Thursday, February 16, 2012

Coming Out

Once I finally excepted the fact that I was gay, I felt this internal need to tell people. Here was this hugely significant piece of information about myself, and no one in the world new about it, not even my closest of friends. Of course at the same time, I was terrified to tell anyone. For a while, I continued to keep it a secret, but eventually I just had to tell someone. I decided that I could tell specific people that I was the most sure would be able to accept it, and that way hopefully control the potential backlash. I also had to make sure that in no way the information could get back to my family. That would have been the worst thing possible. They were still having a lot of trouble with the fact that I was no longer religious. I could not even begin to imagine how they would react to learning that I was gay.

To be perfectly honest, at this point I believed that I was bisexual. I had still not been able to understand the difference between recognizing a girl to be beautiful and being attracted to her. (This would take me a bit longer and actually sexual/romantic interaction with guys). But the first few people that I came out to, I did so proclaiming to be bisexual.

The first person I decided I was going to tell was my life long friend, Ben. I know lots of people use the term "life long friend", but in mine and Ben's case, this is very accurate. We were at one another's first birthday party. 26 years later we are still very close. I knew that I could trust him with the fact that I was interested in men. Ben lives in the US, so we would talk mostly over chat. At the time we had been talking a bit more often because he had been helping me through the process of leaving religious Judaism. Having gone through the process himself a few years earlier, he was a huge help. I knew I could trust him with this as well.

One night, while discussing religion over the internet, I steered the conversation towards the direction of dating and attraction. I remember being terrified. I don't know why I was so scared. At no time did I think Ben would react badly to the information. I knew our friendship was very strong and I knew Ben was one of the most tolerant people you could find. I talked around the subject for a while, slightly hinting where I was going with it, until finally I just said it, "I am attracted to guys." My heart was racing a million miles an hour. It was as if by telling someone, it became more real. Ben was as understanding and accepting as I had thought he would be. I don't remember exactly what he told me, but I remember he was able to get me to calm down. Everyone in life should have a friend like I have in Ben.

Over the next few months, I hand picked each and every person I told. Each time I told a new friend, I was terrified. But each time it got a little bit easier. I kept a list of everyone I told, hoping I could control the spread of this information. Of course I knew that the information was out there and it could not be taken back. I had know way of knowing who repeated what to whom. But those first few friends were so supportive. They kept me sane during one of the most turbulent and unstable times in my life. I will forever be  grateful for their support.

I would like to take this opportunity to put into writing my thanks to each of these great friends by name. Thank you Ben, Ella, Ariella, Dan, Shai and Shani. Of course, with time I told more and more of my friends and they were all wonderfully  accepting. But you guys were the first few and your support and love will always be remembered and I will always be grateful :)


  1. Ami,

    I have been browsing your website for the better part of an hour, and it is an extraordinary resource. I imagine it is a godsend to ex-Orthodox individuals and their supporters. I happened across it while conducting research related to my work in television development. 

    I am working with RelativityREAL, an LA-based TV production company, and we are developing a new slate of documentary series. One of the concepts we are considering is a series about formerly Orthodox or Hasidic Jewish young people. Most of the content on this topic is either exploitive or judgmental. Is is our desire to create programming that is neither of these things. 

    The CEO of our company is the creator of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for ABC, and one of our more popular currently airing shows is Coming Home for Lifetime. Our usual network partners are TLC, Discovery, and A&E. These networks specialize in documentary programming about people facing unconventional challenges. I think that formerly Ortodox and Hasidic individuals fall squarely into that category.  

    An thoughtfully and compassionately produced documentary series about ex-Orthodox individuals has the potential to initiate a much needed dialogue about religious and cultural identity. 

    I would love to speak with you in order to better educate myself about ex-Orthodox issues before moving forward in this process. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me via email or call me at any of the numbers below. Thank you for your consideration. 

    Bernard Parham
    (o) 323.860.6746

  2. Dear Bernard,

    Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. I will be emailing you soon.