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Introduction... (The first blog post in 2011)...

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...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ambiguous update (But an update nonetheless)

My apologies for the ambiguity of this post. I need to toe the line between bearing my soul and protecting those closest to me.

The last few months have been intense. I have had some amazing highs but some really intense lows. The highs were pretty much tied to one experience that grew in intensity over this period. Even those high's felt short lived as they were laced with complication and confusion. As such, the lows were primarily from the same experience. I have also experienced some lows tied to a number of other personal happenings in my life. The challenges tend to come in bulk for me.

First the high. Connection. When one can share their life with another and have someone to carry their burdens with, it's not just a sharing of the challenge. Rather, the challenges feel diminished. You simply deal. You feel confident. You feel like you can take on the world. You feel like you have ownership of yourself. I felt this at times.

Conversely, when connection is shaky, when your life gets hit by flaky friendships bordering on dishonesty, people who commit and then renig on their commitments, you feel minimized. You feel taken advantage of. You feel weak. Every problem seems to compound. Connection is lost.

The last little bit of my life makes me think of a boxing match. At first you get hit by a jab. You have your hands up trying to protect your face. You may block one or two punches and slow your opponent down. Then you get hit by another jab... and another one. There is blood starting to drip from your nose. Your lip is starting to swell. Next comes an upper cut. Your head starts to spin. You wonder how you got here. You thought you were stronger and up for the fight. You wonder how you ever thought this was a good idea. Your arms get heavy and you start letting your guard down, a layer of sweat escaping your pores. Then comes the left hook. A combination of sweat and blood burst from your face. If you are lucky you hit the ropes on your way down. Either way you end up on the floor while the countdown starts. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4... you struggle trying to get up. The recognition settles in. Your body loses all control as you are painfully humbled. You are down for the count. 3-2-1. You are done.

Every fight you've had seems to come back to you at once. Your heart breaks. You moan and cry. You are lucky to have a small team of trainers that pick you up from the ground. You are still limp though. Your head is playing tricks on you.

You look over and there is your opponent and his team lifting their hands in triumph. With pity in the victors eye, he comes over to mention the obligatory "nice fight". You want to believe the sincerity but as he looks you in the eye you can see him focusing on his next fight. You have a conflicting sense of relief for a moment. Then you again recognize you are beat.

Then there is a moment of clarity....

It may seem like the ones you are boxing are your friends, maybe even your best friend and painfully your family. But when it comes down to it you are battling, sparring and hurting yourself. 

You consider retirement. You want to hang your gloves up. You give it a week or so. You reflect. You tell yourself that there is still a fight in you. You visit your trainer. With a resolve and with the knowledge that there is a lot of pain to come, you say, "I would like to start training once again".

That is where I am at today.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Memo to myself

When I am alone it's okay to feel lonely. 
It doesn't need to be more than that. 
It doesn't mean I will be lonely for the rest of my life. 
It doesn't necessitate action. 
I don't need to remedy the feeling right away. 
It will pass without me doing anything.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

A short prayer

I am a product of my own experiences...

I am prejudiced
I have bias

I am far from objective, and
I will never practice sincere altruism

I project my standards on others, and 
I am clouded by predetermination

As I conveniently succumb to the vision of my ice-cold eye, and worse, I allow my wicked tongue to wander...

I pray with all my heart and soul that the powers of self awareness take over...

and remind me...

Just as I am so pained when being judged by another; 

May I never, ever begin to judge my brother .

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Guest post from a reader... You are not alone

"I am like a eunuch; full of love, hormones and virility, but with nobody to share it with."

I received this anonymously from a reader. I thought it worthy to be posted (with his permission) as this is all too common an experience I witness. While I do receive messages like this all too often, this one was written very well, with class and respect to the reader, Here it is.

Like the creator of this blog, I too am married, frum (religious) .....and gay.

I came across this blog after searching endlessly for some sort of network, some sort of support group, for what I figured must be a problem for a few others out there in the big, wide world as well.

When I finally came across this site, I cried.

The relief that somewhere out there there were others who were going through the same excruciating and hellish path that has been my life, was indescribable.

I ended up making contact with someone on the site - and though we have never met, we regularly catch up, and provide an ear for each other's difficulties.

As cliched as it sounds, the truth is that I knew from very early on that I was not attracted to girls. I had crushes on some of my friends throughout school, and going to Yeshiva was an absolute torment. I came from a real heimishe family, and a very frum kehilla; and exploring and defining my sexuality was a totally foreign concept to me. I refused to recognize that I was created somewhat different to the rest of my peers, only admitting to myself that I had a serious problem which needed sorting out.

I shed copious amounts of tears over the years, beseeching Hashem (God) to hear my pleas and cure my illness. But nothing changed.

I got married and had kids; all the while secretly harboring the real me very deep inside myself, and living life as normally as possible.

But my feelings persisted no matter how hard I tried, I could not change the fact that I was attracted to males and not to females.

Finally, after many difficult years of soul-searching and thinking, I admitted to myself something I'd not allowed myself to think until that moment ........I was Gay. There was no escaping it, no getting away from it.

Instead of davening (praying) for a cure, which obviously was not going to happen, I had to change my tune entirely. I had to accept that this was the way Hashem created me, for reasons only known to him, and that I now needed His help to guide me through this difficult and rocky terrain.

But one question I didn't have an answer for, and nor do I today - is why Hashem would put me in such a compromised position and give me the nisayon (challenge) of homosexuality, while at the same time decreeing it an abomination and unacceptable.

A number of years have passed since that revelation, all of them difficult. While on the outside I live a normal, happy life, inside I am crushed. Each and every day is a struggle. There is no permissible outlet for people like me. There is no physical relief offered for all my emotion and frustration to be poured into. I am like a eunuch; full of love, hormones and virility, but with nobody to share it with. My life is a lonely one, one in which I tread a singular path not knowing whether the man davening next to me, or the one learning across the table from me, is similarly afflicted or not. And there is no way for me to find that out, to share my struggles with a fellow sufferer in my vicinity.

So I reach out to all of you, with the hope that we can become both family and friend, and help each other navigate the supremely difficult path of being a frum, gay, yid.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Live to Love

I was getting frustrated that my iPhone has been constantly auto correcting the word 'live' to 'love'.

Then it dawned on me as to what a powerful correction it actually is.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A mothers suicide

Please note that I am copying this from a friend's Facebook page. I have not read through every link nor am I endorsing any viewpoint. It is important to read and come to your own conclusions.

Original Facebook Post

This week a young mother in the US committed suicide. Deb Tambor was her name. Apparently she took her own life due to the ongoing pressure from her former ultra-Orthodox community who did everything they could to deny her access to her children. Her alleged crime? Going OTD (Off the Derech) – becoming secular. Her own family turned against her. It has been claimed that even her own father testified against her.

It is important that people know the common struggles of leaving the ultra-Orthodox community. Since Deb’s recent death it is becoming clear that there are many others in her predicament. Which is why I can’t remain silent. We weren’t able to save Deb. Hopefully we can save others. There are never any grounds to justify this type of behaviour, especially when the name of religion is invoked.

The following are some articles about this sad story, which some have described as murder:







RIP Deb.

Please seek help – from family/friends/professionals – before it is too late.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's time for you to talk... I'd love to hear from you...

I am wondering what you are feeling going into Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (High Holidays) in regards to three specific thoughts. 

(I am reminding you that this is an anonymous blog. Feel free to be honest with your feelings)

1) What are your feelings toward God? Are you thankful? Do you feel love? Do you feel hurt? Are you angry? Do you question? What would you say to Him if you had a one on one?

2. Heterosexual men and women; how has your view of the Jewish homosexual evolved over the last year? Positive or negative? In what ways?

3. Those who identify as Jewish LGBTQ (all spectrums; married or single, in the closet or out, dating for relationships of a heterosexual or homosexual kind; teenagers struggling etc...) how do you feel about your last year? Have you progressed in your goals? Have you digressed? What do the High Holidays mean to you?

Thank you for your input. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Re-post from 9/5/11 - I'm in an Elul State of Mind

I am re-posting this entry in honor of a special friend of mine. A rabbi who has stuck with me through thick and thin. He has been there for me unconditionally through my ups and downs. He has loved me knowing my struggles with frumkeit while others who don't know (and can only assume) have distanced themselves in dramatic fashion. For full transparency, I am not currently in a place where I feel and reflect on many of the sentiments I wrote about at that time. Be that as it may, this is a blog post that is very meaningful to him. 
While I don't always have the emotional wherewithal to express this; I love you dearly. A true friend you are and our talks are like the most beautiful song.

(It can also be found here.)

'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 6, 2013

A hero - A year later

It has been about a year since mine and my families worlds were turned over. This was when word got out on the street of my orientation and that my wife and I would be divorcing. This was obviously traumatic for us, our children and families, but it was traumatic too for the Jewish community who is generally insulated from being penetrated by stories such as ours. 

At the time there were people coming out to support, including Rabbi's and community leaders. There were unfortunately others who decided to spread false and vicious rumors about me and were not that supportive. There was a day where I hit a wall. I had no idea where to hide or whom to turn to. The irony is that while crazy rumors were going around that I was throwing things at my wife, she was the one I called to cry to. She was the one that gave me the support to continue on. 

Remember; this was my wife who could have thrown me out of the house and locked the key. She could been angry and spiteful and taken the side of some of the naysayers. She could have chosen to simply keep quiet and let the chips fall where they may.

Instead she decided to take a heroic stance. She got up and wrote a Facebook post. While it may have stirred up more conversation, it was nothing less than a beautiful display of love and dignity. People were upset with her on why she had to share this with the public. There are many answers to that selfish question. I simply say that when we talk about tznius as modesty and humility, this is the model for its implementation. 

She is and always will be a hero.

Here is the post.

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, *****

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A poem for a friend

Delicate as a shadow
As darkness hangs over you
You yearn for light
To outline your frame

At times you seem happy
Staying busy is your drug
You sometimes touch your sadness,
Then conceal it in your soul

A conversation ensues
Your beautiful heart starts to reveal
You describe your struggles pragmatically
Bending but never a break

You withhold tears of substance
You suppress years of hurt
Injustice has hardened you
A cage of mirrors surround you.

You only need one friend
To take an X-ray of your soul
A heart that sees right through you
And shares the burden that you hold

The friend doesn't say I'm sorry
You are tired of compassion
He wants the gates of tears to open
From the angelic face you own

“Cry my dear cry”
He begs for you to submit
"Take advantage of my shoulder
Leave your iron will for others"

Rely on he who loves you
It is for him that you are not alone
He yearns for your tear upon his finger
It would be worth more to him than gold. 

‘Today’ is a crucial word
for we never know tomorrow
Life is but a shadow

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pain and objectivity

Tradition tells us that these past 3 weeks have been a time of mourning. The temples in Jerusalem were both destroyed. Many horrific events in Jewish history happened now. Be careful; it may happen to you. Don't travel. Don't swim. Don't eat meat. Don't buy anything new. Don't wear clean clothing. Feel the pain of others.

I hate pain. Friends pain, my pain and even a strangers pain. Yes, I know;does anyone like pain? I hope not. Does anyone look away from others pain? Yes. Does anyone see or hear about pain, say "that's horrible", feel their pain for a bit and then move on? Yes.

There are people that internalize other people's pain. They think about it. They think about what it would feel like if they went through it. They think about what the person or people suffering this pain must feel like.

They pray to God. They ask for him to heal the sick. They ask him to help someone going through financial challenges. They pray to God to 'heal' others from their sexual 'deviancy' and from moving away from orthodox observance.

If we want to feign optimism we can say that at best you have a 50-50 chance of being answered. But let's face it. Maybe a 25-75 chance of having your prayer answered. Interestingly enough most of what ends up happening seems to go by the rules of the world. Nature.

A sick person is digressing in his disease. Sometimes a father of young children. Sometimes a child himself. We pray. We pray harder. We have prayer groups. We cry. We beg.

He dies.

We are discouraged. We don't understand. We hold our heads down low. We ask our Rabbi why? Why did he die? Why didn't God listen to our prayers?

We are told that God works in ways that we can't understand. We are just a small piece of this grand picture. God feels our pain. One day after Mashiach comes we will see the whole picture and it will all make sense.

Pray more. Do introspection. Repent.

Our prayers? What happened to them? We hear; every prayer is precious to God. Maybe our prayers gave him a few extra minutes of life. Every minute on this world is worth an eternity. Maybe they suffered less. If it didn't help him, maybe it helped someone on the other side of the world. Maybe it didn't work but it will be a merit for him in the world to come. Maybe it will be a merit for the people who prayed. Maybe for the family. Maybe we didn't pray enough. At the end of days we will understand where each prayer went. Maybe all of the above.

Pray more. Do introspection. Repent.

This all seems forced. After all, what else is there to say? Is it intellectually dishonest? Maybe. Is it based on our tradition? Yes. If you have blind faith, God bless you. I don't. I wonder if maybe we should ask why? Maybe we should get angry? Maybe this should challenge our belief systems? I know that I question God. I get angry at God. I sometimes lose faith my belief system. If the Rabbi's and therapists out there would be intellectually honest, they will tell you the same thing. They question. They challenge. They get angry.

Can I say that all of the above isn't trueand that there is a laundry list of what happens to our prayers? I can't. Can I say that I am tired of hearing this rhetoric over (holocaust) and over (inquisition) and over (Pogroms) and over (Rome, Greece, Persia...) and over and over? I have heard this way too many times. I am tired. I am exhausted. Moshiach will come to take away our pain. We want Moshiach now. I am tired. I am exhausted. Honestly, it gets old. God, how much pain do we need until Moshiach comes? How many times do we have to be thrown out of a country, murdered and slaughtered. How many more children need to be die. We call them a korban. A sacrifice. Please. Has it not been enough. Stop this already.

I am tired of my pain. I am tired of my family and friends pain. I am tired of the worlds pain. I am tired of hearing what seems like the same forced responses over and over.

I am not questioning the existence of God. I am not questioning the coming of Moshiach. I just want answers. I am told that we will get them at some point. If that's the truth than shouldnt we be entitled to understand? It appears that according to the mantra, the answers to pain do not only belong to God. I'm tired and I'm growing impatient. I am very close to being done waiting.

Pray more. Do introspection. Repent.

Have a meaningful fast.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Moshe, homosexuality and the internet

Here is an article that talks about how social media has affected the lives of Orthodox Jewish gay men and woman...

I specifically like the piece about Moshe...

Article from Tablet online magazine....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Commenting on the blog is back...

Please note that I have opened up the ability to comment on the blog once again. 

A few things;

Some will laugh but this is an anonymous blog.

1) Any post that shows my name or city or any other proper name will not be published. 

2) There will be a moderator for each comment and he will have COMPLETE sovereignty on what goes or does not go on the site. 

You can also feel free to email me at festerfest123@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Disclaimer - Listen and read at the risk of having preconceived ideas and notions challenged.

(2nd disclaimer - I know that some people who read this blog will not be happy with me. They will see me as giving an outlet for what they might consider a secular message of this kind. As if I am minimizing my frum (religious) credibility with this. So be it. Right now I am all about love and acceptance, it's all I yearn for and need. This is something that moves me and as such I am going to share.) 

I heard this song the other day flipping through some channels on the radio. I was instantly moved. I quickly checked the screen for what it was. It was a song called 'Same Love' by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Apparently it has been out for a bit, but has gotten a lot of play on the radio lately. One might attribute this to June being Gay Pride month. Others might say that the song has a catchy beat and a nice message. To me it is a sign of the times. It is groundbreaking. This is the first hip hop song that so clearly addresses and criticizes homophobia in the USA. The artist does it with subtlety and sensitivity. I am happy for the songwriters success because it must have taken a lot of guts to release this.

You may not agree (and I don't agree) with everything said in the song. You might not agree with it's overall message. It's the beauty of the lyrics that gets to me. I will let you listen for yourself.

Go ahead... Same Love - with lyrics

There is so much to talk about in this song. You can take apart almost every line. I want to talk about some lyrics that moved me and some that started the wheels in mind turning.

A preconceived idea of what it all meant For those that liked the same sex...

'The right wing conservatives think it's a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go'...

I had never thought of it this way...

Are we playing God by asking someone to change 'with some treatment and religion'? If one is born with a genetic predisposition to homosexuality, than we sure are. It's like forcing a righty to be a lefty. or telling a blonde that he needs to go to therapy to become a red head.

If you feel homosexuality is a learned behavior then you are asking people to change something that has been given to them through God created circumstance and given quite deeply. So deep that therapy has hurt and intensified their scars. Scars of people who have struggled their entire life. Struggled with being 'different'. Struggled with bullying. Struggled with unbearable burdens that they are unable to share with anyone. Some struggling to a point where they have suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Many have attempted suicide and some successfully. They have a need for same gender intimacy that is so intense. Some have carried it for 20, 30, 40 years or longer. It is so ingrained into their psyche. For me it's been 40 years in the making; are you telling me that I should spend a year or two in therapy, finding my manhood and my gay will simply go away? (For the record, I went to therapy including a period of reparative therapy for 9 years) So I ask again; are we playing God by asking gay people to 'change'? I don't see an issue for an individual to try it if he so chooses. But if you impose it on anyone, than you are a Shabtai Zvi. You might as well sit yourself down on the heavenly throne and bring the Messiah; because you are playing God.

'When kids are walking 'round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart. A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are....' No need to elaborate on children (and adults) committing suicide and how that is a commentary on society. I hope that speaks for itself.

'Same Love' talks about stereotyping to a point where people lose self awareness and unknowingly (and dangerously) suppress an important part of them. It talks about American hypocrisy. It continues by establishing the viewpoint and impositions of religion and politics on the homosexual individual. (I love the usage of the word treatment. It represents the thought that homosexuality is easily changeable, as if it is simply a treatment; as eye drops treat red-eye.) The song continues by pointing out areas of society where homophobia is rampant. Hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to spew hate. 

'Gay is synonymous with the lesser';  Differences should be celebrated as opposed to being the cause of hatred and wars. Don't be silent in the face of bigotry.

Finally an uplifting message of hope.

'No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it's all the same love
About time that we raised up'

Go ahead and listen again... Same Love - with lyrics

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Needing a break from giving....

My entire life I have always been taking care of everyone else. Be it family, friends, clients and community organizations. Both financially and with my time and energy. I rarely ever have the opportunity to attend to my own needs.

This unfortunately many times leads to people taking advantage of me in various ways. Even people closest to me. It hurts because I simply have a hard time saying no. People know that and use it against me. It is exhausting and ends up with regret which consumes my mind.

Outside of very few people who have helped me out in ancillary ways; for the first time in my life it would be nice if someone actually took care of me. If I could be cradled in someone's proverbial arms. If I could show vulnerability and still be loved. If I can cry and be cradled tighter. 

For a change it would be nice to be able to take. There is only so much one can give without being run dry. 

Tears of a clown...

Serenity is all I want, 
Putting up a happy face is what I flaunt.

Kids, money and friends, you say happy I  should be;
Yet that peace of mind you expect, truly escapes me. 

Why am I up at this late hour?
My frame of mind seems genetically sour. 

'The tears of a clown' inside my heart I sing,
I fake a smile as if I were a king. 

I ask myself why so lonely I feel?
When to the world I seem so tangible, so real. 

The answers to these questions I fear;
Will always escape me, as my mind is blurry or so very clear. 

Men from Mars have all the answers, they always come to conclusions;
They propose ideas and have all the solutions. 

I don't care for advice or comments, you are preaching to the choir;
I believe it is unconditional love that I simply desire.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Protecting pedophiles and child molestors... There are no words

I do not want to comment yet. I would like the article to speak for itself. I will write another blog entry with my feelings in relation to this.

Click here for the article...

5/14 - 9:25am

In speaking with someone close to the story, I will say that I am not using this article as a condemnation of the accused. I do not know if his admission of guilt was to protect himself from a longer prison sentence. I am using the article to demonstrate the fallibility of rabbonim as it relates to supporting an abuser as opposed to the victim and the ramifications that causes to abuse victims at large.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Bonfire and the Gentle Flame

My brain heats up. My soul catches fire. My heart explodes into a bonfire of confusion.

At the expense of my burning eyes, I stare into the flame as I tiptoe slowly toward the heat of its core.

I see it's many colors. I see the orange of regret. Red of hate. The purple of confusion. The blue of hope and the yellow of a brighter day.

The fire slowly builds. It's potency is commensurate to the intensity of my gaze. I focus, watching the colors synthesize, converge and marry.

While the colors dance to the sound of popping twigs; confusion and doubt ensue. I attempt to reconcile the complexity of this merger. My senses are feeling overwhelmed.

I lower my gaze.

My eyes weaken and my focus wanes. The wind blows and the popping sounds calm. The colors dim, isolate, and detach.

For a moment I enjoy its simplicity. Colors compartmentalized. Intensity faded. The bonfire has transformed into a gentle and manageable flame.

I notice though that with this peace comes a lack of character. The fire seems mundane and without meaning. My brain is dulled. My soul exists, but without spirit. Yet, a strong force pulls me to its innocence and purity.

I ask myself, do I prefer the complexity of the bonfire or the simplicity of the gentle flame?

Friday, April 19, 2013

So embarrassing...

So a (non Jewish) co-worker of mine is at a mall yesterday. He walks up to the jewelry department and sees a frum woman arguing with the sales person. The sales person says she can only look at one piece of jewelry at a time. The woman though, wants to look at 3 at one time. They are arguing back and forth.

My co-worker is on his cell and mentions the name of the company I work for.

She turns to him and goes, "You work at ....? Do you know ...?", Asking him if he knows me. He answers that he does. She asks him "Does he still wear his yarmulka"?

That was her first question. Not, "How is he doing"? "Does he seem happy" or any other question about my well being. Just wants to have information that can be shared as gossip.

My co-worker answers to her that what I wear or don't wear isn't really any of his business (God bless him).

She continues to prod, he doesn't engage.

She says "ok" and hands my co-worker a business card and tells him that she's there if he needs someone for his real estate transactions.

Straight up embarrassing. I hope she reads this and sees what a fool she is.

PS Friends and neighbors; don't try to guess who it is. It isn't who you are thinking. The one you are thinking of is loving and incredibly respectful.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Things I hate (okay, dislike...)

1) People who say "All things happen for a reason".

2) People who say "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle".

3) People who say "Other people have it worse than you".

4) People who say "Why look to the past?"

5) People who say "Count your blessings".

6) People who say "When you have lemons, make lemonade".

7) People who say "Everyone has challenges", or the yeshivish way, "Everyone has their own peckel".

8) People who say "It's just a taavah".

9) People who minimize abuse victims.

10) People who critique things they have not experienced and can not relate to.

Adding 11) A mentsch tracht un gut lacht. A man plans and God laughs. (Ugh)

Bottom line - just carry your friends burden and say I'm sorry for what you are going through. I am here for you the best that I can be.

If you feel they are hurting themselves and/or they are asking for your advice, preface your response/commentary by saying "I can't relate to what you are going through but this is what comes to mind". Be extremely thoughtful and sensitive.

If you find that you can't respond to this with sensitivity or even if you are unsure; close your mouth. Zip it shut. Not a word.

No, I am not perfect in this regard but yes, I am cognizant of the need to try to be.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Being Deaf (Insert Gay) and Orthodox...

This from a friend of mine, Mordechai Levovitz....

"Being Deaf and Orthodox" an article in a Right Wing Orthodox Magazine outlines a template for Orthodoxy to approach LGBT Jews"

For those of you who get Ami magazine, the Pesach edition, I highly recommend reading the 8 page spread on what it's like being Deaf and Orthodox. Ami Magazine is a right wing Chareidi magazine, pretty accepted in the Black Hat world. The arguments presented in the article prove that within Black Hat Frum Orthodoxy there is a template of thinking that can be very helpful for LGBT people. In the article there are personal narratives, an interview with a therapist, and rabbinical input. It can be easily seen how this thinking can serve as a template within Orthodoxy that may allow for far better understanding of LGBT people and LGBT pride in the Orthodox Community. The article will most likely be incorporated into JQY's training curriculum for Orthodox Mental Health Counselors. You can all feel free to make the connections for yourself. Some Highlights include:

The important of Deaf pride and not being seen as a disability but a difference to be valued:

-"In my deaf world we are proud of our deafness and carry it as a badge of honor. I know this sounds strange to you. Why would we be proud of being "disabled"? But the fact is that to us, deafness is NOT a disability but a different state of being. In our eyes, deaf people are not a subgroup of the disabled, but a minority group." -Rabbi Yehoshua Soudafoff

On the idea of fixing or curing deaf people:

-"I have asked many times if I have ever davened for the ability to hear. My answer is no. I never felt the need to daven for such a thing...I've always felt like a regular person and that there is nothing wrong with me." -Rabbi Yehosuah Soudakoff

-"I wouldn't want a doctor to 'fix me'. This is how G-d created me. This is my Identity". - Zissy Moskowitz (Orthodox interpreter and counselor)

On Orthodox Rabbinic Responses to Deaf People:

-" There is absolutely NO ROOM for being machmir when it comes to deaf people"

On some people coming up with other names or phrases to describe Deaf people:

-"You don't mind if I call you Jewish, do you? It's the same thing. It's who we are, and there is no need to try to invent fancy phrases to say the same thing. We are DEAF DEAF DEAF. (And JEWISH, JEWISH, JEWISH).

On Some Deaf Orthodox Jews needing to look outside of Orthodoxy and Judaism for resources and well-being:

-"...Abandoning their Judaism...I don't blame them (It isnt easy being Jewish and Deaf)."

-" Due to limited facilities for Jewish deaf children, (orthodox) parents reluctantly sent (Child) to St Vincent, a Catholic School."

Deaf Orthodox Jews face a myriad of Hallachic issues from hearing Shofar, Megilla, and Parshas Zachor, to wearing electric hearing aids on Shabbos and using electric lights and resources on shabbos that allow them to respond to their children, safety and the outside world. It is an issue where "different" not "disabled" people are in a category that allows for Hallachic exceptions, but still advocate for pride about their identities. The sentiments expressed in this article, are beautiful, and can help Orthodox parents, leaders, therapists and rabbis, embrace a similar approach to LGBT people in the frum community.

Good Yomtov all.

-Mordechai Levovitz

Monday, March 25, 2013


Redemption does not come naturally. It can take years of servitude to a power you don't think you can overcome.

When you finally put in the effort to break through and maybe it involves a miracle or two, you can then feel redemption.

To each their own on his or her level. Small redemptions add up as well.

We can never allow ourselves to forget where we were and how far we've come.

Happy and healthy Passover to you and yours.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Physical and sexual abuse - "“It could be that the whole thing is a bubbe-mayse (Tall tale)"

When I was a child I suffered physical abuse by the hands of camp counselors for a full 2 month summer in a popular sleep away camp in the Catskills. It is something that I think about often even today 30 years later.

I have been 'blessed' to have never suffered sexual abuse. One can't compare abuses of any kind although I have met many victims of sexual abuse that suffer day in and day out their entire lives. It affects their interpersonal relationships, sexual identities/relationships and haunts them their entire lives sometimes in pain and agony. Many protect their abusers by thinking they deserve to be abused and/or they are terrified to say something.

Here is yet another chillul Hashem of huge proportions in relation to the victims of abuse. Greater the sting due to the stature of the Rabbi being quoted. It perpetuates abuse by protecting the abuser and worrying more about their reputation than it does the victims suffering.

Click here for the article

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You want my donation... Are you kidding me???

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a contributor to many charities especially local ones. No one knows to what capacity because I have always kept it to myself.

For the record, there are many people who are reaching out to me for their charities. Be it board members, Rabbi's, rosh yeshivas or volunteers.

Understand that I see right through you. You haven't said a word to me since August. That is when I went through some of the biggest struggles of my life. Yes, it's been 8 months of hell without a word from you. Now you come to me for money. With all my gayness, challenges and lack of your communication, I am all of a sudden acceptable to you and by you to support your organizations.

Know that when I say yes and give your organization a donation, it is because I see past your BS. It is not because you individually are reaching out and/or are connected to it. Again; it is not because of you. It is because I am supporting your organization. I believe in it. I believe in your schools. I believe in children in need. I believe in kids at risk. I believe in giving back to my community.

Your inconsistency is not news to me because while you preach Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim, you honor people at your dinners and banquets that are crooks and lowlifes. In my line of work I deal with people on a financial scale who have treated me and my team with disrespect and have asked me to preform fraud on various levels. They ask me to do reprehensible acts with their threats and criticism. I of course never give in. These are chillul Hashems on the grandest of levels. At the same time, these are people you honor and show respect to. These are people who represent your organizations.

You clearly know who you are. I don't need to go into details.

I am not a sinner. I don't cheat in business. I treat people with love and respect. Yet, I am only reached out to when I am needed. Please don't prostitute yourself. It is not consistent with your teachings.

You should be ashamed of yourselves for selling your soul for a donation.

PS The irony is that the people from organizations that have kept up with me consistently are the ones that have not asked me at all for donations this year. Go figure.

PPS Just got a call from a Rabbi who is well aware of the struggles that I have gone through. HE is looking for money for his organization. I have heard from twice since this went down. Now and before Sukkos for the same reason. And the fun continues.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Purim; acceptance and hope...

I wanted to take a moment to thank so many people that made my Purim so special. I was very nervous going into the Holiday because it was the first time in about 8 months, since my story went public, that I planned on spending a nice amount of time in my former community. This is a community in which at the time I was outed, while getting a nice amount of support, I got more than my fair share of negativity, sprinkled with some very hurtful false rumors. I felt vulnerable and anxious going in.

A little bit of a back story. The week leading up to Purim was a great week. It had consistency. I was at peace with myself. I accomplished a lot at work. I hung out with a wonderful person who's friendship was recently rekindled. Initially I had planned to be in another city away from home for Purim. It was an incredibly exciting idea. A much hyped Purim party with many of my friends that I hadn't seen in a bit. For some reason that I couldn't quite put my finger on, I woke up on Thursday before my flight, anxious about going. Work was a bit crazy, my week leading up to it was so good, should I be changing my environment by traveling to another city?

I called a friend and presented my dilemma to him. He suggested that staying within my old community was dangerous because there were going to be people drinking heavy. He didn't want me to face people saying mean and insulting things to me. He didn't want me going backwards and creating more resentment in my life. I saw the rationale in his words. He is usually spot on. This time (thankfully) he couldn't have been further off base.

I initially followed his advice. I left town for the big city. I had a nice Thursday night with a friend. Friday morning I again woke up with anxiety. Work was crazy and to be honest, I was homesick. I made a quick and impulsive decision to go home. After many flight delays I got home literally minutes before Shabbos.

Purim came and I went to my old shul for megilla. Everyone I met was incredibly friendly and welcoming. The same thing happened when I went to a friend that evening. I used to go collecting for a local charity on the night of Purim with a bunch of close friends. 8 months ago I would never have thought that I would be doing that again. I was so humbled when I was invited to come along. I joined friends and even my ex-wifes family for this yearly event. I visited many homes of people who know my challenges, many intimately. They still welcomed me with hugs and kisses.

On Purim day I went to an old friend for a big breakfast bash he throws. I was invited to sit up front next to him. I again enjoyed meeting many old friends who showered me with love. I know this is boring and I sound like a broken record but the evening seudah brought me the same experience. At this party I met a number of Rabbi's who I hadn't seen in a while and they treated me with much love and support.

So again, I thank them all and I truly am humbled by their acceptance. This sent a strong message to me. It told me on a personal level that it is possible for me to reintegrate within the community as my comfort level allows. (With as much humility as I can say this) it told me that when one handles himself with class, dignity and grace and allows people time to digest and learn about something that is strange and confusing to them, it pays off in the long run. People who act impulsively and try to go on the offensive tends to push away rather than pull closer (I say that with no judgment).

On a big picture level I wonder if this is a sign for things to come. Could this have happened just a few years back? Is tolerance and sensitivity growing within our community? Can it be that seeing real, genuine and live people struggling with homosexuality gives them cause to rethink their position? I think the answer to all these questions is yes. This should truly be a cause of hope for the many suffering in silence and loneliness. It truly feels like a miracle.

The prayer 'Al Hanissim' certainly had more meaning for me this year. Hopefully more and more for years to come.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sigh of relief

I feel really good tonight.

Even through some rough challenges, I am at peace with myself.

Something that has been sitting heavy on me for a long time has been reconciled with the kindness of another.

May this feeling stay with me for a while.

Thank you to a friend for being so strong. You inspire me. That's it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Guest post - For married/divorced men...

This is an important guest post from a person who chooses to remain anonymous for the safety and security of his wife and children. I can vouch for this individuals sincerity and respect and discretion of others.

Let me tell you a bit about me...

I'm a married guy with a family. I went to yeshiva. I daven and learn daily and I am involved in my community. This might sound typical with one caveat; I am gay. This is the secret I lived with through all of my yeshiva years and continue to live with many years later, every day. You see, very few people know whats really going on in my head. Unfortunately and painfully, this is something I can't share with my wife either. The loneliness is unbearable at times. I'm sure there are others out there like myself but its way too dangerous to go looking. It got me thinking; What if we were able to create a safe community in which we can finally feel unashamed of who we are? A community with no agenda other than people like us having a safe place to be themselves. A place where we can share and support each other. I envision this having both an Internet based and therapist led discussion groups. Being that we are married, discretion is a must and all participants will be vetted. No one will ever have to reveal any information tied to identity. At this point I am in developmental stages of this idea. If you are married/divorced and have interest, please email me with ideas or questions at marriedfrumgay@gmail.com. Please include your age and city (if you are comfortable). I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some humor

I figure it's okay to laugh at ourselves every so often.

Disclaimer - if you are a prude and easily offended, please don't watch. 

Two songs from the Broadway musical 'Book of Mormon'. As you will see, these songs are not specifically about Mormon. They are universal to all religions. Mormon is just an easy target.

This one is about how we are taught to shut ourselves down and suppress our feelings. Sometimes I wish I was someone that can do this. I have too many friends that can...

This next one is quite a deep song and somewhat moving. Just switch the Mormon specific lyrics for any other religion and things we might simply believe because we are told to. (The guy is just missing his yarmulka and tzitzis)

I hope you enjoyed.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Eshel Part 2; Unity

Like angels in the sky
in a garden full of glory
the galaxies so brilliantly related
ultimately high
on that first page of our story

The shabbaton started with davening on Friday night. I had been to support groups in the past, both for JQY or Jewish Queer Youth (An organization based in NYC who's primary objective is to give support to young men and woman struggling with issues related to being LGBT, please see www.jqyouth.org) and a non-religious (and non-agenda driven) support group for gay married men (If you would like information about this group, please email me). When I went to these groups which had about 10-20 people, I was scared and overwhelmed.

Fast forward to Eshel. Walking in on 120 or more people made me feel like a deer in headlights. At first I stood in the back of the shul and observed. I couldn’t bring myself to sit down. As davening continued with the singing of kabbalas Shabbos, I suddenly found myself feeling the warmth of the room rush through my body. There were opening remarks that further made me feel like I was finding a new family.

By the time Maariv came along I gathered the courage and decided to find my way to the middle of the shul. As I walked toward one of the few open seats I was greeted with wide and welcoming smiles. People vigorously shook my hand and said good Shabbos. I was part of something rich. A feeling of camaraderie took hold of me that I had never felt before.

So listen brother, listen friend
Just a little smile, a helping hand
And we all will find a loving kind humanity
We must teach our children to
Treat your fellow friends like they were you
And then we all find some peace of mind and unity

I found myself thinking, 'How can most of the world and specifically many in the Orthodox Jewish community shun us? This was more beautiful a davening than I had experienced in many years. Growing up ultra-orthodox I had davened in the frumest of yeshivos and shuls in the world. The achdus I felt here far surpassed other davening experiences.

How can the Rabbi's be judgmental of people? People who kept a secret and burden to themselves in pain and agony for most of their lives? People who come together in a show of love with struggles a heterosexual person can never even imagine or relate to? Where is their heart? They pity the agunah who can't get married (but potentially has the ability to). They pity the world's other sorrows. It is more comfortable to look away and be silent when it is something that can not be related to.

Ages rushing by
Writing chapters full of sorrow
Webs of self destruction, we are weaving
Because if we don’t even try
There’s no hope for our tomorrow
So what’s it all worth if we are not achieving?

There were workshops that educated and inspired. My favorite was the rebuttal of a recent Rosh Yeshiva's essay on homosexuality that was both factually wrong and hashkafically incorrect. I humbly suggest 'al tadin es chavercha ad shetagiya l'mkomo'. This translates to 'Do not judge a friend until you reach his place' commonly known as until you walk in his shoes.

There was a beautiful and intimate program led by Rabbi's, professionals and community leaders. This allowed small groups of people to talk about feelings that arose over the weekend on a very personal level. I was inspired and heart broken by things that came up in that group.

Lastly I wanted to talk about the closing sessions. Perhaps this was the most moving of the entire experience for me. As the attendees entered the auditorium, everyone was asked to create a circle. Everyone interlocked with the people on both sides of them. Either they put their arm around the next persons shoulder or they held their neighbors hand. This became a circle of love. A circle of intimate connection. A circle of a people, many struggling to fit in on some level having an electric burst of energy pass from soul to soul.

We sang songs as one. I imagined Hashem smiling down at us and accepting our songs up to the depth of his heavens.

One of the leaders then spoke and thanked various individuals who spearheaded the Shabbos event.

He then said something that moved me to tears and I cry as I write this. I paraphrase, but this was the idea. He first talked about the strength of the people who came to the event. He talked about how brave they are because many did it at risk to themselves on various levels. Here is where I choked up. He asked everyone to take a moment to think about the people that could not be there. People who are scared. People who suffer quietly and have no one to turn to. I added in my mind, people who fear their communities, families and friends reaction to their potential disclosure. People who end up conforming to societies norms. They live out their years in various stages of pain and denial, yearning for an intimacy they will never have. I hear from too many people who reach out to me through this blog. People who are married. People who are single and looking for love and guidance. Lastly, people who are single and dating (women). The married people talk about how their families feel their depression. They don't understand. Husbands or wives not understanding the lack of intimacy that is being shown them. They feel caged and frightened. Single men and woman that are confused and have many questions. These people are your brothers, sisters, parents, children and close friends. I do not judge. I can only speak from my experience and what people have shared.

One year ago that was me. I had lived 35+ years, married, frum and with a pain that pierced the depth of my heart. I was terrified to go to the Eshel shabbaton. This year I went. I went with the world knowing my secret. I went with a million pound burden lifted off my shoulder. I left exhilarated, knowing that I am loved for who I am, not for who the world wanted me to be.

When the leader asked people to step into the circle to share, I was scared. I knew what I wanted to share but I couldn't gather the strength. Finally as they were about done, I stepped in and shared the feelings I shared above. Before I could even finish, there was a beautiful and rousing sound of applause that gave me a final burst of emotion.

Children; teenagers, adults of any age, please know that there are many people who were in your shoes. Know that you are not alone. Reach out to people that can help you and love you. You can not learn to love others until you love yourself. Learn to love yourself. Release the burden.

I left the event hugging and kissing the new friends I made, feeling inspired, a sense of responsibility and for the first time in a while a surge of hope.

One thing makes me smile
now at last a happy ending
a universal union undivided
just a little while
we will join the angels singing
peace and love across the world united.

PS Lyrics are from Unity by Mordechai Ben David

An Open Letter to Yeshiva World News

This letter is so important. It was written by a friend Yitz Jordan otherwise known by his stage name Y-Love. Yitz became a Ger (Jewish convert) a number of years ago. He has been accused of becoming a ger to hide his homosexuality.

Here is his beautiful yet heart wrenching response to the accusation. While I did not go through Geirus (conversion) as I am a Jew from birth, I can relate in so many ways to his story and struggle with reconciling God, Torah and homosexuality.

Response from Yitz

Yitz; I love, support you and share your burden.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The power of words...

I had to share this.

I was just messaging with a friend.

Knowing that I have my ups and downs, he offered his phone number to me so that I can call him if I need to talk.

Me - Thanks. I think I will take you up on that. How much do you charge?

Him - You get a pro rate of nothing - All I ask for is friendship.

I was moved immediately when those words came up on my screen.

So elegant, yet so simple. A show of love but at the same time vulnerability. There is no better combination of emotions that speaks to me so intimately.

I can't think of a better response. Without any doubts, I offer him my friendship.

I thank him for making me smile.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Time out to give thanks

As I have mentioned in blog posts before, I have always had a struggle with my relationship with God.

That said; even in my struggles, every so often something in my life happens that I can't help but look away from my challenges and say thank you.

Now is one of those times.

Thank you God for the kindness you bestowed upon me this evening.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feeling whole... Eshel part 1

I knew what it felt like to be alone. 

I now know what it feels like to be together.

A little more than a year ago when I was still 'in the closet', I had only 2 people that knew I was gay, my therapist and my best friend. What I would commonly do is search the web for all things Jewish and gay. I came across a website called Eshelonline.org. They were promoting a Shabbaton sponsored by a group called Eshel. They were presenting it as 'The Eshel Shabbaton; A Weekend of Community, Learning and Ruach for Frum LGBT Jews'. When I found out, I wrote about my feelings here. In summary, the worst feeling that I had was having a burden and not having anyone to share it with. Knowing that there was a whole Shabbos in which people challenged with the same secret as mine got together as a community, broke my heart. I couldn't go and it hurt.

For those who don't know; LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.

My gut tells me that there is a big group of people that just read that and became uncomfortable.

I have been there. Until this past year I had not met someone that I knew to be a Jewish, orthodox, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individual. I knew myself to be gay or maybe bisexual at the time. Other than that, I knew no one else.

Please read that again. "I knew myself to be gay or maybe bisexual at the time. Other than that I knew no one else." Please stop for a moment and see if you can find the power in that statement. Read it again if you must. I challenge you to contemplate your level of sensitivity if you don't feel for where I was at that time. The only person that I knew with this struggle was myself. Do you have any idea how lonely and painful that is? Do you realize that this could be your brother or sister suffering intensely? Your father or mother in unbearable pain? Your son or daughter who is doing horribly in school because this is all they focus on? Your spouse who you can't understand why they have such a hard time  experiencing intimacy with you? Your best friend?

If the stats are right that one in every 10 people are gay, every minyan that you go to, statistically one person is gay. In Mir Yeshiva, the biggest yeshiva in the world their are 7,000 students. Statistically 700 of them might be gay. If you want to say one in 20 people are gay than 350 of them are. If you have 9 siblings.... you get my point. The list goes on and on.

How many feel alone? Every single one.

Can I say that every one of them is suffering on the same level? No. I can share with you that I continue to receive emails both through my blog and from people that heard my story of which 99% of whom are thoroughly depressed. There are teenagers that want to hurt themselves. There are adults, mostly married,  that want to kill themselves. The words they use over and over are hurt, pain, depression and worst of all 'alone'.

A year later I found myself in Falls Village, CT at the 3rd annual Eshel Shabaton.

The first thing I noticed was the diversity of the crowd. It was like a Friday night davening at the kotel. There were Rabbi's, Chasidim, heimish and modern, frum and ex-frum men and woman. I would say that most of the ex-frum were those in their 20's and 30's. There were woman who wore sheitels and others with spiked and colored hair. There were boys as young as 17 to adults as old as in their 60's or even older. There were married individuals whose spouses did not know they were there. There were others whose families have no idea of their sexual orientation. There were doctors and lawyers, businessmen and students. People that came from Israel, Canada and places all over the USA.

There are those that plan on being celibate their whole lives. There were others who are completely frum and brought their partners and children.

It was an amazingly diverse crowd.

With all this diversity though, we were together. We were whole. We were one. We laughed together. We cried together. We sang and danced together. Mostly though, as we authentically shared our experiences and struggles together, we gently allowed ourselves to carry each others burdens. We were exhilarated, as through the togetherness, the burdens started to get lighter and looser.

To be continued....

Monday, January 21, 2013


I don't have a lot of time to write now but I wanted to share that I am doing really well.

My last 3 or 4 entries came from some deep, difficult and painful places. I am doing a lot better now.

I returned to a place I am staying for the first time since experiencing some deep pain and hurt. I still have ambiguity from the experience. I expected upon return to be in a difficult place. I have reached down deep and found strength. It has been a lot easier than I thought.

I went to the Eshel shabbaton this weekend. This is where Jewish people of all denominations and from all parts of the world who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender come to learn together, daven together and share of themselves. It was a wonderful experience. I will write about it more over the coming days. It was amazing meeting everyone and making new friends that share my struggle on various levels. It has reinvigorated me. 

I am amazed by the brave people who had the strength to attend. I am deeply saddened for all the people who carry this burden on their own and couldn't attend. They certainly outnumber the attendees by far. That is a commentary on society which I again will address in later posts.

(I will be respecting the rule of confidentiality that we agree to when going to this event.)

A few thousand people have read my blog over the last few weeks. Thank you to those who recently chose to reach out and give me the love and support that you had while I struggled deeply. Your kindness and sensitivity stands out in a world where most are silent.

Thank you again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Standards, ambiguity and (my lack of) Restraint....

I want to preface this by saying that overall I am doing pretty well. It's the nights that tend to get lonely. I pray that my next entry will be more upbeat.

I'd like to write about a problem I think many of us share but I think is a mistake. I will then share something personal (As if this blog otherwise is not personal :-).

The challenge is that we have an expectation that the rest of the world should live up to our personal standards.

If we have a high standard in an area of kindness we want others to meet that level. If we go out of the way to show love to someone in need, we think lesser of the world for not expressing that love to us when we need it. If there is something we don't say because we find it offensive, we can never understand how another person can talk that way to us.

I obviously know that one can never live with this attitude simply because it is unrealistic and they will always be let down. We are all different and have our own standards. That's what makes this world so interesting.

Here's where I drive myself mad though. I find myself lowering my own standards because I am trying to adapt to others. An example is; I want badly to share vulnerability with some friends but  I won't necessarily do it because I don't think they would be vulnerable to me. Another; I want badly to reach out to a friend to see how he is doing but I am thinking that he is holding back and would have a hard time doing the same for me. So I fight an incredibly hard battle within myself. Do I cave to my emotions or not.

I hate it because it is so unnatural to me. It is not in line with my core. I need to do what I feel is right. This is where I tend to let myself down. I usually end up giving in because I lose the battle of restraint. I don't play by my own rules. I can't control my need. Once I give in there is self loathing because I feel I've lost the inner battle again. I want to live true to myself. I can ultimately deal with the fact that people won't live up to my standards, but I loathe the fact that it seems so easy for them not to.

I may be a romantic but sometimes I wish others would break the rules. Break rules in ways that benefit me. Break rules that we set between each other. Break rules of conformity and meet a standard they may not typically allow for themselves. Show me that they care.

So I end up over thinking it. Do they care for me? Do they think I don't care for them? Do they even care if I care? Do they care for me enough that they are scared of hurting me? So I end up with the feeling I hate most, ambiguity. Lack of clarity.

Then I end up blogging about it in the wee hours of the morning because the thoughts fill my mind.

And then I ask yet again; why am I so damn hard on myself?

PS I don't know if some of these posts are helping people. I apologize if they don't seem to be. Sometimes I need to write to help myself. You ask why I don't just write it and then keep it personal. The answer is twofold; firstly that I allow myself to be selfish for me sometimes and second, I hope I am getting a message out and potentially helping someone, somewhere.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I hate loss. It encompasses my every thought. A minute feels like a day and a day like a week and so on. In the moment it seems like it will never end.

The recent weeks have been from the longest weeks of my life. I would say I'm glad this one is over but I know Shabbos will be one of the longest shabbosim of my life. Who knows what next week will bring? My guess is continued pain.

I am not privy to updated information that I am needing badly. The lack of knowledge is eating me up. I wonder if it's bad news that is being kept from me. Then I wonder if hearing bad news is better than not hearing anything at all.

What can I fill the emptiness with? I don't know. I just wish I wasn't consistently teased by God. I wish I could have the strength to avoid complete loss by finding within myself a way to maintain some of what I had. I need it very badly. Why do I go to extremes?

Some of you know what it is I am struggling with. The others that don't, please forgive me for the cryptic nature of this post. I needed to write about this the best I could.

I've cried enough tears this week for a year, maybe 5 or 10. Why do I torture myself so?

PS 01/12/13 11:30pm Shabbos has come and gone. It was actually really nice and relaxing. First time in a while. Went to all 3 tefillos which isn't common when I have the kids exclusively. I again focused and thought about what I was saying. I was expecting Motzei Shabbos to be rough because there is something I would wait for every Motzei Shabbos for the last number of months that I was confident I wouldn't get this week (and I was right). Some friends helped me through and I am doing really good. Have a great week everyone.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Making decisions...

I've been thinking things over. I wanted to share some things I am working on. Some of these are decisions I have made the last couple days and others I have been working on for a while.

1) Over the last few months I was testing the waters to see if I wanted to move. I know this isn't earth shattering news for anyone but I have decided for the foreseeable future to stay in the town I have lived in for the recent 13 years. I am putting the idea of moving on hold. I need the stability of friends, work and routine that I have out here even at the loss of ease of travel and potential friendships/social connections that I was hoping for in the other location. For the new friends that I made the last few months, I thank you and continue to admire and respect you. Keep in touch. Who knows what time will bring but for now I am staying put.

2) I am minimizing things in my life that I became dependent on. Smoking was an addiction. It's been over 3 months since I have had a cigarette.
Drinking was not at the point of addiction but I was overdoing it to sometimes mask my pain. I have not had a drink in a longer period of time than it's been for months and I intend to continue.
Eating; I am at my lowest weight since 1995. Unfortunately a lot of that has been because of a loss of appetite but at the same time I have been exercising and working hard to eat less and more healthy.

3) Facebook - Hard to realize while you are in it what an addiction it is. I am not saying that to everyone its an addiction but I am certainly saying it about me. In my most difficult times I found myself posting things a little too personal and a little too often only to remind myself the next day that it probably was not a very good idea. That said, it's only been two days since I have deactivated my account and I am going a little stir crazy. I find myself subconsciously clicking the link at work only for it to ask for my password. Than I remind myself that I don't have it. Same with my iPhone. Constantly clicking the app. My gut tells me this won't go on forever and I'll be back on Facebook at some point but I need to prove to myself I can stay off for a bit.

4) Impulsiveness - 2 areas I need to work on. First is making quick decisions that I sometimes regret. As I stated in my last post both my highs and lows are incredibly intense. When I am in either of those places I find myself making decisions that aren't the best for me. I than beat myself up really hard for making those decisions. It is an incredibly vicious cycle. I believe everyone in a state of vulnerability needs someone  to have accessible. Be it a friend, spiritual guide or a therapist to run the dilemma by before making a decision that can be regretted later. We are too subjective. That person in my life has been gracious enough to identify himself to me. To be continued on how that goes. 

Second is staying away from putting myself into situations that can cause me to make mistakes. Examples for some might be that a person struggling with alcohol, should not go to a bar under the guise of socializing. An ex-smoker shouldn't go out with his co-workers on cigarette breaks just to keep them company. Without going into detail I have made mistakes and have hurt people in ways because of this challenge.  Regret eats me on the inside and makes my whole body feel numb and empty. At times I hate myself for it. Bringing me to my next point.....

5) Lastly, I need to stop being so damn hard on myself. Even with all said here and in my previous post; when I make mistakes I need to give myself room. I have to stop judging myself. I am vulnerable. I feel intensely. I will stumble. I will fall. At times I have stumbled and I have fallen. Through the summer I was keen on saying "I am Titanium". I felt that way for a while. I have questioned myself a lot recently. How strong am I really? How much can I handle? I need to live for today and not beat myself up over yesterday. I need to live for today and not stress about tomorrow. 

I need my friends and family to remind me of these decisions but to also remind me that a lot is going on and I absolutely can not beat myself hard when I perceive myself as having messed up.

PS A message to my friends and family... The last few months have been very intense; it was wonderful at times, and well, lets just say quite complicated at times. I still love you (intensely). Thank you for being there. Even if I don't always show the appreciation, I still thank you and I need you in my life. Please continue to reach out. Please don't feel bad when I don't always respond. I know I make it difficult for you at times. Please continue to give me support and remind me that I am loved for my strengths and my faults alike.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Emotional intensity...

I am having some intense ups and downs right now. I have regrets that I know I can't do anything about. I have hurt from various people in my life. I am having a hard time controlling and coming to terms with them. My life is taking me to many different geographical locations on too frequent a basis. It is exhausting to say the least. I am trying to make decisions on where I should ultimately live. There are strong arguments for each location. Because I go to my family every other week for 4-5 days, dominating my mind is the ease of travel to and from one location over the other. One is a simple train, the other a flight.

There are social advantages and social disadvantages in each place. In the city I live in primarily, I can count on my fingers the amount of people I know that struggle with homosexuality in the face of Judaism There are no support groups. Even the few that I know exist, none have a similar upbringing to mine.  In one of the other places I am considering, there are tens, if not hundreds of people along the spectrum in this struggle.

There are real financial considerations that are heavily weighing on me day in and day out.

There are considerations as it relates to religion. I am trying to negotiate myself through understanding and being comfortable with who I am frum-wise. I must consider where I live to have the best chance to balance, soul search and 'find' myself in this area.
There are a number of other difficulties that are too personal to talk about here.

My challenge is that I am not finding that I have the emotional and practical smarts right now to know how to make these decisions. My therapist understandably is giving me tools to help me allow myself permission to be indecisive. He is not clearly helping me make decisions. I don't think that is his job though.

There are people in my life that have been there for me in the past. They have allowed me to show vulnerability and cry to them when I have needed to. Some of these people are not allowing me this privilege anymore. This has traumatized me as it relates to sharing with anyone. I feel so bad sharing anything with others at this point. I second guess if my friends and family care to hear about my challenges because I have others in my life that don't. So I keep it inside. I then allow myself to live in my head. When I think too much, nothing good happens. My mind and my stomach burn slowly. My appetite lowers and sleep is close to non-existent. I have been trying to keep myself busy by doing things that make me feel good. Exercising, working harder, learning with my chavrusa b'iyun so that I really can exercise my mind.

For the first time in a while I have found myself talking with Hashem when I daven. The conversation is not particularly friendly but it is a conversation nonetheless.

I sometimes want to scream. I many times want to cry. At select times (Those times that alcoholics call a moment of clarity) I am incredibly happy. I recently spent a few days on vacation with my oldest son. While it was only a few days, we took advantage of the time. It was a wonderful experience that brought me positive motivation and outlook. I spoke with him about some intimate feelings that I was experiencing. Him using his smarts way past his years, was more mature, sensitive and understanding than some people double and triple his age.

Either way, as it has always been; my highs are incredibly high and intense and my lows are intensely low. I feel like a lot of my challenges are situational but various obligations keep me from accomplishing in those areas. Even if I did not struggle with this and had the perfect marriage, the intensity of my job alone would make my life overwhelming. Throw in there all these other elements and it many (most) times seems unmanageable.

My choices brought me here. I don't know that my mind allowed me control in those decisions at the time. No difference. I take responsibility for the results of my actions. Unfortunately, that knowledge and acceptance doesn't practically make this any easier.

I hope and pray that I can find the tools I need to get past this period in my life. I am working on compartmentalizing the various hurdles that I have, so that it seems like life is under control. I have fought through so much for so long. My history tells me that at some point I will find the resolve to fight my way through this and sort it all out. Some peace of mind and clarity in my life would be so appreciated right now, even if just for a small extended period of time.

PS I feel good that I got this out. :-)

PPS To the many people that have reached out through email (and that know me and call) that are struggling with their sexuality and abuse (or both), I am sorry that I can't be the most supportive right now. I love you. I respect you for your challenges and support you deeply. I share your pain with you. I am sorry, but at times my own struggles don't allow me to be there for myself, let alone for others. Please keep on checking in though. At some point I will be there for you.