Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Enquiring Minds Want to Know"

NoPeanutz said...

"Enquiring minds want to know"

...Surely you cannot deny that an openly gay and shomer mitzvot homosexual is a curiosity in the Orthodox community. Especially in the case of someone you know personally.

Because these people (frum gays) are so hidden secretive and locked away, and also because of the possibilities that their lifestyle presents (rethinking of halachic norms?) I do not fault those mentioned in this post who express curiosity or fascination at your son's lifestyle.

Is there a pink elephant? Undoubtedly. Are people fascinated with it? Yes, but only because they have never seen a pink elephant before. And Mr. and Mrs. David are Pink Elephants even more so than their gay son- most adults might know someone who is gay. But how many of them know someone who is gay and shomer shabbat/kashrut (SS/K) and then know their parents and close family as well, that have sworn to support him and accept his very controversial lifestyle?

Most SSKs I know were brought up being taught that being gay is a terrible sin, taught that parents must sit shiva for a gay child, and mourn that child as dead. Troubling (and harmful?) ideas indeed. The Davids' acceptance of their son as gay is a relief for other SSKs as much as it is for the son...that if an SSK thinks that a gay person deserves better than our society teaches, this is not something to feel guilty about.

Do not confuse curiosity and fascination with disapproval.

If these people are friends, then they are probably studying how you are dealing with the issue, in order to calibrate their own confused emotions.

Like it or not, Mr. David, you are thrust in to the role of the professional, someone with more experience and knowledge about dealing with SSK homosexuals in your family than anyone else in your community- from whom everyone else takes their cues. It sounds like what you mistake for judging glares could just be "enquiring minds," not about your sons lifestyle, but about what is an appropriate way to approach him and his family since he has come to grips with his sexuality. Just because somebody screwed up and told the world about your son being gay, it does not mean that everyone she told is as malicious. Also, because this one person abused the privileged information trusted to her, it is fine if you feel betrayed...but it would be wrong to hold it against everyone else for knowing.

Dear nopeanuts,

Allow me to respond to the comment which you posted on July 22nd. You have raised some excellent points.

I do not deny that an ssk homosexual is a curiosity within the Orthodox community. How the individuals within the community respond to this information is the issue. Please remember that my perspective is only as a parent of an ssk homosexual.

The individuals who I find to be troubling are not those who express curiousity or fascination at my son's lifestyle. I am troubled by those who look at my son, not as a person who has chosen to continue to be a shomer mitzvot in spite of the fact that he is gay, but as someone who is not quite as frum as the rest of us specifically because he is gay. I have not yet come across people who are curious or fascinated with my son's lifestyle. At this point in the journey we are viewed as untouchables. They just don't know what to do with themselves.

You may be giving these people more credit than they deserve. They don't know that our son's "parents and family have sworn to support him and accept his very contoversial lifestyle" because they have not been able to muster the courage to approach us and ask. Perhaps they think that we are in a mourning mode. Who knows?

But on the other hand, you may be right. I can only report what I see and how I feel. Perhaps those glares from the other side of the fence are from people who just don't know the appropriate way to respond to this very unique situation.

Your reading of my emotions are almost correct. I do feel betrayed, but I do not hold it against everyone else for knowing now that they know. My fear has always been about those who do not wish my family well. This situation gives those people the perfect opportunity.

But on the other hand, once we get beyond the curiosity and the fascination and even the disapproval, it is up to us to show that it is indeed possible and right to be shomer mitzvot whether straight or gay.

Thank you for your straightforward comments.

Saul David

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