Happy….YES. Gay….NO

I do not know how the word “gay” came into existence as a description for homosexuals. If it is intended to mean “happy” then it is out of context. Many homosexuals are not “happy” individuals.

The Christians use the word “gay” in a song that they sing at their December holiday:

“Don we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la….”

It is appropriate for those who happily march in pride parades . But whence comes the term?

Growing up, all I knew about gay was what I heard from my parents. “Gay shloffen. Gay essen. Gay trinken. Gay zitzen. Gay lernen. Gay avec.” And a multitude of assorted Yiddish “gays”. When my father was bitterly angry with someone, he would say “zoll er gay in drerd”. That was the limit of my “gay” vocabulary.

As a teenager, the words I heard to describe homosexuals were cruel and unkind. So I imagine it was not difficult for someone to remedy the tortuous adjectives and to apply the word “gay” to those members of that community.

But I prefer to be happy. I am aware of the countless gay men and women who, over the centuries, have created so much to the world of arts, science, music, literature and medicine. Their genius and creativity gave and give much to the culture of the world.

Some consider William Shakespeare to be among them. So was the poet Lord Byron who wrote verses for his Greek lover. So was Alexander the Great, conqueror of much of the ancient world So were Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. So were the two brothers Pyotr Ilyich and Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky. So was the composer Leonard Bernstein, the English writer Oscar Wilde, the American poet Walt Whitman, the French novelists Marcel Proust and Andre Gide who won the 1947 Nobel Prize for literature.

Where would the world be today without paying homage to their creative genius?

Among some women were notably the French Marie Antoinette, who, during the French Revolution remarked about the lack of bread “let them eat cake”,

Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the brilliant writer Virginia Woolf, the tennis champion Martina Navratilova, and one of America’s most glamorous film stars, Marilyn Monroe, who was a favorite of President John F. Kennedy.

The world cannot and must not condemn them for their sexuality. Indeed, they are held in high regard for their contribution to the culture of the western world.

Even in Israel we are tolerant of the two members of our Knesset, one who is openly gay and one who remains in the closet.

People often watch a popular television doctor whose programs are informative and who was once in his early life attached to a young surgeon at a Tel-Aviv hospital whose sexual behavior was mainly confined to young stagiers or occasional visits to the baths in Amsterdam.

Gay pride parades, particularly in Tel-Aviv, are watched and cheered on by tens of thousands of spectators. Less so in the Jerusalem pride parades which are deeply offensive to both Muslim and Jewish religious people.

Several months ago I read an interesting article about a young 18-year-old Jewish boy in California. He was a practicing Orthodox Jew who came out of the closet to inform his parents, teachers and rabbis that he was gay.

As I read his story, I was impressed with his sincerity and his writing skill. I was able to contact him through the principal of his yeshiva.

When the young man replied to me, he mentioned that he was going to Israel in the summer and was looking for a place to stay temporarily.

We have a two bedroom apartment in Rishon Lezion and I wrote that he was welcome to stay in one of the rooms pending his success in finding permanent lodgings.

He wrote back to thank me and asked if he could bring a gay friend to share his bedroom.

At that point, I retracted my invitation and told him that my home was not a brothel.

Now, as I read things he writes in the TIMES OF ISRAEL and in the JERUSALEM POST I am happy that he has found himself somewhere in Jerusalem studying Orthodox texts.

I do not disrespect anyone whose sexuality happens to be different from mine. We are all God’s creatures and all of us have made choices in our lives.

Some choose to be gay. I choose just to be happy.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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