Six brave gay orthodox Jewish men agreed to be exposed and share their stories in order to demonstrate young gay Jews that they are not alone. A Wider Bridge brings you the confessions in a six-part article.
Part 1/6 Daniel Jonas, Executive Director of Havruta, an organization for gay religious Jews:
I realized that I was different at the age of 10, when the kids at school started calling me ‘a homo’ . It became clearer in high school, at the age of 14-15, where I had a very difficult time. I felt lonely, I felt like I had no one to talk to. I was angry with God, I didn’t understand why he did this to me. I even tried to commit suicide.
Funny, but this only brought me closer to God. He was the only one I could talk to , because I was not afraid of his reaction – he just was not responding. Over the years, I’ve had all sorts of experiences and experiments with boys, but it never bothered me. This was a parallel life that no one knew about, during which I continued going out with girls.
Only at the age of 26, I stopped hoping that if I found the right woman, all the nonsense that ran through my head would go away and as o f then I accepted who I really was. I broke up with my last girlfriend the day after I met my first boyfriend.
My sense of conflict was never religious, but only cultural and social. I had no role model – the only visibility of the community in the media was Dana International, and with all due respect, it was not something a religious boy in my situation could relate to.
[Seeing the conflict as cultural and social] is what enabled me then and even today allows me to remain religious. I don’t see the clash [between being gay and religious]. The first time I felt a sort of religious conflict was after I came out of the closet, when my relationship became public. But all in all I’m lucky. I was lucky to grow up in a very free family environment, even though it was a Jerusalem-Orthodox one. It even startled me how easy it was. My dad is to this day a very familiar figure in the community, and I was afraid that it would give him a bad reputation, but it never really was like that. On the contrary, because of my presence in the media, my parents have now begun to address other parents in the community.
The six stories:
- Daniel Jonas: “Coming out only brought me closer to G-d”
- Yakkov Story: Staying in the closet
- Elior: “My Parents Are Not Ready to See Or Hear About My Partner”
- Harel: “I Couldn’t Stand Opinions on ‘Those Perverts'”
- Uria: “I Left No Room for Doubt”
- Dan: “The Strength to Come Out Came From My Rabbis”