Sunday, January 1, 2012

That Girl

I guess I needed a bit of a break. My last post, while definitely not necessarily my most thought out or best choice of words, was important for me to write. So I appreciate all the feedback, even the negative. I wanted to share something that's been on my mind- being that girl.

In the past, I've written about different individual's choices to stay in the closet, and my dismay with those who stay in the closet and date women, even though they know that they're gay. It's one thing to hide it as a personal choice, but it's another to bring other people into this decision and struggle. I was talking to a friend who asked me about the orientation a boy she was set up with. I told her I was uncomfortable answering or disclosing any information I may or may not know, and she responded, "Please, Ely, no one wants to be that girl." That's what inspires this post. While many friends have had numerous girls come to them with a situation as this, it's rarely happened to me.

It's always unfortunate when men/women hide who they are from their significant others, but I never thought that once they come out, what their partner's perspective would be. Apparently, no one wants to be that girl. No one wants to fall in love and be told "I love you, but I'll never love you as much as you love me".  I always felt less upset when a homosexual person posed as a heterosexual one, as long as their significant other knew. But now I realize, that even if they know, that doesn't mean it's okay. No one wants to be the person in a relationship who gets the burden of being with a homosexual partner.

A fellow gay blogger came out to his wife recently (read about it here), and I strongly admire his courage and decision. And I am happy that they are figuring out how to make it work best for both of them. However, I have to feel a certain amount of pain for his wife. No one wants to be that girl.

PS- I apologize for the gender specificity of this post. I obviously realize that no one wants to be that guy either, who has a girlfriend or wife come out to them.


  1. I just reposted this. Ely, you are a very intelligent man. I like your style and ideas. Keep writing!

  2. This is such a hard one. Obviously it is so wrong to bring anyone else into this but we've all done it, unfortunately - either because we need to try it out and "make sure" we're really gay, or because we're in denial about our true identity, or just because we don't want our moms to guess the truth and we can't say no when she comes to us with a setup idea. I have come out to my parents and will no longer date but I think about the past six, seven years a lot and continue to feel very, very guilty about all this. Obviously, there are degrees (going out one time with someone for a drink because your mom and her friend set you up with this person and you just don't have a choice, vs. actually marrying someone you don't/can't love) but it's all wrong and sad and so, so unfortunate. It is small consolation to "that girl" and "that guy," but just know - this sucks/has sucked just as much for the person on the other side of it, too.

  3. Ely, I guess I'm kind of shocked to hear that you never thought about this before. When I read people (usually men) who are gay, who know they are gay, asking for advice on whether or not they should go ahead and find an opposite-sex partner to marry, it is very difficult for me to fathom the sort of self-absorption that would allow a person to not consider that there is another person, another soul, another sexual and emotional being involved in this equation, who will be robbed of fulfilling life by being married to someone who can never love them as a spouse should... and further, that while the one *chooses* to remain closeted, the other is pushed into that life without even being given the option to decide whether or not they are willing to do that to themselves, or to their partner, for that matter. I understand that coming to terms with one's sexuality is a complicated and painful emotional process, but how hard is it really to recognize that there's another human being in the room?

  4. Ely, thank you for sharing my story. For others, I am the blogger Ely refers to. Interestingly enough, I read your post with my wife. As you say and as ironic as it might sound, I feel the same pain for my wife for being "that girl" and I have verbalized that to her.

    What I want people to realize though is that its not as simple as people knowing they are gay and marrying a woman despite having that knowledge.

    The frum world pushes kids to get married young. I got married very young and was confused. Based on my upbringing and my Rabbi's teachings I was convinced 100% that I would get married and being with a woman would make everything right. All I had was what was going on in my mind. No internet, no blogs, not one other person to share it with. I never had a homosexual experience as well. I was naive and uneducated in this area.

    My point is that no one can boiler plate everyone's experience. The result might end up the same, but how an individual got there should not be judged without knowing their story.


  5. So I fully agree that if someone is gay and is pursuing a serious relationship with a member of the opposite sex, that person--"that girl"--definitely should be told by her significant other about their sexual orientation. She has a right to know, and then it is ultimately up to her what she wants to do with the relationship.

    However, I don't think there is anything wrong with dating casually while hiding your sexual orientation. As I'm sure you know, being gay is one of the most confusing and difficult things to contend with, especially as a young person growing up in the frum world. Some people are able to know for sure that being with a girl would never work for them. That's great for them. But other people need at least some confirmation that it can't work. Going on some dates with a few different girls while under the guise of being completely heterosexual is not playing with anyone's heart. A straight guy might have a strong hunch that it would never work with a certain girl, yet he still might want to try a date or two just to be sure. I don't see how someone who is gay who wants to try dating girls is any different.

    Coming out and deciding that you are not going to date girls and that you are going to try and pursue a relationship with a man is a big deal. As I said before, some people know without a doubt that girls just simply won't work for them. But others do have a fleeting, or even more than fleeting attraction to women. And people like that owe it to themselves to fully figure out where they want their life to head in the long run. If paying for a few coffees or dinners for some girls is the way to do that, I see no harm done.

    Let me reiterate though, I am NOT supporting dating a girl, going into a serious relationship, getting engaged, married, and having kids all with someone you are marginally attracted to and probably don't even love. I do support a gay guy to date girls to the extent that it will help him fully discover and understand what he really wants in life. If he happens to find a girl he really feels that he is in love with, then he needs to fully open up to her. He needs to be able to tell her very honestly about his general sexual orientation, but he also has to be able to feel that despite his general attraction to men, there is no one in the world he'd rather be with than her. If he can honestly, from the bottom of his heart tell her that, than kol hakavod.

  6. Dating has a such a catch-22: On the one hand, you need to know who you are in order to be in a relationship; on the other hand, it's through relationships that we learn who we are.

    I know that when it comes to self-doubt, sexuality certainly trumps other identity issues that come up. However, I believe that Ely's post describes the conflicts that not only come up with sexuality.

    When I was single, there were guys I dated who would be labeled in our lovely jargon as "yeshivish". I dressed the part of a nice frum Heights girl, but underneath it all I was definitely struggling tremendously. I had my share of booty calls, I watched porn, didn't always wait to eat dairy after meat, and I even had times where I wasn't totally keeping Shabbos. Yes, I know some readers may be laughing and think this is a joke, but the reality is that I was really conflicted about who I was in private and who I was to my dates.

    Looking back, should I feel guilty that I agreed to go on dates with those people, knowing that I wasn't meeting the image they had of me? But at the same time, I wasn't maliciously trying trick anyone. I guess similar to Frum Gay Married's post, perhaps I was hoping that being in a relationship with someone who was Yeshivish was going to solidify my identity-- of course in retrospect it was ridiculous, but my illusion was in good company; my friends, teachers, and certainly rebbeim supported that notion that marriage can transform you out of the skin you are currently in.

    I am now thankfully in a healthy loving marriage, and I am so happy I didn't suffocate myself in any of those other relationships.

    Ely, I agree with you that no one wants to be 'that girl', and no girl deserves that. Yet it happens and will continue to happen. But as I see from my own experiences of figuring out who I am, I don't think there's anything wrong with people going on casual dates while they are trying to figure out their sexuality. People go on casual dates while they're trying to figure so many other issues as well.

    I hope I haven't offended anyone, and if I have my apologies in advance.

  7. FG&M,

    Hi, thanks so much for allowing us into your story. I suppose I should clarify my comment above. My specific beef is not with you, nor with anyone who got into a relationship while still uncertain of, or confused about their orientation. My beef is with those people (and I've met a few) who knowingly put themselves and their partners in this sort of situation. I understand that coming to recognize one's true self can be a long, painful, and confusing process, and I understand the pressure in the Orthodox world to marry young. What I have a lot of trouble understanding, however, is how some people might go looking for an opposite-sex partner, knowing that they are gay, with the intention of using them. And yes, there are those who do that.

    I know that this is not the situation to which Ely was referring, he was referring to any case in which a spouse has to deal with their partner coming out, and what that might be like for them, whether that person entered that relationship deceptively or not. What caused me to jump to the deception-type cases is the fact that Ely stated that ne never thought about it from the spouse's perspective which, as I said, shocked me... mostly because I know Ely to be an intelligent, sensitive soul. I wouldn'tt have considered that such a person who has even contemplated the situation of one spouse in a hetero marriage coming out as gay, would have been *able* not to consider the other spouse's perspective and feelings. This led me to think about those people who I've heard/read state their willingness/desire to enter into such a relationship knowingly and deceptively, not ever considering, it seems, that there is another person's life hanging in the balance.

    You know, when gay Orthodox men ask if I would consider being their beard, at least they are being honest.

    FG&M I wish you and your wife all the best and I pray that you will find the strength and insight you need to discern and to do what is right for both of you and for your relationship. Your honesty and strength is inspiring and your wife sounds like an amazing, strong, and kind woman. Be good to each other.


It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews