Hey,I'm a Syrian Jew and read a few of your articles. You do seem really respectful, and really torn with yourself. I do feel very sorry that you're in such a position and believe that gays should be able to talk and deserve compassion.However, that being said, I have to say that I object with being so publicly open about it. Sure, talk to friends and family about it. But, at then end of the day, it is an imperfection, albeit not by choice and from birth. Though you deserve to be treated with love, that doesn't mean that it is something to create a public forum about. Think of, as a metaphor, a close friend I have with a pornography problem. Though I may love him and try to help, I would be very against him going public about it and trying to create a movement of 'awareness' towards the act. I don't think there is an easy answer for how you should go about not being ostracized and unaccepted. I don't have an answer, and would't know what to do. However, I think a public forum/blog is the wrong way to go.I hope I haven't offended you, I'm simply offering you my opinion. I hope you consider what I've had to say.
I understand how tough it is for you or anyone else in the community to fully understand the depth of this issue. If you will allow me to share a quick story with you. In the 1980's, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). My parents went to my school to meet other parents and to become educated on this issue. At first, my parents were reluctant to go, because they were worried about who would find out. They wanted to shield me from having any social issues and wanted to make sure I wouldn't have issues getting married because of it. When we grow up in such an insular, traditional, and family-centric community, people want to keep any issues that divert from the norm private. But, if everybody stayed silent back then, we would not have the many programs now available in most yeshiva day schools for children with learning disabilities. Sometimes, you have to be the one to stand up and bring awareness to an issue. Personally, I felt that I had a duty to speak up. I have seen way too many people suffer over the years. I know people that have committed suicide in our community over this issue. The only thing I regret in my life, is that it took me so long to get myself together and that just maybe I could have helped save one of them. I lost a friend at age 23 over this issue. But, you will never hear that they had this issue. I understand the fear families might have of "coming out" about this issue, especially after their child has passed. They want their child remembered the way people knew them. I want to thank you for commenting and sharing your opinion with me and being open to my response. Rich Dweck
Dear Rich,I was told about your site by Rabbi Steve Greenberg about a year ago, after writing him about my own predicament. I was born into a Southern Baptist (albeit Californian) household. When I went to college at UC Berkeley, I found myself among a new group of friends I cared deeply for - they happened to be largely Jewish, of various observance levels. Eventually, my curiosity got the best of me and I went to shul at Beth Israel, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Berkeley. I've also had the occasional visits to Chabad houses in different towns. Meanwhile, as attracted as I am to Judaism, the only G-d I believe in, his people and Torah and as much as I have sought to learn and learn, the sick joke of figuring out I was gay at age 21 (I'm now 39) was played on me. What's funny is that my parents have come to terms with my gayness. So have friends and colleagues. Conversely, the idea of my identification with Jewishness (though I've never converted, as much as I wish I could) is repugnant to most of them. I know mitzvot are a huge part of the essence of Judaism and not being halachically Jewish pretty much excludes me from the party, but I really miss my Jewish side - the chats, the philosophizing, the friends. I'm in a relationship with another goy now and he's really great... just so happens he doesn't like pork, so I've at least got that as a bonus! But anyway, I just wanted to applaud you for your stances. Perhaps you can consider me a closeted friend!Many blessings,Keith Johnson