Yaakov’s story: Staying in the Closet

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 2/6: Yaakov, 35, orthodox Jew from Meah Shaarim, Jerusalem:

I’m not Orthodox by birth. I come from a secular family in the south of Israel, and when my brother was in the army, he heard lectures and started to move closer to religion, and it affected the whole family.

At 14 I went into a Yeshiva, and since then I’ve lived an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle. I discovered I was gay at a young age, around the age of 10, but it really did not occupy me too much. At first I was just a kid, and then when I was at the Yeshiva I only concentrated on my studies, so it didn’t bother me. It was just an urge.

I knew it was going to be a problem only at the age of 18, when I started with the Shidduch (the matches). While all my friends begged for talks with the matchmaker, I felt like every call from her was dropping a weight of one hundred kilos on me. The whole thing was strained and stressful, especially when after three or four meetings with a woman everyone started asking whether she was suitable for the wedding. You don’t go out with a woman just to pass the time.
With every girl I would find another excuse: this one was too tall, this one was too short, and more. I started feeling uncomfortable towards my family, and I did not want to create false expectations among the girls. So at some point, around the age of 25, I stopped doing it.

At that time I really wanted to meet other people like me. I felt very lonely. I dialed 144 and asked them if they had anything for people like me, and they referred me to the organization “Havruta”. At first it was hard for me to even get to a meeting, but since then it rolled. I met there a really supportive circle of friends who helped, and even met someone who was with me at the Yeshiva.

I think my family knows about me, but they don’t talk about it and I don’t plan to tell them. Although my parents were secular, it will do them no good, it will just depress them, so why should I shorten their lives? Reality does what it does, and they probably assume that someone at my age who has not married and doesn’t seem nervous about it is what he is, so why do they need to know what I am doing at nights? No one else in my surroundings knows, although I sometimes have to face hints that people throw at me. Regardless, the more time that passes the more I am troubled about it. I’m supposedly stuck, I don’t know what my future holds. What about the family? Children? At the moment everything is fine, but it scares me to think of myself alone at the age of 50.

The six stories:

  1. Daniel Jonas: “Coming out only brought me closer to G-d”
  2. Yakkov Story: Staying in the closet
  3. Elior: “My Parents Are Not Ready to See Or Hear About My Partner”
  4. Harel: “I Couldn’t Stand Opinions on ‘Those Perverts'”
  5. Uria: “I Left No Room for Doubt”
  6. Dan: “The Strength to Come Out Came From My Rabbis”

 

Groups for orthodox religious LGBT people: Havruta – gay religious men, Kamoha – gay orthodox men, IGY – Israel Gay Youth religious groups.