As the school year nears its end, and as our son gets ready to attend a new school (it’s looking like he’ll be attending the Jewish pluralistic school here next year!), it is starting to seem obvious that he plans on coming out more publicly soon(ish). Last night my husband expressed similar sentiments to how I feel. On one hand, we are ready for it. We’re ready for the metaphorical band-aid to come off so we can begin to deal with the ramifications of having a publicly out of the closet 15-year old son in the Orthodox community. On the other hand, we’re totally not ready. At this point, we have told a very select group of people that he’s gay. By and large, these people have been accepting and as far as we know, have respected the fact that we chose to share this information with them and have not shared it with others. Once something becomes public people often feel they have cart blanche “permission” to talk. No longer do people have the “it’s not my story to tell” attitude, it becomes “everyone’s story.”
And who doesn’t love a good story? Good gossip? Sadly, the frum community definitely loves a good juicy piece of gossip. “So, what’s the hock?” We’ve all heard that phrase before. It means, “what’s going on?” but what it really means is “tell me something juicy.”
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been one to “share hock” in the past. Haven’t we all? But recently, probably in the last couple of years I’ve realized that when something “hockworthy” is going on with someone, or a family, It’s probably pretty serious for them, and living in such an insular community, I know that usually everyone is talking about it. I’ve made a concerted effort to try to be the one person who isn’t talking about whatever hockworthy news the community may be talking about. Not because I’m better than other people. I’m most definitely not. I just don’t want to be one of the many who is talking about something that I know very little about just because it’s something to talk about.
So that brings me to where we are. I can deal with talking to people about what is going on with us and our son. I can deal with the stupid questions. I’m not sure I can deal with knowing that our family will become a piece of news to be talked about while women take their morning walks or men stand bored in the back of shul. I’ve always had a bit too much self-awareness (aka self consciousness?) and a relatively good imagination so I often find myself imagining how these conversations go.
I am so proud of our son. He has grown up so much over the past six+ months since he came out to us. I have countless stories of why this is true. I guess it makes me sad that he’s someone who is so strong and brave who I am so proud of and here I am, sitting here worrying “what are people going to say about our family?” like a whiny child.