It was my bar-mitzvah torah portion a few weeks ago. It has been 8 years since the big celebration at age 13, but I have yet to miss a year in which I don’t re-read it for a congregation. I continued reading it in high school, I read it in Israel, and I have read for 3 years in college. I really enjoy laining (reading from the torah) and I have been told that I am pretty good at it.
Not to be cliché or anything, but I really sensed a nice coalescence of Orthodox Judaism and homosexuality while I was laining a few weeks ago. As most ba’alei koreh (torah readers) do, I used a yad (pointer) while reading. As I was pointing to each word with the yad extended from my right hand, I noticed my pride bracelet on the same arm. A pride bracelet, for those who don’t know, is simply a rainbow-colored rubber bracelet that represents unity, pride, shared values, and allegiance to other LGBT individuals. The rainbow symbolism also communicates ideas, concepts and identity both within our LGBT community and to other mainstream cultures. I have been wearing one since this summer.
Anyways, my reading of the torah that week reminded me of my grounding in Judaism. Yes, I have realized my sexuality this past year and have come out as a gay, Orthodox Jew. And as much as I have altered my identity or inculcated certain values and ideologies into my life – my origins haven’t change. I’m the same Sam, the same Jew, and the same great lainer that I have always been. I am gay, yes, but I am also a Jew and I am attempting to create a balance between the two seemingly conflicting ideologies. This pride-bracelet-while-reading-the-torah incident was just a personal reminder of that, and I wanted to share it with all of you.