I’m Proud because Being Different is Not Just OK – It’s Incredible

At the young age of 5, I started what would be a decade of denial. I should’ve known I was gay when I was in preschool, and I asked my mom if there was a country where I could marry my best friend, Rachel.

I should’ve known I was gay when I put it on my calendar every Monday for five years to “Pick A
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New Crush.” Every other girl in my class had a crush on a boy, so I would take a look around a classroom and pick the boy that wasn’t picking his nose. I didn’t have high standards.

I should’ve known I was gay when I watched the movie
Stranger Than Fiction
over and over again just for the one scene when Maggie Gyllenhaal danced in the bakery.

I should’ve known I was gay, and deep down I did know I was gay, but society told me I had to be something I’m not, and I obeyed.

I came out for the first time to one of my closest friends at a convention for my youth group, United Synagogue Youth (USY). She immediately accepted me but I was still slapping myself in the face when I saw a cute girl and constantly praying to G-d to please, Hashem, help me be “normal.”

I came out to a group of peers on April 4th, 2014 at the Keshet/Hazon LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton. I drove up from my New York suburb to Middle Of Nowhere, Connecticut (Falls Village) with my best friend from USY to the Isabella Freedman Center.


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With shaking hands, I grabbed my suitcase and walked into a room with around 50 Jewish teens. Some draped rainbow flags over their shoulders and others chatted about the best challah recipe for Shabbat dinner. From learning about the hardships that other LGBT Jewish teens have endured to doing services on a mountain top, I felt the largest connection to Judaism I have ever experienced and my hatred for myself transformed into an overwhelming sense of pride. April 4th to 6th is the weekend that changed my life for the better.

I came out publicly to the world through a video of me being honored at the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network Awards and am now one of the first “out” people in my grade at school.