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.

It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews