I want to start by offering my apologies to the person I’m about to mention. I’ll start by saying that I don’t know who he is* and I have absolutely NO possible way to find out who or know who he is. I don’t even know if he is a he. But if he is a he and if he is talking about himself, my heart goes out to him. I’m talking about someone who recently found this blog. I don’t look at the search referrals to this blog that often but when I do I usually see things like “gay kid mom”, “gay orthodox children”, “Rabbi Willig Gay” (I’m sure some of you will get a chuckle out of that one), and “son came out.” So when I saw this specific search term I have to be honest, my heart hurt just a little. The term someone used that brought him/her to this blog was “what does an orthodox jewish man do when he realizes he is gay?”
Let’s just imagine for a minute that the person who searched for this is talking about himself. This means that somewhere in the world there is a boy or a man who either just realized or just admitted to himself that he is gay. This person is an Orthodox Jew. This person is aware of what the torah says about homosexual relations. If this person wasn’t aware of it, he wouldn’t be wondering specifically what an Orthodox Jewish man should do if he realizes he’s gay. So right now this man is probably feeling doubt, worry, and probably questioning. It is possible this man doesn’t feel he has someone in his life that he can speak to about his new found realization about being gay. That’s probably why he’s beginning his search for answers online. And that isn’t a bad thing. He’s luckier than people in past generations who weren’t able to find answers online. Who may not have met someone else like them for many years or without travelling far distances and may have found answers in dangerous places and with unsafe practices. So it’s good. It’s very good that he is able to look online for answers.
But let’s hope that he’s finding the answers he needs. Not the answers which will put him into a place of pain or more doubt, worry, question, or G-d forbid, self loathing. Sadly, the internet is full of resources that might not be beneficial for a young (or older) person who is just coming to terms with his sexuality. But as we know, the internet is also full of excellent resources for this person. There is Eshel and JQY and Keshet all of which have web pages with excellent resources for LGBT Jews. Obviously these organizations offer much more than just web support. These are all organizations that can help LGBT Jews in so many different types of ways. There is even a monthly shabbat and yom tov minyan, Or Chayim, that meets for traditional and orthodox LGBT Jews in New York.
But now I want to make a personal statement and request to this person, in case he ever makes his way back to this blog. I might never have the opportunity again but on the off chance that he or someone else finds his or her way here, I want them to hear what I am about to say. If you are someone who just realized that you are gay and you are an Orthodox Jew, please know there are people out there who WILL accept you. And love you. Your family might still be a big question mark to you and I hope they are some of the people who ARE supportive of you but in case they aren’t, please don’t give up hope. In every Jewish community there are people who are allies. People who unlike me don’t even have gay kids. People who want you to know that they care about you and support you. Please don’t think that you are alone in this. You’re not. Don’t listen to the people who say that you should change your sexual orientation. Or that it is a choice that you made. Or that you should be ashamed of yourself. Or that you should G-d forbid try to go out with girls and you’ll find one to marry and be “ok”. You are so lucky to be coming to terms with being gay now. In 2015. Hopefully things will be even better in the future but things have come further in the last 5 years than ever before. The conversations are happening. You’re no longer an outlier in a community that doesn’t even want to acknowledge that you exist. Over the past several weeks I’ve been to a two speeches by mainstream Orthodox Rabbis who have acknowledged that our community has LGBT people in it and that we have to address this in some way or another. If you think about how things were in the past, this is HUGE. So while you may be feeling like you don’t want to be you, please continue TO be you. This is just one part of you, and even though it might feel like it is eating you up- we need you. All of you.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some really amazing people along this journey. If you’re at the beginning of your journey and you feel like you need to meet some amazing people to support you and haven’t yet, email me at proudestmom2014 at gmail dot com. I can find someone for you to talk to. Or we can talk. You’re not alone.
*I’m 100% serious. I cannot track IP addresses and there is no identifying information for specific people visiting this blog. Anyone who visits remains 100% anonymous.