I just spent some time reading one of those famous Facebook threads where there are one or two trolls saying horrible things about LGBT people, and specifically in the Orthodox community. Every time I engage in this sort of behavior I get depressed and have a hard time coming out of it. Yes, the obvious solution for me is to not read these threads but the thing is, usually these threads provide incredible amounts of support as well. Some of the points that activists and allies make are truly remarkable and they are amazing things to take with me.
The funny thing is, there is plenty about my life that I know that people don’t agree with. The community I grew up in is definitely more to the right of the community I live in now. I still hold some pretty strong ties to my former community and I know that many of the people who I know from earlier in my life don’t look at my current life as matching with the standards they have set for themselves. Heck, I’ve been dealing with this from the time I was a little kid. I grew up watching cable tv and movies while attending a pretty right wing school. I knew that many of my teachers did not approve of this aspect of my life, or of the fact that I went to co-ed youth groups. I speak to people from my past and tell them my kids are in co-ed modern orthodox schools. They don’t say it, but that is not something they consider “valid” in their more right wing view of orthodoxy. To this day I still have some friends who don’t believe in the State of Israel. I strongly do. And all of these things don’t get to me in a serious way. I brush it off. Some people are one way, I’m a different way. I’m more to the right of some people religiously. I’m more to the left of other people religiously. No big deal.
So why does it bother me so much that people can’t and won’t change their views about LGBT people in the Orthodox community? Why does it hurt in such a gut wrenching way? Maybe because it’s not just a disagreement with my way of life but my child’s. When my son was born, he was a very difficult baby. He cried for the first few months of his life. He didn’t eat well…he didn’t sleep well…he was colicky…generally, he was a miserable tiny human being. I remember when i went back to work after he was born. I had a really hard time finding daycare for him. I finally found someone to come and watch him in my home when he was three months old. When I came home after that first miserable day away from my child (he might have been difficult but leaving him was torture), the babysitter informed me that she quit because my baby cried too much. I was devastated. In part because I knew how hard it would be to find alternate arrangements, but mostly because this was the first time in his life that my child was rejected. I cried for that rejection. And I cried for all of the future pain he might feel in his life.
I think part of me still thinks of him as that little baby. I don’t want him to be rejected. I don’t want him to hurt. I don’t want someone not to give him a chance because s/he can’t seem to handle all that he has to offer. I want to come home, hold him tight and tell him that no matter what happens, no matter what someone unprepared for him and what he stands for says, I love him no matter what.