Trigger warning for homophobia and suicidality. If you’re queer and not in a great place mentally, maybe skip this one and come back when you’re feeling more stable.
Ok. Look. I’ve written about this kind of thing here before. I’m not the best person to write an article because I’m chronically ill and I don’t have the energy to do the proper research and form clear points. So let me just lay this out simply.
The entire point of our existence is to be good to each other. Torah tells us that over and over and over and over again in a thousand different ways I again, don’t have the energy to research and document. But they’re there. Hillel, Rabbi Akiva, do your own research. LGBT Pride Parades, and Pride in general, is not about hey woohoo we’re gay that’s great. Here’s an article: I haven’t read the whole thing. Go do your own research. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/whats-the-point-of-pride-marches_b_3462807
Pride is about making sure everyone has full access to medical care and legal repercussions for the times when responders go “ew a trans person” and leaves them out to die. Its about the right to marry your partner (and fuck off with “marriage is between a man and a woman” the Torah doesn’t call it marriage), the right to adopt children, the right to keep their jobs, the right to keep their kids in school, their right to not have their conversions revoked by the rabbanut, the right to have their children be legally considered their children and able to inherit their citizenships, its about teaching kids that people come in all different genders and sexualities and they are not broken for being different.
It’s about protecting kids and adults who lose everyone they love for the simple fact of being gay. It’s about protecting those who were scarred from conversion therapy and making sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s about not getting shot at in bars and at parades. It’s about not getting beaten up in public (or private) for being who you are. It’s about the ability to go through daily life without facing slurs and discrimination, without wondering if your waitress will refuse to serve you or you’ll be asked to leave the restaurant, the school, the synagogue or church or mosque.
It’s about not being told to quieten down, to not be so gay, as if any of us would react well to anyone saying “just chill out with the Jewish thing, alright? Try fit in a better, be like everyone else.” It’s about a chronically ill person like me having to write this with the little energy I have because I am sick to death of being told that people like me have two choices, celibacy or deserving death.
It’s about having to deal with that thought when so many of us are so hurt by the homophobia, so many of us have mental health issues including suicidal ideation, and then someone turns around and says “actually Halacha wants you dead”. And then they stop and defend that position. Because they are so concerned about keeping the technical letter of the laws they find convenient (while claiming to be halachic and frum etc etc), and totally ignoring the living heart of the Torah, the attitude that halacha is working so hard to cultivate within us: To look at another person and see a living soul, a piece of Hashem, a living being who is an entire world.
So if you want to keep being a bigot, say it’s halacha, fine. Claim to be frum, I certainly can’t stop you. Just know that you’ve missed the entire point of the entire Torah. And if Rabbonim back you up, if halacha backs you up, then the people who codified that halacha have led you astray.
I’m not saying to ignore halacha. I’m saying that the point of it is to bring us to compassion and understanding and love. And if you’re not using halacha to get you there, you’re missing the point, you’re hurting people, and I hope that Hashem exists and one day you will face judgement for every soul you tore down and stomped on in your desperate quest to gain whatever it is that you think you’re working towards.
I’ve been polite, I’ve been logical, I’ve been halachik, and now I’m furious. Stop telling us our lives don’t matter. Stop telling us we deserve to be dead — and if you don’t use those exact words and instead you say “but gay sex is chayav misah/the Torah says no/its a toevah” it’s still the same. You are telling a population already fragile from your abuse, intentional or not, that we deserve to die. It’s driven me to suicidal ideation multiple times and I know I’m far from alone.
While you’re at it stop with “Hate the sin not the sinner” attitude because there is no difference between “I hate you” and “I just disagree with your all major life choices and decisions”. And hell, stop reducing our right to exist and everything I listed above and our right to be happy and raise families and live together and plan a future, stop reducing that all down to gay sex. Our lives are more than sex, sex is only a very tiny part of all this and hell, I’m not peeking into your bedrooms and mikvahs keeping track of who’s keeping what. I’m not peering into your taxes or business or calculations I’m not telling you anything that’s between you and god.
Oh here’s another PSA, I know things blur together when they’re all assur, but pedophilia and rape are NOT COMPARABLE to premarital sex or gay sex or any kind of consensual sex. Stop comparing us to predators. There is nothing more extremely different from a loving experience, no matter how assur, to deliberately targeting and hurting and violating other people. But it’s not a problem in this country, you say, the gays have all the rights! No we do not. Your obliviousness has no affect on reality.
But I don’t know any gay people! There must not be many of them. There are many of us. You don’t know any gay people who are comfortable enough to come out to you, probably because they see and hear your bigotry and decide that that wouldn’t be safe. Let me repeat that. OUR SAFETY IS AT RISK ANY TIME WE COME OUT TO SOMEONE. Will they decide to beat us up and leave us for dead? Who knows?
Another point “if you don’t like it just leave”. Cool. So you raised us to love Torah, to love Halacha, to love our community and our friends and teachers and then you want us to just up and walk away because of something we can’t control. You have no idea the harm you are doing to people. When there are children just figuring out their sexuality, and they deny it and lie to themselves, or they spend days crying because they don’t belong anymore in the world that’s all they’ve ever known, that’s unacceptable. Also the “just leave” people are the same as the “but every Jew in the whole world needs to keep halacha” people and are also the “halacha says gay Jews are chayav misa”. What’s been going on is untenable. It cannot stay. We are here, we are queer, we will not live in fear and we will not be chased away from where we belong. We will not be driven out of our communities. We will not be shamed.
Halacha needs to change. The framework is cracking, erupting, it has no space for reality as it is and we will keep making space until we no longer have to fear for our lives or our peace of mind. If you want to batten down the hatches, close up your communities, throw out everyone LGBT and only allow cishets in, you can do that. I can’t stop you. But don’t you dare call yourselves real Judaism. Don’t you dare call yourselves frum. Don’t you dare claim to know God’s word and wield that word as a weapon.
Or do. I can’t stop you. But your hate-and-obliviousness-filled enclave will be the farthest thing from a sanctification of Hashem’s name as possibly could be. Is that really the legacy you want to live and the legacy you want to leave behind?