An Aspiring Singer’s Coming Out Story

When she first posted her song on Israeli music and art website “First Stage,” she recieved comments like ‘you’re a disgusting lesbian,’ Now, at 27, aspiring Israeli singer Noy Roitenberg is recording her debut album, and is ready more than ever to come out.

I came out of the closet at the age of 16, but there’s an introduction to the story. My story probably begins at the age of four and a half. I was the first girl in preschool who had glasses. It wasn’t fashionable at the time, and it was then when I discovered the power of words and the fear of being different. When I went to first grade I was completely a tomboy. I had only boy friends, I played soccer, I went to karate class. All I cared about was running in the sand and counting the black and blue marks on my legs. I always felt different, not connected, not belonging.

At 13 I started to write. I didn’t know I could write, I just felt that I had so much to say and had no one to tell it to. Even when there was someone to talk to, I didn’t always have the courage, nor did I know what I wanted to say. I finally found a place that was only mine, where I felt comfortable. A few months later the idea was brewing in me – I should musically compose what I wrote. I borrowed a guitar from a classmate and I played for hours by myself in front of the computer, cursing the screen when I failed to play a certain chord or strumming with enthusiasm when I succeeded in playing a new song.

I remember the excitement from the first song I composed. I immediately recorded it, and then added vocals and built a production. I felt like I had meaning, that I could make music. When I came out, the music gained momentum. Shortly before the age of 16, I first fell in love with a girl. I still remember the way to her home, the pastoral path in the middle of the city, how my body was burning with anticipation. Love was big but short and the pain was endless. My head was blown out of thoughts – what’s up with me? Why do I have to do the opposite? Why can’t I be normal like everyone else? At first I tried to deny it. I thought it was a one-timer. I was sure I’d “go straight”.

After a few months I met someone new. It was then I that I realized I was probably, well, that word —lesbian. This word scared me and as much as I was scared, the music gave me strength. I refused to hide like I used to hide: what I felt, what I thought, what I wanted. This time I went through with my feelings.

The night I told my parents I remember very well. It was a Friday night, I was texting with my then girlfriend. I told her I was going to tell them we were together. I was not yet ready to say aloud the word “lesbian”, and the situation went more or less like this: I walked into the living room with head held high and with a trembling voice, like in a movie, I said: “Mom, Dad, Michal (not her real name) and I are together.”
It was quiet for a few seconds. Dad looked at me, Mom looked at me. I was left to stand and thought to myself: What? Nothing? No anger? No crying? Mom threw at me, “Great, she’s a cute girl.”Dad went back to watching TV. In the following months, it was very hard for me. I was the one who didn’t accept myself while my friends and family welcomed me with open arms.

Music was my refuge and helped me to contain the turbulence inside. I wrote endlessly, recorded songs on a daily basis, posted them on “New Stage”. There I received severe criticism from my high school friends, all anonymously. They wrote that my songs were terrible and that I was a disgusting lesbian, more or less.

Nothing stopped me. I started going to IGY (Gay Youth organization) in Haifa’s suburbs, which became a home. I continued to do national service in the gay center in Meir Park in Tel Aviv. I had the privilege to perform in the gay pride parade in Jerusalem in 2010, unfortunately not in good circumstances, but I wrote a song after the murder in Bar Noar and in memory of Nir Katz. I performed it there. All these experiences strengthened me and made me the woman I am. Nearly 27 I finally recorded my first album and putting it out there in the world, and with it I myself, I came out, stronger and more ready than ever, not afraid to be heard, not afraid to fall, not afraid to succeed. I’m ready to deal with what the world brings to me and what I have to give to the world.