A second look at homosexuality

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A second look at homosexuality

  1. 1. A second look at homosexualityMagazine article by Harold M. Schulweis; Tikkun, Vol. 12, May-June 1997A second look at homosexuality.by Harold M. SchulweisMany years ago the issue of homosexuality was for me a matter of theoretical interest.Intellectually I knew there were homosexuals, but personally I knew none. Whoeverthey were, they were well-closeted, out of sight, out of mind. These last years theyhave lost their anonymity. Real blood and flesh persons, they come into my study.Now visible and audible, they have come to speak to me. Out of desperation they haveleft their closeted lives to reveal themselves.They have come carrying a fateful knowledge, one that most of them discovered earlyin their lives: They are attracted to persons of their own gender. As they grew up, thewhispers they overheard became loud stories: Homosexuals are unnatural, perverse,pathological, sinful. They dress differently, molest children, and are wildly permissive,hedonistic, and outrageous. Gay men have seen themselves portrayed on the stage andon television as lisping, swishy, effeminate wimps whom others call feigele-boychik.Supposedly they live in wretched places and hang out in dark bars and dark bathhouses. Lesbian women have heard themselves called "butch-dykes," and areportrayed as angry, unattractive, emasculating man-haters.Those who come to see me know they are hated, rejected, mocked, scorned, reviled.They are frightened. The hatred they know is not confined to particular places, or toparticular groups of people from different ethnicities, faiths, or races. On graduationnight at Calabasas High School in Woodland Hills, California, a white middle-classteenager named Robert Rosenkrantz shot his schoolmate Steve Redman ten times withan Uzi semi-automatic rifle. What turns a teenager like Robert into a murderer? It wasfear, desperate loneliness, and a rage sparked by Roberts schoolmate and his brotherJoey, who spied on Robert in an attempt to prove he was gay. When they caught himin a homosexual encounter, they told his parents. Robert disclosed at his trial that hehad hidden his homosexuality from his family in fear of their rejection. Sixteen year-old fellow student Wendy Bell said, "If people found out you were gay at this school,you would be verbally tortured."What greater humiliation than to discover that in the eyes of your society you arereally not human? And what makes a human being more human than his or her abilityto love and be loved? But homosexuals are not seen as lovable and are not allowed tolove. They live in silent shame, fearful of the revelation that will shake the foundationof their being. Theirs is a monstrous burden to carry. Even the most innocent questioncan be fraught with emotional terror. To hear well-meaning aunts and uncles say, "Doyou have a boyfriend?" or to hear someone plan to set up a date, starts a panic in theirhearts: Do others know? How long can I bite my tongue?They have come to see me because I am a rabbi and they are Jews. Every Yore Kippurthey hear the same selection read from the Torah that sanctities homophobia. It ischanted in the afternoon of Yom Kippur when some are reporting headaches anddiscomforts that come with fasting the entire day. But this day, one young man who

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