Six brave gay orthodox Jewish men agreed to come out publicly 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 5/6: Uria Ben-Brit, 27, Orthodox Jew from Jerusalem:
As a child I knew I was different. You could say I was different before I was a child. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly how I was different or why this was so, but I remember that this understanding permeated in me at a very early age. I was fine with it because I realized that this was who I was and that was what made me special. It took me a while to link the general feeling of being different with my being gay.
During one of the breaks in the religious school where I studied, I was exposed to the term ‘homosexuality’ while reading in the encyclopedia and immediately I felt that the concept rang a bell. At about the sixth grade, I figured out the connection between the term ‘gay’ and me.
In middle school it was the first time they separated the boys and the girls, as we entered puberty. While my friends were starting to be interested in girls, I started to be interested more and more in boys, and became frightened to find out how different I was. It seemed like I was the only one interested in boys. So that people wouldn’t “suspect” me, I hid my musical taste if I thought it was “too gay”, I didn’t say things that could be considered “feminine”, I tried to move my body in a more restrained way and so on. I even asked a girl I didn’t know to be my girlfriend, because that was what all the boys were doing, even though I just wanted to get to know her as a friend and nothing more. I reached the point where I lied about my interests and faked an interest in sport. I took the stereotypes and treated them as an oracle or the Torah from Heaven – that I must abide by in order to not be socially isolated, or as if something terrible and unclear would happen to me.
Comparing myself to the other boys and a desperate need to be seen as “regular,” just like all the other boys, was what led me to the fear, the hiding and the lies.
The conflict with religion came up when I started high school yeshiva. I went deeper into religion, and started thinking – wait a minute, how am I supposed to live as who I am in the religious world? Though at any stage I was not thinking of giving upany of my identities, I knew I had to incorporate between the two, thinking that God didn’t create me gay with no reason – there’s a reason for that, and G-d wants what’s best for me.
Over the years, I realized that there is no conflict at all. I realized that I was equal in front of God just as everyone else, and that there’s no prohibition on being gay in the torah, only on the act itself – and that halachic debate is less is interesting to me.
From there the way was paved for my self acceptance and coming out, first to friends and then to the family. It was difficult at first – my mother did not speak and only cried a lot, dad asked a lot of questions. But I was preparing for it, I gave them time and space, I talked to them. They read rabbis’ articles, went to a support group of Tehila (an association for parents of LGBT people) and realized they were not alone. In the end they come to terms with it, but it certainly was because I was very unequivocal and left no room for doubt – I came out to them when I already know who I am.
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”