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.”
“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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.