I abstained from writing for the past few months because I could not find the words to describe the emotions and thoughts running through my heart and head. I think I finally possess the perspective necessary to share.
Tuesday marks an anniversary of sorts. For the American people this day will serve as a reminder of our precarious position in the world as a force for good facing incomprehensible evil. Personally, September 11th has an entirely different meaning: it marks the day I officially came out. This Tuesday marks my 7th coming out anniversary. I approach this date differently each year. This year I find myself frustrated, confused, uncertain, and downright scared. These are the emotions that prevented me from writing for the past quarter of a year.
This turmoil resulted from a series of compliments. A few people called me some synonym of courageous for speaking in public on the topic of the LGBT in the greater Jewish community. Another few people remarked on my “unique” position in life. Though not a single one of these people intended to do so, these comments coupled with a realization that many of my frum colleagues have been diminishing their religious practice left me feeling very alone and very lonely.
I will never not be frum. That sounds like a bold statement, but it’s not. You see, for me being frum is not a choice, just like being gay is not a choice. Both are essential components of my self that I cannot alter. Truthfully, if being frum was a choice I would likely not choose to continue. I cannot fault the men and women who leave the frum world because of the inherent conflict in being gay and observant.
I also feel as if I spent the months butting my head against a wall. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what that wall was. At first I thought it represented that orthodox community. But the slow and steady progress in the community – much of which occurs far from the public eye – is amazing and heartwarming. I finally realized that my frustration ran deeper. My association with Judaism, the root of my connection to this faith and community, rests in my parents’ home. I only became strong because they taught me to be so. I am unchangeably frum because they showed me many variations of this world and I learned that this one is the right one for me. But my parents fail to provide me with the support I need as I move forward with my life.
My dear father, in his kindness and genius, fails to appreciate the emotional turmoil I often encounter. For him, this should be a non-issue, I am who I am and there should be no need for discussion. My mother . . . I think she is still confused, scared, and ashamed. With the bedrock of my community not present in the way I need it to be, it’s no wonder I feel frustrated with my community. This also brings up a pang of jealousy, envy of the men I know whose parents adopted a rally cry of love, compassion, and, as I perceive it, openness for their gay children. Yes, I am aware that I have been blessed because my parents’ reaction could have been far worse, but there is definite room for growth.
Juxtaposing this with my single status has amplified all the angst because I haven’t felt the intimacy that I would like to express all this in private. I also miss the love and affection of a man, delicacies that I have not tasted for quite some time. I have even begun considering whether I should alter my rule against dating non-frum men, or at the very least open myself up to formerly frum men.
As you can see, I’ve been a bit of an emotional mess recently. I do want you to know that this hasn’t consumed me as much as this post might make it appear. Attempting to condense three months into one blog post probably exaggerates some of my predicament. My life beyond my sexuality, so professionally, academically, and (non-romantic) socially, has seen many positives. Those are the factors in my life, friends and challenges beyond my personal life, that allow me to persevere. I simply pray that G-d will grant me the ability to understand what He has in store for me and when these moving pieces will settle down.