Hello Tz. Thank you for allowing yourself to be interviewed by Frum Gay Girl. Could you introduce yourself to us a little bit?
Tz: I was married for over 20 years. It was an okay marriage, not especially good or especially bad. We got divorced because my ex-husband was having an affair with another woman. I don't really blame him. I was an emese eishes chayil (true wife of valour), but I'm not as attractive as the woman he took up with. We are both chassidic, and I didn't think we'd ever get divorced, but then again, I didn't think I'd ever be gay either, so there were surprises on both sides.
We have a big family, and we do our best co-parenting the kids, but he's mostly gone on to the next family and has less time for his children now. He doesn't care as much. I work. I used to be a stay-at-home mother, and maybe that's what sort of made me notice that things weren't...as usual... with me.
When we got divorced, I had to go back to school to learn how to be a speech pathologist, and there were a lot of other frum women in the same school, all learning how to be pathologists, or occupational therapists, or physical therapists, and some of us were very close friends, and I realized that I liked my best friend from school far better than I had ever liked my husband.
And there's a name for that. And because I was more out in the world, learning new things, I also learned about that. Gay is what I mean.
I wasn't as scared as I might have been, because I am from a different country, and my parents live far away, and I didn't have a husband to check up on me all the time. I was already a little bit outside the regular community. But it was still scary. You better believe that! It's not like gay is the best thing since sliced bread in the frum community. It's not!
How did you meet your current partner?
Tz: At school, like I said. Once, I was visiting her, and we were lying on her couch together, just talking and laughing, and somehow, she grabbed my arm and I knew, really knew, that it wasn't just a casual gesture. It meant something. And I didn't know what to do. I just stared at my arm and then stared at her and she smiled and I smiled back, but nervously, and then she pulled on my arm a little bit. I felt tingles all up and down my arm and I had a hard time breathing.
I jumped up and went to the door, and she called out to me not to leave but I did. I was afraid what might happen if I stayed because I liked her so much, and there it was looking like she liked me too, in the same way. It was terrifying, really. You know, you can tell yourself a thousand times you aren't really gay, but then, in that kind of situation, it feels like there are big posters all over the streets going home that say "GAY!" Even when you have no real idea of what that means. Holding hands?
When my boys came home for Pesach, I decided to talk with them about myself and to ask them what they thought. That was probably a very bad idea, but it turned out that they felt sorry for me or something. "You should have friends, Mummy," they said. I don't think they really understood what I was asking them. I told them I was making Pesach with another woman, so that it would be easier on both of us, and they thought it was a bit strange, but also a good idea.
The only difficulty was that they were very shy in front of her, not being used to other unrelated women.
Are you out to your children now?
Tz: No. After that time, we didn't make Pesach together or anything like that. It's too risky. I suppose I was silly, in the first flush or something, and took risks I wouldn't take now. And I didn't tell my children anything more. They are getting closer to the age when I need to make shidduchim for them, and I don't want to mess that up in any way.
If people in the community knew or even suspected that I am gay, that I have a partner in this community, well, it would be very hard. They might hang up posters telling us to leave. They might not serve us in the shops. I wouldn't care for myself, but I would care for my sons, because they didn't do anything wrong and they deserve the best shidduchim. They're good bochurim (boys).
Are you out to your ex-husband?
Tz: I didn't want to tell him. I thought he might be able to take my kids away or something, but he guessed. He's been very nice about it, though. He understands that I'm not a radical, I'm not going to run off and get married to her or anything. To him, it's just an extra close friendship.
In some ways, I think he prefers it to me getting re-married. I don't think every man would be like that, but he is, maybe because he knows what it's like to get caught up in a desire most people wouldn't approve of. And even though I was hurt when I found out about the other woman, I still treated him properly, and kindly, and that makes a difference. It comes back to you, I suppose.
What do you wish your life could look like with your partner?
Tz: I don't want to talk about that. Oh. Maybe, if we could live in a little house somewhere together and make shabbos together and the boys... I don't want to think about it because it isn't going to happen.
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