Before the release of his album “The Grace Of You And I”, singer and composer Elad Zabinski released the video for the title track, a love song for his boyfriend, who stars in the video with him. In a revealing column, Zabinski recalls the fear that accompanied him in coming out to his mother after his sister was killed in a terrorist attack, and about the new love that entered his life.
It was seven o’clock on a Friday evening and I’m in traffic jams driving from Tel Aviv to Rehovot, on the way to visit my mother like I do every weekend. It was winter and the windowpane was full of water, and all I could focus on were the wipers. I’m driving and my heart is heavy, because the cute saxophone player with the super-blue eyes I was dating broke up with me. In fact, he was my first. Not the first sexual encounter, but the first guy I dated. A month of compliments, messages and common walks in the streets of Jaffa, and then, as if nothing, he disappeared. I needed my mother so much then. It’s the first time I had dated anyone, the first time I let myself feel, and I was heartbroken, and who if not Mommy will help pick up the pieces? Only one thing was missing: My Mom didn’t know I was gay.
My mother is my best friend, but ever since my sister was killed in a terrorist attack in 2005, when I was 18 years old, I was afraid to come out to her because her heart was already broken. I was afraid to smash whatever remains of the shards.
I arrive and parked the car. Take my backpack and the guitar and go upstairs. The evening went on as usual, and I get ready for a friend’s birthday party in town. When I get there, I straighten up into a false smile and try to hide as much as I can about how sad I am. My friends (they all know about me being gay) throw out sentences like: “Never mind, you’ll find someone better” and the more dramatic among them plead: “You deserve someone who understands how amazing you are!” So I smile and drink some more, then a little more.
When I got back to my mom that night, I couldn’t bear it any longer, and then I said that scary phrase: “Mom, I need to talk to you about something.” My mother was lying on the couch in the living room watching television with her long hair falling onto the floor. She turned her head to me with a look of “I’m listening.” I didn’t expect it, but I began not to cry, but to sob. I really do not think I’ve cried like that since my sister was killed. My mother, of course, panicked, and straightened up to calm me down. Between all the tears I somehow managed to get the words out, “I’m gay.” She stood up and looked at me with a piercing look and said, “I very much hope that you have protected sex” and then “I personally prefer you find a man who’s a little older than you and preferably not an Israeli.” I stopped crying, probably also from the shock of how simple it was, and we both laughed.
Since then I’ve started to live truthfully, because from that moment on I didn’t hide it anymore, and even though its sounds cliché, it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. It’s important to note that I am one of the lucky ones, surrounded by loving people who don’t judge religion, sex, race and sexual orientation. All this happened at the age of 24, and today, at the age of 30, I will be lying if I said that many men didn’t come my way. The truth is that I thought that once you come out and move to Tel Aviv, it becomes much easier, but somehow it even gets a bit harder. A big city, big nightlife scene and many beautiful men wrapped in many colors and a lot of noise and mess, and they all run in a kind of unclear race. And they do all this just to find the one who does not want to run, but to stand with you in one place.
So it took me quite a while to find [a serious relationship], and many times I found myself part of the same rat race, when most of the time I was not so sure why. In most cases it seemed that the evening would not last long after a night together, and if we did manage to start something together, in my case it never lasted more than a month. Like a curse, always after 30 days something happened, either because of him or because of me and it was over. Because I was a singer and writer, it certainly gave me inspiration because I always had something to write about; about the one who left me or about the one I was confused about and a lot about the “alone”. Then, when I decided to give up, he came. And no, it was not through a dating app, which made it somewhat magical from the start.
In truth is, at first I was not enthusiastic. He hit on me on Facebook, (he of course claims it’s the opposite), he looked cute in pictures, but I didn’t go ecstatic. We first met on the hottest day of the year in May, and of course I got lost on the way. Sweaty and a little desperate at the end, I arrived at his place. Then he opened the door. Tall, with blue eyes that I immediately jumped into, a cute red beard and the most charming smile I had ever seen. We spent the evening with ice cream, candles and wine between us; it was no less than perfect. Since then I have been on a dizzying, sweeping journey with one of the most charming men I know.