Sunday, 29 September 2013


Thank you for agreeing to talk with us, F. I know it's scary, and I want to thank you for your bravery in being so open. Could you tell us something about your life?
F: I'm in my early twenties. I grew up in a frum chassidish home. I went to a Yiddish speaking school and didn’t learn science. Until a year ago, I hadn’t even heard about evolution. My whole family was and is very frum. Still, when I was 14, my friend and I used to sit in the park and imagine what it would be like to be married. Her husband would be a basketball player and mine would be a guitar player. That was a very innocent time.
                                SLAM DUNK!  or....
When I was 14, I was really into the spiritual aspects of Judaism. I loved learning chassidus and I loved talking about it and thinking about it. I loved shabbos. I was always the one who asked a lot of questions, which my teachers simultaneously loved and hated. My questions were thought of as troublemaking, but at least I took an interest.
 My little sister recently wrote in my phone, “Chana Miryam is the best. But really H-shem is the best.” I thought this was really interesting, because she’s having this sassy moment but then she’s like, “Oh no! G-d is watching!” I think I was like that as a kid. I was sassy, and questioned, but I worried about the consequences of H-shem watching.
But when I was 14, I was sexually assaulted. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t understand what had happened to me. I didn't have the words to describe what had happened. I thought I would get in trouble. If people knew, I would never get married! It would get around! That girl! The one who asked questions and sat in the park! Stupid reasons.
 When I was 15, I was hospitalized. My parents tried to hide that from the family and from my school. They were afraid of ruining the family name, didn’t want people talking about me, wanted to protect me from what people would say, wanted to keep my reputation clean. It was something that wasn’t talked about. I still don’t know anyone who went to a psychiatric unit in the frum community, even though I’m sure people have gone. 
When we finally told the school, they asked why I was in that facility. My parents had to talk to them about the rape and the principal responded really coldly. She didn’t hug me.  She wouldn’t even look at me. No one knew how to respond. I felt like an outcast. Like everything about me was weird and I didn’t fit in anymore.
 My friends were freaked out and scared of me. They went to the principal crying about me, and the principal told me I had to be silent, that I was a bad influence and was scaring the other girls. I wasn’t allowed to speak out about my experience at all. I started getting resentful. I felt hurt about the way the community was dealing with me. I felt like sh-t.
 The whole experience was made worse for me because I didn’t know that Jewish people had sex. We didn’t have sex ed in school. Rape isn’t sex, of course. It’s violence. But I didn’t understand anything about it, and it made me angry at the community, cheated. 
I still hate the principal of my school. One day, I was crying to her because I wasn’t a virgin anymore. And she was so technical with me and cold. She said, “It’s like you ate bad food and now you need to vomit it out,” and the implication was: Move on. Get over it. At the hospital no one treated me that way. I felt accepted and supported.
 After a year, when I came back to the frum high school, it was no longer my world. I didn’t feel safe. I knew too much. I couldn’t transition back.
What connection do you have with the gay world?
F: My best friend is queer, and a good portion of my friends identify as queer and/or gay. I had an argument with my father on Shabbos and I panicked. I thought, “My dad thinks I’m a lesbian!” This is scary because he is an Orthodox Jew who is extremely homophobic. I’m afraid my dad will read my diary and see that my first kiss was with a girl. That would cause a big fight, and our relationship would be ruined. Or whatever relationship we have now.
 That’s worrisome because if I am a lesbian, everyone will point at me, and treat me differently. There’s a stigma in the secular world about being queer, but in the Orthodox world, it’s amplified and much much worse.
To tell the truth, my first kiss was with a girl. After that, everyone said, “Now you are a lesbian! I knew you were all along!” I said, “No. I’m not.” I think I’m really afraid of ever being categorized under any term, since I don’t think I fall into any category. I like boys. I like girls. I like people! Those categorizing words are so scary where I come from.
 Where I come from, tv watching was so looked down on, so now I don’t like to watch tv. The same thing with words like LESBIAN. It’s very big and very scary. I’ve been with a girl, but I’m against labels or calling myself a lesbian. I’m afraid of the Chassidic world getting freaked out and I don’t want to do something that will make my father and my community mad at me.
 Do you know anyone who is both frum and gay?
F: Yes. But from what I’ve seen, it’s very difficult to do. It’s the most difficult thing. Keeping Judaism relevant while living a different lifestyle is 100 times more challenging. And the community talks all the time about those frum gay Jews. Everyone is homophobic, even people you wouldn’t expect. Even my best friend from high school openly admits being homophobic and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it. The other day, she said, “I can’t deal with that! I’m so homophobic!”
 Why did she think that was okay?
F: When she heard my first kiss was with a girl, she was really weirded out.
She did that really narcissistic thing that straight people do, which is, she immediately thought, “Oh no! F’s in love with me!” She thought I wanted HER. I wanted to say, “You aren’t indiscriminately in love with all of the men in the world. You are selective and I am too. In fact, the last person I’d be interested in was you!”
It’s hard to hate her for this, though, because I didn’t know how to be respectful either when I was younger. She doesn’t know anything other than being homophobic.
What is it about your connection with your father that makes you afraid to tell him about your sexual identity?
F: Sometimes, people shave their beards but no one excommunicates them, right? Bacon and non-kosher meat are exactly the same al pi halacha and yet, chazer seems so much worse, to the point that it seems like the evil of all evil. Gay has the same kind of stigma, an extra negative connotation, as if it’s extra sinful and extra scary within the frum community. I wouldn’t tell my father because even modern, non religious Jews are afraid of the gay, let alone my conservative, republican, orthodox, Chassidic father.
My father keeps on sending me articles about getting married young! He’d like me to have children, and this is what my body is built for, to bear fruit. I do want to have kids. But not right now. I can’t help but worry that I’m getting less fertile by the second, and that’s silly, but it’s the way I grew up and all my friends are getting engaged and having babies, making families. Other peoples’ thoughts live in my head.
I am scared to connect myself with “sexual deviance”, because it’s a scary idea in our community. I don’t think my father would be able to hear it. He couldn’t hear that I’m not as frum as him. He couldn’t hear that I was dating. He could never hear that my sexuality is fluid. He just doesn’t want to know.

What do you see as the attitudes of the community towards frum gay people?
F: I was babysitting my sister and helped her to make girl power pamphlets. She wrote “I like girls sooo much”. She’s five. 
My father made a face, and said, “I hope that’s not from hanging around at [name of frum gay family]”. Now the gay is contagious! He laughed as he said it, which was frustrating, because that laugh indicated he thinks the whole lifestyle is silly.
At school, when everyone thought I was a lesbian, people said, “Oh, that’s that dyke girl.” At yeshiva, boys think someone is gay and they say, “He’s super gay” and not in a good way, as in “He’s a weirdo. Don’t hang out with him.”
Have you experienced many frum Jews who are tolerant?
F: No. 
When I was talking about men objectifying women, my father said, “The halacha set up a system to prevent that. You deny the system/rules, but then you get mad when you are a victim of objectification. That system is set up to protect you. You get mad when you aren’t protected.” That’s really skewed.
When I was 16, my mother said, “You should be careful how you dress. Especially given what happened to you.” That is so messed up. This is the understanding of women, promiscuous, deserving of whatever happens because they aren’t aligning themselves with the system designed to protect them. I consider that illogical, irrational and self-righteous. That’s the same tone I hear whenever I hear people talking about someone who is gay. A complete misunderstanding of the issue.
What would you like to tell the frum community?
F: I’ve always been really afraid to leave the community . When I was younger they said once someone has tasted chassidus they can never leave the lifestyle and be truly happy again without it. I believed this. I was scared that I would leave and that my life would be shallow and meaningless. We used to talk about people who had left and were unhappy. But really, I was unhappy. I wasn’t happy or confident or supported as a person. I always felt like I needed to repress myself.
But now, I really am happy and I am not fooling myself. It’s really offensive when you write off my choices as not really mine, but just an influence of my yetzer hara, as giving in, rather than actively choosing life and health. Living a frum lifestyle is a beautiful thing, and I highly respect people who live that life, but I would ask for the same respect for my own choices.
I’m happy for people who make a frum lifestyle work for them. I want all the frum people to be happy for me too. I hate how I feel silly and shallow when I say I am applying to colleges. My friends are making humans and I am going to school. I love what I am doing and I want them to see that I am happy and healthy and have made good choices for me. I want them to give me the respect that I give them.

Monday, 23 September 2013


                                This photo is not the person doing the interview.
It's true. I have ten children and I've been married for twenty-five years. I went to the most chassidish schools. I got married when I was sixteen. Growing up, we spoke Yiddish. My children and my grandchildren all speak Yiddish. Just from looking, maybe you couldn't tell that I am gay. I would be invisible, and not just because of the way I dress or because of any of those things. I would be invisible because I am not out to almost anyone. I look like all the other bubbies and mommies on my block.

It's just too scary for me. I am afraid. I have too much to lose.

I am terrified that someone might hear me talking on my phone one day, or somehow, just from looking into my eyes, know what I am thinking.

I went to a library, not one near my house, but in the city. It's not allowed to read goyishe books. I said I was going to the women's doctor. The office is right nearby. I sat all the way in the back of the library, down low, between the shelves, and I had there a little pile of books about being gay. I put my purse on top of the books, so if someone went past, they wouldn't see. In the bathroom, I changed the way I cover my hair, so no one would see me and know what kind of person I am, where I live, who my Rebbe is, and tell on me.

When I opened the first book the librarian gave me, there was a photograph of something I had never seen before.* I didn't even know how to look at the picture. I couldn't understand it. I read the words and I didn't understand those either. I felt like I was stupid. I felt like I lived in a foreign country. I began to sweat with terrible fear and I looked all around me but no one was there. No one was looking. But I thought someone was looking, so I got up and I went to the bathroom and I hid in the stall for maybe a half hour. I felt like the worst kind of pervert. I think I cried. I did cry.

When I went back to the place I had been sitting, the librarian had already put the books away. I thought that G-d was making it harder for me to do a sin. He was giving me a chance to change my mind. So I thought about it and decided that I would only take one book to look at, not a pile. But then I thought about the pictures in the book. Even the cover made my face burn.

If someone saw me there, without even reading books like that, I could have lost my kids. I could have been kicked out of my community. My mother and father would have sat shiva. They still might sit shiva. I still might be kicked out of the community. I still might lose my kids. Why am I doing this interview? It's dangerous. I should stop. But once you open your mouth, it's hard to close it again.

When we were first married, I had to go to Manhattan, to bring a document to where my husband worked, and he didn't want me to be seen by the other men there, so he came outside. There were two women there, in the doorway, touching each other, kissing, and I looked away but looked back again. I couldn't help it. My man said not to look because they are gay. I didn't know what that meant. But it made me feel funny inside myself. I wanted to do what they were doing, I wanted to be them. They looked happy. But I thought it was probably a bad thing, a goyishe thing. But still, I said to my husband,  "I think I am like those people."I didn't know anything about gay at all. It bothered my husband. He said something about looking at dogs when they are doing things, that it makes your children like dogs too. Even when he walks in the street, he doesn't look up. He doesn't look at me, or anyone else either.

I don't even know, for sure, if I am gay. I think I am, but I've never been with a woman. But I like women, I feel more comfortable with women, and I don't know so many men. My father is a good man. He is a refined man. He makes the cholent for my mother before shabbos and he bakes the challah too. He's never raised a hand to us. He wouldn't hurt anybody. But everything he does, he asks a sha'alah. He wouldn't be happy if I ever came out. He would die.

My mother is from Europe. She sits and peels vegetables and says tehillim from memory all day long. She doesn't have fancy jewelry or anything fancy at all in the house. She raised me to be like her, not to be any other way. When she lights the shabbos licht, she prays that all her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are yirei shomayim. And what would she think, if I told her I am gay? I'm not even sure my mother knows what gay is. I can't imagine explaining it to her. We don't ever talk about those kind of things. I might kill my own father and mother, chas vecholilah, if I said I am gay.

So why say anything? Why do anything at all? I am already not so young. When I was younger, a girl, I felt like I was connected to many other girls and I could talk and I could be myself with them, relaxed and...I don't know how to explain it. It wasn't such a big thing, a touch, a word.  I didn't know I wouldn't feel so friendly when I got married. I thought getting married, it's supposed to be even better. But for me, even though my husband is a good man, a holy Jew and a baal chesed, it isn't better. He says it's not right for men and women to be close. My husband doesn't use my name. He calls me "di mame" in front of the children and nothing at all in private. It's not very Jewish of me, but I sometimes think I'd like someone to love me and touch me, just because. It's so lonely.
Per request, this interview is not illustrated with people's faces.
(* The book was The Whole Lesbian Sex Book)

Sunday, 22 September 2013


Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I am 41 years old. I grew up frum (religious) and I am frum now. I am a doctor who works mostly with patients from the frum community. I’ve been in practice for over 19 years. I grew up all over the United States, and I didn’t move to New York until I turned 13 years old, and that was my first exposure to East Coast frumkeit (religion). 
What’s your family background as far as yiddishkeit goes?
 My mum’s family is yeshivish, and she grew up in the Bais Yaakov system and my father’s side is part modern orthodox and part chareidi. They are all Hungarian.  We went to Hebrew Day Schools and then, in Monsey, I spent two years in a Bais Yaakov type school. They made me gay They did! 
It was a very big culture shock to come from out of town and then come to those New York views on Judaism. Outside New York, you don’t have the luxury of judging other Jews based on their observance. In Monsey, I got suspended from school for not blindly following rules. I got picked to be the class treasurer, and we worked hard to earn money for a hard-cover yearbook. The school tried to steal our money and give it to the boys for their yearbook. I refused to give it because I was the treasurer and I got sent across the street to the boys building to face the rabbi, the death sentence of our school. When I made eye contact with him, the Rabbi called me chutzpah’dik (disrespectful) and then forced me to give back the money by suspending me from school and appointing a new treasurer.
I also got suspended another time for reading a romance book. They told me at that time that I was the reason three Gedolei Hador died!
I didn’t take it seriously, though it spurred on my independence and my lack of respect for adults. I began calling myself an agnostic. I knew that people had a desperate need to follow rules even if the rules were hurting other people, and I also knew that people in authority could take advantage of people’s weaknesses and victimise people with almost no shame. I decided I did  not want to be a victim but neither did I want to be a perpetrator.
Tell me about coming out to your frum family?
I come from a family of people who don’t talk about things much, so I can’t say what my mother said when I first told her. I am sure she said all of the things that she thought were the right things to say, but her face looked brittle and fragile. I can also say that for years after I came out, no one in my family except for my nephew, ever said the word gay out loud. 
My nephew says that he is down with the gays. I think my nephew helped my family get used to the word. I remember once I came to visit and I saw some kind of book, maybe it was gay poetry on my bed, and when I asked who put it there, my nephew said he found it at a garage sale and thought I would want it. I know my Mom heard that. I know that he softened things in his family because he was so accepting and it was so normal for him and he was so loving about it. He loves throwing around the word “gay”…he just texted me and asked me why a particular store in New York is overrun by lesbians and why we gays always get the good things.
Fast forward to now: My mom has gotten to the point where she came to my partner's home for yontiff to meet the family. We took a walk and I asked her how she felt seeing the evidence of how much my partner and I loved each other. She stopped dead in her tracks, burst into tears, hugged me, and said “How do you think I feel? I am so happy for you. Happy that you found someone who you love so much and who loves you so much.” Now, my partner calls my mom on the phone, and calls her shvigger, and my Mom sometimes text messages my partner random thoughts and observations. She wishes her good yontiff.
Once, my crazy partner decided she wanted to know how my mom feels about me being gay, since my mom never actually told me. So she called my mother! My mother said “That’s putting someone on the spot. I’d like to call you back after thinking about it!” I’m pretty sure I know the tone she used, the scared, possibly annoyed tone.
When my partner told me she did this, I was convinced my mother would never call her back because avoidance is an Olympic sport in my family. We’re kind of dodgy. However, my mom called her back and answered her question and said, “I want her to be happy. I will love her no matter what.” I know what tone of voice she used for that too. It’s her teary one.
What made you think you are gay?
I didn’t wait until I thought I was gay. I waited until I knew. I was in love with one of my best friends in high school but I didn’t know what it meant. My friends and I used to go to the Village on Sundays and hang out, and once, we saw two gay men holding hands and then kissing each other. It was the first time I ever saw something like that. I didn’t think that had anything to do with me at all. 
I didn’t know anything about sexuality in 9th grade. I had no idea what anything meant. Anything sexual I saw, I thought it was for non-Jews and eventually I would learn what Jews did, maybe in Kallah classes. So maybe that’s why we were taken aback when we saw the men, because it was sexual and personal and strange. But it didn’t have anything to do with me at all. I was full of silly little girl shock and giggling and curiosity.
My question of whether I was gay or not popped up repeatedly through 9th grade all the way through college. Once in a while, I would ask my therapist if she thought I was gay, and she would say, "What do you think?" and I wouldn’t be able to answer the question. I didn’t know anyone gay and as soon as the question was turned on me, I put the question away on a shelf. It usually popped up around an attraction. I never acknowledged the word “attraction”…it was more like an intense relationship with a woman that felt strange to me, even given how close girls were in the frum community.
What was it like falling in love with your friend in 9th grade?
I didn’t know I was in love. It was horrible! I wish I knew I was in love. For all of the women I was in love with when I was younger, if I had known what was going on, my life would have been so much easier, but also soooo much harder. It was adolescent and post adolescent torture not to know what was happening to me. I wanted to be around that girl all the time, think about her all the time, want to know everything about her, everything that ever happened to her, it was all consuming and I was a teenager, and I wanted that feeling to be returned. We are still good friends now, and we are both still intense people. For a while she returned my feelings, but perhaps not to the same intensity.
                                  We did NOT practice kissing. We didn't. Why would you think that...
I remember when she fell in love with someone else, when we were in college already. I was devastated. I think maybe that’s when I knew I had been in love with her. I watched her fall in love with someone else and I knew that’s exactly how I felt towards her. It was a really horrible feeling, especially to have no words for any of this. It never occurred to me that I was really gay and that that was an option for a frum girl. If I had had those words there could have been freedom in that.
                                                But what about all the girrrrrls?
What’s it like, being in a relationship with a frum gay Jew now?
A gift. I had given up hope of finding someone frum and I’d almost given up hope of finding someone Jewish and I never thought I’d find someone who matches me so perfectly, frumkeit wise. If I’d made a list of what I needed yiddishkeitwise, that would be what I get in this relationship.
                                Hi honey! I'm home!
Why did you think you wouldn’t be able to find a frum partner?
I shidduch dated men for over twenty years, until I came out to myself. I could have married two of them, one proposed and one was ready to, if I would have let it happen. He was a really nice guy and I kept wishing that I could like him like that, because he was soooo nice, but no matter what, I just couldn’t do it. 
It was after my first date with a woman that I understood all my years of dating men. I never understood what attraction was so I never understood what lack of attraction was. I never understood chemistry. I never realized the level of anxiety I was feeling on dates was past what was normal. Even on my worst date with a woman, I never felt that anxiety.
I didn’t think I’d be able to find a frum partner, because I guess, after being out for a couple of years, and going on retreats and being on dating websites and believing that I was seeing whatever was out there, I didn’t think it was possible. I knew that there was a handful of frum gay people who were out, but not more than that. Many were already taken and many I’d dated. Others weren’t my type.
How did you meet your partner in the end?
I’m so smart. I met her at the first ever Eshel retreat, almost four years ago. I saw her speak and I was a wreck. I was new to coming out, and it was my first time being around any frum gay people and whatever she said that night made sense in my head.  Year later, at another Eshel retreat, she spoke again, and I felt like she was the one for me, but I was too intimidated by her. I didn’t think she dated my type (femme). So we became "just friends", until I began to artfully pursue her, and then I won her heart.
What’s good about being a frum gay Jew?
I’ve matured and stretched more than anything else in my life has matured and stretched me. I’ve been forced to see the grey areas in people and the world, in my relationship with people I love, with my religion and with my Higher Power. I am wayyyyyy more open minded. I used to have a stick up my behind that is now half-way removed.
What’s not so great about it?
All the losses.
I lost my community of choice. I lost my best friends. I lost a place that was the only place that ever felt like home to me. I lost black and white thinking. Maybe that’s not so bad though.
I like the mainstream and I don’t see why I can’t live in it. But somehow I’ve been forced out of the mainstream and into the fringes and I have a resentment about that. I don’t consider myself out of the mainstream. I consider myself pretty normal.
What do you see as the biggest issue for gay kids growing up in the frum community?
I’m not sure if this is exclusive for gay kids. I think it’s true for all kids in the frum community. They grow up without a sense of healthy sexual self. Whether you are heterosexual or homosexual, wherever you are in the spectrum, if there’s no healthy outlet within the confines of the frum community to explore who we are sexually as children, and there’s no language given for it, then there are a lot of unhealthy consequences. I see a lot of patients who are sex addicts or who have sexual dysfunction, low self esteem, dysfunctional marriages, all kinds of unhealthy stuff. It goes on. 
This is how you catch the baby when the stork drops it.
I talk about sexuality all day in my practice. Sexuality has a huge impact on people's lives. Everyone’s lives. It only becomes especially frum people because frum people struggle with the difference between secrecy and privacy. Or tnius and secrecy. But with secrecy comes shame. Shame breeds all kinds of mental health issues.
Was/is it hard for you to come out in the frum community and why?
In one way no and in some ways yes.
As soon as I really knew I was gay, I knew I had to come out to everyone who was close to me, because I am not a duplicitous person by nature. I can’t live a dual life. So I knew I HAD to come out and it was immediate. I had no choice and it wasn’t that difficult of a decision, and I have a lot of people in my life who are really loving and supportive irregardless of where they are on the spectrum of religiosity. The parts that are more difficult  have been work related, and related to how some of my closest friends who are more chareidi are responding to my relationship with my partner.
                                What did you say? You're going GRAY???
It’s almost made me afraid of coming out. It’s made any time I am coming out to someone a more scary process now than it used to be, because I have suffered significant losses. Now I am scared, because I know what I can lose.
Even though I am out and some of my patients know I am gay, the sh*t has not hit the fan yet. I think once it does, my practice is going to be significantly affected. I think I will lose patients and referral sources. I don’t worry too much about it, because I think that being out is the right thing to do. I believe that G-d will take care of me. When I am in a good head space, that’s what I believe. Not when I am in a roaring panic head space.
Can you talk about some of the losses you have experienced?
I am going to cry if I talk about this.
I had the kind of childhood and life that never felt like I had a home until four years ago, where I was living in a yeshivish community surrounded by friends of twenty years. It was like a womb. Even though hashkofically I was to the left, everyone was very warm and loving and accepting and I had hundred of meals to go to, invitations all the time. The most important people were my best friends and their kids, who I was like an aunt to. And every day was the same and it was good. It was my first real home ever. Every shabbos morning, walking to my best friend's house for coffee before lunch, I would pause for a minute and thank H-shem for where I lived. And all of that’s gone now.
My best friend got a psak from her Rov that I am no longer allowed to have contact with her children as soon as I move to live with my partner and we haven’t talked since that psak. Her choice, not mine. I don’t know how to ever talk to her after that. A couple of my other close friends got similar piskei halacha about never being able to meet my partner. So, it was like four years of being surrounded and told about this loving accepting G-d and seeing all of this work that they were willing to do on themselves and all of the mussar that they listened to, but in the end, they only meant that their version of a loving and accepting G-d was only for people who aren’t gay. That’s what it feels like. Even if that’s black and white thinking, that’s where I am at right now. And I know that this has nothing to do with H-shem, but I do feel like most of the reason I ever wanted to be frum was the sense of community. The best and only good part of being frum, for me, was community, and now my community just booted me out. I’m not sure what’s going to keep me frum now, as I walk right into Yom Kippur.
Did you or your partner do something that might have been construed as unpleasant by the frum community where you lived?
No way. My partner is more frum than me. I think she is intrinsically more respectful. She angers less easily than me. She’s naturally tznius, inside and outside, while I have always struggled with tznius, even before I came out. 
That can’t be what pushed them over the edge. I think our relationship becoming serious was what pushed them over the edge. That’s what was considered “unpleasant.”
The frum community knew that we were very close. They knew we wanted some form of commitment. They never saw untznius behaviour from us. They never heard untznius words. We both grew up in strictly frum communities. We don’t act differently than any other frum couple in the street. We relate modestly to each other and we are as tznius as we were raised to be. That’s natural for us.
So, you weren’t rejected by your friends until you were in a relationship that began to mimic, in some ways, a straight marriage. Why do you think that is triggering for the frum community?
When I was on the phone with my best friend before Shabbos, I would be cleaning the house, or washing the dishes or peeling or cooking and at first, she laughed, because I'd never done those things before. Now I began to look like a frum mother. 
                                    Just kidding. 
My friends began to learn about my relationship and the home I was moving into, a busy frum home, with normal frum expectations and work levels. Before yontiff, I was doing the same thing my friends were doing. I think that was scary for my friends because they want to think about the gay part of me as being “other” but, instead, the gay part of me integrates me into the frum community more strongly. That makes being gay both real and very very scary, because I am more like them as a result of being in a relationship.
But for them, it’s all about the aveirah (sin). How I am dealing with the aveirah part. They just can’t reconcile the part that I am doing all these mitzvos, all of these beautiful things that I couldn’t before, making shabbos, having a lot of guests, lighting candles with my partner, going to shul, davening (praying), all of these things as part of this relationship which is, they think, an aveirah. They would rather reject the whole thing.  I barely understand this myself.
So, ironically, when you are finally able, after all these years, to have a Jewish family and to live a full Jewish life like your friends, you are rejected by the Jewish community. How insane is that!
You know what’s insane? How black and white people think about kefirah…because, in my relationship with H-shem, I am not flaunting the fact that I am doing an aveirah. I am not proud that I am defying His will in this area. 
I am proud that I doing the best that I can to be healthy with what I have, for my life, for the me that G-d made. And I believe that He knows that. I think that people think that making shabbos with my partner means I am a kofer (heretic), and then they kick me out of the community, when ALL I WANT is to be part of the frum community. Why would a kofer want, so badly, to be part of a chareidi community? I'm not hurting anyone else. They have a childlike view of these concepts. They haven’t been forced by life to see the grey.
                                Did you say GRAY again? 
Can you explain what you mean by “forced out of the Jewish community”?
I am most comfortable in a chariedi community. That’s where I grew up, and feel most comfortable. But there’s no way that any Yeshivish community will ever accept me and I am not comfortable in the modern orthodox community. Most, even many modern Orthodox communities wouldn’t accept me, but I am not comfortable in them anyway. Right now, I stay in a chariedi community where, when I wish people good shabbos in shul, they straight out ignore me and snub me. Where I do not have a shabbos table or an invitation to eat with my partner. But I’m not leaving.
I’m stubborn. This is the only place I feel comfortable. Because I believe in the good of people and it has to get better than this. I believe that people want to do good. They want to do right. And maybe, if I hold on and do the right thing for myself, it’s going to get better not just for me but for everyone. Or maybe they will wear me down. I don’t know.
If you could ask the frum community for one thing, what would it be?
For me, being selfish, since I want acceptance in the chariedi world, (I know it is beyond idealistic!) it’s not enough to ask for compassion. No one in the chareidi world does anything without a psak, without a Rov telling them that halachically, they have to do it, or at least how to do it. What I would want…well, I don’t know if we have a Gadol who is large enough, a real Gadol Hador, …but I would want a few chareidi Gedolim, or as Gadol as you get these days, to start dealing with the reality of frum gay Jews, and start looking at the piskei halacha with more of an inclusive, loving attitude.