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“The sensitivity and understanding we properly express for human beings with other sexual orientations does not diminish our commitment to that principle.” Earlier this month, leading up to New York’s Celebrate Israel Parade, a group of Orthodox rabbis signed a letter stating that since a group known by the initials of LGBT that was composed of several gay Jewish organizations had a “hidden agenda” of promoting homosexuality, Orthodox groups should pull out of the parade.“[It] is a brazen attempt to force Orthodox Jews to accept their way of life at the Torah’s expense,” the signatories wrote.“I went to yeshiva and there were no gay characters on television,” said Moshe, who asked that we not use his real name.There was no discussion of gay issues at the yeshiva, either, he remembers: Everyone was implicitly taught that the only way to channel their sexuality was to get married—to women, of course.You feel less shame when you’re not the only one.” For Levovitz, the change happened when he discovered the website Gay in 2001 as a student in Yeshiva University.Levovitz, 19 at the time, recalls it as some sort of dating website where you could specify religious orientation, from Reform to Orthodox. “I felt very isolated and alone at the time, and I predominantly wanted friends who understood me and where I was coming from.” Levovitz, who had already come out, began corresponding with other LGBT Jews who identified themselves as Orthodox.She added: 'That's what it is to be pansexual, you know - loving people for who they are on the inside, no matter their label. So I guess I am pansexual, but I don't know because I haven't fallen in love.'The teen star has previously discussed with Oprah Winfrey the struggles she has experienced in finding her first love, revealing on Oprah's series Where Are They Now?
According to several people I spoke with, many of the members of the oldest Orthodox LGBT group—Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni, who meet monthly at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center in New York City—are still closeted to various degrees.At 22, Moshe did just that, hoping he could “marry the gay away.” “We dated for 12 days,” he recalled.That was in 1994, before the popular advent of the Internet.“I needed that.” His therapist at the time, a prominent rabbi in Moshe’s community, suggested he start his own blog to discuss his homosexuality anonymously. “I am a frum, gay & married male who feels compelled to share,” he wrote in his first blog entry. Since the Internet boom and the more recent growing popularity of social media—from blogs to Facebook groups, dating sites to Twitter feeds, as well as official organizational websites—there has been a veritable explosion of sites and support groups for LGBT Orthodox Jews, a population that until now, hid in the shadows.
“I could be a [homosexuals] supporting gay marriage. The Internet has created a safe space for a population caught between the demands of faith and the demands of self—a population that didn’t have a safe space before.Writing in the 1970s, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the most important decider of the century, wrote: “To speak of a desire for homosexual intimacy is a contradiction in terms. The evil inclination entices the person to rebel against the will of the Holy One, Blessed Be He.” Some Orthodox rabbis continue to advocate “reparative therapy.” But even while other, more mainstream Orthodox attitudes have become far more compassionate, they still rarely get more accepting than a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin approach.