‘I’m haredi, lesbian, and live with a woman’

She was born and educated in a haredi community, and felt she was different ever since she was young. After refusing an arranged marriage, ‘Raheli’ decided to come out and tell her parents about her orientation. Today she lives with a woman and even plans to marry her.

About seven years ago I began anonymously publishing stories on an online forum for gay writers.

The combination of the site’s obscurity and its blessed anonymity created a safe space in the complicated reality of life in the closet. Together we coped with dilemmas and hardships, and the feeling of solidarity made us feel less alone.

After a few months we decided to leave the walls of the internet and scheduled a meeting in public. The meeting itself was not particularly exciting and I have forgotten it. Most of the forum members did not surprise me or change what I thought about them, until she arrived. She apologized for being late and introduced herself humorously straight away.

She explained that the long skirt was not a courageous fashion statement in the middle of summer. That is, she was a lesbian and haredi.

I wanted to ask her a million questions, but I didn’t know exactly where to start, so I just listened from the sidelines. I read her stories again after the meeting. They dealt with her inability to consummate her love for a woman. She didn’t write what was preventing her from living as she wanted, but it was obvious that there was a powerful force preventing her from and her beloved from being together.

Over the years, the meetings petered out and we lost touch, but this week I ran into her online again. I saw how she defended the community against haredi commenters and stuck up for Judaism against belligerent secular people.
I got in touch with her and this time, I gathered my course and wasn’t too shy to ask questions.

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