Religious. Gay. You’ve heard this, right?

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Earlier this year, the Israeli website HOD launched. It’s a Hebrew acronym that roughly translates to “religious and gay.” It’s a small site (and the English section is even smaller) that, as far as I can tell, is less a Trembling Before G-d-like scenario — in other words, a statement of self-definition — and more like a site by gay religious Jews, for gay religious Jews, posting activities, halachic rulings, articles, and to talk about…well, whatever gay religious Jews like to talk about.

You’ll notice that the original YNet story about the website doesn’t even link to the site. (They do, however, mention the only other religious gay site, Atzat Nefesh — a site “that tried to ‘turn’ gay religious people straight” — and linked to that.

Anyway. A Hasidic writer friend tried pitching this story to a number of magazines — first in the Hasidic world, then in the greater Orthodox world at large. All of them refused to carry it. I should make some snarky remark about how it’s unsurprising, but the fact is, the people who need to hear this stuff the most are the least likely to read it and, even more so, to propagate it. Finally, HOD published it, and now it’s being syndicated in London, Sydney, and New York City — on the local gay Jewish websites, of course.

On one hand, yes, it’s notable that Hasidic Jews are acknowledging that there are gay children in our communities. On the other, it’s a travesty that no Orthodox paper will print an article written by a straight Hasidic person, directed at other straight Hasidic people, to talk about this. This is exactly the reason that gay Orthodox kids run away, stop being religious, or, rachmana litzlan, commit suicide, folks — because we can’t hold ourselves accountable to say what we’re thinking.

Originally, the author was going to copy it as a booklet and give it out at local Orthodox synagogues. I don’t think that’s a bad idea at all. First, go read it. And then fire up your photocopiers.

Posted on September 5, 2008

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