Describe your experience coming out to yourself:
It was a much more taxing endeavor than many people realize. I knew that I liked guys from around the same age that most other boys realize that they are interested in girls, but I didn’t really think about it because it just wasn’t discussed, in a good or bad light, the discussion just wasn’t there. High school changed everything. Suddenly everyone used gay as a catch all slur. If you showed emotion, you were gay; if you didn’t like sports, you were gay; if you did anything that deviated too much from the classic Jewish Boys High School narrative, you were gay. That forced me to repress my attraction for those of the same sex into a deep dark place that was never supposed to see the light of day. This went on for three and a half years. Finally my senior year, the glass cage that I stuffed my feelings into started to slowly break. The slight cracks were the conversations that were instigated by secular teachers, and sometimes myself, about homosexuality, but in a very different light than I was used to hearing from their rabbinic counterparts. The metaphorical sledgehammer was hearing an acquaintance pour his heart out to me and a fellow classmate about his struggles with bisexuality and the confusion that he received from the internet invalidating his struggles, to parents who didn’t see an issue because he could still marry a girl when the time was right. This broke me in a way I never could have imagined. That night I spent several hours in deep thought, fighting with myself to either admit the truth I knew about myself or throw myself deeper into the closet and lock the doors behind me. At the end of the war I stood tall with tears in my eyes and looked directly into the mirror and said three words which changed me forever, “I am gay”.
Describe your experience coming out to close friends:
Ask any gay person and they will tell you that you never come out once. But it does get easier, that is the case with my friends. I wish I could sit here and say that everyone one of my close friends knows about my love life, but that would be lying. The first friend I ever came out to was my roommate my freshman year and I was terrified. It was during a classic DMC on a random Friday night, the topic of gay people in YU came up and I started falling into the regular routine, making sure I didn’t let anything get out that would even hint that I was gay, making those slight homophobic comments that most straight people don’t realize are really harmful, and above all, making sure I commented about some girl I had a huge crush on that I randomly saw in the library now and again. To this day I wouldn’t be able to tell you why I told him but I did and I am all the better for it. The world didn’t explode, he didn’t freak out or call me slurs and move out, he just said “Oh, cool….So what’s that like?” What more could I ask for?
Describe your experience coming out to your family. If you have not, then why not?
To the editors of this edition who chased me down until the last minute, this question is why it took so long. Juxtaposed to my response about my loving friends is my family, which makes my back tense up just thinking about it. Remember when I said that you never come out just once? Well, family is The One. Probably the hardest one of all, which is why I have not come out to them. There have been times when the words have been at the tip of my tongue ready to scream from the rooftops “I AM GAY” to my parents, but the threat of the unfamiliar and the expected backlash always overpowers me. I have brought up the subject of homosexuality in Judaism many, many times at the shabbos table to my parents very VERY visible discomfort. The breaking point was earlier this year when my mother looked in me dead in the eyes and yelled “Cut the gay crap. We don’t support those people because what they do is wrong! It is disgusting and wrong!!!” My father more alludes to his disdain for the LGBT community since in his profession, as in many, you must be coy about your true beliefs. The rest of my family I’m not sure, I have one brother who is openly homophobic but as for the rest of my siblings, I’m not sure where they stand.