Friday, September 9, 2011

Sam's gay???? Whaaat?!

I never really thought I would write a blog. I always had friends who wrote blogs; I was encouraged to read them, comment on them, follow them – but I never was into the idea of writing a blog myself. I also never had a reason to write one. In recent months, aside from acquiring a reason to write one, someone special has blog-ly influenced me, and that subconsciously convinced me to finally start this one. Welcome!

I write this blog for a few, very specific reasons. I want to share my story with close family and friends. I want to world to hear me, understand me, and to ask questions and comment as they deem necessary. I am an open book. I want to extend that notion here on my blog, and allow this to be a free space where I share my thoughts and ideas, and I hear back from all of you.

Yup…I’m gay. Who would have thought it, right? Well, I’ll tell you. Almost no one. If I were to quantitatively estimate, I’d say about 95% of the people I came out to had responses such as: “Haha, good one, Sam,” or “You’re funny, Sam,” or “Really?! No way!” My all-time favorite coming-out conversation, however, was:

“________, I have something to tell you.”
“Uh oh!”
“Don’t worry, _________, I’m not pregnant! [chuckle]”
“…And I know you’re not gay, so…what is it?”

That was an actual conversation. Most people are so shocked by my homosexuality, I think, because I don’t fit many of the stereotypes that are usually associated with gay individuals. For starters, I’m not excessively flamboyant. I quasi-like sports. I was never really into fashion or pop culture or what designer made Beyonce’s dress on this week’s cover of Cosmopolitan. To cap this all off, I always showed “interest” in girls and even had girlfriends. And, sadly enough (I will touch on this more later in this posting and in future ones, too), just simply being an orthodox Jew has the community as a whole assume you are straight. How many out-of-the-closet, orthodox gay Jews do you know? When I came out to myself 6 months ago, I was the only one that I knew of. For all of this and more, people found it hard to believe, at least initially, that I am gay. Understandable.

However, what is so crazy about my story is that I did not know I was gay until late January/early February of 2011. I simply had no self-awareness of my homosexuality. I never realized I was gay, I never told myself that I was gay, and I never told anyone else I was gay…but this is all entirely because I didn’t know I was gay until – literally -earlier this year. When I say all of this, I almost always get immediately bombarded with such questions as: “How did you not know you were gay until you were 20 years old?” or “How were you not conscious or aware of your sexuality until now?” I always embrace and accept these questions, because, truthfully – they are beyond legitimate. How didn’t I know? How did I live for 20+ years, 9 of which after I had started puberty, and not know that I was gay? These are all fantastic questions, but I think there do exist reasons why this was the case for me. For starters, I was raised very exclusively modern orthodox. I went to a modern orthodox school, I am from a modern orthodox family, I went to a modern orthodox synagogue, I went to a modern orthodox camp, all of my friends were modern orthodox…to sum it all up, I was raised in a very modern orthodox bubble and that’s all I was ever surrounded by.

Because of this bubble, I didn’t know that homosexuality actually existed. I obviously knew what “gay” meant, but (obviously) I didn’t know any gay people, and because I was never really into pop culture that much, I never really saw any themes of homosexuality on TV or the media (glee, modern family, etc). And, because my society culture, religion, and community all emphasized heteronormativity (, I never considered that anything else was an option. It wasn’t an option to be gay. No one Jewish was gay (at least in my community). How could they be?! If they were gay, then they couldn’t get married, have kids, and perpetuate the mesorah (Jewish tradition) like we are all intended to do.

“But, still, Sam…you knew what it meant to be gay, so how didn’t you realize? I understand your society didn’t really recognize homosexuality, but how didn’t you become aware of your sexuality once you started puberty?” This series of questions always comes next.

Some more great questions. Answer: I find girls so pretty. Since I knew I found girls at least somewhat attractive, I sort-of convinced myself that “it’s ok, Sam – you find girls attractive, so you can do this and be straight.” However, what I realize now is that finding someone attractive and being attracted to someone are very much so not the same thing. I was stupid enough to convince myself that I was heterosexual because I found girls pretty. For all my girlfriends, I found them to be awesome individuals and aesthetically pleasing/pretty. That combination allowed me to convince myself that I was sexually into them. So although I may have had homosexual desires, I was able to ignore them for 20 years because I used the fact that I found girls pretty to convince myself that I was into them. And then add to that the fact that my community encouraged heteronormativity and then my inability to discover my homosexuality until age 20 may make some sense now.

I think this enough for my first posting, but I hope to continue the story at some point in the near future. I welcome your thoughts, questions, comments, or reactions.


  1. Real, enlightening, courageous.

    Hats off to you, Sam.

    Talya L.

  2. אני אוהבת אותך

    נעמה (הלה) הניג

  3. Good for you Sam! ~LC

  4. "if you were gay, it would be ok, i'd love you anyway, if you were queer, id still be heeeeeeere...."

  5. Hey, Sam. You're a really great writer, and I admire your strength and confidence. Most of my friends who are gay are also proudly observant Jews (there's lots of them out there, as I'm sure you know now - my husband officiated at the Orthodox gay wedding of friends of ours a few months ago). The majority didn't come out until college, and describe the same thing you said - they simply had no context, no recognition of homosexuality in their communities. When my friend had a crush on another guy in high school, he wrote it off as a close friendship, because what else could it be?
    I hope your writing raises awareness in the observant community. Maybe it will even inspire others to come out. Either way, yashar koach, and be well.


  6. Hey Sam,
    Thanks so much for sharing! I myself group up in a Modern Orthodox community, and was wondering whether another element of growing up Orthodox might have masked your homosexuality from yourself; namely, that Orthodox adoscelents are taught to be NON-SEXUAL, that SEXUALITY is for MARRIAGE and MARRIAGE ALONE? Like, if you date and are modern orthodox, you're not really even suppose to kiss that much, let alone have sex. Just wanted to highlight that, and ask if that resonates with you and if it at all helps to explain your experience. Thanks for reading!

  7. Sam - I think it's so great that you have started a blog. So good to hear your voice and your story. You have a lot of support here and I love you,
    Michelle/Gilad's mom

  8. thanks for the shout out! just kidding...but i love that youre doing this :)

  9. @Aviva:

    You raise great questions and this topic is exactly what I was planning on touching on in my next blog posting. I hope to post once every 3 weeks or so.

    Thanks for your comment and support.

  10. Don't let anyone make you feel ashamed of you who are. Love, in all forms, is beautiful. Life is too short to spend it feeling lost and lonely.


    Really Sam...Noone thought u were gay??


  12. so had you never been exposed to the culture you would have been a perfectly happy heterosexual? We talked about girls together all the time?

  13. @My-mystery-childhood-friend (AKA Anonymous 12:14)

    The answer to your question is no; I would not have been a happy heterosexual had I never been exposed to gay culture. Well...truthfully, the answer is "I don't know" but I can confidently say that I almost 100% would not have remained a happy heterosexual my whole life. When I described myself before I came out, I say I was "burned out" - regardless of the culture I was exposed to. The exposure did partially catalyze my coming to terms with myself, but I felt burned out on my own. I think that feeling of being burned out would have happened eventually, regardless of any exposure I had. It just happened to be at this time in my life when I felt that burden the most. Shabbat Shalom!

  14. I have no problem if someone wants to be gay, or thinks they are gay, it wouldn't make any sense for me to be against that, and even if I was, it's not my place to tell people how to live their lives. However, don't you think it's strange that you put a huge emphasis on your being "Modern Orthodox" and many of these comments are about people saying they are observant Jews who are also gay, but in the torah its pretty explicit what our laws as Jews are towards homosexuality?

  15. @Anon: There are a growing number of people who were raised observant their whole lives, and then come to terms with their sexuality. It is a new struggle, pretty much limited to the past decade or so. No one has a concrete answer for these individuals. This blog was created to raise awareness that homosexuality exists within the orthodox community - as it does in any other community in the world - and to posit thoughts and ideas for those struggling with these conflicting identities.

  16. @Anon: I forgot to mention that you are right in saying the torah is pretty explicit in its views against homosexuality. However, orthodox gay Jews are attempting to bridge these two identities - somehow - since some of them don't want to give up either. This forum is for discussions of this bridge.