event · homosexuality · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism

More on Yesterday’s blog

It’s nice when you post something on your blog and you’ve done well enough by moderating away the crazies on your blog that you don’t hear a peep about it.

Okay, there was a peep. Someone commented on my post about the Rabbi Steven Greenberg event being off-color on my Facebook fan page but that was quickly and easily deleted. I won’t describe the comment, I’ll leave that to your imagination. I am currently trying to wash it out from mine. You see, I have discovered that though I can’t do so in life, people on the Internet can easily be blocked, deleted and un-Friended from your life. If I wanted a discussion, I would start a discussion forum, not a blog. Plus it’s easy to tell who’s trying to have a discussion and who’s just yelling at you via email.

I heard a lot of racist things growing up in my family, even anti-Semitic things but I never, ever heard anyone slander anyone else for being gay. I didn’t even think about it until I got older and realized that other people grew up hearing lots of awful things about gay people. And I, instead, had grown up punching those people out on the playground for making fun of my “effeminate” best friend and then turning around and dumping that best friend when he told my black best friend she couldn’t be Batgirl because “she’s black!” Ah, the irony.

My first boyfriend was gay. I was 17 (he was 16) when we started dating and 18 when he came out after breaking up with me about three months after I’d run away from home. My mother told my father when I ran away that I had run away with this boyfriend. It made my father furious enough that when I spoke to him after a ten-year hiatus, he said some of the most disgusting things I can ever imagine someone saying to a person. I did not runaway with my boyfriend. I ran away to my grandmother’s house and it was years before I could stop running.
So, anyway, as you can imagine, my first relationship ended miserably. I was not that sweet girl on Dawson’s Creek who was supportive and understanding. It was a later pen pal, a teenage boy in a town I’d never seen or heard of where another boy had been killed for “coming out of the closet,” who helped me pick myself up after my broken heart. And all that after a first relationship that ended about as disastrously as you can imagine…in court.
Take that and add in the memorable stories from my first boyfriend who told me about being beaten from early childhood for being effeminate and well…. “Didn’t you know he was gay?” I get asked sometimes, when people aren’t utterly horrified that I’ve said “my first boyfriend was gay.” Probably. I also knew that there were very few people in my life, save my sisters, who understood what it was like to be beaten to a bloody pulp just for being born the way you were.
I remember thinking I had made a new Orthodox Jewish friend and then hearing her say that she thought people were being gay because of “something in the water.” I was too horrified to say anything. Maybe if I had shared these stories, it would have made an impact. Maybe she would have felt differently. I know that she grew up hearing different things, maybe things that I would have, should have, could have heard as a Catholic but was somehow spared.
Whatever the Torah and halakha (Jewish law) say about homosexuality, please don’t imagine that every religious Jew is reconciled on this issue or women’s issues or other particularly tough subjects. Imagine me instead, dressed modestly, sitting in a car with another religious Jew and trying to quite literally escape from the backseat of a car (damn child locks!) because he said that he thought if “homosexuals should be treated sensitively so should people who commit incest or want to marry their siblings.” (He was speaking about a recent event at Yeshiva University, “Being Gay in the Orthodox World” which I did not attend where gay YU students and alumni spoke about their experiences.)
I wish I could say that was the first time I’d heard such drivel uttered in my presence. But I also know an Orthodox rabbi, who upon watching a Shabbat table discussion turn into an anti-gay bashing fest, announced he was gay. He isn’t. But he was making a point. A point that was not lost on anyone. I met Rabbi Steven Greenberg in person. I don’t know what I expected but I could have sat listening in his lectures all day. So if you were looking for that blog to trash gay people or Jewish people or people of color or poor people or any people, you’ve come to the wrong place. Start your own blog and rant away. Don’t do it on mine, my fan page or my Facebook fan page.
Note: I wasn’t at any point discussing halacha. Even people who have never read the Torah understand what the halacha says. But I am not a rabbi, just a Rebbetzin-in-training-wheels.

Related: “Sensitivity in the Face of Controversy: Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 19:17”

7 thoughts on “More on Yesterday’s blog

  1. Aliza,
    I appreciate your candor in discussing and presenting a post about Rabbi Greenberg. I know that the question of homosexuality is far from resolved in many faith communities, so people need to drop the insulting commentaries. Let's at least try to love our neighbor as ourselves.


  2. *applauds* Every time you write a blog post on this or some other controversial issue, you hit the nail on the head. And I cheer.

    The Orthodox community needs your voice. People like you, who speak of these issues in a sane, compassionate manner, without hate, are one reason why I feel like there is hope. It gives me hope that I can eventually pick up and move to join an inclusive MO community, despite the hateful nonsense that seems, on balance, to prevail.

    My foster sister is a lesbian. My sister in law is a post op transgender woman, MtF. My best friend is a gay man. One day I'd like to go to his wedding. It is hard for me to follow a faith that seems to condone hate towards them. I keep telling myself that Judaism is more than that, better than that, that my fellow Jews are better than that.

    If you ever feel like giving up blogging, remember that you are a much needed note of sanity and reason!


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