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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...

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, *****