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What I Wish I Had Known at 13

When the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would decide on the legality of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June, I decided to take a look at a speech I gave about lesbian and gay families for my synagogue’s oratory contest in 2004. At the time, Multnomah County, Oregon (a mile from where I lived) had briefly legalized same-sex marriage, bringing LGBTQ rights to the local forefront for the first time I could remember; I, as a not-yet-aware-I-was-queer 13-year-old, wanted to share my thoughts from a Jewish perspective. My speech (which won second place in the middle school division!) was well-intentioned, but often misguided. Among other things, it:

  • Called homosexuality a lifestyle
  • Discussed the Torah’s call to kill men who have sex with men in a “well, we shouldn’t kill, but obviously it must be bad if the Torah said it was worthy of death” kind of tone
  • Acknowledged that same-sex couples could make great parents and that adopting was a mitzvah
Creative Common/sgt fun

Creative Common/sgt fun

In the years between giving that speech in 2004 and now, I grew and changed: from a middle schooler to a grad student, from a Conservative Jew to a humanistic one, and from a closeted boy to a proud queer man. During many of those years, I struggled to understand and accept my sexual orientation. I recently reflected upon what I wish I had known before that struggle, when I gave my speech nine years ago: Continue reading

Posted on July 10, 2013

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