Monday, September 3, 2012

To Hide the Pride?

Throughout my life, I have always tried to be proud of how I live my life. Even when I was young, I believed that if I could not be proud of my lifestyle, than there must be something wrong with my lifestyle. I remember that many times when I was younger, my parents would tell me that I should take off my kippa (Jewish skull cap worn by religious males) because we were somewhere that people might not like Jews. This always upset me because I did not think that I had anything to hide.

Fast forward to today and I still have the same attitude about my life. Anyone that knows me or that reads my blog knows that I am very into the idea of gay pride. I have written several posts on the subject. I went to 2 different pride parades this year, one in Tel Aviv and one in Jerusalem. At each one I marched proudly waving my rainbow pride flag. I walk around with a pride pin on my bag and I have a mini Statue of Liberty holding a pride flag in my living room. I also wear a pride bracelet on my arm at all times.
Proud Miss Liberty
My Pride Bracelet

Recently, my mother was visiting Israel and I joined her, my sister and my sister's family for the weekend. At one point, my mom called me to the side and said the following:
"I noticed your bracelet. I get it, I understand it. But please don't wear it around extended family or any of mine and abba's (father's) friends. We just can't deal with that yet". 
As I wrote earlier, since I came out to them, my parents have come such a long way in accepting the fact that I am gay. I do recognize this and I am grateful for their amazing effort. I am also sensitive to how difficult this is for them and considering all this, I agreed not to wear the bracelet when I come to America to visit family for the Jewish holidays. However, I really do hate the idea of having to be dishonest about who I am, just so my parents can save face. And the irony of hiding a pride bracelet is not lost on me.

I know that while visiting them for the high holidays, at least one of their friends will tell me how they know a girl that would be perfect for me and will ask to set me up. (Oh really? you don't say? A girl? For me?) I know members of their synagogue will come over and say things like "how are you not married yet? Are there no nice girls in Israel?" Rather than coming up with some fun, witty response, I will have to put on an act and pretend, just like I did for so many years.

I know it is a very short visit and what my parents friends say and think is really of no consequence. And I really am not looking to make my parent's lives any more difficult or complicated. However, after all those years of denial and hiding, I really hate the idea of having to go back into the closet, even if it is just for a short while.


  1. Well you can wear it when you hang with Ben and me :-)

  2. i would recommend funny, witty responses...

    it seems to make life that much more fun :-)

    1. I;m sure it would be. And thanks for reading and commenting :)

  3. you can "be yourself" wihtout shoving it down everyone's throat.

    there is something to be said for being sensitive to other's feelings. just as you would want others to be sensetive to you

    1. Ksil, read the post again and think carefully about whether your comment is relevant.
      Am I not already settled on the idea of being sensitive to my parents? When did I talk about shoving anything down anyone's throat?
      But of course if a gay person is open and honest about himself, he is shoving his sexuality down everyone's throat. But if a straight person talks about dating, marriage, attraction, that is OK.
      That makes no sense.

  4. I don't think that every none-of-your-business question deserves an answer. I wouldn't lie. I do, however, think that it's perfectly appropriate to respond:

    "I'm not interested, thank you."
    "It's a long story."
    "I'd rather not get into my personal life."
    "That's a rather personal question, isn't it?"

    You'd actually be doing a public service for everything who has ever been subjected to none-of-your-business questions. [I can't count how many people asked me "when are you going to have a baby/give your daughter a sibling?" when I was dealing with multiple miscarriages. After a certain point, I stopped being polite.]

    1. I agree with everything you wrote JRK. However, as I pointed out above to Ksil, it is frustrating that if I were straight I could openly say I want to meet a girl or get set up or whatever. But because I am gay, being honest is insensitive and it means I am shoving my homosexuality in people's faces.
      Its a very frustrating double standard.

    2. you can date and have sex with whoever you want, but there is something to be said for showing some care and sensitivity to topics that may make others feel uncomfortable, like wearing bracelets, etc.

      like it or not, homosexuality is not something that many people are comfortable discussing or seeing on public display. for you to show some sensitivity to that would be nice.

      i dont think people discussing dating or getting married like 95% of this country does makes anyone uncomfortable.

      i am not sure why you cannot see that

    3. As I said already and you seem to ignore, I have already decided that I will not be open about my life because of my parent's sensitivities.
      However, in general I think your extremely wrong. I do not have to be sensitive to that bigotry of others. Some people do not like seeing interracial couples. There are some people that don't like to see Jews, Muslims, or anyone else different then themselves. This is not a matter of sensitivity, its matter of hate.
      Homophobia is the last acceptable form of hate in the US and those days are numbered as well. It is about time people got use to the fact that there are other people in the world and that some of them are different than you are.

    4. i dont believe this hate that you describe is what makes people feel uncomfortable. you need some relaxation medication.

      are there people that hate gays? probably, i dont personally know any. why would you want to flaunt your gayness in those hateful people's face? that would be stupid! can you imagine an interacial couple showing up and making out at a KKK meeting? that would be moronic!

      at this time in history, openly gay activities and public discussion still make many people feel uneasy, not because of hate. can you absorb that concept? its not hate. its something they cannot relate to becasue it is so foreign to them to be attracted to the same sex.

      so be gay. go ahead. but you need to be able to do it without making every person you meet and see know about it.

      and another thing, why does it HAVE to define you? my heterosexuality doesnt define me?

    5. ksil:

      Your last post has contradictory logic. You claim that people are uneasy with all thing gay not because of any hatred, but because it is so foreign to them to be attracted to the same sex.

      Wouldn't it seem less foreign to them if more people around them were open about their orientation?

      I tend to be inherently wary of arguments based on "sensitivity", when they occur in a context of justifying behavior that is NOT sensitive to the legal rights, basic needs or regard for the basic feelings of others.

      I still think that there is a place for keeping personal information private, because in some situations you may not get a great response, and you may not always want to deal with that. That's why I suggested various ways of saying "none of your business". The ultimate decision regarding what to disclose is up each person in each situation.

    6. I think its hard for straight people to relate to the concept of being sexually attracted to someone of the same sex! Not because people arent open about it (just watch TV, or movies, or read blogs - its discusses openly all the time) but becuase it is like space travel. gay people experience attraction to the smae sex, conversly, heteros cant fathom how that is possible.

      this is not an argument "based on sensitivity" - i am simply saying that if all of us were more sensitive to things that bother or are hurtful to others, what a nice place this would be to live. i am not talking about basic needs, i am talking about obvious publicizing, etc.

    7. Ok, ksil. You're saying that "sensitivity" should be shown to folks who gets weirded out by finding out that someone is gay (since the discussion here isn't about public displays of affection, but merely about not concealing sexual orientation).

      Let's do a comparison:

      Option 1:
      People with issues can learn not to automatically think about what people do in bed, just as we don't picture every straight couple having sex (to be honest, with lots of folks, I don't want to think about the details). If this is difficult, they can get help.

      Option 2:
      People who are gay can go through life making sure that they never mention anything about their orientation in public. This will include not participating in conversations about what they did on the weekend or dating stories. Even when straight people mention weddings and casually refer to their partner, gay people must never do the same, and the existence and identity of any partner must remain hidden.

      Is this what you mean by showing "sensitivity"?

  5. I am getting frustrated repeating myself. When did I say that it has to define me? And if I did, I can. I don't really care how you define yourself. To each their own. However, if I someone can ask me about my dating life, I should be able to answer honestly. And others should be able to deal with the fact that other people are different. It's simple as that

  6. I just heard about your parents and the horrible accident. I am so sorry. There are no words that can adequately express how sad I am for you and your family. I hope you can find comfort among your family and friends.