As the rest of the world tries to figure out how they feel about Gay Marriage, Gay movies, and gay cowboys, many Orthodox Jewish communities are trying to figure out who exactly is gay in their community. It’s been known for sometime that roughly 10% of the population is gay and some Rabbis and communal leaders have just started to realize that their little enclaves of Yiddishkeit whether it be in San Francisco or Lakewood are probably 10% gay. The only thing is, that no one is coming out of the closet too fast. If you’re like most normal closeted gays, you tend to stay in the closet until you’re either outed or until you can’t bear to live the lie any longer. If coming out of the closet was complicated for the normal gay man, imagine how much harder it is for the man in a community that thinks Gays are pretty much the cause of every evil regime, natural disaster, and terrorist attack that happens in the world.
I pondered these threatening ideas as I sat in shul the other day, I wondered how families, friends, rabbis, and colleagues would react when they heard the news. Would the outed man or women be shunned. Would their friends abandon them? Would I allow them to pour non-mevushal wine for me? Would I trust their kasharus? Would I join the witch hunt and bang on their door with a pitchfork and lantern in hand as the Rabbi read from a scroll and banished them to the modernishe community next door? I pondered such things as I thought about the impending gay crisis.
“Did you know that I slept with a bunch of rabbis” my friend bragged to me, excited to finally be “out” to someone who was one of the last to know. As a straight man, I still had this fascination with gays and for the first time I was hearing some very disturbing and exhilarating stories from a real live frum gay man. He went on about the signs in various mikvah’s, frum gaydar, and Rabbis coming on to him. It was insane and if I didn’t hear it with my own ears, I would have written it off as frum gay urban legends, akin to the time some Rebbe tried to use an elaborate shabbos lichter as a dildo and it didn’t work as planned. I guess you can call that the gay version of the Sternberg Hot Dog story. Regardless of the fact that gay sex was disgusting to me, I also found plenty of straight sex gross too, although girls and horses still gives me a laugh.
I got back to wondering about gays in my community, in San Francisco I had been told that many of the older singles in the Bay Area were merely there for the opportunity to be in a community that didn’t ask questions and in an area where they could be gay and not fear for their lives. I guess I have been wondering why perfectly normal single guys would come to live out their lives in a community designed for married people, in a place that far out priced anywhere else in the country. Was it possible that our large population of single men meant that many of them were gay. It all started to fall in place, it made sense.
I digress, I wonder if the frum community is really ready to deal with all of the closeted gays in their midst. As we become more open and less likely to lynch gay folks, I think that more folks are going to peek outside the closet and maybe fully leave. Families will be broken, shidduch market values of siblings will plummet, and small shuls may need help with their minyan. Are we ready for the gay crisis?
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