Sunday, May 18, 2008

"R.Hillel used to say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I care only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?" Pirkei Avot 1:14

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with Rabbi Steven Greenberg. He wanted me to respond to some questions. I promised that I would reply within a week or two. Instead of responding privately, I have decided to make my response an open letter.

Rabbi Greenberg asked, "knowing what you know now, and having lived through this difficult time, what facilities could have been in place that could have made a difference?"

For us, there was nothing in place to assist us. We had no one to turn to and no one who could help us navigate these uncharted waters. Our rabbi was able to briefly console us, but we have not heard from him since our initial meeting. When I set up this blog, I notified him that I was doing so and I told him to call me for the address. I am still waiting for his call, even though there are young men and women in the community who have recently come out. I had a heart-wrenching and tearful conversation with Rabbi Steve Greenberg. He was a great help, but all he could offer was his words. We went to PFLAG meetings. They have been helpful as we could see and hear how their lives became normalized within time. We visited a psychiatrist. She is helpful in dealing with coping mechanisms. But that's about it.

In spite of all of our efforts, we still came up short and in need of help. Some days we feel we are in a bad dream, and not a single day goes by when something triggers a thought that brings on a tear.

That is why I thought it important to start this blog to try to bring other parents into the open to discuss, share and understand that they/we are not alone. Our struggles are similar, our fears are similar, our shattered dreams are similar, our guilt is similar, our questions are similar, our questioning is similar.

It has been a frustrating journey writing this blog. There has not been a large response and there are days when I think that it should be shut down. I don't have to be opening up every emotion I feel to the world, to my children and to my son in particular. They don't have to know how I feel.

A few weeks before Pesach I received a few private emails through the blog. One was from a young man who was married and is struggling, another was from a young man who has not told anyone yet and does not know what to do, and another was from a thirtysomething man who asked me for help because it was about time that he told his parents about himself.

So I will keep this blog going a little while longer because there is nothing else in place for us.

What could have made a difference? A place, a forum where we could ask the questions and receive fair and honest answers. Where we could deal with the emotional aspect of our children coming out, as parents and from the point of view of the children. Where we could get answers to our halakhic questions without feeling shunned or embarrassed. Where we could just have someone to talk to.

My vision would be to have an organization that would have on staff a rabbi, a psycho-therapist and a parent. This particular staff should be straight because they are talking to straight people, but with a deep understanding of gay men and women. These people should be on call to answer the urgent questions which we have and give us the strength to start breathing again.

I hope this answers your question Rabbi Greenberg.

Saul David


Anonymous said...

This blog means a lot to several people I know - myself included - who aren't parents of frum LGBT people but in fact *are* frum LGBT people. Personally, I read it because it warms my heart and gives me hope to know that there are families who don't reject their children, who grapple with halacha and tradition and love - And who find ways to support their children being happy and healthy. Though my own parents are supportive of me, many of my LGBT peers in the Jewish community have lost many friends and much family because of who they are. This blog gives me hope because it reminds me that maybe even the Jewish world is changing, slowly but surely, to become a more inclusive place. Please keep this blog going - I know there are parents who read it who are too scared or overwhelmed to respond but still get a lot out of it. This is an important resource.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog! Please do not go away. I am a bisexual woman who is in the process of converting to Judaism. I am not, nor do I expect will I ever be, frum, but your experiences and outlook are of great interest to me, as a member of the LGBT community and as a soon-to-be Jew.

I have more thoughts on this post which I will comment or email you about soon.

For now, have you seen this?

A Note from Rabbi Creditor Celebrating Equal Marriage in California!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I came upon your blog by chance, I was googling Hillel's "If Ein Ani Li, Mi Li?" and the first or second option was your blog. But are there coincidences? I am a young Jewish man from Mexico City, I am also gay, and though my family is not orthodox, the weight and pull of tradition was hard to overcome. For many years I became ostracized from family and community, and it was very hard for us all. At the same time it was part of a miracle, the fact that once out of the closet there was nothing more to hide evidenced much of what each one of us had kept silent through the years. It was a lot of work to learn to listen to one another, to recognize each other as individuals, human beings, without the unfulfilled expectations we all had of the others. I am proud to say that nowadays we have all learned to accept the limits of our dispositions, to tolerate the differences in our believes and life perspectives, and that we are now closer than ever before.
Thank you for opening your blog, no matter how many people read it, if only one can know through here that all the difficulties for coming out are temporary, and that sooner or later the love of family transcends every prejudice, it will have been worth it all the way.

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