A friend of mine recently relayed a story to me, one that he had not previously told anyone else. I asked him to share it on this blog. He agreed and, after some editing on my part, which still does not mean its perfect, we are graced with the post below. Enjoy!
Thanks, Benjy, for letting me write this. I hope you all appreciate what I have to say.
Traveling from his apartment in Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion airport, I marveled at the signs of a city coming to life as my Sheirut passed through numerois neighborhoods, picking up passengers as it went. The airport-taxi slowly filled up. As we, the embarked, entered the neighborhood of Har Nof one seat, next to an aging, modern looking, man, remained open. The Sheirut pulled up to a curb and a woman, an obviously religious woman, boarded. If you've ever been on a Sheirut you know that, between the baggage and their size, personal space is somewhat . . . limited. I could sense the discomfort of the woman at being seated so close to a man. After considering the situation for a minute, I summoned up my courage and, in the most authorotative manner I could muster, I rearranged some of the seating in the Sheirut so that no one's sense of propriety would be harmed.
Until telling this story to Benjy I had never mentioned it to anyone. But that's because of what happened next. The man sitting nexxt to me, also frum and not the same man as earlier, leaned over and told me that he thought I was a Zaddik-- a rightous individual. At that moment my only thought, as I nodded my head and looked down at my knees, was "would he still think that if he knew that I'm gay?"
Obviously, we all do kind deeds and we also all do or say things that we shouldn't. Yet, I often find myself troubled by the fact that people will change their minds about another individual based solely on aspect of the person's personality. The single fact that I'm gay can turn the nicest most admirable person into a raging zealot. Call it bigotry, call it small mindedness, but it is the world we live in.
Neither my actions in the Sheirut, not my sexuality, define the entirety of my being. It is my sincere hope for the future that people will learn to judge one another by their whole person, not only the fragments visible on the surface.