I’ve written about this in the past, but one of the most amazing parts of this journey has been the opportunity to make so many new friends. Some are purely virtual- blog friends, Facebook group friends, and whatsapp friends. Some are telephone friends- other parents I’ve met through the JQY and Eshel parent calls. Some are honest to goodness real friends that I’ve been lucky enough to get to know in person. These friends and I invite each other to family simchas, meet when we can in person, spend the night or visit when we come to our respective towns. I value each and every one of the friendships I’ve made with different LGBT people and their parents, children, siblings, etc. Everyone is dealing with something completely different, but the sense of friendship, camaraderie and support is very real.
So when one (or more) of these friends I’ve made (whether virtual or “IRL”) writes something or starts a new project, I feel like I must share their wisdom. One friend has started a blog, The Story of a Birl about her almost 7 year old gender non-conforming child. This mom, who also lives in a Modern Orthodox Jewish community, is definitely on a journey of her own, and I hope I don’t sound patronizing when I say that she and her husband are inspirational. They appear to be approaching their child’s needs with an amazing amount of realism, practicality and love. I am positive that this child will grow up to be a wonderful human being, no matter what the course his life ultimately takes. I loved this part of her introductory blog post:
I don’t know if my son is transgender. I don’t know if he will “grow out of it”. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, a week from now, in a year.
But I do know that today my son is happy. Today my son loves me and tells me so everyday. And along with my husband I will continue to do what I am doing. Love him. Support him. Let him know how incredibly special he is, and that any options are open to him, and we will love and support him no matter what.
Because ultimately, don’t we all just want to raise happy children?
I’ve recently mentioned Shlomit Metz-Poolat. She and I only started corresponding several weeks ago, but I’m already so happy that we have. In addition to the article she wrote about Rabbis and Hope , she has recently written two more articles in the Times of Israel. The first one is titled Navigating the Frum World as an LGBT Parent, in which she writes about some of the positive and negative experiences she has had as an Orthodox LGBT parent. This article does a great job normalizing the experience and talking about it in a very real way.
The second article, Silence Is Not An Option For This LGBT Voice was written as a response to some of the negative feedback she received after publishing her last few articles. She wrote about how she refuses to “cease and desist” talking about her life as an Orthodox LGBT person despite the desires of some of her readers. I really liked this part:
I spoke with a friend yesterday. A rabbi’s wife and a kind neshama. My daughter and hers are dear friends and she too told me of wrestling with that reality; with her child coming home and telling her that my daughter had two moms, to which she merely responded, “Well, that’s different.” She was not in the business of teaching her child to hate, or to destroy another Jewish soul. And she said to me recently, “I have learned two things from having gay friends; 1) that it is not contagious and 2) that no matter how much you belittle, ridicule or insult gay people, it does not make them become straight.” She gets that being gay is not a choice.
And to all those out there who think it is, who think I am pushing something in your faces, or that I choose to be gay, or live a gay lifestyle, I say this: You know what you can choose, you can choose to be a better person. You can choose to be kind. You can be a saver of lives, not a destroyer of souls. You can open your hearts, not harden them like Pharaoh. And if not, then feel free to pass over my blogs; to go on to the next The Times of Israel blog that suits your needs, or, even simpler — just turn off your computer. I, however, prefer not to stick my head in the sand. I prefer not to be silent. I prefer to live.
I am so proud of these women who are writing about their experiences because the more they write, the more people will learn and get support from them. And the more people learn, the less they can hate. Because knowledge is the antidote to hatred.