Friday, Israel’s Education Minister Rafi Peretz attacked the LGBTQ community in an interview, saying “a man and woman” are the definition for a “normative family and it should be kept that way.” When asked how he would respond had one of his children identified as gay, Peretz said he raised them “in a natural and healthy way” and for that reason they don’t have a “different sexual orientation.” Last year he came out in support of conversion therapy. Peretz, who is an Orthodox rabbi and head of the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party, has no problem getting in bed with the extreme Kahanist Otzma party, which is anti-Arab, racist, violent and promotes hatred of the other. This is the man that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed as Education Minister.
I grew up feeling that I couldn’t have a family because I didn’t fit into what I was told was a “normal family.” So I beat myself up and prayed until my knees were callused. But nothing changed except that my friends were getting married and having children….and I was expected to be alone. It took me many years of struggle to break through the beliefs, judgment and self-condemnation to feel that I, too, could have a family, and that the term “normal family” is bullshit.
I’m annoyed by Rafi Peretz’s self-righteous, damning comments about the LGBTQ community, however, I take heart that schools, in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas started the school day Sunday with a protest against Peretz and discussions about diverse families. And I’m encouraged that in response to Peretz’s comments last year, the chairman of Israel’s Psychiatrists Association issued a warning that conversation therapy is dangerous and can cause subjects to commit suicide.
And then there’s the fact that Israel’s LGBTQ families have many, many children.
Yael and I don’t have children, but we are embraced and loved by our friends’ children, who consider us a family. I figure lots of people think I’m not normal, but it’s not because of my sexual orientation.