Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I know I haven't written in quite a while- over a month, actually. It's partly been because life has been extra-busy recently, and mostly because of the writer's block I've been experiencing. I haven't been able to write anything, but what happened this past Shabbos has forced me to overcome it, at least to write the following.

During lunch on Shabbos, my nephew told me what he wanted to be for Purim. My nephew is quite the little geek, which, of course, makes me ever so proud, me being a geek myself. He went on to say what he wanted his Purim costume to be next year, and the year after that. Suffice it to say that it involved Star Wars and various super heroes. He was very excited, and with much love in my heart, I listened to him talk on and on about his costume ideas.

Suddenly, I hear one of my brothers (the one that I haven't yet come out to) say, "Don't worry, you won't want to be that next year because you won't be such a fag by then." 

This was said loudly enough for everyone to hear. I was across the table and I heard it. But no one stopped. No one said a word. Conversation continued to flow without pause, while I sat there, stunned into immobility for about a minute.

There are so many points to be made here, such as, "Being into Star Wars doesn't make you gay," or "'Fag' is a derogatory word." There aren't the points I'm trying to make. 

My nephew is seven. Seven. Words have an impact on children. You may not know it, they may not know it (yet), but words get absorbed into our system from a young age. On Shabbos, it wasn't about me being offended that my brother used the word "fag." It was worry- worry for children throughout the Jewish community who grow up with words like this being thrown at them when they don't even understand what it means. And when they do begin to understand- what if they start using these words themselves? What if they realize that they're gay- that they're "fags" or "dykes"- and don't know of any way to understand who they are beyond these words?

Why is this what we're teaching our kids?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"You're such a homo."

I've been present at some pretty uncomfortable (for me) Shabbos tables before. Shabbos tables where people have said some pretty ignorant things about homosexuality. Shabbos tables where people forget to think before they speak. But today was the worst of all.

Today I sat at a Shabbos table where the words "gay" and "homo" were used derogatorily multiple times. Because if a boy writes "xoxo" in a text message, he MUST be gay and we should make fun of him for that. Because if a boy goes to a steak restaurant and orders a vegetable dish, he MUST be gay- why else wouldn't he order a nice, manly steak? Because if a boy likes a Lady Gaga song, he MUST be a homo- clearly there is no other explanation for such a crazy, outrageous statement. 

During this meal, Mike's Hard Lemonade was served. Mike's now makes pink lemonade as well. On the six-pack, it says, "We've gone pink, not soft." When I first saw that last night, I was upset. Annoyed. Did they really have to do that to keep their customers? Do we really need to live in a world where there needs to be a disclaimer against a "girly" colored drink? 

Apparently the answer is yes. When both flavors of Mike's were put on the table today, one of the boys said, in reference to the color, "Can I still drink this?" and another boy said, "Is this for girls?" Obviously not seriously, obviously as a joke- right?

So here's the deal. Boys can drink hard pink lemonade and girls can drink scotch. Boys can order salads and girls can order steaks. Your gender and your sexuality don't matter- just be yourself and like what you like. 

I'm a gay woman who likes salad and steak. My favorite color, depending on the day, is either blue or black. If I'm getting a drink, I get what I'm in the mood for- not what I think a girl should get. Sometimes I love putting on makeup, and sometimes I don't put on makeup for days because it can be annoying. And no, I don't wear flannel.

Stereotypes and societal expectations can be destructive, and so can the degrading use of words that give in to these expectations. My biggest upset today was the feeling of shame that swept through me when I decided that, despite desperately wanting to, I couldn't say anything to these boys because I was scared of bringing attention to myself that I couldn't afford. Instead of standing up for myself and my community, I hid in my neat little closet, because there was nothing else I could do. 

Here's to a world where girls can play with trucks and boys can go to musicals without the raising of any eyebrows whatsoever.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


There isn't one word that I can find in the English language- or any language, I don't think- that I can use to describe this past year. Scary. Eventful. Exciting. Sad. Liberating. 

This past year, the following happened: After a year and a half of fighting with denial, I was finally able to admit to myself that I had feelings for someone of the same gender. I came out, for the first time, as bisexual, to the person who would eventually become my best friend. I came out to close friends, something I never imagined I would be able to do. I joined JQY. I went through a period of confusion in which I decided to take myself out of any category- straight, bisexual, pansexual, homosexual, queer, etc.- to figure out what my sexual orientation is. I was finally able to fully accept that I am gay. I came out to my friends, again. I came out to some of my family. After three years of complete lack of religious growth or development, I took my relationship with God into my own hands and began to figure out where I stand with Him. I became more honest with myself- not just about sexuality and religion, but about so much more.

I started off this year in the worst possible way, and ended it more content than I've ever been in my life. And I know that this happened because after listing everything that happened this past year, I know the one thing that has gotten me to this point-

Learning to be myself.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I hate labels. I've been on a personal journey for a few years now- learning not to be judgmental. Conditioning myself not to judge others' words or actions, to try and understand where they're coming from instead of instinctively condemning them.

My most recent advance in learning how not to judge is to try and get rid of as many labels as I can. I know that many people think labels are necessary in order to function in society. I personally don't. I think people should just be able to be

I was talking to a friend of mine today about the Orthodox community and the labels we use to classify people. "Religious." "Not religious." Most of the time, in my experience, I've noticed that those labels revolve around four observances: Shabbos, Kashrut, Appearance (Skirts for girls, Kippahs for boys), and Shomer Negiah. I've noticed, and it has increasingly made me angry, that the people in the Orthodox community judge someone as "religious" or "not religious" based on whether they keep all, or one, or two, or three of these observances. 

No one has the right to judge your level of religiosity. Especially not based on just four categories. Or five, or six, or seven. Don't let anyone dictate to you what your relationship with God is, because your relationship with God is exactly that- your relationship with God.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's not funny.

The other day I stumbled across this at work:

This was in response to a comment that said, "This is not at all funny. Bullying is not something to joke about." "This" was a post on iwastesomuchtime.com that said, "It's ironic that Glee is doing an episode on teen bullying since the reason I bully you is because you watch Glee."

Last year, America was rocked by LGBT suicides at the beginning of the year- Tyler Clementi, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown. As someone who was just beginning to come to terms with my sexuality, these suicides hit me hard. This past September, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide because he was being bullied at school for his sexual orientation. My world was shattered. So many people had done so much to try to prevent suicides throughout the past year, I thought- why won't it stop? Why can't we give our children enough hope?

When I saw the above response about bullying, I was stunned. Of course I knew that there are people out there who don't care about the problem of bullying. But was I consciously aware of people who promote bullying and think it's a positive experience in life? Did I know there are people out there who think and publicly (if anonymously) say, that if someone commits suicide, it's a good thing? No, I was not aware. No, I did not know.

I don't know who this commenter is. I don't know where they grew up, who their parents are, what their life is like. But after the shock that came with seeing what they wrote , after the anger that emerged when I realized how unfeeling this person must be, after the sadness that I felt at knowing that there are many others like this in the world- after all that, came pity. For various reasons- because this person was bullied throughout their life, because this person thinks that bullying is the only way to raise a child to live in this world, because this person thinks that being strong is only a result of being bullied.

Bullying is not the answer- not for parents, not for peers, not for teachers. Not for anyone. Especially not for its victims. Bullying leads to depression and suicide- not just for LGBT youth, but for any human being. So be careful the next time you open your mouth to say a disparaging remark to someone- from “Four-eyes” or “Fag,” to “Dork” or “Dyke."

National Suicide Prevention Hotline- 1-800-273-TALK
The Trevor Project- 866-4-U-TREVOR
Depression Hotline- 1-630-482-9696

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Use your words

People who know me very well know that the things I value most in a relationship- any kind of relationship- are honesty and communication. This is a pretty recent development for me, since about a year ago. I learned that being in a difficult situation with a friend is only complicated further when there's a lack of communication between the two people. 
I've become a stickler for it. I'm blunt, I'm open, I'm honest. About mostly everything. If I think a friend is angry at me, I'll ask them about it. If I'm angry or upset at a friend, I'll talk to them about it. Whatever the situation is, I'd rather deal with it openly than play games, because playing games in the past has never been helpful.
There is, however, a catch to this outlook on life, and I've been figuring it out for the past few months. The catch is this: there is such a thing as being too honest. I've learned that once you start being honest, you lose most of your filter. And sometimes that filter is necessary, because you do need to take into consideration other people's feelings. 
This lesson hit home this past weekend, when I said something incredibly hurtful and inconsiderate to a friend on the Shabbos table. I apologized, of course, and the apology was accepted. The lesson was also learned: use your words, but use them carefully. They are the most powerful tool a human being has, and they can be used to do terrible things. So be open, be honest, confront things head-on, but also make use of that filter.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mazel Tov!

A good friend of mine recently got engaged. It goes without saying that I'm very happy for her, and I wish her and her fiance a bright and loving future together.

But as usual when a friend gets engaged or married, I am plagued by emotions other than joy: sadness, jealousy, longing. I will never have that. That's not to say that I want a man to propose to me, nor do I want to marry a man. But, generally, every Jewish boy and girl in the Orthodox community is raised with the idea that when they grow up, they will get married and raise a nice Jewish family. I grew up with this concept ingrained in my mind, and I can say from personal experience that it's not easy to give up that dream.

Despite that, I do have another dream now. One that involves the same scenario in the future- a nice Jewish family. But by my side is another woman, not a man. Some would scoff- how could I possibly think that I could raise that same family with someone of the same gender? But I persist. I will make it possible. It may not be that same exact family, but I know that I do want to raise a family in the Orthodox Jewish community. 

Sometimes, I get caught up in Jewish heteronormativity, and the desire for a "normal" life gets to me. But this dream- finding the right woman, having children, building a home- makes me happy, and I can't wait to make it come true.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This year I'm thankful for...

As I was growing up, I had a difficult time socially. It wasn't easy for me to make friends. I was somewhat of an outcast- easily made fun of, left out of activities, and generally left feeling like an outsider. I grew up alongside people who made me feel like there was something inherently wrong with me. Who made me feel like it must be me who's all wrong, because no one wanted me or understood me. 
This was even before I ever realized that I'm gay. Thinking back, I always knew that there was something different about me. Being unaccepted gives you that feeling, but with an added negative twist.
It's different now. I'm different now. A few years into college I discovered that there are people in this world who accept me the way I am. I made friends- friends who wanted me, who made me feel accepted. Some of them even understood my struggle with my sexual orientation before I understood it.  
I've stopped believing that there is something wrong with me. I accept, of course, that I am different. Not only do I accept it, I embrace it. Because everyone is different. I just happened to grow up with people who did not understand that, who demanded conformity because they couldn't comprehend that being yourself is a good thing.
Sometimes, when I'm with my friends today, hanging out, watching a movie, eating dinner, talking and laughing at the Shabbos table- I pause. I stop everything I'm doing and just take stock. I think about the friends I have in my life, and I realize how grateful I am.
On Thanksgiving, my family doesn't go around the table and say out loud what we're all thankful for. So I'm doing it here. This year I'm thankful for my friends. My friends who love me and accept me the way I am, who want to know the real me and who help me keep my secret because they understand that I cannot yet show the real me to the world, who have taught me to explore who I am and love everything I find out about myself. This year, I am thankful for the people in my life who I can look at and say, "You are a friend."

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Last week, a good friend of mine (let's call her Rebecca) told me that a mutual friend of ours (let's call her Miriam) came up to her and told her that she'd overheard me talking, and now Miriam knows I'm gay. Miriam said that she knows who wrote the article in the Beacon, and it seemed as if she wanted confirmation from Rebecca that it was me. 

This bothered me on a few different levels. Firstly because Miriam is a friend of mine, and if she overheard something, I personally believe it would be a better approach to ask me about it as opposed to another friend. (The issue of whether or not you should ask someone if they're gay- which I firmly believe you shouldn't- is a whole other issue in and of itself.)

My second issues lies in this: what if Rebecca hadn't known? What if Rebecca was a friend I had not yet come out to? Then Miriam would have been outing me to someone else. I am in the closet for a reason, and telling someone else that I'm gay is hurtful, both to my feelings, as well as to my life and reputation.

Thirdly, on a general note (and I am speaking to everyone who is reading this), if you have confirmation that someone in your life is gay, but they have not yet told you, there is a reason for that. Maybe they aren't comfortable with who they are yet. Maybe they're not ready to be out to everyone. Maybe there are reasons like mine, which include concerns for my family. Whatever it is, you do not have the right to know. You do not have the right to ask, especially someone else. If you have suspicions, please keep it to yourself, because the results could range from asking someone to face something they're not ready to face, to ruining someone's life.

I did speak to Miriam and we managed to work things out. I stressed to her the importance of keeping my secret, and she was completely understanding and supportive. The lesson learned here on my part is that I need to realize that because of my need to stay in the closet for now, I do need to be more careful with what I say and where I say it. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"It's like disapproving of rain."

"It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality. It's like disapproving of rain."

I ran across this quote, said by Francis Maude, a British politician, a little over a year ago. This was around the time I was starting to admit to myself that I like girls. I had been in denial for a very long time. Even as I was attempting to understand it with a friend I confided in, I was still in denial. I didn't understand myself, and a part of me didn't want to understand, didn't want to accept. I still wanted to be straight and live a straight life.

I'm not saying that I read this quote and suddenly, magically, everything was okay. But when I thought about a name for this blog, I thought about this quote and the reassurance it gave me. When I think of acceptance of myself, I think of this quote. I am who I am, I am what God created. Just like brown eyes or blue, red hair or black. Just like green grass and blue skies, and rain that falls from the clouds.