Being Young, Gay, and Jewish

Jewish club in London throws Butt Mitzvah parties – to try and help boys find nice Jewish husbands.

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Growing up queer isn’t easy. As a child or an adolescent, the sense of isolation can feel all consuming, and unlike most marginalized identities, it can be difficult to turn to a family member for support: Being queer doesn’t run in the family. Add all this to a religion with scripture that labels same-sex relationships “detestable,” and you’ll see why the early years can be hard for young, gay Jews.

Granted, it’s not like all British Jews grow up particularly well-versed in the Torah, or the endless other commentaries that make up Jewish teaching. But open your Bible to Leviticus, and there’s a pretty strong signal there in front of you: “If a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed a detestable act: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

This may no longer be the way that our community deals with gay relationships, and even in biblical times the death penalty was rarely dished out for same-sex sexual acts (according to Jewish Oral Law, there would have to be two witnesses to anal penetration, and the witnesses would have to warn the guys multiple times that they were breaking the rules, and then the guys would have to keep on fucking anyway)—but the reality is that those words are still there: God says being gay is bad.

Therefore, for young gays like me who grew up Jewish in traditional communities, it’s easy to end up compartmentalizing each aspect of yourself. There’s little to no crossover between the gay and the Jew.

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