Today's interview is with the older teenage son of an FGP
Hi L. I'm really glad you are willing to talk with me. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
L: I'm a teenage boy at a Jewish Day School. I enjoy making movies and messing around with computers. I'm also very athletic. I'm a believer, but lately my observance has taken a dive. I used to have long payos (side curls) but I don't anymore.
What is your favourite quality in a man?
L: The ability to make a moral decision.
What is your favourite quality in a woman?
L: The ability to make any person comfortable.
What is your defining characteristic?
L: I try to be happy and to make everyone else happy.
What is your idea of happiness?
L: Our big big BIG family grouped around the fire in our pajamas, drinking hot cocoa, playing a game of charades.
So I guess you’re really good at making hot cocoa then!
Do you remember when your mum came out?
L: All my mum’s close friends were gay so it wasn’t such a big thing. It made a lot of sense to me. I think she'd been preparing us for quite a few years, untraining us from the typical Jewish view.
Have you had difficulties at school as a child of a gay parent?
L: The unknown is brutal. There’s no way of knowing in advance if Jews will be okay with the gay, or if they will flip out. I don’t like to talk about a lot of things at school and, as a result of that, I seem guarded. I don’t make as many friends as I might and I often seem to be older than other people, more aware.
Have you had any bad incidents at school?
L: I’ve only told one guy at school that my Mum is gay. He said “Aw dude. That’s totally fine. I think it’s awesome that your mum is so straight-up about that.” One girl, who didn’t want to offend me, said, “I think people should do what they want.”
What’s the school’s policy about LGBTQ people?
L: The principal, who is the head of the local Orthodox Beis Din, said publicly that he is proud
to have gay parents in the school. When there was a kid who was obviously gay, the teachers took sensitivity training to figure out how to handle it, even though this is a Jewish Day School, modern Orthodox.
But how do the kids in the school treat someone who they think is gay?
L: Nobody will admit to being gay, but still, the kids call each other “gay” and say stuff like “that’s so gay” and that’s pretty common, I think, for teenagers. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. It’s ridiculous. When a kid is seen as being not macho, or not bowing to peer pressure, people say “that’s so gay”, and that’s so stupid because a lot of gay guys are more macho than straight guys. I think the kids wouldn’t say that around me if they knew my mum was gay, but it might be even more awkward if they suddenly stopped saying it only when I was around.
Maybe it’s because I don’t really talk about my Mum being gay in school, but I had far worse trouble from the other kids when I wore an Obama pin the day of the elections.
What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
L: Being able to notice everything.
(Do not try this at home)
What’s the best thing about having a frum gay parent?
L: My mother drives the gayest car in the universe, a tiny green FIAT 500, and that’s a sweet ride. She’s also had some wild haircuts. But to be a bit more serious: She’s not a full-on Mum and she’s not a full-on Dad. She’s somewhere in between, a really good mixture. She’s very easy to talk to, and accepting, and maybe that’s because she’s had to learn how to be very patient and tolerant in order to live in the frum community as a gay person. And can I say this too? I love all the different types of people who come through the house, so many different ways of living, and such awesome people, and my mum accepts them all. And one last thing, she’s a fabulous cook.
What’s the worst thing about having a FGP?
L: I have to see my mother really upset a lot, when bad things happen to her or to other frum gay Jews. I get to see the worst sides of people in the Orthodox community. It really makes you wonder about religion.
If you could ask anything of the Orthodox community, what would it be?
L: To put aside habit and fear of the unknown and accept that what is most important, above all else, is to love one another.