For Bidden Fruits
I write this piece as a eulogy to a friend of mine who has left the fold. He left because he knew he could never fit in. And the reason he knew that is because in his very own way he replicated the first sin of all. He tasted the forbidden fruit. Now you are all thinking horrible thoughts and images of sex and lust are springing up, but I do not mean that metaphor so. What I mean is that he fed himself from the tree of knowledge.
Along with all the things he learned in his passionate quest to become a true Shaigetz he discovered he was gay and all that implies. He came to the conclusion that there was no way he could find acceptance for that in our community. I do not know where he is today. Neither do his parents. Completely alone in this big bad world, a young boy not trained to fend for himself is probably in some gutter and that’s if he’s lucky.
Mendy is gay too. He does not know it but I do. Statisticians maintain that 5% of people are gay, and a further 10-20% bisexual in varying degrees. Ask any Chassid and he will steadfastly maintain that there are no gay Chassidim. He will not be lying.
As long as it was believed that homosexuality is the result of indulgence in decadence and a condition that one could choose to rid oneself of, I suppose one could excuse those who shunned anyone displaying such tendencies. Especially if it was on religious grounds, with the Bible clearly lending support to such a view. But medical science has firmly put paid to the idea that anyone can choose his or her sexual orientation. It has been shown by doctors that x-ray pictures of one particular area of the brain in gay men look significantly different to those of straight men. Our religious authorities do not see articles discussing this so they are probably not even aware of this fact.
Being gay, as opposed to being attracted to members of the same sex, is a relatively new phenomenon. In what I see as a politicization of a fact, gays have formed themselves into a group with an identity rather than just people who share an inclination. To someone like Mendy this has not yet happened. He is probably aware that the Gay movement exists, however he does not identify with them because he is not aware that his feelings are any different to those of all his friends. He supposes that all men are attracted to men but they marry women. Perverts and shgatzim have sex with men but he is not like that because he is a nice religious boy. He is not aware that his unfulfilling sexual relationship with his wife is not the norm, and to a certain extent I think he is lucky. In the absence of the knowledge of what he is missing he does not miss it. I choose not to tell him because I cannot see how letting him know will make him happier. It certainly will not help his wife, who probably likewise thinks she lives in bliss, or the three children who really do.
If, God forbid, he does find out one day, what I will tell him is this; “You have an inclination and that cannot be changed. Unfortunately our religion does not allow you to have such a relationship. I feel your pain and understand your problem. Ideally you should be able to rely on the support and understanding of all your friends and family but that is not the case. Now if you will go home and keep quiet forever you can remain a fine true chassid and I am sure God will reward you. If you will not however, then you’d sure as hell better make a lot of money, because this community will not allow you to remain here otherwise.”
And then I’ll go home and shed my tears for whatever option he takes.