And Jacob Came Out…

Jews read sections of the Torah each week, and these sections, known as parshiyot, inspire endless examination year after year. Each week we will bring you essays examining these portions from a queer perspective, drawn from the book Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and the Torah Queeries online collection. This week, Maggid Jhos Singer sees Jacob’s flight from his family in Genesis 28 as a unique coming out experience.

Out of the Closet. Creative Common/Heiko

Creative Common/Heiko

Do you remember the first moment you stumbled out of the closet? I don’t mean the first moment that you privately realized you were queer (and by ‘queer’ here I mean whatever differentness you might manifest that isn’t readily apparent to a casual observer), or even when you first acted on your queer tendencies. What I’m thinking of is the first moment that you actually stood in the light of day, as it were, being totally out—just you showing up fully, unhidden, true. You know, your first Meg Christian concert or the first time you marched in an LGBT Pride Parade, the first time you wore a yarmulke/kippah out in the general public, or the first time you corrected a stranger who assumed you were something that you’re not. Thrilling, wasn’t it? Scary, but really incredible, right? I remember feeling broken open and alive in a way that was totally new, awesome, and powerful. While it feels kind of corny to admit it, it really was a spiritual experience.

For many of us, this first coming out happens in the most unlikely of places — in a bar with a floor tacky with spilled drinks, during a song with abysmally PC lyrics, in a small bland meeting room with florescent lighting, or in a synagogue that we finally got up the courage to enter. One moment the dark closet door was closed and the next moment, BLAM, it burst open and the light flooded in. I remember the rush of that moment, I could feel the past fluttering wildly like a ribbon whipping in the wind, and spread out before me lay the wilderness of my truth and a future that exceeded my wildest dreams…