To be honest, it’s a little difficult writing about this topic because Gay is “taboo” in our religious society. (why that is, is an entirely different post 🙂 Who am I to preach about gay / lesbian equal rights, when our frum circles talk about the evils of homosexuality? Sadly, it’s a question I still don’t have an answer for ….
Getting the “Straight” Facts
A few years back I asked a Rov (Rabbi) point blank about the whole Gay issue. It’s a hot topic, but I never had the facts. So I asked him straight out, what does the Torah say about being Gay. Is it something that is a choice or is it something a person is born with? What is it?
This well respected, knowledgeable Rov told me? He said (and I quote) “It doesn’t matter.” Huh? Well Rabbi, what does the Torah say? Is being gay a choice? And once again he said “it doesn’t matter – the Torah says its wrong.” Maybe he thought I was joking around, because my exasperated face told him I was expecting a bit more of an answer – he tried to explain.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a choice or not… it doesn’t matter if it’s something that is in your genes… it doesn’t matter where it comes from, because the Torah says It’s wrong to do… so therefore we don’t care how, or why or if… because any way you look at it – it’s not allowed.”
Ok, so I guess I could understand that — but I really didn’t. The Rov tried giving me other examples – such as alcoholism – even if it’s something that’s inherent in the person’s genetic makeup to be an alcoholic – does that make it right? Or better? Do we have more compassion for him? So, according to the Torah being Gay (or acting on those urges) is still wrong.
Duby’s Running for Rabbi
I’m not a Rov, (although sometimes I like to give myself heterim) – but I can’t for the life of me imagine how the Torah can condemn so many good people for their lifestyle. Are homosexuals hurting anybody? Are they committing murders and rapes? Are they cheating on their taxes? Come on – we all know that some of the gay and lesbian couples are more kind hearted and more productive members of society than straight people! And so, because I can’t wrap my head around this, and my Rov wasn’t too helpful either, I’d like to say a few words about bullying.
Haven’t we all experienced Bullying in some form?
Each and every one of us has experienced some form of bullying or discrimination … maybe you haven’t been bullied yourself but surely you’ve seen another kid being picked on or teased. (or maybe you were the one doing the teasing! ) We’ve all been there. And bullying has nothing to do with being gay, straight or any other kind of sexual orientation – it has to do with being different than the other guy. This can be something as simple as wearing a different shirt or hat, or speaking with an accent, or even as stupid as living on the wrong street in the neighborhood – it doesn’t take much to spark a snide comment or rude remark from a classmate.
Can you turn to the teacher/principal for help?
My childhood was far from bully-free. My elementary years are filled with wretched memories of nasty girls. Sadly, when you go to a school where there are only 9 girls in your class, things are bound to happen when you’re the “new kid.” I empathized greatly with the kids interviewed on Anderson Cooper who said: you absolutely cannot tell the teacher or the principal – because the authority remains to some degree helpless in this situation. Not only that, but usually the incidents becomes worse when you become the “tattle tale.” The fact remains that kids today have nowhere to turn. Looking back to my days in elementary school, I am pretty impressed with my audacity in how I responded to the meanness of the girls in my class. I went home. I literally picked myself up, refused to be subjected to that kind of rude and nasty behavior, so I packed my little backpack with my books and I walked myself home…. And did so every day that was I was treated that way.
For me, as a religious Jewish person – the only gay person I have ever come in contact with was my old hairdresser (and he was FREAKIN awesome – I seriously loved him) – so I think for many of us, it might feel like we can’t really relate to the concept of gay bullying. But this is absolutely not true. Maybe we don’t know what it’s like to struggle with our sexuality – but regardless of who you are, your gender, your religiousness or even where you live – all of us have experiences where we’ve felt like the ‘odd man out’ or we were the bystander and witnessed discrimination. It exists in every society all across the world.
So how does this relate to our own day to day lives? Right now, I’m happy to say I’m bully free – and anyone who pisses me off – well, I’m at a stage in my life where thankfully I am able to deal with it (and if I can’t, I send my hubby after them!) So how should these stories affect me today?
What’s The Takeaway?
It’s quite simple. We as adults – need to realize that we convey a serious message to those around us – and especially those younger and shorter than us. What we say, how we act, even our subtle body language sends a huge message to children. I know this is a long post – so I’ll end with a quick example. I have a friend – who’s a mom of a few kids. She’s an awesome person – I love her dearly, she is not a “cool type” and was definitely never a bully when she was in high school. But I have noticed that, (like many of us) she has gripes towards certain people in her family. Its natural – we don’t get along or “love” everyone we have in our family – or work with etc. But here’s the problem. While she is a nice and loving person – her children have picked up this “attitude” towards the family members she doesn’t like. While the mom might have good reasons (supposedly) for why she has a problem with those people – the children don’t. The snide statements, the rolling of the eyes or the blatant “oh they’re going to be there?” comments – I now witness the young children having saying the same nasty words. Their mom has unknowingly turned her wonderful little kiddies into mini “bullies” because of seemingly harmless gossiping on the mother’s part.
And THAT’S the wakeup call for us adults. Without realizing it, we can create mini bullies in our own home!! We would never want to openly instill meanness in our children – but this is something we can all work on. Gay or not – meanness can be found even in the nicest of places.