Back in the Closet

I started coming out when I was about 15. I wasn’t even sure what I was coming out as. I knew I liked men, but I also knew I liked girls. Or I kinda wanted to be a girl. Or at least I wanted to wear girls clothing. I didn’t know what I was, but I was figuring it out over long, late-night phone calls with a couple of close friends in similar situations.

Eventually I came out to some of my close guy friends. They didn’t really know what to do with the information. I think I came out to them vaguely as “queer” or as “not straight”.

I spent the summer between my junior and senior years in places and with people who had nothing to do with my school-year yeshiva life. I spent that summer “out”, but when I came back to yeshiva for my senior year I was right back in the closet. Sort of. Apparently I was queer enough that I got some notes home, and eventually I was sent home before I could graduate.

Once I was home, I came out to my parents. I didn’t say what I was, but I told them I wasn’t straight. They were surprisingly supportive. My mom drove me to LGBT youth group meetings. I still wasn’t quite sure what I was, but whatever it was, I was out and proud. I marched in pride parades. All my friends were queer. I almost put a rainbow flag on my car, but my mother talked me out of it, because somehow my shul community still didn’t know I was queer.

Over the next few years I experimented with life, going back to yeshiva for a bit and thus back in the closet. By the time I got to college I had fallen into the predicament that would follow me to this day. I wanted to be a part of the Orthodox community, and to do that effectively I felt I had to be in the closet. At the same time, I had finally settled on the idea that I was bisexual. In college surrounded myself with queers and feminists, and spent some time in gay bars, but always as a supposed ally. I think a couple of close friends knew I was bisexual, but it was not public knowledge.

After college I moved to a new city and started a new life. No one knew me, so I could be whoever I wanted to be. But I wanted to be part of the Orthodox community, and it was just easier not to come out. I dated women. Eventually I married one. She knew my sexuality and struggled with it, but she was strong enough to still be with me. We don’t talk about it much.

Because I am bi, I don’t feel like I am living a lie in a heterosexual relationship (as some gay people might). But at the same time, I am stuck. My life looks heterosexual, but I am not. And I can’t articulate why that matters so much.

I don’t think I will ever come out to more than just a handful of close allies. I just don’t see how it’s possible. It would hurt my family and I can’t articulate any argument for why it’s worth the pain it would involve. But it itches. It irks me. I hate that I look like a thing I am not and let everyone believe it. But here I am, back in the closet, for good.

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4 Comments

  1. Anonymous August 16, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Wow. The way you phrased things is beautiful. So true about so many things

    Reply
  2. Miriam August 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Something about showing ‘half’ truths whilst the hidden half has peers out there whom could use the support? Or maybe simply yearns to find the right to exist where it’s beholder finds itself at home.

    Reply
  3. Sam August 16, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    It is completely understandable that your identity would be important to you (both as an Orthodox Jew and an LGBTQIA + identifies person). I know a similar struggle and I hope in time you can find an inner harmony. The clashing of intersectional identities is all too real for so many people, and now more than ever with both identities under fire it feels important to speak up. However it makes sense that you cannot, as you have so much at stake. There is no shame in staying in the closet for any reason you may feel it necessisary. There is a lot of hype and pressure around being “out” and is ones own right to decide if and who to disclose that part of themselves to. It makes my heart happy to know that your wife is a strong and enlightened person to see you as a person over a sexual identity. Perhaps seeking an annonymous support group would be benificial?

    Reply
  4. Anonymous December 18, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Wishing you inner peace that comes from knowing yourself, even if others don’t know the full you.

    Reply

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