This is a post from a man who reached out to discuss his struggle with me. I respect and honor his struggle. I am inspired by his fight and consider him a good friend.
These are his words.
You are not alone.
I didn’t always know this. I still don’t feel it.
I do know that I don’t have to feel alone. I am not the only one, I am not evil or bad, nor am I god’s mistake.
Oh, I am married, frum and Gay too. Growing up I was miserable. I would always think what would happen if [enter name] or [enter any authority figure I should trust] found out.
I can’t tell a soul. I am different. I can’t trust anyone. I don’t know what would be with me if they knew I was gay. I was close to a Rebbe in High School. I wanted to tell him, but I didn’t. If only he knew the real me. He would have no choice but to get rid of me.
Hiding and masking my real feelings became who I am. I still prefer to just be alone. It is less complicated. I missed the stages where others learn to socialize and just be. Just be part of the crowd and not justify my right to fit in. I guess it is like the kid who never learned to tie his shoe. Or that person who never learned to swim.
Therapy has taught me a lot. But it can’t teach me what I would’ve learned as a “regular teen” in high school. It also can’t undo the years of inadequacy.
The thought of high school brings pain and loneliness. The pain of feeling different and ashamed. The loneliness because no friend or person could fill the void I had in my heart. Back then I thought I knew who I would want to fill the void but also knew I would never live that way. You would think I shouldn’t have felt alone because I was one of the great ball players in school and camp. You would never think someone like me can be this way.
I tried the “change and make me not gay" therapy during my two yeshiva years in Israel. Apparently, never trying hard enough because it didn’t work. I’m consoled this no longer is an acceptable modality. I could’ve saved a lot of money and years thinking I am not a failure at one more thing in life. Trying to change someone “this” way is wrong. Leading one to this false belief is murderous. It just leads them to false hope and a feeling of failure down the line.
Years Later I decided to share it with this rebbe I mentioned I was close to. I had hoped that perhaps in doing so it would make a difference to one Talmid of his. Upon sharing it he said he was sorry he didn’t know I was in pain back then and we both cried together. This gives me hope and encouragement for some form of social change happening.
I also know that society isn’t ready to accept that some people are different. We didn’t want to talk about cancer or infertility and now we do. Although, I don’t recall cancer and infertility jokes being ok.
Well like every good movie – It is coming to a family near you in the next 5 years whether you like ‘them’ or not.
I will be honest and say I don’t know what the secular political way should be. As difficult as it is I understand the religious perspective. Unfortunately, this whole discussion has turned political, our thoughts are biased by politics more than the religious understanding. I don’t know when children should be taught or told of what is called alternative lifestyles. I don’t think it is a school’s decision to make. However, our children should never be made to feel they are receiving our ‘alternative’ version of love. I often wonder how I would react to one of my children being gay. I just cry and imagine crying with them. I would cry because I don’t see a short-term end to their pain. Yet, I know I needn’t worry about this because this could never happen to my own perfect family.
We must realize acceptance and love isn’t condoning a lifestyle or a political statement. Unconditional love towards a child isn’t conditional on their sexual orientation. The only way to create a safe place for an open dialogue with our children is to no longer make the gay comments or jokes that are socially acceptable.