflict. A black and a white. So I chose the gray.

Two years ago a friend came to me, struggling, wondering what he should do with the struggle of religion and homosexuality. We discussed the options and he said- "but if I come out, I have to give up my Frumkeit, (religiousness) and I can't do that." Suddenly it dawned on me. Who said so? Who said that if you are homosexual you have to give up religion and who says if you're religious you have to give up homosexuality? God says certain things, the laws and their interpretations says certain things, society says certain things but why can't I say something for myself? There had to be another option, I couldn't pick one or the other. So two weeks later I came out of the closet and chose the third option- to be a Frum gay Jew.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Something on my mind almost daily is why I am gay. Was I born that way? Did I develop that way naturally? Did outside influences play a role in my development into a gay person. I ask this not because it plagues me a hurts me. I just think about it generically, because I know regardless of the answer that I am gay, for whatever reason. I do ask this from a religious perspective.

Why would God create someone who was gay if he commands us not to be gay? That makes little sense, and every Rabbi and Torah scholar today agrees- it makes no sense, but yet, it's true. Did He want us to go through so much hardship and pain trying to figure out our lives? I do think He played a role in my development as a gay person and I do think He loves me today, regardless of what laws in the Torah I do or do not uphold. Something that hits me in this religion is at every Bris , curcumcision "party" eight days after a baby boy is born, and many times over the course of a Jewish child's lifetime the congregation and community constantly say the phrase "L'Torah, Chupah Umaasim Tovim" , Bible study, a wedding (canopy), and good deeds.

My life, and the life of every Orthodox Jewish child, and even non-Orthodox, revolves around getting married. It's built in to our lives from the first ritual- a baby naming or circumcision- and repeated throughout. If God created me as gay, how could He also create a religion that revolves around marriage in the traditional sense of man and woman? I don't get a Chupah , a wedding canopy and I'm learning to be okay with that, even though it hurts. But the constant need to mention it in to my every day life, culture and existence, makes it hurt so much more.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A controversy

For those who are unaware, the New Jersey local Jewish paper, The Jewish Standard, ran a marriage announcement of two Jewish men from the local area who planned to wed about three weeks ago. A few days following the announcement they issued an apology and announced they would no longer run same-sex announcements in order not to offend anyone. A few days after that announcement, they announced that they will reconsider their ban on same-sex announcements, meet with community leaders and get back to us.

First of all, the whole situation was ridiculous. The Jewish Standard, a paper I have been reading my entire life, has never avoided issues that may offend members of the community. They run ads for non-Kosher restaurants, they run articles about sex, abuse, alcoholism, drugs, and even a few about sexuality. And my favorite- they celebrate every celebrity who's mother's first husband's father's cousin might have been a Jew. On their second page.
So they published a same-sex announcement. Without going into the politics of the Jewish Standard and how they terribly handled the situation by jumping to apologize then jumping to retract the apology, the focus here is on the reaction of those who opposed the announcement. Where are they when the publication runs other controversial things like intermarriage announcements? Why is it that only for this issue did people feel the need to pressure the Standard so much that they issued an apology? The real issue here is homophobia. There's a fine line between Halacha and Homophobia (as I have written about before), and just because someone is "scared" of "gay" making its way into their society, doesn't mean they get to run behind the Torah and claim that the announcement goes against their religion.

Anyway, I'm pretty confident the paper will never get back to us. They took the issue off the table by saying they haven't made a decision- but I'm assuming, and wait for them to prove my assumption wrong, that they will not be running any same sex announcements anytime in the near future. They'll just avoid issuing a statement that says they won't do it.

PS- please check out a new frum gay blog from a friend in London called "Gay in Golders Green"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Today is the one year anniversary of starting this blog, of blogging, of the tremendous success I've felt with the ability to reach thousands of people worldwide. I could spend the post discussing the blog, why I write, what I plan to write about in the future, but there's something much more important to discuss.

Raymond Chase, 19, Rhode Island. Tyler Clementi, 18, New Jersey. Asher Brown, 13, Texas. Billy Lucas, 15, Indiana. Seth Walsh, 13, California Cody J. Barker, 17, Wisconsin Felix Sacco, 17, Massachusetts Harrison Chase Brown, 15, Colorado Caleb Nolt, 14, Indiana Ethan Beyers, 18, Indiana. Carl Joseph Walker- Hoover 11, Jaheem Herrera, 11. Ryan Halligan, 12.

The LGBT community has lost far too many people in the recent weeks. Various states, situations and ages, these kids have all been hurt and too scared of the world around them. They were bullied, teased, taunted, and couldn't handle it anymore; they took their own lives.

As someone who has suffered through depression, I understand the feeling of not having a choice, of feeling trapped with no way out and just wanting it all to go away. I was taunted for not meeting the traditional masculinity standards and wanted to not wake up in the morning, just so it would all go away and the pain would stop. From what is known, these kids were barely suffering from any mental illness that had been diagnosed. They were just kids, trying to live their lives, do what they enjoyed, and be who they were. But society wouldn't let them. Their peers felt the need to constantly mock them for not living up to traditional gender roles, or fitting "social norms".

Let the loss of such young people, with their entire lives ahead of them be a wake up call to you. Whether you're gay, straight, closeted, out, male, female- let their stories give you the strength never to be silent, and support those suffering and who have been put down too many times for just being who they are. Make sure your friends a family know that you support a person's right to be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or transgender. Or whatever they want to be. Never sit by while a friend gets bullied and never be silent when you hear of gay bashing.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself reach out to a friend, contact the anonymous phone line of the Trevor Project, but just know IT DOES GET BETTER. I've been there, and trust me, you will make it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why I will not marry a woman

I thought this was clear from the 50+ posts in the past, but based on a recent comment I shall clarify. I do not intend, as the person I am today, to marry a woman. I say today because I never know what kind of things will happen in my life and one day I may wake up and be straight. But odds are slim. So no, I do not plan on marrying a woman.

The way I love men is not something explainable, you can't put in to words what it's like when you have such a strong love, and that's what I have felt for men, not women. My best friends are girls/women who I think are the most amazing people the world and I love them so much, but not as much as I love men, I can't no matter how long I've known them or how many hours I've spent with them, it's not the same as my love for people of the same gender. I hope that makes sense.

For that reason I'm not marrying a woman. But it has been suggested that that is not a good enough reason- that I should just suck it up and follow the Torah's law and marry heterosexually and build a family (not going into how the physical relationship would or would not work), and do things the "natural way". So yes, while plenty of men do that I do not think it's fair for a woman to love me with all her heart while I constantly feel something lacking, and that I can't be as close to her as I feel to a man. I can't imagine putting a woman through the hell of having a husband who's not totally there. It's not fair to HER. So even if I wanted to "get over it" and just pretend like everything is normal, I think that would be even more selfish than coming out and living my own life, it's even worse to ruin someone else's. It's wrong.

If I marry a man is something different and another topic, and something I still have not decided for myself at this point in time. But back to the point, no, I am not planning to marry a woman.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Whaddya Want From Me

As a post- Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur post, the Jewish holidays about starting a clean slate in a new year, a questions that has been plaguing me for a while comes to mind. What does God want from me? As a gay Orthodox Jew- does he want me to be alone for the rest of my life? Does he want me to go through endless hours of therapy that are highly unlikely to succeed?

And bigger than this- as I prayed on Yom Kippur I thought- what does He want from us? As a Jewish nation in the 21st century with technologies beyond people's wildest imaginations and capabilities, sexuality and sexual promiscuity rampant and dominating our cultures worldwide, what does He want from us? Should we shelter ourselves in the depths of Brooklyn and Lakewood and Bnei Brak, or do we encourage ourselves to grow and learn from the world around us, and challenge ourselves to remain faithful to God in a world that whose basic principles seem to go against everything Judaism holds dear?

The Torah, and more specifically- it's laws as decided by the Rabbi's- were decided in a completely different society and culture. PRayers were written for a different population to say. Unfortunately, today, our leaders don't feel close enough to understanding laws to allow law to be brought truly into a modern context or change things that were decided hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. I'm not calling for change of the Torah, or the laws uphelp by the Rabbi's. But I am calling for an understanding- and the room to believe, that not every single thing decided so long ago is relevant today. And of certain people feel strongly that God wants XYZ, while the community has been holding ABC, it's their right to do XYZ. Not just because they want to, but because they feel it's what God meant for the world today. Because every law made by a Rabbi is simply a Rabbi deciding what GOd wants from the world today, and we all listen to the Rabbis. But when it comes down to it- no one has divine inspiration today, no one talks to God, and therefore no one can command something of another as far as their relationship with God and upholding of the Torah.

I stopped in the middle of my Yom Kippur prayers, closed my eyes and said "God, we don't know what to do. We haven't had a divine inspiration in thousands of years, and we, as your nation, are just trying to figure out what you want from us in this world today- the 21st century. Forgive your people for the ways they may have misinterpreted your laws or did not uphold what you intended, we are all just trying our best- and will continue to do so."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Change, part 2

Here's a post a lot of you have been waiting for, for a while. I beg your indulgence and for your respect and thoughtfulness in posting comments, especially the anonymous ones. I will not be responding to comments.

The organization Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (formerly Homosexuality), known as JONAH, is a very controversial subject in the gay Jewish community, but more so in the broad Jewish community, especially the religious ones. The first line of defense for many children who speak to their parents about homosexuality is JONAH. This is for numerous reasons, one, they advertise in prominent Jewish papers that many parents read, and two, because the last thing a religious Jewish parent, or many non-religious Jewish parents want is a gay child. However, often the parents don't know the facts before sending their children to such an organization. I respect those who have worked hard within the JONAH program, and those who have come through it successfully, and know and believe that change is possible for specific individuals.

However, and I will only speak for myself, I feel it would do more harm than good. The reason I never posted about this before is because I never went through the system, so I felt inappropriate commenting on it. However, I currently find myself close with many people who have gone through the system- most unsuccessfully, some successfully- and I feel I know more about certain things. Without going into detail, there are multiple aspects of the JONAH program that would make me hate myself more than love myself, and it's taken me too long to get to this point in my life for me to go back and erase what I've accomplished. Further, I've seen people go through this therapy for ten years, and still not come out "healed", and that's not something I'm willing to risk. I'm pretty damn gay, and I know it.

I purposely did not go in to detail about their therapies and I won't. But lastly, I have to take up one issue in this time of repentance for the Jewish people. JONAH claims that they are true repentance for homosexuality. That it is any gay Jews obligation, in this time of year, to repent- and the only way to repent is to join their organization. This is false. This is wrong. This is not true, nor is it their program director's decision as to what God believes is repentance and what is not. That is between a Jew and God, not with other people in between making decisions. I believe, that with a full heart I go to God every year and ask for repentance on how I have served Him inappropriately and the wisdom to serve Him only properly in the future.

May we all be blessed with a year of true happiness.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Secret Life

Hey, I'm really excited it's September, b/c I have at least 5 topics to discuss, some revolving around the new year, some revolving around gay life in general, and, our favorite, the struggle of homosexuality and Orthodoxy.

I get facebook friend requests almost daily- not from people I know, but from generic, and clearly fake names representing fake Facebook accounts. Who are these people and why do they friend me? They're almost all religious Jews, who are hiding in the closet. Some young, some old, some married, some single- and they create these fake accounts in order to have an outlet for their sexual identity. Some are very flamboyant, openly "liking" gay porn sites or porn stars, others are just trying to exist and friend religious gay Jews that they've heard of so they don't feel so alone. I get frustrated easily with these individuals because I feel that they're only making their lives harder by creating a separate facebook. Not only do they have to live in secret that they are attracted to members of the same gender, but they literally create a secret identity- a whole other person, as an outlet for their secrets. They're teasing themselves with a life they wish they could lead.

Some of them are creepy- simply looking for sex and don't know how to go about finding it- and feel the need to stalk facebook for the gay Jews and their friends. Others are curious as to what the gay Jewish world is like and what it can provide them. It is a useful tool as a gateway to the gay Jewish world, meeting new people, facebook chatting to get an idea of what openly gay Jews are like, and perhaps meet some of us and slowly become more comfortable with who they are. Unfortunately, many just resign to the fact that they will always be alone, suffering, in pain. I have come to understand recently that they may not choose to be in the closet, its just that they cannot ever be gay, even thought they know they are attracted to people of the same gender. They know it, but coming out or admitting it openly is not an option- it's just not an option.

I salute those who have the courage to be "not just another email address" and empathize with those who still feel the need to hide behind an anonymous name, and feel legitimately badly for those who feel they don't have an option- and challenge them to just try and question that thinking.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One for August

So this month I decided to take a bit of a break from blogging. We're all entitled to some vacation. But mostly because the end of July was a bit intense for me, and I needed some space. I needed to be free of judgements and comments and criticisms and just the freedom to be me. But I did want to express a few things.

On the topic of being judged and criticized- it's difficult to be in a position like I am, but there are more than just me out there in this position. We're all so scared that anything we do is going to be criticized by everyone else, and even if we say "forget it, I'm just going to be me", we still get scrutinized because there seems to be very little room for independence within the closed society that many of us live.

There should be the opportunity for someone to say, "I'm frum, but I struggle with certain issues, but I still wish to be a part of the Orthodox community". A few years back, someone told me "It's impossible to be frum and gay, that's not what Hashem wants". And I think that's what propelled me forward. Because from that day on, I made sure that everyone knew who I was, and that I'm proud to be who I am. Over the past month I have learned the names of over seven frum individuals that have begun to accept who they are and I applaud them for having the courage to not be just an anonymous e-mail address, or a fake facebook name.

Because whether or not the Torah prohibits a specific sexual activity, many of us have to be who we are, because there is little or no choice in the matter. And sometimes it doesn't make sense, or it doesn't fit perfectly with Halacha, or it may not be the ideal situation for an Orthodox Jew, but it's the reality, and until many people out there accept it, the more frustration, anguish, pain and suffering will be imposed on tormented souls. And I guarantee that that's not what God wants.

-As I have said on facebook, I will no longer respond to anonymous commenters asking questions, if you have a question for me, feel free to email me. comments and intriguing thoughts are always welcome below.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I'm upset for a number of reasons. One, because I have other topics to write about. Two, because I have to address people who think they know all about my life even though they've never experienced it, and three because people can't be happy with small accomplishments. I'm mostly responding to this- Hirhurim.

I can't explain the thought process of other people who are unhappy with the Statement of Principles (now in Hebrew!) issued and signed by over seventy Orthodox leaders and the list is growing. Those who haven't signed have said as follows: Don't ask, don't tell. We don't need to know who in a congregation is gay, and who is straight, all that matters in a Shul is that a person is Jewish. I would ordinarily agree on a fundamental level, but realistically, Rabbi's, that's not true! It's not true that no one judges in a Shul, and it's not true that a person can just grow old and single and no one will try and set them up other than their parents. And even if a few of this person's friends know that they are gay and word doesn't spread (not possible, but let's just say) those friends will watch the person in Shul, and wonder if the Rabbi will accept him, or if he belongs in the congregation. Further, when I've been in congregations and I wasn't out, I felt very uncomfortable taking honors like everyone else. I just felt like I didn't belong. This statement assures me that regardless of the congregation, if the Rabbi has signed on I know that I belong, and I feel comfortable just being like everyone else.

Also, enough of this don't ask don't tell. Don't tell me that the only people who need to know are my parents and maybe a few friends. You know as well as I do that everyone's Shabbos table revolves around who was in Shul that is single and can be set up, or who is dating and who is not and why they don't want to be set up. It's much easier for a person to say "I'm gay" then it is to lie, a million times over, about why they're not ready to date, which, by the age of 25 basically a person runs out of excuses.
Number one pet peeve, stated both in Hirhurim and by R' Twersky at the infamous Shiur- as the line that caused me to walk out in the middle- that coming out is only a result and product of Western culture and the 21st century. Ifrst of all, historically that's just not true. And I will tell you from a personal standpoint, I did not come out because Western culture made it an option. I came out because I was miserable in the closet. I felt empty, alone, like I had no purpose, and like my life would never become anything worthwhile, and I hated myself. And since I came out things have only, Baruch Hashem, improved. So don't tell me why I came out, and why coming out is not necessary for a gay person to do and they should just keep it to themselves. You get to rub your marriages, perfect families and children and heterosexual dating stories in my face every day, I'm allowed to tell you why I don't have those things like everyone else. You get to say on facebook you're interested in women, I'm allowed to say I'm interested in men. It's as simple as that. Until everyone who is heterosexual keeps "don't ask don't tell" gay people shouldn't have to either.

Monday, July 26, 2010


For those of you that haven't seen it, (what are you- living under a rock?):

I had a lot of emotions racing through me when this was released- I read through each paragraph with a fine-toothed comb, and to see names of many Rebbeim who I admire and respect on the signature list, and started to tear up a bit. Then I shared with the world. I am happy. I am proud. I feel like I finally belong in places where, honestly, I was scared to enter because of how the sommunity would judge me. But now I know that the Orthodox community- or at least their leaders are no long judging, and are willing to accept the struggles of a homosexual in the Orthodox world, and understand the difficult things we go through.

Portions that struck me in a good way- gay Jews have the right to belong to a congregation and make it their community, gay Jews have the right to refrain from seeking out reparative therapy if they feel it would be more harmful than helpful, children of gay couples should be accepted fully, and that gay Jews should not be encouraged to marry members of the opposite gender. All these values that are unfortunately not approached properly in other communities, and that many Rabbi's do not believe belong in the Orthodox world for whatever reason. But everyone on that list does believe it.

When asked what the next step after the YU Panel should be- this is it. This is the step that was/is needed for the gay Orthodox Jewish population. Awareness, sensitivity and acceptance into the communities we have always called home. All I wish for now is more and more Orthodox leaders to sign on in order to continue the strength displayed by the Orthodox community in releasing this statement.

And for those who asked, I wouldn't change anything about this letter. Not. One. Thing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


A few months ago, I spoke about how sometimes a person gives up part of themselves for a specific cause, if they want to. I wanted to expand upon that, to explain that I am not the only person. Something that I am only coming to grips with now, is that this is not only my fight, my cause, my passion. There are so many more out there- just like me- who are struggling, or even who have come to terms with who they are- but still feel passionately about bringing the issue of sexuality or even homosexuality to the forefront of the Orthodox world.

We are many- and we are finally giving each other strength to show the Jewish world that we are here. I know that I do not advocate for someone to come out- ever- if they don't feel it's right for them. But so many ARE coming out, and have been coming out, and this is OUR cause. This is our cause to work on the best way we can, to try and be Frum and gay, to try and be proud of who we are after years and years of being to scared to speak up- or even specifically being told to keep silent. I'm not for an all gay Orthodox community, b/c the Jewish religion is not about separating and branching off (no matter how many jokes you want to make about break-away shuls), Judaism is about community and I, for one, do not want to leave the world I grew up, and feel part of, just because it may not be the most comfortable at this time. I will fight to stay in the world I love and in the community I've always belonged to because it feels right.

I am not alone, and I realize now I never was, ever. None of us are alone, just because we feel alienated, we are making strides every day for homosexuals to be accepted (I do NOT say permitted) in the Orthodox community. I love all of you out there, fighting with me to understand what it means to be Frum and gay. And good luck.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Change, part 1

As part of my summer fellowship, we've been discussing the limits and definitions of change within the Orthodox world. What should change? What shouldn't? Why do certain laws adapt to the times we live in, while others are stuck in their original textual form?

It's important for me to realize that I don't have the answer, I don't know what is allowed to be changed or not changed in Halacha. I do question daily, however, what God wants from his people living in a modern world. As far as the world as a whole, change is key. Change is part of life- growing, evolving, opening new chapters and finishing old ones. Communities evolve, culture evolves, society evolves, towns, cities, countries, all grow to meet the new standards and change the way of life. So why can't the Jewish/Orthodox community? Why do we and many of our leaders insist on being stuck in the 20th century while the world moves into the 21st?

Having grown up in an Orthodox mind frame, I understand and believe that the Jewish community puts up boundaries and avoids change in order to weed out the perceived "bad" from the world around them. However, there is no form of clear definition as to what constitutes good and bad in the world around us. I'm not talking just about sexuality, but women's rights and slavery and all these things that the Torah seems to be clear on, but don't make any sense in a modern context. Again, I never advocate for change of existent Torah law. But that doesn't mean progress and growth and slow change can not occur. It can, and the Torah can be brought into the 21st century, like I honestly believe God meant for it to.

I know i suddenly seem lie a radical liberal, but I hate to be put in any sort of box.I don't subscribe to changing the Torah, but I do believe in questioning it, and ensuring that everything we have stuck to for 2000+ years is what we were meant to stick to, and not just small practices that became strict rules that became rigid laws and unchanging mindsets. There are many things that can change. Stay tuned for "Change, part ii".

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's Yours

Recently I've been talking to a lot of people new to the Orthodox gay scene, whether in the closet or out, they are first beginning to understand who they themselves are. To you, and all my friends-gay and straight, I have some advice:

Your sexuality is yours. You have the right to do with it what you feel is best for you. If a straight person wants to get married, great, if he wants to stay single, that's fine too, even though Orthodoxy may encourage you to get married as son as possible. For a gay person- if you need to be in the closet, do that. If you need to be out of the closet do that. if you want to marry a member of the opposite gender- I do not really support that, but just make sure you take into account other people's feelings and emotions when doing it.

Sexuality is fluid. For many people it is ever changing, from curiosity to bisexuality to homosexuality and back again. And there's nothing wrong with that. The important thing is that you stay in touch to who you are- and you focus on what you really want from your life. Understand where you fall on the "spectrum" and how that plays in to your life. You sexuality is yours, to know, to understand and to do with it what you feel best. When someone is in the closet, many people try to encourage them to come out and many people try to force you to stay in there, especially in the Orthodox world. So again, try to know what is best for you, and don't let anyone else force you to do anything one way or another.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Struggle, pt II

What does it mean to be happy? How does one achieve a feeling of everlasting happiness? This post isn't about happiness, per se, but about the struggle of my life, and why I'm scared I might never be completely happy.

I'm not trying to say I'm a sad or depressed person or that I will never be happy. I am just saying that a feeling of sustained and permanent happiness feels like it will be very hard to come by. Because I want the Chupah. I want the wedding and the sheva brachos, and I even wish I could be standing up there with a woman whom I love. I wish I could hold her in my arms and spend the rest of my life with her. But I can't have any of that. I am gay, and I don't love women to fill my heart or her heart enough to spending the rest of my life with a woman. And while, yes, I am confident in who I am, and happy with where my life is, there are things, such as an Orthodox wedding, that are out of my grasp. I do stare at a wife and husband and wish I could be them. Why has God given me this challenge? I don't know. Do I wish I could make it go away? Of course.

I hope, and pray, and somewhere deep inside me, I know, that I will find true love one day. I will find the person who completes me, whom I feel proud to be with and proud of, and he will feel the same about me. I will be by his side for the rest of our lives. But there will always be a part of me, and I know this sounds a bit self-defeating, that wishes it could be different. That wants to live the life that I was raised to believe was normal and right. But I know that life isn't for me as badly as I may want it.
All I know how to do for now is be as happy as I possibly can, for as long as I can, and share whatever happiness I do have to the entire world. Because moments of sadness like this one only make me stronger and more willing to focus on the good, and the complete happiness I wish for me, and for everyone around me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Please, Please, Please

Something that I have attempted to teach throughout my posts is tolerance. It doesn't matter who you are, what your religious beliefs are, what your sexuality is, or the color of your skin- God put each and every one of us on this earth, and we all deserve to be treated with respect. So I ask you- if a good friend of yours came out to you, what would you do? How would you react? Pretend it's the last person on earth you would expect- your best friend of life who is also the straightest acting person you've ever dealt with- what would you do? Would you treat that person with the same respect you always have?

I ask this question to every person who reads this blog. And even more importantly I ask this to every person who is planning, at any point in the future, to have children. What would you do if your son or daughter told you they were gay? How would you help them through the struggle? How would you attempt to rectify your religious beliefs with the way they are and how would you help them with their religious struggle? Because for the next generation, as sexuality finally becomes more accepted, it is imperative for any couple planning to have children to consider this first. Make sure you're on the same page as your spouse, make sure you would have a clear picture of what would happen.

Because, too often, parents and friends are caught off guard when someone they know and love comes out to them. Would you love and respect that person the same way you always did? Please, please, please, think about these things as you face new challenges on a daily basis. And think about the challenges a gay Jew faces and imagine someone you love struggling the same way and what you would do to help them be happy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Baby and the Bathwater

There's an expression that really didn't resonate with me until recently: "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater". As silly as it sounds, it is far too true. Different components of Judaism all too often spend a lot of time preaching various aspects of Halacha- and often time they pick one to preach to the exclusion of many others. This forces a strong commitment to many of the stringencies in Halacha, to the exclusion of many less stringent, but just as important laws. More than that, when a Jew finds himself struggling with the stringencies of a commandment, he's all too likely to throw out the entire commandment than to just stop following the stringencies.

As some examples, there are people who think just because they throw out Shomer Negiah, they should begin having sex. THere are a lot of levels between the two, and a lot more problems Halachically with having sex then there is just touching a member of the opposite gender. A less intense example, but equally as important, would be the commandment of Tzitzit- many people feel the need to wear the wool ones, and since those are too heavy- they'd rather wear nothing at all than just get a lighter fabric. And the ultimate example- a person who struggles with his sexuality, and feels he can't reconcile it with his religion may simply just throw out the religion.

Personally, my sexuality and religion don't fit together. But I know that I cannot throw out the baby just because I need to drain the bathwater. I know that I should start wearing Tzitzit again because the commandment isn't for a wool pair, it's just for a simple four cornered garment. And everyone should make sure that their struggle with a commandment or two or all 613, isn't over a stringency that has been misconstrued to be the entity of the commandment, and perhaps focus on going back to the basics.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Independence and Conformity

When I was in high school I felt that doing anything remotely Jewish meant subscribing to this whole world that I hated so much. It also meant that I wasn't my own person and everyone would think that I was just another Jew. Throughout college I've been attempting to internalize that there is so much more to a person than their religious beliefs or their community- and there is no way that any two people can be exactly the same.

There's an important component to our religion, some may argue the most important component, and that's community. We have an obligation to be part of the community, to contribute to the Jewish lives we all live, and make it feel that none of us are alone by constantly reenforcing being part of one nation. Unfortunately, the Jewish community creates labels, stereotypes, and establishes who you are based on where you pray, or how you keep the Torah based on where you live. While those labels suck, it's important to focus on the better parts of it- like feeling included as part of a whole.

Just by observing commandments, a person doesn't have to worry that they are being "just like everyone else". Going to the same high school, or colleges, or living in the same communities and following the same laws- doesn't mean that a person is not an individual. It just means that they are part of a whole. But every person within the whole can still be an individual. They can build their own connection to God and have their own styles, taste in music, and everything. Don't be scared to be part of a community, just because it comes with labels and stereotypes. Seek to be your own person while still feeling part of a greater whole.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Some theories I have that in no way reflect anyone's opinion but my own. But I do think someone can learn from what I say.

One thing I feel very strongly about is the absolute power of Halacha. It exists, and cannot be changed by any regular authorities today. The greatest of Rabbi's can interpret the law that was given to us. However, that does not mean that every word spoken by sages, commentaries, and the like over the past 3,000 years is absolute truth. Our Rabbis and sages have taught, said, and ruled on many different subjects. Most of them have commented on many subjects, but that does not indicate a Halachik ruling. The more Religious public and learned population takes for granted that everything said by our Rabbi's in the past are automatically rulings for generations. Very often, they were only values for their generations. Our Rabbis today have the right to make rulings based on what is right for our generation.

Another thing that I like to focus on for myself is the understanding that until God comes down from the Heavens, or sends a Rabbi like R' Chaim Rappaport (author of the tremendous "Judaism and Homosexuality") to give a solution as to what a frum homosexual should do with their lives, I will just have to do the best I can to live my life. I will have to live my life the way I feel God wants me to and do the best I can to observe his commandments, while also attempting an emotionally stable existence (via my being out of the closet) to ensure my happiness.

Something I feel incredibly strong about is that God wants us all to try our best. In my humble opinion, Hashem want us all to do the best job we can serving Him. We all have the individual right to create our own relationship with God and no Rabbi, ancient or modern, can tell us how to do that. All God wants is to see us trying, to see us attempting at creating a life within His boundaries, or anything we can do close to that. That's all He wants, and all He can ask for. In my opinion.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm feeling stressed. Obviously, it's finals right? No. I'm a senior, thank God finals are pretty okay this year. But socially, I feel like I have a million people that I want to be with in a million different places at a million different times. And while, ideally, I would like to satisfy all of them, I just try do what makes me the happiest, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. While it may not be fair of me to flip-flop from group A to family back to group A and then to group B, maybe it's not fair for me to obligate myself to be in so many places at one time?

I'm not saying this to sounds haughty, even though I know it does. I say this because it hurts me on the inside, makes me very upset and almost irreconcilable sometimes when I know I'm letting friends down. So when I make plans to do three things one night, and satisfy four different parties, and I end up doing only one or two of those things, it makes me very uncomfortable in my own skin, I just want to go back in time and fix everything that went wrong. And sometimes I just need to stick with one group at a time and focus on the people that currently fit the best into my life right now. And while that may be selfish, I know how much I do try to be involved in every group- even though it doesn't always work out.

Sometimes there are things I really want to do, but don't have time for or can't do them, and it upsets me. The problem is I end up upsetting myself by not hanging out with you because I really do want to hang out with you. It's just not so easy sometimes. And I hate how sad it makes me when I can't plan for 28 hours in the day, as well as to have a car, and be able to be where I want to be exactly when I want to be there. In fact, it sucks. I just have to try and get through it and make sure to stay happy? Sometimes I just need to challenge myself, and help myself grow, and writing this out should totally help. So thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Family Outing

Hey, so three topics to come within the next few days, but I'll start by answering a commenter who often asks what my family thinks about everything.

My extended family and cousins have only recently heard of my coming out, and I thank them for all their support and love and hope that people will learn from having me in their family. My parents generation doesn't know as much, many don't know anything about my sexuality, but seeing as their more distant from my life, I don't feel pressured to tell them as much. Although some I see kinda often and it's frustrating to be asked when I'm dating and when I'm getting married.

The hardest people to tell were the people I was closest to- so the last people that knew were my roommate, followed by my siblings. I was so scared that who I was would change in their eyes, so scared of being judged or not trusted or scolded, or worst of all, cut out, from their lives that I didn't want to tell them. My roommate had heard from other sources, since he travels in my social circles but I still pushed off telling him, and he was really was as amazing as anyone could hope for, he had already had time to process, but he didn't ask questions, didn't freak out, just took it in and accepted it, and to this day is still my roommate and best friend. Thanks.

My siblings were another story. One of my (3) sisters has been my rock in this area since high school and I don't know where I would be without her, so thanks. But the others, since they weren't in my social world too much and more conservative based of of how we were all raised, I pushed it off for as long as possible. With some of them it needed to be confronted head on, and with some it just had to be mentioned in passing. And while I wish it was easier to discuss it openly with them like I do with my friends, I love that I can still be a part of their lives as much as I always have been, and they are my four (or more, including spouses) best friends in the world and I literally pray that our relationship only grows and continues in the future, and doesn't stop if I do something they may not approve of.

My parents were the first people I told. I wasn't going to come out socially, and hope it didn't get back to them when they live ten minutes away from YU- and they're my parents. It was difficult, but they knew I had been struggling with this since high school, I just don't think they realized I would ever come out. But I did, and it was discussed once or twice over the course of 18 months and that was really hard. I felt like I hadn't come out at all. But recently, since the YU Panel, the channels have been a bit more open as they are more willing to understand that I struggle with something that conflicts with my desire to be Frum, and I think they realized how deep that struggle can go. I have to thank the awful response of R' Twersky to the event for my father being so angry with him for being unwilling to allow me to be in the Orthodox world. So while I'm not bringing anyone home anytime soon, I know that I will always have their love, and mostly their support.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We are the world

Hey, I wanted to briefly focus on another topic that has come up almost daily in the past 2 weeks of my life. I think there is a theme within the Orthodox communities of ethnocentrism. The Idea that "us" Orthodox Jews know better, act better, and are better, than the rest of the world as a whole, and even the rest of the Jewish world.

It's time for that theory to be eradicated. Wherever that attitude came from within our communities it just needs to go. Orthodoxy has the same, if not more, problems than the rest of the world. We have no more figured out than a non-Orthodox Jew and are no better people than your average "Goy". We are all equals in this world, and until we realize that we can never have an influence on anyone else. No one wants to be looked down upon, no one wants to hear from the Orthodox Jews, when all we do is talk down to others and teach them why our way is the right way and their ways are wrong. We need to grow out of that frame of mind, or no one will want to listen to us.

I am just as guilty as anyone else, of growing up in the Orthodox world and believing that we were above it all. It's what being sheltered and staying in our own communities will do to us. However, I am only now beginning to learn that my attitude has been all wrong, and I hope I can grow to understand that I am no better than anyone else because of my community.

I say the following with caution and not any sense of authority on the matter, and no offense meant to anyone- it's just something that came to mind, and I could be wrong: Orthodox Jews spent a lot of time in Europe sheltering themselves and trying to be above everyone else, and unfortunately that seemed to have a negative outcome. The only way to be part of the world is to understand that we are all the same. We are just as good or bad, strong or weak, tall or short, as everyone around us. Until that happens, no one will take us seriously and we will lose the opportunity to influence the world in any way, if we are simply ignored because of arrogance.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In my head

It will always be there, it will always be in the back of my mind. As happy, as confident, as controlled as I try to be, it will always be there. The dissonance of being Orthodox and Gay.

I bring this up now in light of last week's Torah portions, the two verses that contain the prohibition towards the physical actions of anal sex and homosexuality, as they bring up mixed emotions when I hear it read in shul. Part of me wants to run away, part of me wants to stand there in pride that I can be Orthodox and hear these verses read, but then I wonder what kind of pride is it to know that the way I want to live my life violates Halacha? They are two mixed emotions. And yes, there are ways to interpret the verses to make someone feel not as guilty, but I'm not about reinterpreting things. I try to be as honest with myself and my religion and my sexuality.

On that note, I do plan on staying away from anal sex for the duration of my lifetime, with God's help, which is something I avoided posting on here for a while, because I felt it too personal. But after standing in Shul, I knew I needed to discuss things further. So I take comfort in hopefully not violating the Issur Deoraysa (Torah prohibition), but still feel the angst in my mind of a life that will never be perfectly okay according to Halacha.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Another thing that's been on my mind-
When is a person too good? Too sweet? Giving up what they want for others? It's a fine line between being selfish and selfless, but being selfless isn't necessarily the best way to go.

If you give up what you truely want for the sake of others, where will that get YOUR life? Also, if you constantly remind everyone of what an amazing person you are, and how selfless you are and how much you do for the world around you, doesn't that defeat the purpose of being a good person? it seems to undermine it all.

I'm all for someone doing everything they can to help the world around them, but on notes similar to things I've said in the past, how much is too much? What you do can impact the world and help those around you, but make sure it doesn't come at your own cost. I have always struggled with people calling me selfish, especially after coming out, but I know that there are certain things that a person must do for themselves. If you see someone helping someone else at their own sake, try to point this out to them- because the world will not become a better place if one person succeeds while the other one fails. Make sure you have a clear perception of who you are and where you're going before you help everybody else. Be a little selfish sometimes.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


So there are a lot of topics on my mind right now, I've had some time to think over Pesach, and I'll do a blog prob every few days this week. One thing on my mind, especially as I spend a lot of time around family- the most judgmental element in anyone's life- is the broad topic of maturity. What is maturity? What defines someone as mature or immature- is it all based on societal values or is it personal opinion?

A few examples- going our with friends to bars, and getting drunk- mature or immature? Sleeping in on various mornings, even Shabbat- mature or immature? Thinking outside the box, going against the norm- mature or rebellious and immature? These questions plague me daily, as I do worry about society's perception of me (another issue itself, but not for now), and how I look in other people's eyes. My conclusions are obviously not in any way final or even correct, they've just been the way I've made sense of this topic in my head:

When I was younger, a teen, everyone told me how mature I was for my age. Now, as an adult, I don't get that comment- ever- and have even been called immature by some, even though my thinking is as forward and developed as it has ever been. Because I think at a certain point, like as one begins college- everyone is considered mature. Everyone has reached a level of expected behavior and that behavior is mature. The only ones we now judge are those who don't live up to it and call them immature. I rarely can recall a person in high school who was "immature", someone was just more mature than the rest- and now people are just more immature than the rest.

Regardless of the questions I asked above, I think it's important, as I try to do, to judge your own personal behavior based on what you believe is right for you to be doing. If you need to have fun, have fun, if you're tired, sleep. But if your intentions are to "never grow up" or to overly indulge in activities without attempting to think about your life and the greater scheme of things, that's immature.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


After coming out a lot of things changed for me. But i'm not even speaking personally, but professionally. I knew I was closing off my life from opportunities within the Yeshiva day schools or summer camps or NCSY, and it hurt, but I hoped somehow it would all be worth it. I came to YU b/c the opportunities of places to go from there within the Jewish Community- even out of the closet- were much greater than anywhere else.

While at YU I took a few small leadership opportunities and did a few things to keep myself content. But i knew it wasn't enough. I was just so scared that if I took more opportunities I would be rejected because of who I was. Or I wouldn't be comfortable on certain programs or people wouldn't be comfortable with me- rooming with them, hanging out with them, because while yes, the Orthodox world may need to open up a little more, it scared me to be the one to do it- and I didn't need to force them. If people wanted to open up, I was here, but if they didn't I didn't want to make trouble. But it really came at a high price as I missed out on some amazing experiences.

So recently, I took one of those experiences and applied to work within YU next year. I'm done sitting on the sidelines, and I just want to work within the Jewish community- and maybe even within the Modern Orthodox community, if they'll have me. I'm tired of running away from opportunities, and I'm tired of letting my fear of what trouble others may perceive me of causing, even though I never did anything of the sort, get in the way of where I want to go. So good luck to me on getting the job, if not, onto more endeavors.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I think I need to (sort of) reverse perspective from the last post. People who don't open up.

If I've lost you as a friend simply because I'm gay- I'm sad you don't understand my struggle nor are you willing to try to.
If I've lost you because I'm too flamboyant- take a look at your straight friends and tell me you're happy with every one of their personality traits and the way they act every day- and you're proud of everything they do.
If I've lost you because I have given in to various sins- one, show me proof, and two, prove to me that you are perfect.
If I've lost you because hanging out with me has given you a bad reputation, I ask- what is more important to you? The reputation you have with various close-minded individuals, or a friendship that you may actually get something out of?

I'm not perfect. But in the areas mentioned above, I feel that I have done nothing wrong. These are four things I'm not willing to apologize for. Am I open to change? Yes. Am I open to people challenging who I am and what I believe in? Yes. But am I open to simple criticism just for being who I am or for trying to be myself? No.
It's a great struggle, no matter what age a person is, to "find themselves". To understand or discover who they are. So it's taken me over 22 years to figure it out, but as I get closer to it- and this includes many more things than just my sexuality- I am less open to hatred and criticism when all I want to do is live.

And If I've lost you because I've done something wrong, something to hurt you, something that personally offended you, for that I apologize- and I hope you can let me know and we can work things out.

And those that are still here with me- I love you, and having you in my life. Thanks.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Open Up

So life has been pretty stressful the past few weeks, I am stage managing the YU play this coming week and also ran a Shabbaton while attending a best friend's wedding and another best friend's l'chaim. Mazal tov guys. Anyway, I wanted to say a few things that may seem pretty random, but I think this is the essence of my interactions with the world around me.

Let me explain. While I may have my opinions of your dress, behavior, actions, and approve or disapprove in my head, none of those things are important to me. Anyone who knows me in person knows that I have many friends- but also that these friends are TOTALLY random and come from all different walks of life, and currently live all different types of lifestyles. I don't care how you live or dress or act- those are all your personal choices, only if you ask for my opinion maybe I will give it. But in general, I accept you for who you are- and unless you really are not a good person, or do something to prove to me that you have little regard for others, would I rather not have you in my life. But seriously, almost everyone in the world is a good person if you just give yourself the opportunity to get to know them, and there is little to not do that, you will find that people are generally good. So give everyone a chance, it's usually worth it.
There's no reason to shut people out just because they may be different than you or have different values. If you're secure enough with who you are and how you act, then just because someone is different, doesn't mean they have to influence you or change your morals or values, so don't be scared.

(Sorry if this sounds condescending- I just am really happy with every single person that is in my life, and I wish others would also give everyone equal opportunity- or you might miss out on some great relationships!)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

When things surprise you

A few weeks ago, I was going to publish a post about how Hashem works in mysterious ways. Instead, I decided to wait, b.c what I was saying didn't have a lot of substance. Now I think it does:

I have been through a lot of confusion in my lifetime and fighting, we all have; and I'm going to be honest- with my coming out there came a few drawbacks- those in the closet and struggling were less likely to open up to me, those out of the closet couldn't understand why I wanted to be frum, and the worst part- there were many individuals who saw me as their play-thing, their opportunity to 'experiment', those who were closeted to try and get some easy action, those who just wanted action and didn't care if it came from a guy or a girl. Now, while I wasn't always the most 'wholesome' individual, I did want to fight these desires and people throwing themselves at me. Recently, it has been worse than ever. But recently it's also been the easiest to fight.

A few weeks ago Hashem sent me a gift. Someone I did not see coming, who has impacted my life more than I ever thought possible, and regardless of what happens with us, he has given me more peace with the past, more strength in the present, and more hope for the future than I ever thought possible. And yes I think it's Hashem's hand, helping me through the desires and helping me fight the struggles while finding the happiness I thought I would never get and honestly, didn't believe I deserved. But for right now, I think I finally believe that I deserve it. And I'm pretty sure I give the same back to him.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Who's giving up on who

So here is a response to some comments from the last post, claiming that once I've "given up" by violating such a "heinous crime", the community has the right to turn their backs on a sinner.
I ask- Who has given up on whom?
Personally, I have not given up on either. Giving up would be turning my back on the community, because that is the easier route for and orthodox Jew in handling sexuality, to give up, to go live their lives however they please and forget about what the Torah says. Giving up could also be giving up on sexuality, and spending my life alone, in pain and suffering, not wanting to hurt a woman who I would never truly love, but not wanting to violate such a severe prohibition in the Torah, so I would be alone. I have chosen neither of those. I have given up on nothing. I have embraced both aspects of my life the best I can.
If you tell me the community has the right to give up on me for violating a commandment by commiting such a heinous crime- I beg of you- close your doors to every Jew! because every Jew has their skeletons in their closet, and every Jew is in violation of something, somewhere. And I know, I make my sin public knowledge- but I ask, do I actually? Do I run around telling everyone if I am or am not sexually active? If I have or have not committed any avierah? No. I simply state that I am a gay Orthodox Jew. I have an attraction to men. In stating that, I am being honest with myself and the world- and if that is a sin, then excommunicate the heterosexuals too, in particular the unmarried ones who are 'announcing' that they are straight and have desires that they may or may not act upon.
So who has given up on whom?
Because if the community shuns individuals such as myself, and all sinners, there will be no one left in Orthodoxy.

Monday, February 22, 2010


As a psych student, I often attempt to merge the schools of thoughts found in the Torah I try to study, and the psychology classes I have taken. How much of Torah takes into account the thoughts and feelings of true human nature?

One of my favorite things of Judaism is the mourning process. The Torah allows for the most natural and safest way for a person to heal after the death of a loved one- allowing a day without Mitzvot until the body is buried, a week of purging- for all emotions and feelings to be expressed. Then a month of remembrance and a 30-day gathering to really heal and remember the good. Finally a year long expression of love and prayer through Kaddish. SO as to never forget the pain that uou have experienced and how to express to Hashem your love for Him and have Him take care of the soul of the departed.

However, I do recognize that often time Halacha seems so out of touch with reality. Like the feelings of pain and anguish I feel over the prospect of spending a life alone as the Rabbi's would want, although that's not my plan. And when human beings try to do the best they can to cope and enjoy life in the world, while sometimes Torah seems to only want us to focus on the world to come and do everything here to make our reward greater there. How does the Torah address social conformity, peer pressure, and the 'struggles' of the 21st century of guarding your eyes and guarding your tongue when there seems to be evil all around us- that's up to us to do our best, but it would have been nice to have more of a guidance, like in the laws of mourning. Torah can be practical, Torah can be out there, we have to figure out a way to make it all work in our lives.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eyes Wide Open

So last week I saw this movie playing in the Village- an Israeli film entitled "Eyes Wide Open". Shout out to you, who I saw it with. The premise of the movie is a secret gay relationship taking place between two Hassidic Jews in Meah Shearim, Jerusalem. One is married, one a single young struggle Yeshiva Bochur being moved from Yeshiva to Yeshiva b/c he is a sinner.
The dotted section is a spoiler, so if you plan on seeing the movie, do not read the dotted line section.

From a religious perspective it was frightening. The community gets wind that the owner of a butcher shop is harboring a student who was kicked out of his Yeshiva for "a sin". There are "rumors", they say, though the community never mentions the word or sin itself. They also put signs up announcing their is a sinner in their midst. They are 'fearful' for their community and their children, letting such a sin inside. The butcher shop owner, with a wife and children, falls into a relationship with the Bochur, and after they threaten to take away his family and livelihood, he is forced to have Ezri leave.

From a homosexual perspective, the relationship is real, loving, and wrought with the pain and guilt that each party feels, knowing their love is a sin. My favorite part of the movie was when the married man, confronted, by his Rav, claims that before his relationship with Exri, he "had never felt alive, now he finally feels alive". It made it all very real, that there was more to them than simply sexuality or a physical "ta'avah", it was true love.

The ending was the married man entering a purification spring, where he once went with Ezri, dunking three times, then a fourth, and never coming up for a period of about fifteen to thirty seconds and then credits rolled. In my opinion it felt as if it didn't matter whether he came up alive, whether he was killing himself or not, b/c without Ezri, back in this loveless and life void of happiness, it didn't matter, his life might as well have been over.

As opposed to the ultra-Orthodox that the movie portrays, my recent experiences have taught me to thank Hashem that I am Modern Orthodox. I fear, that for me to have grown up more ultra-orthodox, rather than modern, I would not be able to stay frum. It is simply too hard, in a black and white world, to have feelings that are gray and let them in. You either go one way or the other. Being Modern has allowed me to accept the gray areas, explore the gray, and embrace everything- even if it doesn't fit into the strict black and white categories religion often imposes upon us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Don't judge your friends...

... Until you reach the same point as them.
One of my favorite and all time important lessons for life. Applicable to everyone- but I have to relate it back to my own stories.

Recently, in the argument for change (from gay to straight), I've just needed to say it- loud and proud- Don't tell me what I should do until you've experienced it. Until you've experienced the pain and the suffering and struggle and the depression- don't send me a JONAH pamphlet or tell me to buy Arthur Goldberg's book.

At the YU Seforim Sale where I cashiered, someone picked up Arthur's JONAH book and began to announce what an important book it was and how everyone should read it. Now, I can only assume that this person was not a Jonah member or success story, because those are few and far between. And even if someone does advocate change, I promise reading a book will not 'fix' anything. I promise you the road is much longer and harder than that.

So again, I say, anyone out there who is not gay- never has been, never will be- anyone out there who is upset by the panel or the existence of homosexuality in the Orthodox community, you have no right. You have no right to judge or to tell us what what should do. Until you've experienced it yourself, which, trust me, is the last thing I wish for anyone on this Earth.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I promise this is not about any of my friends that are reading this blog. It's very personal, and involves ppl you don't know.
After finally coming out and becoming more confident with that aspect of my life, I finally found inner peace that i hadn't had since puberty. With that, I took the time to work on myself- find my strengths, find my weaknesses, and find all the things that made me who I am.

It doesn't matter how old you are, peer pressure will always exist. That's what makes the world go round and what's creates societies and builds cultures. Everyone influences each other. Its really important to constantly be aware of who you surround yourself with and the people you let into your life on a daily basis. Because as strong and as confident a person you are, others will always have an influence on what you do.

Recently I've been struggling with a fundamental of my religion because many of my friends were also, until I realized that just b/c they were struggling, that didn't make them better or stronger or more important ppl b/c of their difficulties. B/c I certainly have my own struggles and if there are few things about my life and who I am that I am confident in, there is no reason to give that up- it doesn't make me look better or worse in my friends eyes.

I am just me, and that's all I want to be, and that's all any of us should be- ourselves.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Novelty Item

I try not to complain about the mundane things, especially anything about my friends b/c I love them so much, and am so honored to have them in my life. But some friends (usually guys), be it individuals or groups as a whole, tend to focus on one part of me- my sexuality. I know it's not purposely, I know I am some what of a novelty item within the Orthodox Community and people have questions and that's fine and I'm here to answer them.

But honestly, sometimes it's hard to talk about it all the time, every day, every conversation. Especially when there's so much more to me, and especially when it's such a struggling issue, it's painful to talk about all the time. Sometimes it's my own fault for bringing it up in conversation, but usually my friends just want to know about different things- sometimes it's gay sex, sometimes gaydar, sometimes the struggles of religion, sometimes it's rating their attractiveness. It's hard for me to be this "topic of conversation", this person there to answer their questions- when I know that if I wasn't in their lives, they would never ask anyone else and it wouldn't be a big deal.

It's a little bit frustrating. Do they go around asking their straight girl friends who are girls which one of them is best looking? Rarely. It's not a comfortable position for them to put me in- even though they obviously don't do it purposely. And I don't stop them- sometimes it's nice to be the center of attention. But sometimes it's just awkward and I don't like being a novelty item.

I love all my friends and appreciate each and every relationship I have. Just wanted to vent a bit.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Struggle

[Reposted from FB for those that read it there]

I love my life. I'll tell you what bothers me. When others try and tell me how to live, how to act and how to behave. The Torah and Rabbis I have a relatonship with, maybe, but until you live my life, do not tell me what I can and cannot do. Or that who I am is simply society leaking into our "perfect" Jewish culture.

Are those who are "judging" me celibate individuals? No, they are married- or will be married- and they have sex. Are they gay? Maybe, but probably not.

So until they are in my shoes, don't tell me my Nisayon, my test, is just like everyone else's; that I can overcome it with enough effort. It might be true, but only in very specific situations, and until you are in my specific situation, don't tell me what challenges I can or cannot overcome.

Our society is not a "pure Torah society", so don't yell at me for turning it impure. It's not my fault that I have a struggle and regardless of that struggle, I simply want for the Orthodox community to accept me. The more you denounce my challenge and tell me my struggle is not okay, the more you push me away from Orthodoxy. If that is the goal, congratulations, you are succeeding. If it is not, then stop. Just stop. Just let me try and make a life for myself and stay frum.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Move along.

When I was in high school I used to imagine "endless nights". My theory was that the longer I stayed awake, the more I focused on NOT falling asleep, the next day would never come. The morning would never come and I would never have to worry about the test I had the next day or the pain that was my life and my sexuality. Life could just freeze in this endless night, where time never had to move on.
In a way, I feel, that might be a phase the world is going through. In particular, when it comes to anyone fearful of change or commitment, it represents their greater fear of moving on, of growing up, of gaining days, months and years on their lives. They're scared if they commit to something in the future, they are committing to that future time and date arriving, and therefore locking themselves into a plan that they cannot alter, and they cannot stop it from arriving.
Sometimes it might be nice to freeze the world. Sometimes it would be nice not to have to move on, to face the world to face the future, but no matter how long you fight that sleep from overtaking you, the new day will come. So instead of fighting, I challenge us all to embrace it. Embrace every new day, embrace every new step and every moment of our future. "Remember the past, Live the present, Trust the future."

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Anyone that knows me, knows this: I wear my heart on my sleeve, and follow my emotions. My heart tells me where to go, what to do - because suppressing that is no way to live. Even if my brain contradicts.
Lately there has been a lot of people trying to understand more about homosexuality and religion, why a gay person has to come out, and why I did come out. Here's something I wrote in a very vulnerable state, while contemplating the meaning of sexuality and religion. (ie- after watching "Prayers for Bobby"):

i didnt come out to announce to the world or to parade my lifestyle or to tell every other jewish struggling kid to come out. i came out for myself. so i could finally stop hiding. its not fun to always be telling everyone "oh im not ready to date" or "im not looking to get married yet". Eventually they get it, and they all talk and wonder whats wrong with me.
I came out to tell the world there is nothing wrong with me. they can stop wondering and judging, im gay. so im not the same as them but again, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with me. by keeping it in, im admitting that it's something shameful. im admitting its something never to tell anyone about b/c it's not "normal". well that's not a way to live. Even by just telling a few friends, that's acting as though its an embarrassment. its not. its just part of me.

the more ppl like me and my friends come out (shout out JQY), the more ppl understand that theres nothing wrong with us. that maybe the actions are shunned by the torah, but that doesnt change the desires we have. and maybe if ppl begin to see and hear that this "way of life" is just like everyone else with a few exceptions, maybe then less kids will be hurt or hurt themselves growing up knowing b/c they will finally know that they are not alone. and that time has come to be okay and for the world to understand we're just like everyone else.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Little Boxes

As a society, we create rules and expectations for everyone around us. Titles, labels, boxes . These are the "places" we categorize people who we encounter- coworkers, friends, family ; or label those around us- Frum, not Frum, Yeshivish, Modern, etc...

This is what society was created to do (see "Lord of the Flies"). But I ask- as a society, as a Jewish world and nation, how small or large are our boxes? What categorizes a person in one box and not the other? The labels that we create and so willingly force other people into- what gives us that right? Now I know no one can CHANGE society- but on the topic of homosexuality, there is one thing I thought of, with help from a friend, as far as boxes go:
There are exceptions to every rule.

Whatever box you may place me in, or anyone in your life, we have to be willing and understanding that there are (a) other boxes, and (b) exceptions to every box. Not everyone will fit perfectly in everyone else's box. In fact, most of us don't ever fit into a box- we are all individuals, just some are more obvious about their individuality than others. But when labeling and boxing and giving other people expectations, make sure you do not rely too heavily on what box you "expect" or "assume" someone belongs in. Because chances are, they will break the mold.

Let's move on

And here I say- there is/always has been a lot more to me than the issue of homosexuality. Sure there is the most to discuss in terms of that, but it's been a very intense few weeks with that conversation. Let's move on. (At least on this blog... there are still plenty more discussions happening-

AND THAT'S IT. Moving on with a new post.

It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews