You know, you hear these crazy stories about Ultra-Orthodox Jews spraying people with bleach or acid for not wearing stockings, and - you know - being gay in the frum community might be considered a tad bit more outrageous than that? And yes, gentle readers, I DO live in a chassidish community and that WAS the shul I planned on attending. Ultra, with a capital YOU. So, who knew? Flame throwers? Concrete shoes? Drawn and quartered? All of the above?
I'm making light of this occasion, but it was anything but. For over an hour, I sat at home, sweating, thinking I wouldn't actually show up. That this year (and probably every year afterwards) I would daven at home. Because, after a lifetime of avoiding the public gaze, I was not ready to run the gauntlet at my shul. I didn't want people to stare at me. I didn't want them to talk.
But it was Rosh Hashana! And I am a frum Jew! And I love the Rosh Hashana davening, and I love the leining and the shofar blozen, and I particularly love the slow, tired moments in the late afternoon, when all the yiden are a bit played from standing on their feet, and yet they are all still there, asking H-shem for a good, sweet year.
And ultimately, I wasn't going to please those other Jews. I wasn't even going to please myself. I was going to please my Tate in Himmel, my G-d. So I went.
And you know what happened? A big fat load of nothing. Yes, there were Jews who even on Rosh Hashana felt it was important to give me the cold shoulder, ignore me or stare pointedly at me and then shudder.
But at least half of the chassidic shul wished me a good sweet year. At least half of the shul smiled and asked me how things were going for me. The Rabbi and the Rebbetzin came up to me and blessed me with a gmar tov.
And I walked home, still sweating, still riding my waves of fear, but also fanning myself with some of those kind words. Some of that acceptance.
Yiden, that's what I've discovered. Maybe half the shul won't talk to you anymore after you come out. Maybe they didn't talk to you before you came out either! But the other half will. There's a lot of accepting people out there. You just have to find them, even in the most Ultra of Ultra-Orthodox communities.
May all of you have a good and sweet year and a gmar tov.