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I am gay, and I live within a Chassidic community with my eight children. I have lost all I am going to lose, and as a result, I feel safe enough to actively search, through word of mouth, for people willing to be interviewed about their life experiences.
The following three interviews are the first in an ongoing series.
It is not unheard of for a parent to lose all access to their children, for acid to be thrown, for family members to sit shiva and mourn the gay person as if they are dead.
As a result, the majority of Orthodox Jews who are gay are not out in their communities and struggle with integrating their religious and sexual selves, as well as with finding a compatible life partner.
In the late 1980s, I was working as a freelance writer for many magazines and journals, especially those associated with the Orthodox Jewish world.
After the death of one of my friends from HIV/AIDS, I decided to write an article about Orthodox Jews who are also gay.
She wears a sheitel (wig) or a scarf at all times, stockings, and very modest clothing. It is unlikely that she has any interaction with the non-Jewish world. Chronology, location, names, and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of these three people. Painful Losses: The Young Student I am twenty-three. I used to be frum (observant) but now I am off-the-derech (irreligious; literally, “off the road”). I wanted to be part of Chabad, so right at the beginning of my college experience, I moved to a frum neighborhood and became integrated into the Chabad community.
Someone posted about my blog on the Orthodox women’s group Ima Mother.
Basically, my life had to stay under wraps—but also I was questioning how I wanted to relate to Judaism.
Accepting the fact of being gay has always been a challenge for me, but it’s even more so for me as a religious person.
After they return it to me, I edit it and send it to them again for a final approval.
I tell those whom I interview that if, for any reason, they become uncomfortable or feel they are in danger, even after the interview is posted, I will take it down.