Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
One day at synagogue, my friend excitedly came up to me, and asked me to come to the Keshet/Hazon LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton with her. Now, I had no idea what she meant, but she went on to explain that is a weekend retreat for queer Jewish teens. It sounded cool, and she was really excited, so I said “sure, I’d go.”
I never expected what I’d find there. I identify as bisexual. I’ve never been particularly shy about anything, including my sexuality, but I never paraded it.
The phrase “I’m bisexual” always came out of my mouth as quietly as possible.
Most of my friends know, and the ones who don’t know because it just hasn’t come up. I’ve met a few people who have had issues with it—I’ve been told I’m “not natural” and that “being homophobic isn’t any worse than being homosexual”—but overall, most people I’ve met have been great about it.
However, at the Shabbaton, among a community of Jewish teens, people weren’t just accepting of my sexuality—they embraced it.
I was surrounded by people with every gender and sexuality under the sun, and I loved it. One of the aspects of being bisexual is that biphobia isn’t just a phenomenon among homophobic heterosexuals—I’ve experienced biphobia from members of the LGBTQ+ as well, including the statement “so you’re not really queer.”
At the Keshet/Hazon LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton, for the first time, I felt truly safe and completely accepted.
Safe is a word that gets tossed around a lot—a safe environment, a safe space, etc.—but that’s because having a space where you feel truly safe is a vital aspect to being human.
And regarding my sexuality, my safe space had been a few people here and there. But at the Keshet/Hazon LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton, I found a whole community who embraced me with arms wide open.
That’s why I send rainbow-themed pictures to the friends I made on the Shabbaton. And why, when my female friend suggested wearing a tie and slacks to the next Shabbaton, I nodded enthusiastically.
And why, whenever I say the phrase “I’m bisexual,” I say it loudly.
Like this post?
- Join the conversation through MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.
- Get breaking LGBTQ Jewish news, resources, and inspiration from Keshet in your inbox!
- #GivingTuesday is today! Will you support a safe and inclusive community for LGBTQ Jewish teens?
- Registration for the Keshet/Hazon LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton is open! Learn more by clicking here!