Monday, December 5, 2011

Saying Nothing Really Says A Lot

Yeah, I guess I’m a little upset. Some close family and friends might think that they’re being nice and sensitive…but they’re not. They are ultimately hurting me and affecting my relationship with them.
Amongst most of my friends and fellow University students, conversations about me/homosexuality in general are open, honest, welcomed, and ubiquitous, mostly because I am the only male “out” in my respective communities and because homosexuality is tabooed in the orthodox community. And I like that. It’s a way for me to verbally express how I’m feeling and share my thoughts, but more importantly it is a way to educate other people who may be unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and/or intrigued by my situation.
However, this is (seemingly) not the case when I go elsewhere.
I was asked recently if I have experienced any outright discontent or overt hostility when I have been among close family and/or family friends since I have come out. The answer is no. But that is not a good thing.
There are different forms of acceptance when someone comes out - shunning, partial acceptance, full acceptance, full acceptance with marginalization, etc….the list goes on. When close friends and family don’t think to inquire about the coming out process, they by doing so are subscribing to not complete acceptance. And I know it. And I can feel it. And it hurts me.
By inquiring about anything related to my coming out process, or being gay, or being orthodox, or being both gay and orthodox, you are intrinsically showing you care. When you don’t ask, you are ostensibly showing me that you don’t fully accept who I am or what I stand for.
I welcome conversations about any related topic. And not for me! For all of you close family and friends who haven't yet showed me that you care. If you really care and desire to accept me, show me that you do. Ask questions. Inquire. Even if you don’t agree with my decisions or lifestyle – talk about it anyway so we can have an intellectual conversation about it.
So for my family and family friends and friends of who thought that by merely ignoring the very apparent issue at hand was a good idea, it wasn’t. You have hurt me, marginalized me, and have shown no outright acceptance of me.
I implore all of you to ask. Show interest. By doing so, you will show me that you really care.


  1. I hear that. But how fair is it to expect people to ask for details when they may need time to process this new information? And, in addition, many people may be trying to treat you in the same way, to show that they don't see you any differently in terms of their friendship with you. So even though you may perceive it as them not accepting you, they may actually be trying to show you that they do.

  2. "But how fair is it to expect people to ask for details when they may need time to process this new information?"
    I hear ya. I mean it has been over 6 months now, but still. This is a fine point to make. But with time, this excuse looses some of it potency. In a year from now, I don't think this will be a viable excuse.

    I've heard the "trying to treat me the same way" argument before. That's what this posting is for. Treat me the same way once you have spoken to me about things and understand what I'm going through and my experiences over the past few months. Don't try to be silent and attempt to treat me the same way. It is almost always forced. Do so only after we've spoken about things and you have a better understanding of what's going on.

  3. I mean why do they have to ask? Maybe they aren't curious, or don't care to pry into your business. Why does saying something indicate you accept them? Maybe they don't want to always center conversations around it. I think a better sign of acceptance is not imploring or questioning but saying "oh OK"

  4. Nobody ever asked me about my heterosexuality - I felt super shunned too. But then I realized Im not the center of everyones universe so its fine.

  5. (This is a new Anon) Hi Sam- I wouldn't consider myself one of your close friends, or really even a real friend- we are more like acquaintances, have mutual friends etc.(our paths don't cross too often) When I see you I generally choose to ignore the subject, both because your sexual orientation has no effect on how I treat you/perceive you/interact with you, and also because I would feel as if it not my place to discuss your choice in partner and sexual orientation. It really is none of my business. I hope you understand where I (and probably many others, even those closer to you) are coming from.

  6. so youre gay...big deal...why do you want people to ask? are you not sure about your "BIG" decision? This post makes it seem like you are just asking for attention. Why do people have to ask you, are you that self-absorbed? Just because someone doesn't ask you doesn't mean that they don't care, maybe they are uncomfrotable with it. And if they are, who the hell are you to tell them to be more comfortable with it? you are the one who made a life changing decision, not everyone around you

  7. First of all...I think this is a ridiculous statement! Its a blanket statement that I think you need to stay away from in your life. You classify large groups of people one way (normally negatively) without crediting the uniqueness or differences within a group. The Maryland Jewish community may be interested because everyone is so nosy and finding who they are -but for the community in Baltimore or other groups in your life who may not be as quick to ask - doesn't mean they don't care. So be careful how you decide to group people in your life.

    Secondly, I respect your blog and your willingness to share but not everyone is comfortable asking about such personal things. If you'd like to discuss it with people, bring it up. If they're interested the conversation will be great. If not, they're not - end of story. Not everyone knows you are interested in being approached as well. Give people more credit- they may care, they may want to know, they may want to talk about it but do not have the courage as individuals to talk about a heavy topic. It isn't easy.

    Additionally, people just may not care!!! It isn't a unique topic that only happened to you.

    Give the people around you a break and give yourself a break! Enjoy your life without feeling judged. Chances are only a small few people with their own insecurities are the ones judging.

  8. Ok. Listen Up, Anonymouses:

    When I wrote this post, I referring to close family and friends. NOT "everyone" or "people" or "everybody." Those individuals - close family and friends - in general, are the people you share the most with me and I share the most with on a semi-regular basis. To not mention anything about my coming out is hurtful from those individuals. I'm not saying the whole world has to know and ask, but the ones who are close to me should. Or really, they're not so close to me. "Oh, OK" (@Anon 1:01), shouldn't really be coming from close individuals about such a life-changing experience.

    @Anon 1:07: I am going to to respond to your wall-post, but in the future, please make your comments seem less combative. Make your point and be respectful. I always try to be. Anyways - my posting is really not about being self-centered. It's about being validated, accepted, and welcomed by the people who I care about, and who have cared about me previously. When born a certain way that is, unfortunately, not recognized or really discussed in your community, it is important to get validation and acceptance from the people who have given that to me in the past. I hope that helps clarify things for you. And I hope you can become less of an asshole.

    @Anon 2:16: If we aren't so close, I don't expect you to ask or to care as much as other, closer friends/family would/should. If you are interested in the topics at hand, though - please do ask! I'd love to speak with you.

    @Anon 2:22: "people" don't need to ask. I didn't say "people." I am referring to close friends and family. Why do these close family and friends need to ask, you may ask? Because they've always cared. They've asked about my life, asked details about my life, and now they are not. For me, there has been a rather abrupt change in the way they interact with me, so for me: it's hard. And I'm not telling them to be more comfortable with it. If they care and love me like they did, they should eventually want to try and become more comfortable with it. Because this is who I am. And they cared about me once, so they should continue to care about me now. If they cannot do it, or become comfortable with the issues at hand, I question their relationship with me. THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME BEING SELF CENTERED. Also, ANON 2:22 - just in terms of semantics: Being gay is no decision. Coming out is, but being gay is not. I was born this way so I hope you, and especially my loved one, can understand that.

    @ Anon 2:40. "Not everyone who knows you is interested..." I KNOW. I am not referring to "everyone;" I am referring to close family and friends. It hurts when those close family and friends don't ask or show they care, because this is my life now. And when they don't ask about it, they are in essence showing a lack of interest and lack of acceptance for me and my life and it is hard coming from close family and friends. That's all I'm saying. Lastly, ANON2:22 - it's hard to enjoy your life when some close friends and family express a lack of acceptance for who I am.

  9. I started reading your blog because I thought it was interesting to read about someones experiences on coming out of the closet from a Jewish perspective. You have turned this situation into a "Big Deal" when in fact it is not at all. You should stop writing your blog because you are making it harder for homosexuals who don't want the attention, and who in fact do want to be treated normally and as if there is nothing different about them. I don't know why you want to be spoken to about this, instead you should look in the mirror and say to yourself "OK, Im gay, now lets move on." Because I bet if people wouldn't stop talking to you about it, you would probably get annoyed and your blog would have read differently and probably would have been titled something like "MOVE ON." You have written this specific blog and basically begged for attention from people who have not satisfied you and your need for attention. Im sorry if you think I am being rude but you don't have to worry about me being rude again because I am finished reading your blog. Good luck with the rest of your life.

  10. I don't want attention...whatsoever. I just want to be normal and pretend as if nothing is different about me. That means having the people who cared about me previously continue to care about me and inquire about the "big things" in my life. I'm sorry you don't understand that.

  11. Sam - Not everyone is as open as you are. Not everyone processes things by talking/writing about it. Each person has his/her own way. I think you are mistaken that if people don't comment that they are not accepting you. Some people simply don't want to talk about other people's sexuality - gay or straight. People have a wide spectrum of ways to deal with myriad issues....and you may need to accept that about others. Michelle/Gilad's mom

  12. According to your comment to Anon 5:19, you say "I just want to be normal and pretend as if nothing is different about me". The fact is, no matter which way you put it, things are very different. Yes, you can still be the Sam that you have always been, but you have an added aspect to your dynamic personality. An aspect which is new to everyone and maybe even to yourself. So many times, people just don't know how to deal with it. And they want to validate you because they want to show you they're there for you, but they can't necessarily bring up issues they have with this whole change because they don't want to offend you. It's a very delicate balance. And you are expecting that people should just be themselves-they should treat you the same. But oftentimes, they don't know how.

  13. Ronya (?). Thank you. These are the fairest points I have heard all day and I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  14. I don't understand this post. If I do not inquire into A's heterosexuality, why should I inquire into B's homosexuality? Rather than the interactions you describe being a matter of others shying away from (or not knowing how to deal with) your sexual orientation, it may simply be the case that others realize that there is far more to you than your sexuality, and desire to talk about those things instead.

  15. It's lose-lose...if you're asked about your sexuality it seems like people around you are nosy, and if they don't ask then they're cold.

    It's hard to find a middle.

    And to echo an earlier point made, not everyone processes change the way you do. You've known you're gay much longer than everyone else, and so you're past the shock/revelation. It takes time for others to adjust to the change because while yes, you are the same old Sam everyone loves, a new dimension of your life has now come out, literally.

    Sometimes people don't bring something up because they don't want to say something that is hurtful or insensitive. There have been times where I saw a peer who went through something really tumultuous and I felt at a total loss of what to say without sounding cliched, insensitive, or close-minded. For example, if I see a friend who recently got divorced (YES I know its not the same), I may not know what to say to her because though EVERYONE knows and was talking about it and she knows I know, I don't want her to feel like a tabloid story. I want to ask her how she's doing, but maybe I don't know how to talk to her about it properly.

    I know you're referring to your close friends and family, but yes- even your close friends and family don't know exactly what to say and how to say it. You may have to clear the path for them and bring it up to them first, and yes ideally they should be able to to ask you first, but its possible they are waiting for your cue.

  16. Sigh. I've heard this story 100x. Do you feel ignored? Is that why you felt you had to come out to begin with? I'm all for gay rights, but this post just sounds too much like an immature boy who wants attention.

    Please. Seek help.

  17. @ Mr. Judgmental (AKA Anonymous 7:03),

    To read this post and the ensuing comments and then still say blanket statements such as I am "an immature boy who wants attention" and that I "seek help" to me, is judgmental and inaccurate. As I clearly state in this post and in several of my comments, this posting was about not feeling accepted. I don't want attention, I don't need attention. I just felt a disconnect from some close family and friends, and it hurt me that they weren't talking to me about my coming out process. That's all. For you to assume that I want attention, especially after I explicitly stated earlier why I did write this posting, is rude and condescending. Maybe you're the one who needs to seek help...or at least get some manners.

  18. Sam, if you don't want attention, I'm not quite sure why you started blogging about your sexuality.....

  19. I started blogging about my sexuality to publicly display and discuss the nuances of being orthodox and gay - AT AN ATTEMPT to display awareness of such an issue that is significantly underrepresented in the orthodox community. It's not about me. It's about the orthodox community - and the overall underrepresentation of homosexuality in it.

  20. If you are trying to inform the world of the struggle you and other gay orthodox Jewish people must go through daily, calling more attention to it seems hardly logical.

    Who really cares in this day and age what you are? Be gay. Be straight. Marry your first cousin! But most of all, be happy. And don't care if the people you love aren't asking you about it. Be happy they're not. It probably means they want to see you for you and not your newly exhibited sexual identity. Life is too short to complain about all this little stuff.

  21. I sometimes force the conversation to happen-- I find no one else is going to initiate. Since I have extra concerns than someone heterosexual, I find it healthy to discuss whats on my mind, with those im close to--even if the starting is awkward.

    So I definitely agree-- someone willing to chat with you about sexuality is a friend indeed (my mom is great, she'll always talk about anything, but will never initiate a convo about this topic) Once we get past an initial awkward minute, we can have an hour long conversation.