Sunday, December 25, 2011

I came out to my wife... A new chapter....

So I finally did it. On Friday night I broke down and told my wife about my attraction toward men.

I had gone to bed somewhat depressed at about 6:30pm. I woke up at about 8pm and she was reading beside me. I couldn't fall back asleep. My heart was pounding and in my throat. I was at a point of despair. I was at a point where I was prepared for the worst. I asked myself, what is better; me leading myself into a deeper and deeper depression to a point where I might lose it or worse hurt myself or should I just put it all out on the table and at a minimum unburden myself of this million pound secret? I was at a point where even her worst reaction seemed like an upgrade to me from where I was at.

We started talking about a frum organization that was hosting a lecture on how frum Jews should deal with the emerging issue of  homosexuals within our community. She spoke sympathetically about it and said that it needs to take place and how she is impressed that they are doing this.

That was my moment.

I put my head in my hands and quietly told her that I had something to share with her. She verbalized to me that I was scaring her. I told her that she has the right to be scared because what I was about to say was going to be a life changer. She again said that I was scaring her. At that point there was no turning back. What in reality was probably a minute or two felt like an eternity, I struggled with trying to say the words to her. I started mumbling. "I am..." and then I stopped. I said "I have this problem where I am..." then I stopped again. This went on for a bit until I finally said to her that I am physically attracted to men. I explained that I  have this burning desire to be intimate with a man and it has been getting more and more intense. I told her that I have had it since I was a teenager and on differing levels of intensity throughout the years. I assured her that I never in my life had a gay relationship or encounter. I assured her that I never cheated on her. I also assured her that I loved her and that when I have been with her over the years there were many times that I was in the moment and doing it out of a true physical attraction to her.

I am lucky to have shared with her over the years all the negativity that I received from my parents, therapists, bullies and male "role models" growing up. This allowed me to explain where alot of the intimacy issues took form.

She started crying. It was close to hysterical but not quite out of control. She asked me if  that meant that I wanted to pursue the need and find a man to live with. She asked me if I didn't want to be with her any more. I told her that from my perspective I am still trying to figure it all out. I wasnt looking to throw out everything we had. I explained that I recognize that so much of my need is deep rooted into my psych from a troubled and abusive childhood. We continued talking. I told her I was willing to work with her and try further therapy together and/or separate to see if there is a way for me to develop that intimacy with a man in a non sexual way and/or figure out ways that I can find the intimacy I lack through my relationship with her. I told her that there are no guarantees that this will work but I was ready to give it my all.

I explained that I have no expectation of her response. I told her she doesn't need to respond and/or if she does in any way I would let it be and understand.

She took a tissue and wiped her eyes. She looked at me with a resolve and said (i am paraphrasing but this is pretty close), "I want to be there for you. I want to do what it takes to see if we could make this work. I want to join you for this journey".

I was floored. I was ready for her to walk out. I was ready for rage. I was not expecting this loving and caring response. Don't get me wrong, I wont say that I wasn't hoping for it... but expecting it, I wasn't.

I don't want to ramble on but we talked for a few hours. She asked me a lot of questions. I answered them honestly. We talked about some of the men in my life and who I am attracted to and who not. It got to a point where we were able to even laugh about it.

In summary, she was amazing. I feel closer to her already and in fact had a day today where I just wanted to hug her and be with her all day. I know this feeling won't last forever and there are huge struggles ahead but this is the best start I could have asked for.

I wasn't sure that I wanted to write this blog post because I am now committed to working on my relationship with my wife in a way that can bring depth and intimacy to our relationship. What this means to me is that my struggles will be taking a shift from being shared primarily with the general public through my blog to being shared with her privately. I felt I needed to write this because I owed it to the people that have been reading and that I have met through this blog to share this important update..

With this blog, I have made a number of friends and acquaintances and I don't plan on losing your friendship. If you have any questions or if you want to check in and see how I am doing, feel free to email me or comment on the blog. Depending on how things go I may or may not be posting the intimate details of my life for a while.

I don't know where this journey will take me but yet again here starts a new chapter.....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Intimacy

I can't do it. I don't know why. There is an intimacy line I can not seem to cross. Be it something as simple as my therapists hug. I can physically go through the motions but I can't let myself in.

I want to be able to fully give myself to a hug. I want to be able to hold someone for a few moments and feel like there is something that can't be spoken that is passing to and from... through us. Not something physical but something really close. Intimacy. I want to feel it. I imagine true intimacy to be exhilarating.

I have always had an issue with feeling pleasure. When I am with my wife and getting to a point of which I should revel in the feeling of ecstasy, I pull back. I need to stop. I can't let myself go there. Do I feel that I am not deserving of pleasure? Do I feel that giving into pleasure, forces me to face a level of connection I am not comfortable with? A combination of both?

How do I break ground here? I know I can create the intimacy in an outbound communication because I do it with my kids all the time. I hug them for seconds longer than they expect and give them one last squeeze. I massage them and caress their arms. I tell them I love them in so many different ways. Problem is, that is me to them... I need to be able to recieve that from someone else. Not just recieve it but accept it and live it.

I wish I understood this aspect of me so that I can get some semblance of control over it.

Has anyone had success working through intimacy issues? Any recommendations?

Thank you

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Orthodox Rabbis Homosexual Declaration... Part 2



This post is a follow up to a prior blog entry. See link below;


http://frumgaymarried.blogspot.com/2011/11/orthodox-rabbis-homosexual-declaration.html


This is my opinion on the statement signed by right wing Rabbi's relating to Orthodoxy's position on homosexuality. Generally and then very specific...

There is never any distinction made in the statement between gay sex and the homosexual attraction. Vague references made to the "homosexual lifestyle" and "identity" and "inclinations", without actually discussing what the Torah considers wrong is misleading and extremely convenient. How can a Rabbi, representing Torah, sign a statement that pretends to be the ultimate position on a Torah subject which doesn't address what the Torah actually says? Can one make a statement about keeping Shabbos and not mention refraining from work? Can one talk about Kosher without pointing out the prohibition is to eat it? If you are going to state the absolute Torah position on homosexuality, you MUST make this distinction or else you are tainting the entire declaration.


Which leads me to my second point. As a result of the above, the statement is simply false. Saying things like "The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity by severely prohibiting its conduct" is false and contradictory. Does the Torah make a clear statement or is it a derivative of the conducts prohibition? Which one is it? In other words, it never says anywhere in the Torah clearly that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle, it simply states that a man should not have anal sex with a man (and barely says that). Also, is there anything the Torah forbids that isn't "severely forbidden"? What a conveniently manipulative verbal construct.


And I further quote " Particularly the Torah writes this in regards to homosexuality and other forbidden sexual liaisons" - Again convenient to pick homosexuality out as the model of "forbidden sexual liasons". What about straight up old fashioned adultery? Where is the statement about that? How insensitive to call a homosexual relationship a "liaison" as if a powerful intimate attraction between males needs to be "a secretive or adulterous sexual relationship" as Collins defines it. (More on the "abomination" factor in here). Not to beat a dead horse but again, no distinction made between the act and the "lifestyle".

I don't want to get sidetracked by pointing out that it's been clearly documented that reparative therapy has a ridiculously low success rate and that there is no clear evidence that the source of homosexual inclination  "are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds." and that there isn't a genetic component to it.

I want to focus on what I find to be the most challenging and ultimately most painful piece of this statement.

And I quote "The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable... Impossible, life long, Torah prohibited situations with no achievable solutions are not (part and parcel of this world)". And most painful "Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel."

Do they even hear what they are saying? Is this a challenge? I can make a much simpler derivation than the forced ones that the Rabbi's pulled out above. They are saying that the Torah and Hashem are heartlessly cruel. How do I know this? Because I (and many people who I have spoke to through my blog) live a life of loneliness and many times despair and have no semblance of a hope of overcoming my (our) same-sex attraction. They call this "heartlessly cruel". They say it is "neither plausible nor acceptable".

Until I read this I said to myself that even though I am not at this point yet, I can hope to reconcile God and my homosexuality by seeing it as a life long challenge that I will struggle through (albeit a horrible and painful struggle). This declaration says that my goal is wrong. It says that the Torah couldn't prohibit something like this. It says that it couldn't be part of our world. It says that its heartlessly cruel.

Is this what I want to spend my entire life trying to connect to? 

Ultimately, I am fortunate not to buy into this crap. I don't believe the logical construct in those paragraphs. I believe someone can have lifelong struggles and God expects them to have it and get through life (I can't internalize it yet, but I believe it). There are people who's sexual organs simply don't work. There are people whose bodies are entirely paralyzed. Does that make God heartlessly cruel? What a horrible thing to say to someone struggling. Do they think that will make the homosexual want to change him or herself and connect to Hashem? Based on the flaws in their logic, it doesn't quite cause me to turn my back on Torah values and frumkeit; but a chillul Hashem it is. It has made me think about whether the Torah is cruel. It has devalued what it means to call someone a gadol hador. Until now I always maintained an innocent appreciation of daas Torah. It has taken that away from me. 

I am somewhat exhausted from writing about this so I will leave this for now. I continue to pray for Hashem to help me see and feel his love. I ask Hashem to please help my parents, friends, rabbis and "gedolim" to bring out their Godliness in beautiful, sensitive and loving ways so that I can have people on this world after whom I can model His apparent beauty.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Some days

I just want to cuddle up with my blanket and pillow and cry... When the same heartbreaking Phish song is playing over and over again you know its been a rough one... I am pulling out of it though. That's the good news.

Have a great night.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Orthodox Rabbis Homosexual Declaration...

Below is the link and text of a "Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality:". This is supposedly being circulated among top orthodox Rabbi's for signatures and has been signed by R' Shmuel Kamenetsky.

I will post my take in a couple of days. Thank you.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-littman/orthodox-rabbis-homosexuality-declaration_b_1114090.html

Here is the verbiage from the actual declaration;


Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality
-----------------------------------------
Societal Developments On Homosexuality
There has been a monumental shift in the secular world’s attitude towards homosexuality over the past few decades. In particular over the past fifteen years there has been a major public campaign to gain acceptance for homosexuality. Legalizing same-sex marriage has become the end goal of the campaign to equate homosexuality with heterosexuality.  A propaganda blitz hasbeen sweeping the world using political tactics to persuade the public about thelegitimacy of homosexuality.The media is rife with negativelabels implying that one is “hateful” or “homophobic” if they do not accept the homosexual lifestyle as legitimate. This political coercion has silenced many into acquiescence. Unfortunately this attitude has seeped into the Torah community and many have become confused or have accepted the media’s portrayal of this issue.

The Torah’s Unequivocal And Eternal Message
The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity by severely prohibiting its conduct. Furthermore, the Torah, ever prescient about negative secular influences, warns us in Vayikra (Leviticus) 20:23 “Do not follow the traditions of the nations that I expel from before you…” Particularly the Torah writes this in regards to homosexuality and other forbidden sexual liaisons.

Same-Sex Attractions Can Be Modified And Healed
From a Torah perspective, the question whether homosexual inclinations and behaviors are changeable is extremely relevant.The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable.  G-d is loving and merciful. Struggles, and yes, difficult struggles, along with healing and personal growth are part and parcel of this world. Impossible, life long, Torah prohibited situations with no achievable solutions are not. We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness anddespair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel. Such an attitude also violates the biblical prohibition in Vayikra
(Leviticus) 19:14 “and you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind.”

The Process Of Healing
The only viable course of action that is consistent with the Torah is therapy and
teshuvah
. The therapy consists of reinforcing the natural gender-identity of the individual by helping him or her understand and repair the emotional wounds that led to its disorientation and weakening, thus enabling the resumption and completion of the individual’s emotional development. Teshuvah is a Torah-mandated, self-motivated process of turning away from any transgression or sin and returning to G-d and one’s spiritual essence. This includes refining and reintegrating the personality and allowing it to grow in a healthy and wholesome manner.These processes are typically facilitated and coordinated with the help of a specially trained counselor or therapist working in conjunction with a qualified spiritual teacher or guide. There is no other practical, Torah-sanctioned solution for this issue.

The Mitzvah Of Love And Compassion
It requires tremendous bravery and fortitude for a person to confront and deal with same-sex attraction. For example a sixteen-year-old who is struggling with this issue may be confused and afraid and not know whomto speak to or what steps to take. We must create an atmosphere where this teenager (or anyone) can speak freely to a parent, rabbi, or mentor and be treated with love and compassion.  Authority figures can then guide same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations. The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds. They deserve our full love, support and encouragement in their striving towards healing.  Struggling individuals who seek health and wellness should not be confused with the homosexual movement and their agenda. This distinction is crucial. It reflects the difference between what G-d asks from all of us and what He unambiguously prohibits. We need to do everything in our power to lovingly uplift struggling individuals towards a full and healthy life that is filled with love, joy and the wisdom of the Torah.

---------------------------------------------------------------------________________________________           __________________________________Printed Name                                                   Signature____________________   __________________________________________________Date                    Title, Congregation, Yeshiva or other affiliations.

Friday, November 18, 2011

God as a father

I have mentioned before a line that my therapist told me and that is to view God as a loving zeide (grandfather) rather than an abusive father. It is a beautiful thought. As with everything there is a gap between knowledge and implementation.

I want to explore why I find this ideal to be incredibly difficult to implement.

It has been said that out of The 10 Commandments, the first 5 are of a "bein adam l'makom" nature (between man and God). These include belief in God, not to commit idolatry and shabbos. The last 5 have been said to be "bein adam l'chaveiro" (between man and his friend or fellow man). These include, murder, kidnapping, coveting etc.

One of the 10 commandments is honoring your father and mother. On a simple level we might suggest the idea behind this mitzva is very much "bein adam l'chaveiro" (between man and friend). The concept being to give thanks to your parents for giving you life, raising and supporting you.

However, which number commandment is honoring your parents? Number 5. It is part of the "Bein adam l'makom" mitzvos.

The obvious question is why? While one might say it's really God that gives you life and sustains you etc, that would be a cute approach but doesn't seem to lend to the core of the reasoning and placement of this commandment.

I believe I have the correct (albeit painful) approach.

I wonder if the reason God gave us the mitzvah of honoring our parents is because he wanted us to have a human entity that would serve as a platform to allow us to learn how to honor Him. (Please take that in for a moment). Who in our physical existence would be the best "moshol" or parable for us to use as a means to learn to honor Him? Certainly our parents! All we know as a baby, then an adolescent and into child and adulthood is that our parents are our care givers. They are the ones who are supposed to supply security, comfort and love to us. If we learn to honor them we learn to honor God. We can look at this as a mitzva that squarely falls on us as individuals to learn how to perform. With this logic it is almost more incumbent on the parents to teach us to honor them appropriately so that we can live a life of honor, love and respect toward God.

I believe that a persons relationship with God will mirror their relationship with their parents (specifically in my case with my father). A healthy loving, nurturing and mutual respect between a parent and child will lead to the same with Hashem. A difficult and painful relationship with a parent will leave us feeling that God is the same. I recognize that it's not always this black and white and ones situation can fall anywhere between the two extremes.

I challenge you to think about the relationship you have with Hashem and see if it connected with the relationship you had with the parent that had the more profound influence on your life (Think about your partners, close friends as well and I am confident you will perceive the same pattern).

This is undoubtedly my story as well as many of my close friends.

This is why, while I adored my grandfather and would love to see God in that light, it simply is against teva (nature) and is a lifelong battle.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Confronting the God issue

I started this blog for numerous reasons. One of them was the for the therapeutic benefits of putting thoughts into writing. Writing about my feelings and emotions forces me to face the difficulty of actually thinking through the topic I am writing about. It doesn't allow me the ability to distract myself and send my thoughts elsewhere. One topic I haven't confronted but I've been wanting to write about is the issue I have with my "relationship" (or lack thereof) with Hashem. Understanding the irony of the following request, I ask God to help me write this post with clarity so that I can get to the depth of my emotions and bring them to light in a clear manner .

This I know; I have a love-hate relationship with God. I don't have a problem with belief in Him. I have thought this through. I have read books on emunah and books on atheism. I am comfortable and confident in the belief that there is an infinite, all powerful God who created the world. I don't believe that somehow the world came into existence on its own and evolved to where it is today. I know that sounds simple and pedestrian. Creationism and evolution isn't my topic so I will leave it at that.

Once I established in my mind that there is an infinite God (key word is infinite), I then realized that He has no needs. Since He is infinite, he is perfect. The result of His not having any needs is that He doesn't need to prove himself. He cannot do anything out of spite. He can't act irrational. He can't bear a grudge. He can't hate. He can't be angry and lash out. He can't have a bad day or month and create a disaster to make Himself feel better.

From his state of perfection, He created all the poverty, wealth, disease, health, anger, sadness, joy and gladness in the world. He created heterosexuality and homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexualism. That which He gives challenges and difficulties to people can't be malicious. In fact, when we say, "It's all for the best", It's not that we just have faith. If you believe in God, this has to be true. It has to be for the best because there really is no other option.

For me though there is a clear gap between belief and implementation, between knowing and doing.

Based on what I have written, I should understand that my homosexuality is critical to my existence. I need it and it is for the best. I should not be angry with God because he would never have given me this challenge without it being exactly what is perfect for me.

Yet, I am human. I am still angry. There are still many questions; What possible good can come from this loneliness and pain? What exactly does He want from me at this point? Why does this area of my life dominate the very core of my being so powerfully? Why can't I feel good about myself and my personal accomplishments?

I ask myself if I am blaming Him for a self made predicament. I chose to get married and thus far I choose to stay married. I chose to have children. I choose to stay in the closet. Is this all my own doing?

At the same time, at every point in my life in which those decisions were made it all seemed to make sense. I don't know that I could have done any different. Maybe this is all part of the "good"? Is this "all for the best"?

I have no answers. I don't know that I ever will. The questions really make it difficult though to connect with Hashem. It's hard to connect with something that I associate with so much pain.

I still daven and learn every day. I still put keep kosher and shabbos. I do it because I believe it is the correct thing. The problem is that the meaning and beauty of it is gone because I can't break down the barrier that should allow me to use these mitzvos as a means for connection.

I hope this all makes sense. This topic is far from over. I wanted to get some initial thoughts on the table. I hope you can share your thoughts so that I (we) can continue to challenge myself (ourselves) and together we can develop and grow to get some clarity in this area.

Thank you for reading and sharing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eshel Shabbaton? The idea scares me...

I have never been in any environment in which I was with a group of people who knew that I was gay, with whom I was able to talk openly about my struggles and inclinations toward men. I have a therapist and a friend (and now a new friend) that share this knowledge, but no one else. As I have mentioned this is a very lonely existence.

I feel I am ready to take a step in the direction of going to a meeting or a group or even a shabbaton.

The idea of going to a shabbaton which is advertised as "A Weekend of Community, Learning and Ruach for Frum Gay Jews" tugs at my heart strings.The idea of meeting up with people in an open forum that would allow me for once in my life to feel open and connected to others that can relate to me, feels like an amazing opportunity that I should take advantage of.

There are technical issues though. I am married with children. I would have to leave town for the shabbos under a different guise to them. Even though one might argue that my life is a lie so why care so much about another lie; ironically as it sounds, I still don't want to lie about where I would be going for shabbos. My thought was to visit my friend in NY and then possibly go together to the Shabbaton.

The second and more scary thing is the idea that I may very well meet people I know that have no idea that I am gay. Now, if they were in the closet then it wouldn't be the biggest deal because we would both be sharing our secret. The problem is that I know people who are out and go to these events. How can I be so sure that they wont let the word out to others that I was there, that I am gay? I am an incredibly successful and well connected person within my community both professionally and socially. I am just beginning this journey into learning about myself and how I want my life to unfold. I still need discretion. If I want to come out at some point, I think it would be fair for me to come out on my own terms and not through some back door gossip that gets to my kids before me.

I am curious for the thoughts of those who have been there and if the fears I mention above are in fact legitimate ones. By going to a shabbaton such as Eshel are you pretty much announcing to the world that you are gay. If you feel it is a problem, any ideas on work arounds or other gatherings that are more discreet?

Thank you.

PS Please see the links below as in the subsequent year I did go to Eshel and had a profound and incredible experience.

Eshel part 1

Eshel Part 2


Monday, October 10, 2011

The struggle forges onward...

The Yomim Noraim have come and gone and I feel better. It's been 24 hours since Yom Kippur ended and I feel so much better. I read through the tefillos like a zombie trying to find something to spark connection. I feel like every Yom Kippur tefila tells us how little we are. We are like dust. Our lives are worthless. We really don't deserve to be here....  I ask myself, can this really be what Hashem wants from us?

The first time I finally felt something was by the asara harugei malkus. The ten martyrs.

An elderly Jew in Shul who is a Holocaust survivor came over to me. He told me that he gets very upset by this part of the tefilla. While the martyrs were being slaughtered in the most heinous fashion, the angels asked Hashem, "Is this Torah and is this its reward"? Hashem answered by saying, "if I hear another sound I will turn the universe to water".

This elderly man said to me that if he were in their shoes, he would have called G-d's bluff and told G-d, go right ahead. Turn the universe to water. I dont want to live to witness this. He went on to tell me each and every one of his family members that died in concentration camps. He told me about his father who was a simple but righteous man, who was killed. I was moved to tears.

I couldn't share with the old man about my own mini holocaust. I don't know if its wrong for me to call my personal struggles and my life history a holocaust. But I suspect everyone in their own hell, lives their own holocaust. I wanted to say to him that I share his sentiment. I sometimes feel like I would say to G-d, end it all. Turn the world to water. Is this Torah and is this its reward?

But the old man inspired me because ultimately, with all he went through, he still comes to shul 3 times a day. He still greets people with a smile and he still wants to live. Amazing isn't it? Where does he have the strength for this? On one hand he says he wants to confront G-d and demand answers. Yet he is comfortable serving this same G-d with warmth and joy.

I couldn't control myself and in a spurt of raw emotion I gave him a hug and just held him for a few seconds.

Oh to be blessed with a hundredth of this man's emotional fortitude.

Why must I go to extremes? How can I learn to balance the love with the struggle? I guess this is the journey I am on.

And so another year begins...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Loneliness

I had one of my worst days today.

I went to my therapist and cried nonstop for an hour. I could have gone on all afternoon. Throughout the day I found myself getting randomly choked up. Just meeting people who offer me kind yom tov wishes got me emotional. Talking to my parents and siblings had me holding back the tears. I am tearing up as I write this.

I am so sad and lonely.

I don't know why it is hitting me so hard suddenly.

I don't know if its because I am seeing frum gay people, groups and movements more prevalent in the news and in social media. It makes me yearn to be a part of it. I feel so trapped that I have no one to share this with. I am not even talking about having a relationship with someone. I am talking about being able to share my highs and lows, my fears and my insecurities and my successes and failures with another person.

There are 2 people in my life who know me, that I have told that I am gay. My therapist and a close friend of mine who we can call David.

My therapist has been there for me for years and is amazing. Ultimately he is still a therapist though, who for the most part, I communicate with for an hour or two once a month. I can't call him to shoot the breeze or randomly pick the phone up and call him when I am going through a challenge just to chat.

David and I have been close and have known each other since high school. He is a kind and loyal friend who I would trust with my life. I came out to him probably 12 or 13 years ago and he accepted me for who I am. (He is straight as can be). While David has always been extremely supportive, he is the furthest thing from the mushy type and doesn't give much of himself emotionally. He has been extremely challenged and (I believe) hardened by his upbringing to where getting past his outermost layer, to a point of vulnerability is a challenge. It is therefore hard for me to feel like I am having an intimate (albeit platonic) relationship with him that is a 2 way street. He isn't the type to share his innermost feelings, doubts and insecurities. We dont have the kind of friendship where I would be comfortable getting a hug from him while I cry on his shoulder.  I in no way blame or have any animosity towards him for that. I love him for who he is and the struggles he's been through.

Outside of that there's no one. I get to low places and wish I had someone to turn to. I wish I had someone who knows me that I can cry to. I wish I had someone who I wouldn't be scared to tell what I am thinking and feeling.

I feel so trapped and alone in this world.

Hashem will apparently be deciding tomorrow how the coming year will be. I ask Him to please just help me out of my pain and loneliness.

I end this blog entry as I started it, with tears in my eyes.

Happy and healthy new year to all.

Guilty

As I stand here saying slichos in Shul erev Rosh Hashana I am being pulled by my attraction to some men davening with me.

I ask myself, should I really be here or rather, does Hashem really want me here saying selichos if at the same time I am having negative thoughts that the Torah frowns upon and even forbids?

Probably not.

So what keeps me here?

Guilt.

I feel too guilty going into rosh hashana without saying selichos. It really doesnt have much meaning to me right now though.

I feel pathetic that this is where my life is.

And no, I will not be going to the mikva tomorrow. Haven't gone in years...

Help!

Monday, September 5, 2011

I'm in an "Elul" State of Mind

Just a quick note of thanks for the requests to update my blog. I have been pretty busy over the last few weeks with the kids at home from camp and not having started school. When I am busy I tend to put emotional issues and challenges aside. On one hand it's a positive because not facing my emotional truths allows me to be happier on the surface. On the other hand, I recognize its more of a band-aid and at some point the pain hits the fan and I have to look myself in the mirror once more.

Elul is here. This is one simple word. It is short and yet so powerful. Elul. I think "Elul" and my blood pressure rises. I say "Elul" and I feel my heart pounding in my chest. Boy did the yeshiva system do a job on me. First I will share what I think Elul should mean to me and then what it unfortunately does mean to me.

Elul is the precursor to the Yomim No'raim. Elul should be a time of introspection, a time of connection. As we have heard many times, Elul represents "Ani L'dodi, V'dodi Li", I am to my beloved and my beloved is mine. Elul should be a time to connect to Hashem and to others. The kitzur shulchan oruch says that there are actually 3 anagrams for Elul representing teshuva, tefilla and tzedaka. For tefilla, he mentions Ani L'dodi, V'dodi Li. He then refers to tefilla as "Rinas Dodim", a song of lovers.

Yes, davening is supposed to represent the beauty of our connection with G-d... Like lovers singing to one another. What a beautiful thought. Davening isn't supposed to be this dry,  empty and laborious exercise. It is meant to afford us a rewarding and deeply emotional experience which enriches our relationship with Hashem. To me this is what Elul should be about, developing this connection while reflecting on the positives and negatives of the year past. What took place this past year that caused distance and what allowed for connection?

While intellectually I understand this idea, I can never seem to internalize it emotionally. I went to yeshiva in which Elul was all about fear. It was this build up of dread starting with Rosh Chodesh Elul, continuing with late night and early morning selichos, rosh hashana and the crescendo of Yom Kippur. Our rabbeim took the easy road and preached fear and punishment. Death and gehinom. It was 40 days of intense feelings of guilt, worthlessness and self-condemnation. It was a time where every sin was magnified in my own eyes to a point where the burden was unbearable. I was 13 years old when this  Elul abuse started. It continued through my teenage years and even today deep into my thirties.

So how does this cycle change?

My therapist is fond of telling me to look at Hashem as a loving Zeide and not as an abusive father. What a beautiful idea. What sage advice. I want to feel this with all my heart. There are times when I get close to this goal but I just cant seem to internalize it. I feel like there is this wall between me and G-d that I can't seem to break down. Even at times in which I feel more connected and I feel His presence in my life I can't seem to tangibly feel His love. Even as I write this, my eyes are tearing up and my soul yearns for connection.

Wouldn't it be exhilarating going into this Rosh Hashana not in a state of dread, but rather with an intimate and unbreakable bond with the ultimate being? Wouldn't it be amazing walking into shul feeling like you are being hugged by a father who loves you completely and unconditionally?

Please share with me any ideas you might have. Please advise on Seforim you might recommend that can help me focus on the positive and develop this love. Please share ways that you might have faced similar challenges and learned to overcome them.

Thank you for reading.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pain on Tisha B'Av

On this saddest day of the Jewish calendar we say our Kinus mostly with the words zchor, remember and aicha, how. I want to take a moment to ask and remember about the pain and tears that we won't otherwise discuss today.

Zchor

Remember those who experience their own silent inner holocaust. Those who suffer the abuse of others who are charged to care for them. Remember the mothers that ate their children's spirits because their hunger, ego and selfishness knew no bounds.

Aicha - Hashem. How do you allow this to happen?

Remember those who suffer silently. Those who can't share their pain with their friends and family. Those who's pain festers and whose sadness spills out uncontrollably at times.  Those who yearn for a love that they are denied.

Aicha - Hashem. When will this pain end?

Remember those who have lost loved ones. Those who have lost parents, children, friends and lovers. Be it a life lost or a relationship destroyed, the pain is unbearable.

Aicha - Hashem - Where are you?

Remember those who want to know you. Those who yearn to feel your intimacy and your love. Those who want to feel your embrace. Those who want to get a glimpse of the loving, caring and intimate G-d who's beauty should be evident in the world.

Remember those who dont feel your love and are leaving yiddishkeit to escape the pain and confusion.

Aicha - Hashem, why can't we feel you?

Hashem, I beg you. May we have no more pain. May those who have pain be blessed with the ability to use it as a means of growth and connection to you.

Let the questions, How, When, Where and Why be answered soon in our day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Rabbi" Yehuda Levin defines insensitivity



You may have seen http://bit.ly/p9kWsu and then the follow up of http://bit.ly/pABNzR.


To summarize; "Rabbi" Yehuda Levin, a "Rov" in Flatbush goes on a rant in which he attributes Leiby Kletsky's murder to the rising gay agenda and the lack of protesting by Frum people. He goes on to suggest that the murderer was probably motivated by a gay desire for the  boy.


I am not going to debate the right and wrongs of gay marriage and/or gay relationships and the Torahs views on these topics. Nor will I debate the preposterous notion that Levin has the right to suggest G-d's motives as well as the killers orientation. That isn't my point. Many people have attacked him for the substance of his message.


What brought me close to tears and pains my heart isn't so much the message more than it is the delivery. "Rabbi" Levin speaks with no sensitivity to his subject. He is out of touch with the pain and inner turmoil that the frum homosexual struggles with. His words are like daggers. I did not hear him once use a sympathetic tone to people who fight and claw in this battle day after day.  


How is it possible that someone in a position of authority and influence can be so out of touch with the Jewish midah of rachmonim, compassion?


Would it have killed him to let me know how sorry he is for my loneliness and pain? It wouldn't have taken away from the message (which I disagree with but again isn't the point). He could have grieved with me and consoled me for my struggle in balancing my relationship with Hashem while trying to understand my innermost and deepest attractions that Hashem doesn't want me to pursue!


Is it possible that rantings like his kills the frum homosexuals spirit? Is it possible that he risks through his condemnation that kids not understand how to deal with homosexual feelings will go off the derech and even worse possibly take their own lives.


Is it possible that the Gedolim that recently have passed away and Leiby Keletzky and other challenges facing Jewry can be attributed to weaknesses of our Rabbanim and leaders? Are the Rabbanim sensitive enough to this generations challenges? Is a lack of sensitivity figuratively (and maybe literally) killing our children in a similar way to Leibys murder?


Who will "Rabbi" Levin blame Rabbi Abuchatzeira's murder on? Did he also die because of the homosexual agenda? 


I am so sickened by him and his rantings and the holy people's teachings he attributes his corrupt and insensitive views to (Namely R' Avigdor Miller). What he doesnt get is that Rabbi Miller exuded love. There is no love in Mr. Levin's teachings. His rantings are callous and cold or "kar" like amalek (which he loves labeling us as).


In my humble opinion someone needs to send this Dahan fellow on a visit to Yehuda Levin. Don't try telling me I am overdoing it by wishing on him the worst. I'll answer you by telling you to visit the funeral of the poor confused teenager that takes his own life after hearing these rantings. 


Hashem should show us the way and bring Mashiach very soon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Image, Parenting and Therapy...

Growing up, I was moderately overweight. While I don't think this is something that should have been an area of focus in my upbringing, it ended up dominating it. My parents for some reason felt that they needed to project a family image that excluded an overweight child. Some of my most painful memories are of my mother telling me as a young boy that she was embarrassed to be with me because of my weight. I can never forget that.

(Stop for a moment and think about what it means as a child to feel you are an embarrassment to your parents. The most important people in the world are ashamed to have you as one of their own. How devastating and tragic that feeling is. I don't know what motivated me to keep on living.)

As a child of just 7 or 8 years old I was being sent to weight watchers meetings. When my family planned a vacation, the only way I was allowed to go was if I lost 5 or 10 pounds before the trip. The rest of the family just went, I had to earn it.

As I mentioned in earlier posts I was always the youngest in my class in school as well as in camp. Being sensitive is a vicious cycle. It encourages, excites and feeds into the bullies need and will to harass you.

After a while my parents realized that I was coming home dejected and depressed from school. They decided to send me to a psychologist. What a disaster. Not the idea, that was a good one. The disaster was the therapist they chose.

I am not sure if he falsified his degree. His horrific approach was to further tease and belittle me. He figured that he would knock the "wimp" out of me. He would take my sensitivity and sissiness and shove it back at me. Laughing at me, he would ask why I was such a baby, Why I couldn't be more manly. He would comment on my weight. He would even bad mouth my father to me by telling me all sorts of negative things about him. I know there was more but I've blocked a lot of it out.

It was as if he wrote the book on how to ruin a boys chance at masculinity and used me as his prototype.

This lasted a number of years. While it was going on I didn't know any better. I figured that this was therapy and what I needed to go through to get "healed".

Of course, now I know better. Now I know that all I needed was love and affection.

Parents reading this, I beg you to please consider refraining from challenging your children about their weight. Make subtle changes in the foods available at home rather than hurting their self worth and self image. They will come around when they are ready.

I also beg you that if your child needs therapy, send them by all means, but please research the therapist. Make sure you have references. Maybe interview him/her and learn their approach. The wrong therapist can kill your childs soul and possibly turn them away from the idea for life.

Lastly, for Gods sake, please don't put your image in front of your childs. I promise you, the kid will smell it a mile away and you will lose him or her forever.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Abomination? Who is really guilty?



"You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination".


I think we can all agree that when the Torah uses the word toeva, it is in relation to the prohibition in the text. The biblical prohibition is the act of anal sex. This act per the pasuk is a toeva

Ministers, Rabbis and anti gay activists alike, enjoy pointing out that the prohibition against homosexuality is somehow more important than everything else mentioned in the bible. They base this on the word "abomination" used in the text. Protesters tend to have variations of the word abomination plastered in big letters on their posters.

I bet you 9 out of 10 (or 10 out of 10) of these people don't know that this isn't the only place Toeva is mentioned in the Torah.

Here are some of the other places;.

1) Sacrifices - Offering one with a blemish; or one that was used as a prostitutes fee or one that was purchased through an exchange for a dog.
2) False Idols
3) A man wearing a woman's clothes and a woman wearing a mans clothes.
4) (One of my favorites) Remarrying an ex-wife after she has been with another man. 
5) Cheating in business (Not just cheating, even just owning false weights before having used them is called an abomination, the implication is that actually cheating would be worse than an abomination).
6) In summarizing all acts of forbidden relations in Leviticus 18:26-27 the text twice refers to them as abominations. This includes adultery and living with a woman while she is menstruating.

This word is also used throughout Nach for sin in general, for loving money and for a host of other wrongs.

There are also other variations of abomination used in the Torah to give emphases to certain prohibitions such as eating non kosher animals, fish and insects (sheketz or disgusting).

This begs the question; where are the religious groups that scream about the abomination going on in the business world every single day? I get 6 pieces of false advertising in the mail daily from credit cards, mortgage and insurance companies etc...Open the newspaper to the automobile section and let me know when you can get the Mercedes for no money down and $99 a month.  Cheating on taxes, insurance scams etc...WHAT AN ABOMINATION!!!!

Why aren't there organizations called AMRS or Anti Menstrual Relations Society. It is horrible that people are sleeping with their wives while they are "On the rag". It's an abomination!!!

Realizing you made a mistake about your first love and reconciling with her after she lived with another???? OH MY LORD!!! It's an ABOMINATION!!!

It might come off as if I am trying to mock the Torah. That isn't my intent, I am also not minimizing the fact that the Torah points these out as abominations. It did so for a reason.

It is obvious that there are reasons that Hashem chose the word toeva for a wide variety offenses. Some are easier to understand than others. The root like the gemara says is "Toeh ata bah", you are making a mistake. That is the common denominator.

So why do these folks choose homosexuality out of the many items listed above as their target? There are a variety of reasons that I can think of. They might find it uncomfortable or threatening. Maybe it's an easy target to rally against. It's just not that sexy to rally against wearing a member of the opposite sexes clothes (By the way, if you are thinking to make the correlation between the homosexual "abomination" and cross dressing, that pasuk mentions nothing of the sort. The "Lo silbash" pasuk can even be one item of the opposite sexes clothes and the Rabbis say it applies to a host of other things that even might extend to a man wearing jewelry or getting a manicure/pedicure).

Bottom line, to the religious right; face the music and own up. Don't lie to yourself. You are attacking homosexuals because of your bias and discomfort, not due to a higher calling or cause.

Be honest with yourself. We see in the Torah that cheating in business (dishonesty) can be an abomination. You wouldn't want to be accused of any piece of that now, would you?


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Growing up with neglect...

My parents always wanted me out of the house when I was a kid. They sent me to a Catskills sleep away camp when I was 6 years old. Yes, 6 years old. They sent me for 2 months. I was the youngest kid in camp. My parents should have known better and the camp should have been closed down for being enablers to my abuse. They shouldn't allow such young kids barely toilet trained into camp...

I had a counselor who used to tickle me silly until I couldn't stop laughing and then hit me until I would cry... and then repeat. He did this to another kid in the bunk too. I was confused but the other kid had the balls to go to the head counselor. He didn't do anything about it. The counselor continued on his merry way through the end of the summer. (I actually had the opportunity to confront this counselor years later when he came back to camp as a chosson for a shabbos. It totally was against my nature to do that but I asked him in public if he planned on abusing his wife the way he abused me. I don't know where I gathered the strength to do that.)

School was the same way. My parents started me off early at 2 years old in nursery so I was always the youngest in the class. Smartest, but youngest. Not a good combination for the bullies. They don't like smarter than them and being the youngest made me an easy target. Lucky me, I was sensitive and would react at the slightest provocation... that egged them on even more. I constantly found myself on the other side of harmony. I didn't have peace at home. I didn't feel protected in school and didn't have a respite from the madness in camp.

(Sorry for painting such a bleak picture but part of the reason I started this blog was because I needed to vent. It has been somewhat cathartic.)

It is horrible not to have anyone to turn to. At the time I couldn't, and even now I cant think of any specific person who I might have been able to talk to about what I was going through. The only picture of love I can remember was my grand father who lived nearby. I unfortunately came home from school one day as a young boy, to him having had a heart attack and passing away young.

My parents sensing my unhappiness had the sensibility to set me up with a therapist. More later on the disaster that experience would turn into.

To close this entry I guess I wonder why I was destined by shamayim to have my spirit so broken as a child? What was Hashem setting me up for? How has it shaped who I am today? Sitting in my den at home, while my wife sleeps upstairs, anonymously blogging about my gay existence, not wanting anyone to know who the real me is. Where will this all lead?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Learned behavior?

The truth is that I have a lot more to write in relation to my childhood years. I fear a stigma building though and it isn't my intent. I'd like to clarify...

Being in the closet affords me the "luxury" to be in on those "straight" conversations in which the topic of homosexuality comes up. Friends might speculate as to another friends sexuality and/or the conversation goes to a person we know that has come out of the closet. It is common for someone to point out what a screwed up life the person in question had as if the person couldn't be gay and have had a normal life. It seems that the natural assessment a straight person makes when they talk about a gay guy is that there is something messed up about them.

(I will stop for a moment to say that this assumption is by far more common in frum circles.)

The way this affects me though is that I fear talking about my messed up childhood might reinforce that stereotype. Please help me with this. Is it a false perception on my end? Am I more sensitive to this line of thought because I am gay? I wonder if others feel that this stereotype exists. Do straight people think that someone who's gay must have had some element of abnormality or even abuse in their upbringing? This might go back to the conversation about genetics. In so far that someone has a genetic disposition to homosexuality I would guess they could've had the perfect upbringing and it's just built into their DNA to be attracted to guys.

On the other hand, if it is a learned behavior, does that imply a challenged upbringing?

Here's my thinking; if homosexuality is a learned behavior, to me that implies that heterosexuality is a learned behavior as well. Doesn't the logic go there? If being hetero is natural than shouldn't a homosexual need to"unlearn" their natural affinity to heterosexuality and than re-learn to be gay. I realize I am simplifying but it would seem more logical that a child is asexual until life experience "teaches" him sexual preference, be it homo or heterosexuality.

Okay, I am rambling... I understand that all sides of this argument have probably been debated already. I have not researched the debate (I probably will over time, I am new to this). I am sharing this because I believe that there are areas of subtlety within everyone's upbringing, healthy or unhealthy that can cause people to be all sorts of things, angry or happy, lazy or hard-working, stingy or  generous and yes, gay or straight.

That said, I will continue on my next blog entry to talk about some of the conditions of my childhood that have led me to where I am today. I  have confidence that my story of a screwed up childhood and the belief that some of it has led to my homosexuality, doesn't make it the rule of thumb. I hope others will see it the same way.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Genetic? Maybe, but I don't think so....

While I believe there is certainly a genetic aspect to homosexuality; I believe I don't need to go there to explain my deep yearning for male intimacy.

There is no question that a prerequisite for an individual to grow up with a sound feeling of self and a healthy emotional balance, their childhood home had to feel safe. A home for a child needs to be a place that they can fall back on for stability even when it seems like the rest of the world might be falling apart.

Of course for a home to feel safe there typically has to be a positive relationship between the parents and a general feeling of calm and predictability in day to day life. Love and encouragement on a proactive scale wouldn't hurt either but might not be absolutely necessary.

I for the most part did not enjoy any of the above feelings of safety. I grew up in New York City with second generation holocaust survivors as parents. I dont judge them becauae they had to live with parents who woke up screaming in middle of the night from the nightmares of their childhood.

My father was a successful business man who gave a ridiculous amount to tzedaka. He was into the New York political scene. Rabbi's fawned on him. He was cool. Good looking and charismatic.If I had a dime for every person who told me what a wonderful guy he is I would be rich. How I yearned for his love. I believe he loved me dearly but didn't always have the means to express it. I needed him to touch me gently and to tell me that he was there for me. He sent me to a yeshivish/heimish boro park elementary school. If you think there was a male role model I was able to count on for a healthy male child adult relationship you would be quite wrong. (That might be for another post.)

My mother had to hold up the fort on her own. She unfortunately wasn't emotionally strong enough to raise all of us. Without going into details, she lived a difficult and complicated life that played out in my relationship with her. I could truly write up a book on my upbringing and the difficulty it was.

Yes, this is the gay cliche of absent father & dominating mother. What could I say? I grew up yearning desperately for the love of a man while being turned off by the instability of the primary female in my life.Where did that leave me? You guessed it.When puberty set in, that yearning turned into something more sexual and physical in nature. Unsatisfied, it just raged on further.

As I started this post, I can never say for certain that elements of my gay desires are not genetic. I have no question though that my life experiences can explain my homosexuality as a learned behavior or at a minimum it has fanned that genetic flame in a very powerful way.

Ultimately, when I stand here today it makes absolutely no difference to me how I got here. I can't undo genetics, nor can I undo my life experiences.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blessing and curse

I often think to myself having been born in the mid 70's was both a blessing and a curse.

Think about it; what event in the last 15 years has had the most profound affect on the closeted homosexual? What has allowed us to investigate a curiosity that until that point had no avenue for investigation? I am obviously talking about the Internet. With a click of the mouse all of a sudden there were anonymous chat rooms where I was able to talk to other gay men and express to them something I could never share with anyone before. I was able to look at stimulating pictures that I could never have seen elsewhere. Nothing before the Internet revolution had stirred up that yearning and desire in me to figure out what my innermost needs and desires are.

Here's the point though. The Internet had it's awakening in the mid to late 90's. I discovered the internet a year into my marriage with my wife while expecting our first child. Blessing - I was married and expecting. Curse - I was married and expecting. Blessing - I was deep in and had to play the hand I was dealt. There was no easy out so I was forced to fight the battle of my urges in what I considered a torahdike way. Curse - I was deep in. I couldn't walk, I couldn't pursue my roaring gay cry for male connection and intimacy. If Hashem had me conceived by my parents just a couple years later and certainly 5 to 10 years later, it would have been a different ball game.

Even though I grew up with an attraction to boys, I was always able to tell myself that when I got married things would change. It's a phase... I'm in yeshiva, it's like a jail, I'm institutionalized. The second I get out of this mess of public showers and mikvas and into the hands of a beautiful woman all this will change. I will forget about my attractions to my friends in shiur and at camp. That would all be history. I had that conversation with myself thousands of times as a teenager into my early 20's and up until the night of my chuppah. One thing is for certain, given access to what the Internet provides, I would have thought twice. I would have had a stimulation that couldn't have easily been argued against. Could I say I never would have married? I don't know. The argument certainly wouldn't have been so simple.

Blessing and curse.

Introduction...

I am a frum, gay & married male who feels compelled to share. Let me get this out of the way, when I say I am gay,  I will qualify it by saying that I have never once in my life had a gay relationship or even a gay encounter. I am gay in so far as I am attracted to and in need of intimacy with a man. This is a deep rooted need for male intimacy and not a raw need for gay relations.

I know that there are people that will criticize me for one, two or all three of being frum, gay & married. There will be valid points to your criticism. That said; you are not going to find me being an apologist for any of them. As you will see, life took me to where I am today. Where I go from here is another question that has yet to be answered.

I will talk about my background in future posts but for a short intro; I grew up in your typical baal habatish household. I am the second of 5 children. I went through your standard yeshivish yeshiva's, got married and went to kollel for 2 years. I am now a successful business man, well respected for torah, tzedaka and chesed within the community in which I live. I am straight acting and could be sitting next to you at the yeshiva dinner, I could be your shul's favorite chazan and our kids can be best friends. I could be a mispallel in your shul listening to the Rov talk about the perverts and mishkav zochornicks supporting gay marriage.

I am writing this blog for a few reasons. I have been living in solitude with this secret for many years. It can sometimes be the epitome of loneliness. The burden of shouldering this on my own is overwhelming. You can tell people about a disease you have. You can tell them about business challenges or even marital issues you might be having. As a frum man, you can not turn to your friends during leining or at the shul kiddush and say, "I am in terrible pain. I am trying to balance this whole gay thing and my frumkeit, any ideas...? Pass the kishka...". Who is there for me to turn too? Should I tell my wife? My close friends? My chavrusa? I reiterate, I am lonely and in pain. I am convinced there are other people like me out there. I want them to know that they are not alone. I want to have the opportunity to hear from them and share my experience with them.

I hope that if you are reading this you can have an open mind, an open heart and display what  klal yisroel is know as; rachmanim.

I look forward to a continued conversation.