A blog to share and educate through my experience as an orthodox, gay and (formerly) married Jewish man conflicted about finding a deeper understanding of God, religion and spirituality. At the same time I am looking to give and get support from others in a similar situation.
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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?
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