I recently was talking to a friend of mine, and we were wistfully discussing our future marriage and children. At a certain point in the conversation, they remarked “I feel so bad for the queer women in your community who are forced to marry boys.” Having been raised in a Hasidic and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, a girl’s only option in life was to have a traditional heterosexual marriage arranged for her during or soon after high school.
Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, as well as many other extremist religions, have made no room for being queer. They tell you it is an abomination. They say it is corrupt, ungodly, unethical. They preach tolerance and acceptance only for those who follow the rules, for those who fit in the perfect mold of what a “good Jewish girl” should be. When I first realized that I was queer, I so desperately tried to suppress what I felt. I was terrified of what it meant to be what we were always taught was vile and immoral.
“At best, being queer was laughed at or brushed off as irrelevant. At worst, I was called creepy and gross by friends I used to trust.
What do you do when you are trapped in place where you have no choices? When daring to stray from the path your religion sets for you means giving up everyone and everything you love? When the word queer is spoken only in disgusted whispers, if it is even mentioned at all? When all your teachers and Rabbi’s spit the word “Gay” in terms of hellfire and sin? At best, being queer was laughed at or brushed off as irrelevant. At worst, I was called creepy and gross by friends I used to trust.
As proud as I am to have grown into my queer identity, they say the brain is one’s own worst enemy. Internalized homophobia never lurks too far behind in my mind. There are times when I find myself questioning whether the hate I have been taught really is the truth. Do I just think being gay is okay because it is how I identify, and I am trying to delude myself into thinking that I am right? Are queer people really going to be the “death of society,” as so many people have told me? There are so many times in life that I need to remind myself that I am not wrong for being queer. Today, I want to remind you of that too.
In a world full of intolerance, poverty, and selfishness, love has the power to restore faith. It repairs shattered hearts, heals lost souls, mends the broken world we live in. Love transcends gender, ethnicity, ability, or religion. It is the most beautiful blessing, a powerful privilege. Bringing more love into the world cannot possibly be a bad thing. If someone is hating on the beauty that is love, the problem obviously lies with them. Being queer is wonderful, and people being their authentic selves makes the world a better place. Love is patient, love is kind, and love is a terrible thing to hate.