Monday, December 10, 2012

Lesson that I learned (once again) today...

I've spoken about the concept of how a small gesture can uplift someones world. A touch, a hug or a phone call. If a friend mentioned something to you a month ago that was bothering him, send him a text, an email or give him a call to ask about it. Inevitably he will say, "You remembered?" and feel like a million dollars.

Back to the hug. I don't mean the big masculine hug where you barely touch chests and bang each other twice on the back. Even straight guys can appreciate a a hug where another guy wraps his arms around you and squeezes. That's a beautiful mode of communication. It builds someone up. It motivates them to do the same to others. It might take what was a lousy day and give them a 'pep in their step' for the rest of the day or longer.

On the other side is the passive aggressive nature of some (many times subconsciously) . When you are down and going through what seems to be difficult challenges and you knows your friend(s) are aware. Yet they don't reach out. It might be someone that you lifted up in the past but now that he is down he has forgotten you. The friend doesn't send you a text saying, 'I'm thinking about you'. Or a text saying, 'I love you and wish I could be there with you but I am going through some stuff myself'. We have to remember that not everyone who goes through a hard time always wants to talk but they still want to feel love. I am not saying that we are by nature altruistic but we can still make someone feel good even if we aren't getting anything seemingly in return.

I learned this lesson today... Unfortunately I was on the other side of the coin... And I cried... It hurt... It could have been so easy for him... And I cried some more...

I will do my best to be there for others who need it, to give you a word, a hug or simply touch your hand. I am sorry if I haven't been there if you have needed me. I will try to better myself in this area.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fighting a good cause

JONAH lawsuit

It's about time. Please don't argue that it helps some, because even if that is true (which is clearly debatable), it hurts and kills many more.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks...



It's been over 2 months since my last post on September 14th.

I have been asked numerous times over the last couple of months when I would be posting again. People tell me they check often to see if anything new is up. When I was asked most recently, I stopped and thought about it for a minute. I realized that my writing mostly has come from conflict and pain. When I am hurting, the words spill out and my fingers move faster than my brain thinks.

I'll never forget the time that my friend Chaim who writes a blog at http://gottagivemhope.blogspot.com/ asked me to guest post on his website. The link is Here. I wrote it in a half hour. I was in one of my worst, most deeply painful places when I wrote that. I feel like it is from my best writing though.

The great news is that outside of a few isolated incidents I am in a really good place right now. I have never been more proud, confident and honest in my entire life. I therefore haven't had the drive or motivation to write much.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a few moments to talk about the things I am most thankful for.

I am most thankful for the love and support of my ex-wife. While times haven't always been perfect, she has shown exceptional strength and courage through our challenges. As word was getting out about my being gay and negativity started rearing its ugly head, this is what my wife (at the time) posted to the public on Facebook;

My dearest *****,
I want to start out by saying I love you. Before I go any further, if for some reason, u don't make it thru this letter, I wanna make sure u know I love u.
I can't begin to understand what life is like for u. I can't imagine how hard it must be to be you right now. Especially after all you've done for so many people only to have many of them turn their backs on u. You know what they say, that usually that means they see a little of u in themselves. They can't deal. Because they know how amazing u are. They know that u have the biggest heart of any man alive. They know that it took more courage and strength for you to be you than they will ever have in their whole lives. They are jealous. "They" are insignificant. "They" didn't get to spend 18 years with u. "They" didn't get to have the most amazing kids on the planet with u. "They" didn't get to grow and learn with u and from u the way I have. "They" are "pots calling the kettle black". What happened to "love thy neighbor". What happened to not judging? Not casting stones? Not speaking Loshon Horah? Nothing. They are still there. In neon lights. Blazing overhead. And "they" are blind.
Please don't use "them" as ur guide. "They" are insignificant.
U are, BY FAR, the most amazing, wonderful, loving, warm, caring, smart, special, sensitive, amazing (it bears repeating) person I know.
I am honored and privileged to call you my best friend for life.
I love u more than pecan pie.
Love always,
*****

Nothing really needs to be added. This is the announcement she made when the world heard that her husband of 17+ years was homosexual. She is a hero in the truest sense of the word.

Second are my children. For their privacy I won't go into this too deeply, only to say that they are doing amazing. They stand by me. They protect me. They love me for who I am. They do not waiver on this. Many of their friends teenage friends know and respect me just the same. It is a different age. My son has voiced to me that his friends think its cool that he has a gay dad. Their haven't been incidents in which we have run up against true negativity in this regard. I love them tons and couldn't be more proud and/or ask for more.

My dad, siblings and most extended family have given me nothing but unwavering love. My ex-in laws have shown a remarkable amount of support.

I want to be thankful to the various individuals outside of my immediate circles who have taken the time to text, email, call or even say hello in person. Some people more than once. You don't realize how one kind word can affect someone. Just saying to someone 'I've been thinking about you' or 'I haven't seen you around and I miss you' is very powerful. It doesn't take alot of energy to say something, but revitalizes the one it's being said to.

I was at a funeral the other day. I felt very out of place. I knew most of the people there but it was the first time I saw most since having been outed. A select few came over and said hi but more than that didn't or couldn't make eye contact with me. Now granted it was at a funeral. It wasn't quite the social scene. A cousin of my ex though made it a point to walk behind me, take my elbow, caress it for a few seconds and make eye contact with me while doing it. It was a quiet message of him conveying to me 'someone is thinking about you'. To many people that might sound petty. To me it was a powerful moment. My eyes got moist as I thought about how simple it is to bring someone up.

Going back to family for a moment - At this funeral there was irony as I was watching people skirt away from me while my ex inlaws gave me huge hugs and kisses with gratitude that I came out to see them. That must have been confusing to many.

My friends have been amazing. New friends and old friends. They have been accessible to me 24/7 when I have needed to cry, to rant, a hug, a drink etc... You guys know who you are and you are my lifelines.

Happy Thanksgiving


Friday, September 14, 2012

Blog is back up...

Hi. I am back quicker than I thought I would be. :-)

I am putting the blog back up with one caveat. I have gotten a lot of emails through my blog (even texts and phone calls from people who know me as the author of this blog). I have felt the need to answer them for a while. Please forgive me now if I don't respond in the near future. My first priority is my family and my own health and it is hard for me to engage in conversation right now without sometimes getting hurt. That effects the people around me.

I hope to in the future.

Thank you for understanding.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Taking it down for a while...

I am suspending my blog for a while. I started this blog anonymously 15 months ago for 2 reasons; to help myself have an outlet through the lowest depression I was going through because my therapist recommended to me that writing will be therapeutic. I also wrote it to help others that are struggling understand that they are not alone.

I unfortunately need to be selfish for a bit. Even while getting a lot of support over the last month since this blew up, I have also gotten beaten down incessantly and continue to get hurt every day by various individuals. My sensitive nature is such that I get hurt deeply by the negativity. I need to be strong for my kids, my wife and myself. I have learned that there are horrible, unhappy, uneducated and vindictive people out there that can't relate to the pain they are putting me and my family through. I feel for you and I know there will be din v'sheshbon. You judge me about this and I haven't done anything the Torah says is assur. Loshon hora and motzei shem ra have potentially 31 positive and negative violations each time. Rosh Hashana is next week. Hatzlocha with that.

I have also learned of some amazing, beautiful and supportive people who are there for my family and me, no matter the circumstance. I am thankful and wish you a year of health, love, peace and happiness for you and the people close to you.

I know there will be a day soon where I can be there for you again. When I feel I have taken care of myself, I will be back. Until then, if you are hurting, I am so sorry and pained that right now I need to take time for me and I can't be there for you. I beg you though to see a specialist and not to keep it inside.

Best of luck.





Thursday, August 30, 2012

Really?


I have had Rabbonim tell me that people have asked them if their children can still hang out with my kids. I have heard that people are asking whether they can still do business with me because of the loshon hora they have heard about me. (As an aside it's motzei shem ra, not loshon hora).

Really?

Your kids shouldn't hang out with mine? Are you kidding me? Do you think the gay will rub off on them? Do you think that you are "exposing" them to something they shouldn't be exposed to? Please don't kid yourself. They are well aware about this topic. Someone said to me last week that his 14yr old who is good friends with my son has no idea about this topic and whats going on with me. I laughed inside. I didn't tell him but his  son (prior to this conversation) told my son that he heard I had an affair with a man in the community that I am very close to. Dad; you are clueless. Get to know your kid.

If your kids truly don't know, start the conversation with them. They will face this issue with people at  some point soon. It would be nice for them to know how to be sensitive to anothers adversity. Don't perpetuate to your children what some of you have shown yourselves to be, uneducated and intolerant.

Should you do business with me? Um... Out of the thousands of people that I have helped, is there one, yes one that can say I dealt with them dishonestly? How much money have I lost by taking hits helping people in chinuch and others that struggle with cash flow. I give 15-20% of my money to tzedaka. I give to your childrens schools... To your shuls... To your chesed organizations... (A lot of you that are getting money from   anonymous sources, it's me and you wouldn't even know it) and the list goes on and on... (As an aside, to those who run some of these organizations that haven't reached out to me to offer a word of support, your silence speaks louder than words. If you have to think for a second, yes, I am talking to you...). Also, on what halachaic basis would you choose to not give me business? I'll remind you I have done nothing wrong. You might criticize me for being haughty about my charitable tendencies. Don't judge! I wouldn't normally. Deal with it. I have been beat down enough. This is my parnassa at question.

I am lucky that I have a lot of great individuals and some amazing spiritual leaders that support me right now. I don't know how those struggling, that don't have the support, can stay frum. 

For those hurting, I can say to you with all my heart, you have me and I am here for you. Don't give up and don't let go.




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If I were a rich man

My favorite lyrics of all time...

If I were a rich man....

"The most important men in town will come to fawn on me--
They will ask me to advise them,
Like a Solomon the Wise--
"If you please, Reb Tevye?"--
"Pardon me, Reb Tevye?"--
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi's eyes--
Ya va voy, ya va voy voy vum...
And it won't make one bit of difference
If I answer right or wrong--
When you're rich, they think you really know."


Very applicable to things I am going through right now...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Update

I wanted to share a few updates about this blog. I am suspending the ability to comment. I believe all questions that can be asked have been addressed through the 40+ posts on this blog and my responses to comments.

If anyone needs support or would like to offer support or ask questions with sensitivity, please email me at festerfest123@gmail.com

I have also taken down some personal posts that I will be editing and reposting over the next few days.

Thank you again for the kind words, dialogue and mostly, your continued support.

Wow... Rumor has it....

The nonsense and rumors people are saying about me is unreal. I am done defending myself. It's one thing for me to say that I won't judge the negative reactions because people hearing this have no frame of reference (they don't realize I have been dealing with this for 27 years), but to create and spread false rumors, hard for me to be understanding.

My non Jewish assistant sends me "They should add a law against gossip in Shul.  It would be pretty quiet."

In case you thought I was over exaggerating about who's looking at this blog and spreading it through email; after Friday when 2000 people looked at it; on shabbos 91 people looked at it (a number of them from Israel); so far since motzei shabbos 1300 people have looked. Rabbi's, People from Cleveland, Canada, New York etc have shared with me that the blog address was emailed to them. 

I am amazed at what some of you folks find happiness in. 

Shame. Shame. Shame. 

PS thanks again I those who have taken the time to reach out to me and write beautiful comments, emails and texts. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Don't feel bad commenting.... Go right ahead...

It is now obvious to me that the link to my blog is being emailed all through my community and others. I have gotten private emails from the most obscure people from my past voicing love and support. I thank you for that.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the type of person if I were on the other side of this to start emailing out a link that is presented as anonymous while announcing who wrote it. At the same time I can't project that others should maintain my standard.

I would ask though that the kind people who know me and read this blog to feel free not just to email me but to take a minute to comment something positive on the blog and issue support. It would be nice for the naysayers to have a perspective of who I am and the differences I've made in people's lives.

Of course if you would like to be negative go ahead and comment as well. All perspectives need to be shown.

The 2 most common objections I get is "how can I support or be an advocate of a sinner?" The answer to that is simply I haven't sinned.  The Torah says nothing about orientation or inclination, just not to follow through on it.

Second, I get, "why do you feel the need to have a blog and publicize it?". I want to remind you that I started this blog by advice of my therapist who is well respected in our community. I have had it for 14 months with few people knowing (ironically my wife always knew about it).  It was therapeutic and helped people. It was only this past Monday when other people outed me and someone found this and started spreading it around, that thousands of people are reading it. You are choosing to forward the link as well as you are choosing to read it which at this point I have no issue with at all.

Please do not use my name in posts.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Update on being "out" relating to this blog...

I am having a hard time understanding something. I usually get 30-50 hits a day on this blog (There are stat trackers). My community started to talk about my sexuality on Monday. That day my blog got 400 hits. Tuesday had me receive 800 hits. Wednesday 1400 hits and so far at only noon on Thursday there are over 1300 hits.

I don't know if this blog will go viral but I will tell you that if I save one person from hurting themselves, depression or pain, I will have accomplished everything. One life, physically, emotionally or spiritually will be worth every negative email and comment I get and I have gotten many. Kol hamatzil nefesh echad ke'illu hetzil olam malle. I have also gotten amazing expressions of support from people so close to me and people from my past. 

I will be publishing (without their names) many emails, texts, conversation and comments on both side of the spectrum as time goes on.

Blogspot gives a general source of where people come from like Facebook and Google. It also says the key words people are searching. The primary source of people coming to my blog right now is Google. This means that people who never had perspective on this in the past are searching the words "frum gay" or frum, married and gay" etc to find information. This tells me that people are searching for perspective and information. I will continue to do what I have always done which is smile through my pain, lift people who are down up and support people who need it.

(Anyone looking for support in this area or in general is always welcome to email me at festerfest123@gmail.com, anonymously or not.)

When these blog hits came in hard I asked my wife if she wanted me to take this down because of the personal nature of the information. She said to me and I paraphrase "The blog was what helped get you to where you are today. It would be a shame for you to take it down". What a hero. She continued by saying how people can gain so much by this and I should leave it up. Anyone who knows me knows that it is not my nature to flaunt. I can tell you though for the sake of understanding that many struggling gay men, both married, divorced and single have reached out to tell me that I inspire them. Some people have told me I have said that I give them inspiration to live. I share the credit for this with my beautiful wife.

As the song goes;

I'm bulletproof, nothing to losefire away, fire awayricochet, you take your aimfire away, fire awayyou shoot me down, but I won't fallI am titaniumyou shoot me down, but I won't fallI am titanium


Monday, August 6, 2012

11,000 views and an observation

Thanks for getting me to 11,000 hits on my blog. Over 200 today so far.

I see in the admin that there are a number of hits from Facebook reposts although I can't see who's posting. Thanks for spreading my words.

If you can share Facebook comments, positive or negative or send me the links that would be cool. I'd love the feedback. Festerfest123@gmail.com.

Thanks.

I am now out...

So folks, the day has come. I have been outed to the public (not by choice, but by community gossip) but yet I feel relieved. I will not be publishing my name on my blog. This may come sometime in the future but for now I will be keeping the blog anonymous. I am sure some will put it together although I talk about family members and  negativity in my upbringing. People search my name thousands of times a year due to the work I do and I don't want it to connect to the blog.

Update:

Once my wife and I decided to divorce, she became. my biggest advocate and has verbalized that she is my best friend and that she is happy for me and feels I am doing the right thing. We talk all the time and have Shabbat meals and dinners with the kids every week.

My wife and I told our children together about the divorce and homosexuality (which was extremely powerful) and I got some interesting questions like "So why did you get married in the first place". To comments that "you are my dad no matter what and I am happy for you that you are finding yourself and won't have to hide any more". That was my oldest who is a teenage boy.

I am so proud of them and very proud of myself for how I have allowed this journey to play out. Class, dignity, compassion and sensitivity. And it has paid off.  I will always be their for them. I am gay but I am their dad and my wife's best friend.

Over the months I had many people tell me how I am going to screw up my family, my kids will hate me etc... I believe you are correct in so far as the person going through it wasn't a caring and loving father, husband and friend. I believe I spent my entire life building up to this moment. I spent my years being a great husband to my wife, a loving and supportive dad to my kids and a friend who is there for people no matter the circumstances. This is why people taken it well. It's because they love me and know my core. I have heard numerous times from people who have no reference to homosexuality that I come out to that nothing has changed. They tell me "you are still the same person we have grown to love".

Any way, like I said, I am not hiding anymore. I am proud. I am not advertising my homosexuality but I am not denying it either.

I am close to the happiest I have ever been in my life.

Thanks to those who have been supportive. To those who have been critical, you have been mistaken in so far as you generalized and had no frame of reference to who I was or am. That's a shame.

Thanks all.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The 9 days and my own private holocaust

Even with my current struggle maintaining orthodox judaism, I still feel a connection to the 9 days. Each of my grandparents lost immediate family members to the Nazi's. Some murders were witnessed. I am a Jew and my family and people suffered through all our years. That identity connects me to our history and gives me the motivation to conform to the requirements of the 9 days and feel guilty when I don't.

At the same time I would argue that I personally have suffered my own private holocaust. The abusive upbringing I had. Abuse at the hands of the people close to me; teachers, family, a therapist and counselors in camp. Bullying to a horrible extreme that caused me to contemplate suicide numerous times. All that time struggling with my sexual orientation and the conflicts that brings in reconciling it with my judaism.

Bottom line. I feel like I can cut myself some slack. My suffering and pain has been deep, long and to my core. Would I switch with holocaust survivors? Probably not.

Lets compromise and call it a mini-holocaust, but a holocaust nonetheless.

This brings me to my next point. For people who never suffered physical or sexual abuse; for you to judge, project and blatantly accuse abuse survivors of making things up, you deny them the ability to speak up and certainly heal; you reinforce the pain and insecurity that has been projected on them for all their life. You are abhorrent. You are a life sucker. You should look in the mirror and let shame take you over. If your are family, shame, shame, shame. All the more so...

Al tadin es ha'adam ad shetagia l'mkomo.

Dont judge another until you walk their shoes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Quick comment on the OU response to Obama

The OU response to the presidents statement on same sex marriage is here

And I quote "Jewish law is unequivocal in opposing same sex relationships.".

Again, distorting the truth. The Torah has nothing to say about "same sex relationships"

Please don't tell me that it is obvious they meant having intercourse because; one, it isn't obvious; and two, when you say something in the name of the Torah, it ought to be accurate. Every word is critical.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

I came out to my father....

Last week I had a conversation with my father. We were discussing the challenges I am having in my relationship with my wife. He did not know about my struggles with homosexuality. We had discussed the marital struggles before but I could not be forthright because I wouldn't share the gay piece. I would always just ask him to respect that I couldn't share everything with him.

However after being asked alot of questions that past time and really not being able to answer; I finally said to myself. It's time. I don't have much to lose at this point. I said to my father something like, "you have been saying that you want to be there for me 24/7, that you will always love me unconditionally. If you truly want to know what I am going through I will be challenging those ideals". I asked him if he was prepared to hear something very difficult. Without a beat he said yes. It took me a minute or two but I finally got it out.

I told him I truly believed that I am homosexual. I shares with him the struggles I've had through the years. Again without missing a beat he said something like this; "I feel horrible for the pain that you have been through. I can't even imagine what it's been like and I am hurting for you." He continued by relaying to me that there is nothing I can tell him that will make him love me any less.

 I cried.... Alot.

We went on to talking about issues I had with my upbringing; the bullying in school, the abuse in camp. I had no one to turn to. He told me that he wished he could turn back time and be a better father for me and he's so sorry that there is no switch he can flip to turn back time. He said that even though he knows that he could have been a better person and father, he knows that he is a different person now and that he will love me unconditionally until 120.

 To put this into perspective, my father is a "type A" personality. He is as much of a man as a man could be (in societies view). He is and always has been an orthodox Jew and the child of holocaust survivors. I am not sure what I was to expect but this was not it. He did not have a word of doubt or criticism. He did not ask me if I am sure. He did not recommend therapy etc... He just acknowledged his love for me no matter what.

For the last 4 days since this conversation, I have spoken to him many times and he has not wavered. When I now say "I love you" to him I mean it with all my heart. I am blown away by what took place and I am so incredibly thankful. Within my God struggle, for the first time in a long time, I felt compelled to say thank you to him.

 I am not sure where things will go with my wife or my dad for that matter but for the first time in my 35+ years of life I can finally say and feel with all my heart, "I have a father".

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why does it still surprise me?


It is amazing how R' Shmuel Kamenetsky chooses to write a response to the issue of Metzitza B'peh found  Here.

To my knowledge the metzitza b'peh issue has not caused depression and suicide, ruined lives and pushed people off the derech.

Yet still silence on the issue of homosexuality when the Rosh Yeshiva himself admitted to his error in signing Jonah's "Torah" declaration. It's unbelievable to me.

How does he choose what is important enough for his time?

I continue to feel that God needs better representation on this world. I am happy that there are some wonderful people and even Rabbi's in this world. The overwhelming majority and at a minimum the ones most in the public eye continue though to push me away from Orthodoxy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The depth of my pain...

Last night was from the most difficult nights of my life. I have never cried so much and with so much depth in my pain and tears.

I am trying so hard. I don't know what I could be doing more or better. I am in a downward spiral. I hope that I don't end up hurting myself.

I feel like I am Tom Hanks in Castaway. I am on my own desert island. I am trapped without anyone knowing where I am. The few that have seen my SOS sign in the sand continue to fly overhead thinking that it is one big joke.

It's not a joke. My therapist told me a few weeks ago that me and my wifes situation is the hardest one hes encountered in his many years of giving therapy. He mentioned dealing with people who have lost children. He says ours is the hardest because we love each other and every which way we turn there are layers of complication that bring further layers of complication. At the same time he is so overwhelmingly busy that even in the depths of my despair I can't seem to get an appointment with him. You'd think he would find time for what he bills his hardest case in his career? He is just the therapist through this. My wife and I are the actual ones suffering. I got a sarcastic passive aggressive message from him this morning laying on the guilt for me having the gall to try to push him past his full schedule. I therefore have decided to end my 12 years of therapy with him this evening and move on. I need someone that can be there for me through times that I feel suicidal and that I want to end the pain and can find the time for an emergency.

I need hope. I need clarity. I need to feel love. Hashem and his Torah are not supplying that to me at this time. The Rabbi's are not supplying it to me at this time.

I thank my select group of friends for being there for me but I cant keep burdening them with all my emotional instability.

I don't know how to balance my responsibilities as a father, husband, businessman, Jew, friend etc without losing my mind.

To be continued...