I wrote my wide and deep comments on a lengthy English reporting on Rabbi Lau’s discussion paper on how he sees homosexuals within Jewish Law, the Jewish family, and the Jewish community.
I want to add to my comments that this is possibly the best text a leading Orthodox Rabbi has written on the subject. It is also the first substantial comprehensive piece in Hebrew about it. Previous in-depth discussions were all held in English. This is a huge step forward.
But first, on the last thing stated in a short JTA report on the rabbi’s publication. This press agency will never ‘out’ someone. But it mentions that Rabbi Lau has an openly gay brother who is a rabbi in New York. He’s open and out so, it could write that. But, Rabbi Benny Lau names as the source of his expertise, dozens of years that Gay congregants talked to him. He doesn’t credit family members of his. In forums, he has made no secret about this connection but here, he was silent about it. Therefore, I was too in my earlier comments. There is a difference between the press that must be free, all-investigative, and merciless to protect democracy and fairness, and being celebrity press or paparazzi, what’s called in Dutch, the gossip press. If the rabbi mentions his congregants, leave it at that.
One cannot write a one-size-fits-all manual for such a diverse group as LGB Jews and allies–the people he addresses, though the urge to do so is understandable. I will point out a number of alternatives to add to the options he suggests. Though–some choices must be rejected altogether.
Coming out is not for everyone, every couple, in every situation, and not even the absolute end goal and universal ideal everyone should strive for.
It is a good idea that someone comes out to themselves first in front of a mirror: ‘[G^d,] here am I.’ But sometimes a mirror is not enough. Then, of much help can be a loving, patient, listening ear from someone who does not judge or doesn’t know better. This may be a friend, a family member, a professional, someone who went through this themselves, a total stranger.
It is not true that all people need to come out of the closet. In any case, coming out is typically not something one does once and that’s it. Every time a non-Straight and/or non-Cis person meets new people, s/he again needs to think: Will I say anything or not? That could be with a new neighbor or a new family member, in a new job, or just at the hairdresser or the dentist, or at a party or during a bus ride to strangers s/he will never see again. Sometimes it may simply not be worth the effort. Not coming out to almost anyone doesn’t need to be a lonely affair either. Some couples are perfectly happy to pass as roommates to their families.
It is not true that being Gay or having a Gay loved one is for everyone an ’embarrassment.’ Many parents know or guess this about their child already from when they were small and they are only delighted with them.
But in any case, the main work of making it safe to come out should be done by the community. Any difficulty of coming out is only a reflection of an unsafe community. Instead of focusing on how to help the LGBTQAI+ person get out, much energy should be spent on creating safety out there.
It is not enough to tell the community and parents and Gays themselves that same-sex partnership is the best option for some. It is high time to promote and install respected Orthodox-Jewish same-sex-matchmakers.
It must be added that the love and commitment of typical same-sex parenthood are so exemplary that not only does their union not place a threat to traditional marriage. Their good example strengthens the idea.
It must be stated unequivocally that non-Straights should not begin a Straight partnership. It is as impermanent as a Straight starting a Gay partnership. It never (never!) lasts. And it is a corruption of what Jewish matrimony stands for. Sexual preference is the force of attraction to either sex. Men should choose a partner of a sex they feel most intrigued by.
Women’s sexuality is often more flexible so that it may take women longer to find out their sexual preference. Also, a lack of respect for women may delay their own clarity. Some people do not have a preference for either sex. They should not rush into an intimate partnership but give it some more time to see if a preference emerges. For some, it won’t.
No one should begin an intimate relationship with someone not primarily attracted to them, as this will always end in a heartbreaking breakup.
It should be stated without reserve that ‘conversion therapy’ deeply hurts already insecure clients and must be outlawed. It was always based on scaring and scarring the person and has resulted in many suicides, ruined sexual abilities, missed chances to start a family earlier, and wasting fortunes. It is plain fraud and torture and there is no excuse to permit it.
Last but not least.
Straights who have a problem with same-sex attraction and relationships should take their case up with G^d. It is outright abusive to constantly bother non-Straights with queries on these issues in the wider community. There are many therapists who may help. Just like Jews should not have to counsel anti-Semites towards loving and protecting them, Gays and their loved one shouldn’t be burdened with having to turn around homophobes.