I am taking a class this semester called LGBT families. It is a sociology course that discusses LGBT issues as they pertain to the family, including marriage, parenting, LGBT children, etc. This course, which an intensive upper-level course, requires a lot of academic reading. I was never a big fan of academic articles; I find them boring, pretentious, and arcane. However, the articles from this class are some of my favorite that I have come across while at college, and there was an idea in an article I read a few weeks ago that I would like to share with all of you.
In a very simple sentence, the author explained coming out as “healthy identity development for an LGBT individual.”
Now, this might seem obvious, simple, or even cliché – but as someone who comes from an orthodox upbringing and has come out, I am constantly and consistently frustrated at the lack of visibility of gay men and women in the orthodox community. I am frustrated for two reasons: one selfish, and one selfless and caring. I am frustrated because as someone who has been accepted, welcomed with open arms, and ultimately not ridiculed at all as gay individual in an orthodox community, I yearn for all of the closeted gay individuals in the orthodox community to come out (I know you’re there, guys). Selfishly, this visibility will make a stronger community of orthodox gay individuals, a stronger stance of orthodox gay individuals, and with the appearance of more and more gay individuals in the orthodox community, perhaps minds can be changed, opinions can be altered, and “gay” won’t have to have such a taboo attached to it. I yearn for a time when homosexuality is socially accepted and recognized in the orthodox community. I believe that with more visibility, this goal can be achieved.
In a caring manner, I desire for orthodox gays to come out for themselves. As quoted in my LGBT article, coming out is part of healthy identity development. For those of you who might be gay and closeted and think you can “wing this,” and “get married to a woman without any repercussions,” and think that “your community won’t accept you” or “what will my mom say?” or “how will I ever marry a girl?” or “will I ever be normal? How can I be?!”– whatever your fears are: know that they will not come true. I was there once. So many other out, gay Jews have been there, too. I know what fears and anxiety you possess. After having the experience of coming out, please understand me that things will not only be fine, they will be great. Coming out was the healthiest thing I could do for my overall well-being, and, as specified in the aforementioned article – part of my healthy identity development.
This may sound like a plus for Dan Savage’s "it gets better project", and in a way is it – me telling you things will be more than fine once you come out. This post was actually sparked by the blogger Another Frum, Gay Jew and his most recent post, highlighting the importance of being the person you were meant to be, not what your society, family, or community expects of you. Today, I come with Dan Savage’s message from an orthodox standpoint, desiring you to come out both for the community and very much so for yourself as part of healthy identity development that turns you into the person you who really are and the person you are meant to be.