Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ad Matai?

A heinous anti-gay attack took place last week just one mile from where I work. The Latin Kings is one of the dominant gangs in the region and has a large following near my school. The attack has been called the worst act of anti-gay violence in NYC history.

As we go into National Coming Out Day, let us realize that coming out is not merely a means of showing one's pride, nor is it solely a statement of identity. It could serve those purposes, but more importantly, coming out is a humanizing force. Would these gang members have reacted so violently to the thought of one of their recruits being gay had known openly gay people in their community? Would Billy Lucas, Justin Aaberg, Asher Brown, and many other recent victims have been bullied so mercilessly if openly homosexual students comprised a small, yet significant portion of their middle schools? And finally, would Tyler Clementi have viewed the thought of being outed as so catastrophic if he had been exposed to more openly gay individuals?

Don't get me wrong. I am not, G-d forbid, excusing or justifying the actions of the perpetrators; they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Yet we - the GLBT community and our straight allies - have been complicit in allowing a culture of hate to exist in our society. How many times have we stayed quiet when someone made an anti-gay remark? How many political and religious messages of hate have we allowed to go unchallenged? Whether we are gay or straight, out or closeted, we cannot stay silent any longer - we cannot afford to stay silent any longer.

The Mishnah in Sanhedrin teaches "One who saves a life, it is as if he saved an entire world." Please, have one conversation, influence one person's heart and mind. You can never know the impact of your actions. This is the message of National Coming Out Day.


Tom said...

Yasher koach on an excellent blog

tmccloud said...

As far as Tyler Clementi, speaking as a Rutgers Alum, there is almost no place that has a BIGGER gay presence than Rutgers, home of the 3rd oldest Gay student organization in continuous meeting, and the 2nd oldest Gay Org in NJ.

Anonymous said...

Hey Big Boy,

Hope you enjoy this weeks Parshah Toldos ... here is a dvar Torah which made me think of you:

Rivkah is extremely puzzled at the start of Toldos. She has twins inside her stomach, and (as Rashi quotes on 25;22) one kicks to get out whenever they pass a house of idol worship, whilst the other kicks to get out when she passes the yeshiva of shem v'ever..and Rivkah doesn't necessarily know she is having twins! So she seeks prophetic advice, and is told that she's having twins who will head two opposite nations. The question is this: It is a basic axiom that to be able to be punished or rewarded, one must have free will. But if Esav was already kicking out to avodah zarah when still unborn, where was his free will? What hope did he have for later on in life?
The answer is (as the Ramchal points out in derech hashem 1;3;8) that free will does not mean that one has no urges. It could still be that one has a 90% pull to do an aveirah, yet the fact that there is 10% fighting that urge (or even less) means that it is no longer inevitable that you must sin. And that's where your free will kicks in - you must decide whether you will go with the 90 or the 10. So too here, Esav had a strong urge to do avodah zarah even in the womb, but when he grew older he had the tools to fight that urge.
The lesson for us is that it is perfectly natural to have urges to do things which are not 100% correct; are we going to give in or fight them?[or better still to use those same urges for gemarra shabbes 156a says that if someone has an urge for shedding blood he should channel that urge by being a mohel].

Good Shabbos!!