Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Shifty Shades of Gay

Pride Parade NYC

“If a man also lies with men, as he lies with a women, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” -LEVITICUS 20:13

For Chicago’s 46th Gay Pride Parade 750,000 people made lines of twelve-rows-thick down five city streets.  Showers of rainbow confetti spiraled the skyline and it seemed like there had been a blowout sale on banana hammocks and fluorescent wigs. While I wasn’t there to partake in the states of gaiety, my social media feeds blew up. Allies on Facebook began using rainbow photo screens, snapchats of festival pics waited for me on my phone and the twitter hashtag #LoveWins went viral. With the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states I got to wonder what I truly felt about it all, as an American, as an Orthodox Jew and as college student in the liberal arts.

A  Gayteway through Time:

1.Go to BIMA, a summer arts institute at Brandies. Find your niche of singers and musicians whom you write lyrics with, star-gaze with, and roll down high hills with at 2 in the morning. At 3 a.m. Julie tells you she is a bisexual. Say “so cool” because you’ve never heard the word before. Discover Marcus is also bisexual. Google “bi-sexual.” Go to sleep wondering how you feel about all of this. Grab your breakfast tray and sit down with the crew. Notice Julie and Marcus seem aloof. Shira whispers in your ear, “they hooked up last night.” Wonder if now they’re straight.

2. You never thought anything of his high pitched voice, even after winter came and he started wearing infinity scarves and a sweatshirt that read “fruitcake.” He isn’t gay until he tells you explicitly, and when he tells you, he tells you the explicit. He’s dating guys, many of them. He meets them online. Cute guys, brainy guys, young guys, bald guys. And then there are the 50 year old professor guys. He tells you that in gay dating, age isn’t a thing. The words “SEXUAL PREDATORS” flash across your eyes in bright lights. Suffocate your thoughts into his sweater.

(2a. Try setting him up with your gay best friend in PhotoJournalism class. Discover your gay best friend from PhotoJournalism isn’t gay.)

3. Her topic is Judaism and Homosexuality. A large picture of Men under a Chupah kissing fill the Powerpoint slide. And though you are the quintessential helpless romantic- Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth give you goosebumps, Jack and Rose make you sweat- this image on the screen makes the air thin. Turn your head away slightly cursing yourself for not loving love equally. Wonder if those around peg you as a bigot.

4. Flip back to when you dated a guy who has two gay brothers. Recall drafting an email to your friend to tell her, because you didn’t know quite how to break the news over the phone. It would probably be the second worst thing you could tell her. The first only being that you were gay. After the relationship goes under, muse over the incredible fashion sense your kids would have had with four gay uncles buying them presents. Apple watches would have been growing on trees.

5. Your first Shabbat back from school over winter break, all you can think about is sitting next to your mom in synagogue. Trying to catch up, you stand with feet together in silent prayer, as the white-bearded figurehead ascends the platform to the podium. He starts talking about homosexuality, about it being the evil inclination, about the tiy-vahs (the desires) taking hold. About homosexuality being abominable. You can’t finish your conversation with God, so you just crouch to a seat. When you whisper to your mother that you’re walking out, and she says don’t make a scene, look over at your dad and know that you can't. He’s president of the synagogue.

6. There’s a carnival at sleep away camp and all the younger kids are invited on the “hill,” where the highschoolers bunk. Go into a room where music weaves between the small crevices of sweaty skin just barely brushing. Start dancing in a circle with a bunch of your girlfriends. Lose your friends at some point because of the bodies and brushings. When you find them later and they say you danced like a lesbian, turn the insult back on them. Swear for thinking wearing just a Northface was ever a good idea. Embrace heat rash—feel like trash.

7. You know you’d rock a pixie-cut, but guys want hair they can stroke and tug and have sexy dreams about. Figure you’ll crop it short once you’ve settled in your mom jeans with mom hair and sketchers. Until then no guy will look at you and think Ellen DeGeneres.

8. Determine to go to see a live performance of Rocky Picture Horror Show to educate yourself on drag-life. Wimp out. Discover from friends that it was sex on a stage. Feel hair crawl.

9. Dive into Orange is the New Black the way 90's teens devoured Sex in the City.

10. Work at the Holocaust Museum. Learn that lesbians were not sent to the death camps like gay men were. Lesbians still had the potential to procreate and were kept alive as Nazi pleasure-whores.

11. You’re in a bungalow with kids wearing hemp hats and wool socks, eating organic popcorn and carrots that still have their leafy tops attached. Ricky tells you to look at the girl leaning against the wall wearing hiking boots and cameo shorts past her knee. She slaps you’re shoulder. Don’t make it so obvious, she says. You make eye contact with the girl. She’s getting pumped with hormones to become a man. You turn the spot where he stands into a black hole that ceases to exist. You feel excited by his presence and wish so much to strike up a conversation but you can’t make your eyes meet his. By the time you decide to man-up, the corner’s empty.

12. Abomination: " something that causes disgust or hatred.”

Things I know:
God loves all mankind equally.

Things I know:
Man is meant to follow in God’s image.

Things I know:
Just because I turned my face, doesn’t make me a bigot.


Trying to be both open-minded and faithful,
both tolerant AND tolerant of the opposing view 

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