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.

It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews