Finding God At the End of the Rainbow
It’s not easy, knowing that a part of your identity, of who you are, has the potential to tear your family apart, that it could destroy your siblings’ chances of getting married, and that there’s a possibility that someone who you thought of as a friend could drop you, just like that.
I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but the search for answers is difficult. Impossible, sometimes. I came out to myself less than a year ago, and again only a few weeks ago. Why again? Because at first I wanted so desperately to hold on to the idea that I can live the life of a “normal” person, a “normal” Jew, so I clung to the idea that I was bisexual, not gay. I wanted so much to be able to say, “I can still get married to a man. I can still have a normal Jewish family. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. I’ll just put this part of me to the side, because it doesn’t make a difference anyway.”
But it did. And it does. You can only delude yourself for so long. You can keep on wishing, but it won’t make a difference. And I’ve come to accept that. It’s taken quite a while, but I love myself – all parts of myself, including my sexuality. However, acceptance of myself doesn’t mean that I have all the answers. It doesn’t mean that I’m not confused or angry. What am I supposed to do now? How do I reconcile my sexuality with Judaism? Some people say, “It’s easier for you, because you’re a girl. There’s nothing assurfrom the Torah for you.” But that doesn’t mean it’s easier. In fact, when people say that, it makes things more difficult because they are making light of the difficulty of my situation. No, female homosexual acts are not assurfrom the Torah, but there’s just as much of a stigma in the community. There’s just as much pressure to try and “change.” There’s just as much of an inner struggle with yourself, and with God.
And there it is. God. I have so many questions for Him, so much anger directed at Him. There’s so much I don’t understand, so much I want to understand, because I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to constantly be asking why. It’s not even, “Why me?” It’s just why. Why would He create people this way if it’s an “abomination”? Why would He create a world that depends on love and then forbid some of us from finding it? Does He want me to be alone for the rest of my life? No man is an island, right? Human beings were not meant to be alone. It’s human nature to want to connect with someone, emotionally and physically. Am I supposed to ignore that, to suppress the desire to be with someone for my whole life?
I lost faith for a while. In God. In people. In the world. I felt abandoned. What was the point? I could either choose to live a life without someone and stay angry at God because He’d dictated a life of loneliness for me, or I could choose to leave Him, put God and religion and everything they entail in my past, with no place for Him in my future. I had no solution, and because of that, there was a point in time this past year where I was close to breaking down completely.
I recognized the signs and turned to a friend. A friend who is gay, who, despite the misconception that one cannot be Orthodox and gay, carries God with him everywhere he goes. He pulled me out, gave me courage, and taught me to accept myself. He also brought me to my first JQY meeting – Jewish Queer Youth, a group that meets once a month and provides a safe space for frum and formerly frum LGBT Jews. It gives us a place to feel part of a Jewish community and still be able to be open about our sexuality. At JQY, I met other people like me: some older, some younger; some out of the closet, and some still in, like me; some frum, some not. But they were all people who understood what I was going through, because they’d gone through it as well and were still getting through it, every day.
That’s when I regained my faith. Some of the anger at God is still there. So is the confusion. But I believe He’s with me. And I believe in people: their kindness, their willingness to be there for you, to put themselves out there for you, to answer your call and take the time to listen no matter what time of day it is. Growing up and going to Jewish day school, I learned that there are two main categories of mitzvot: bein adam lamakom and bein adam lechaveiro. I’ve seen a lot of focus throughout my life on mitzvot that are bein adam lamakom. My intention is not to put that down, or to minimize its importance, because one’s relationship with God should be a priority.
But something else you learn when you grow up is that “Bnei Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh“: all Jews are responsible for each other. Never have I seen this taken more seriously than in the Jewish LGBT community. Never have I seen a group of people who support each other – always, constantly, no matter what. Even without the blood ties, these people are the very definition of family.
The people who are scorned and ridiculed, who are told that they are unnatural and an abomination against Hashem, who are refused aliyot and shunned from communities – these are the people who gave me my faith back.
A year ago, I was sitting in your place and reading one of The Beacon’s first articles by another anonymous author, “For Me There Are No Answers,” wondering where she got the courage to stand up and speak, even anonymously. And here I am now, doing the same thing. You never know where life will lead you. I don’t know where I’ll be, who I’ll be, one year from now, five years from now, ten years from now. But I have God, I have my friends, I have my families. I have myself, and I have faith.
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