S.O.S

I don’t actually know what S.O.S stands for but I know that it’s a distress call (or is it?)  I’m not in distress, I’m just stressed.  If you read my other blog, which you should.  In fact, take a moment and go read it now I’ll wait here.

http://blackgayandjewish.wordpress.com

Back?  Great.  So you’ve read that I’m giving a talk in front of a handful of Jews of Color about being a Black, Gay Jew-to-be.  I need some help from other Queers of Color, Jews who are Queer, Jews who are not Queer, and Jews of Color.  It’s a simple questionnaire I would e-mail to you for you to fill out and return.  If you want to help out, or know anyone who might want to, please send them my way.

blackgayandjewish@gmail.com

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The Islamic Center, You and Me

Muslims pray here

 

I’ve been reading a lot of the Huffington Post lately, as it is my new-found obsession. I have been commenting obsessively about this crazy “Ground Zero Mosque” charade that’s going on in NYC and across the nation and I’m truly at a loss for words.  

Buddhists Pray Here

What is Mosque any way?  What’s a shul, or synagogue?  What’s a church?  What’s a temple?  Do they make bombs in mosques?  Do they burn babies in synagogues?  Do they worship idols in churches/temples??  Nope.  We pray in them.  They’re houses of prayer.  A place for community, to eat, sing, dance, pray, meditate, enjoy the company of others.  They hold sacred texts, the architecture is often awe-inspiring, They are often beautifully decorated with stained glass, beautiful mosaics, paintings, gilded in gold.   Homes of languages, English, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Sanskrit.  I digress… 

Jews Pray Here

Being a writer, I’m never at a loss of words but the words that I keep coming up with our those of a toddler.  Why?  Any parent of a 2-year-old will tell you that “Why” is one of those words that you try not to teach your child and some how it happens that they learn the singular question and the Pandora’s Box of Why is opened and you never, ever have an answer no matter how hard you try. 

I was a Why Child, my mother tells me.  Everything she said was questioned and the answers she gave were questioned until impatient and exhausted she would retort, “Because, that’s why!”  Jullian, my beautiful 4-year-old nephew, is a Why Child and as events continue to unfold before my eyes and ears I’m remembering that I am, in fact, a Why Child. 

The first I heard of the “Ground Zero Mosque” was at work at 4AM by employees who were giving me a very loose, very ignorant interpretation of what was going on.  Because they were talking in ear shot and they were being bigoted and you know, discrimination in the work place is a no-no I asked them to change their topic of conversation from racist ones to something more appropriate. 

As the weeks go on I can’t help but wonder Why American’s cannot see what they’re doing?  Let’s take a look at History, keeping in mind that I am not a history scholar, nor do I pretend to be. 

We “discover” America.  Never mind the people who’ve lived on the continent for centuries.  We come in, we over power them, we make them into savages, beasts, less-than humans.  We use our fire power to over power them and drive them off the land and now these people live in fractions of land without basic human, American privileges like education, health care, and a sense of belonging.  The entire span of the continent that is North America shrunk into spaces – Reservations we call them.  What are we reserving?  We’ve taken away a way of life, and more than that we’ve taken away a people. 

 

Next we board ships and cross the Atlantic and rip a people, my people, from their own country.  We strip them of their humanity, their dignity, their identity and shackle them in bowels of ships like cattle.  The unfortunate ones who survive the journey back across the Atlantic are then treated worse than cattle, worse than live stock.  They aren’t given rights because they are property and are treated as such.  Human beings striped of anything human in a society where a family can be broken up and sold, women can be raped, and men can be tortured. 

  

When my people are given emancipation we’re still second class citizens without the right to own property or vote and to this day a black person walking down the wrong street on the wrong night is not safe. 

 

 The Next second class citizens, women, are never stripped of rights because we never had them at all.  

 

 The thing that “marriage supporters” always forget that the purpose of marriage, originally, had nothing to do with religion at all.  It was an exchange of property and goods and ownership, the woman, from one man to another.  The Hebrew Bible is riddled with women being treated no better than slaves.  Lot offers his virgin daughters to the savages of Sodom for goodness sake!    

 

Women fought for what we believed in and still we make less money, we cannot be ordained as holy people in many faiths, we’re still seen as second class citizens and some men feel that it’s their right or privilege to call out in the streets, grab in the bars… 

 

Japanese people after the World War, Jews at any time in history.  We’re making it impossible for Mexicans to seek solice in our country when the purpose of our country was to give solice to those who came looking,   “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

 

When the twin towers fell I sat watching at home with my family like everyone else.  I remember listening to the broadcasters and thinking to myself when they said “Muslim terrorists” G-d help us.  Some blacks scoffed it off, “now someone else knows what it feels like.”  People spit bigotry and racism freely and very few opposed it.  

When the twin towers fell 16 radical “Islamic” men took the lives of thousands of men, women, children.  Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, etc., etc.  Gays, straights, lesbians, queers…Blacks, Whites, Asians, Latinos… 

It was a loss for all Americans including Americans who are Muslims.  The world watched in horror remembering D-Day, The Shoah, A divided Ireland, an oppressed Germany.  Why? 

Why can’t people remember those things?  Why can’t people remember their humanity, their compassion, their love, the fact that at one time we all were “Muslim”, the “other” person, people, sex, gender, race… 

Reading history books in school, whether it be grade school, high school, or college, I remember shaking my head in dismay at the horrors that we humans have wrought upon other humans.  Rereading the Torah I shake my head still.  As a civilization we continue to do this and Why don’t we learn? 

As a Jew, we believe that Moshiach will come when the world is free of all sin, and I’m paraphrasing clearly.  It’s written far more eloquently else where.  Christians also belive that the world will be redeemed when it’s pure and guess what?  Muslims think that, too!!  

How will Moshiach come if we’re acting like savage beasts!?  Why would s/he?  I sure as hell wouldn’t.  G-d promised Noah that he’d never destroy the earth again after the great flood.  Let’s remember that Erika does NOT take the Bible for face value.  One of the reasons I’m embracing Judaism is because it’s encouraged for me to “wrestle” with the Torah.  I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again.  I bet G-d is regretting that promise right about now. 

   

   

 

Black, Gay, and Jewish Part 5

I’m rereading the book “Choosing a Jewish Life” by Anita Diamant.  I started reading it around May of this year and read through it quickly.  I had her other book, “Living a Jewish Life” and various other titles to get through so while I did, indeed, read it, I didn’t grasp very much of it.  It’s still a quick read the second time around by now when I read the Hebrew transliterations I know that I’m pronouncing the words more properly. 

One of the suggestions Anita makes in this book is that you start to make your life, your home, more Jewish by making little changes.  She suggests dietary laws, subscriptions to Jewish magazines or newspapers as well as the “normal” mitzvahs like attending temple, keeping Shabbat, and reading Torah.  Little by little I’ve been making changes to better Jewify my home and life.  My next endeavor? Magazine and Newspaper subscriptions.  I’m looking for resources that I can relate to.  Those of a liberal and inclusive perspective I more closely identify with because I’m a black Jew.  I’m still on the look out for a black Jewish publication so if any of you have suggestions, please let me know.

I’m also looking at those from an Orthodox perspective as well as a Conservative perspective so that I can learn.  I think it would be naive of me to just focus on reform and more liberal Jewish practices because if I ignore others, I’m not really “getting it” or appreciating it.  Google was very helpful in my search and my credit card is going to start to bleed soon if I subscribe to them all so I will not.  I won’t get through them all, any way.  Luckily, there are a few quarterly publications in addition to the weekly newspapers so I think I’ll figure something out.

Best thing I’ve found, though, is the openness for submissions and the writing contests!  I’ve been keeping three separate notebooks; Black, Gay, and Jewish that I write in daily so that I can better shape my memoir.  It’s great to see how the themes of belonging and sometimes feeling like an outsider in this skin of mine is mirrored in all three of my identities.  There are times now when I don’t feel “gay enough” because I don’t fit into the stereotypical mold of what a lesbian is or is not.  My childhood is filled with painful memories of peers or my parents telling me that I wasn’t black enough.  Now, as I enter Judaica stores or flip through pages of Jewish magazines I’m hard-pressed to find a face that looks like mine. 

On the other hand, I love a beautiful woman who I want to spend my entire life with.  When I see her I get happy and I feel lusty at the same time.  This fact, and my love, adoration, and attraction to women, in general, make me a lesbian.  I’m undeniably black.  I cannot change the kinky curly texture of my hair nor can I make my skin, that’s darker in the NYC sun, any lighter than it will be in December.  While I’m not formally a Jew, inside I’m starting to feel Jewish.  I actually said, “we” to Mirs the other day, instead of  “them” when talking about Jewish people.  We spent the night looking up Jewish names for our unborn children as well as for the Hebrew name I will take.  I’m leaning to Charna, which is a Yiddish name of Slavic origin that means “black.” 

These three identities are seemingly different but through the writing of my memoir and my pieces here and on VP, I’m beginning to realize that they’re not all that different because I’m making them three in the same.

Black, Gay, and Jewish Part 4

I’m writing  a series with the same name on the Velvet Park website.  Here’s a link to the most recent article I wrote for them.  http://www.velvetparkmedia.com/blogs/black-gay-and-jewish-part-two-finding-path  Because of the nature of the site, I usually try to keep my entries for them around 600 words.  Because this is my personal blog I can write and write and write. 

I’m using my experience of conversion to Judaism as one third of the novel that I’m writing.  The novel, Black, Gay, and Jewish, is about me, my life, and my struggles with these three varying identities that make up who I am and how I indentify.  Writing here and on Velvet Park allows me to sort of flush out smaller themes so that I can remember and so that I can write.  Obviously, my Velvet Park posts focus mostly on Judaism, because it’s what I’m focused on now.  Here, though, I can explore all three of the themes of my book.

Like that little Introduction to this post?  I did, too. 

On Tuesday afternoon I walked into a temple in Midtown East and boarded the elevator with a tall girl I’m guessing is about 25 or so.  We both walked the room we were told to the week before and met with the Rabbi who was conducting our Conversion  Course.  That’s right, readers, I’m enrolled in a conversion course!  I cannot tell you how excited I am but there’s a lot of, “buts”, involved in this course.  It’s not a conversion course in the sense that after the many weeks of meetings and study that I will automatically go into my mikvah and come out the other side a Jew.  She’s told us that afterwards if we’re still interested in continuing the conversion process that it’s a discussion we can have at a later date.  I’m also not 100% positive that this synagogue, which is huge, beautiful, and a little bit imposing, will be my synagogue.  In fact, in the next few weeks I have more temples to attend Shabbat at and more meetings with prospective rabbis interested in discussing the conversion process with me.  Still, this rabbi was amazing, friendly, engaging, and seems genuinely passionate just about Judaism but about converting prospective Jews by choice.

Those simple facts are attractive to me, the fact that I wasn’t the only person of color in the room was also very attractive to me.  To my immediate right was a Swedish au pair who’d lived and worked for a Jewish family for over 6 years.  Her family’s holidays became her holidays and she found herself identifying closely with Judaism.  Next to her was a middle-aged father of two.  His wife was Jewish and they’d lived a Jewish life for the entire span of their marriage and in his words, “it was time.”  Next to him was a Cuban Kabbalistic who realized that Kabbalah, didn’t work without the recognition of its important place in Judaism, as a whole.  He’s been studying Kabbalah for ten years and his Catholic wife supports him.  Next to him was a black man just back from a long length of time living in Israel.  When he came back to the US he struggled with missing Israel when he realized that he missed Judaism.  Next to him sat the girl I’d taken the elevator with.  Her fiance is studying to be a rabbi and she’s drawn to the religion and has decided to convert.  Next to her was an  Asian woman whose father is Jewish.  She rediscovered her roots and found her place of belonging when she got engaged to a Jewish man.  Then the rabbi, a strikingly beautiful, engaging, energetic, and passionate woman who captured my attention from the moment we said hello to when we said good bye 2 hours later.

The class is intense.  There’s an actual syllabus with 5 books that are required of us to read.  The Torah portions are also assigned readings and in addition to the bi-weekly group meetings we’re all required to meet with her individually to talk about things.  I left the class energized and excited.  For the first time, even though I’ve attended Shabbat services and read countless books, I felt like, This is It!  I’m really going to do this! 

The class was on Tuesday and on Friday night I made my way back uptown to attend Shabbat service at the synagogue.  I was thankful when I noticed that the service would be held in their lower, pavilion level, rather than in the imposing sanctuary.  The pews formed a circle around the rabbi and cantor so that everyone was a part of the service.  I was late by about 20 minutes because of some really annoying train re-working but when I walked in the ushers smiled at me, “Shabbat Shalom.”  I was given a prayer book and directed to open seats (it was packed!)  They were in the middle of singing when I sat down and the gentlemen next to me showed me the page number and place we were at in the song as he smiled at me.  He was older, alone, with grey hair under his kippah.   It’s going to sound really odd, perhaps, but the circle style of worship was genious.  For me, the circle reminds us that we’re all in it together, you’re connected to the people around you.  Circles have no beginning and no end, they’re inclusive (and a bit exclusive, no?)  After the first song ended, and I actually recognized the melody, I felt tears brimming in my eyes.   The words and prayers and songs were familiar and the sermon given by the rabbi were meaningful to me.   

After service we were invited for refreshments and a tour of the historic sanctuary.  I introduced myself to the rabbi and he was warm and welcoming.  The congregants were warm and genuine, I even had an interesting exchange with a Jewish grandma.

While pouring Kosher wine (thankfully not Manichevitz)

Older Lady to her friend, about me, “My what a beauty!”  to me “Shabbat Shalom! You’re beautiful”

Me:  “Thanks!”

After a few moments, “Are you here with someone?  Are you single?”  It was pretty cute. 

Friday morning I helped Mirs move to Ditmas Park. She’d been telling me about the amazing diversity of her new neighborhood for two weeks and I finally got to explore it with her.  We have friends who live there but we’d only seen their side of the street.  Mirs’ side is a little more interesting.  Her building is giant and filled with Russian speaking neighbors and the smells of curries and stews in the hallways.  When you walk out of her door and go a few blocks it turns from Russian to Pakistani.  The shop windows are in Arabic and the food is Halal.  There is an Indian influence with beautiful saris in the windows.   The men were dressed in traditional attire, beards and head coverings.   A few more blocks then it turns from Pakistani to Jewish.  There’s the Flatbush Yeshiva, many temples, I presume are orthodox, and since it was Friday afternoon, busy-looking women, children, and men.  We found many a Judaica store-my new favorite, Eichler’s, where I purchased my mezuzah, which is affixed to my door, as well as my Hebrew magnet letters. 

Before finding Eichler’s we walked into a smaller Judaica store in search for the perfect mezuzah.  The ladies who ran the shop were adorably sceptical when we walked in but smiled, wished them a good Shabbat, and asked where the mezuzahs were.  After I found my mezuzah we went into a bakery that was bustling and running low on challah.  We got a small loaf and I went to temple leaving Mirs home.

It’s been on my door for almost 48 hours and walking past it as I leave or enter my apartment has made me realize that it’s not only a mitzvah to put a mezuzah on my door but it’s reminded me that I need to make my home into one that  I find sanctuary in.  By placing a mezuzah on my door I’ve made my home, my space, a holier one and with that comes the responsiblity for me to make it more comfortable, more inviting, more uniquely my own as opposed to a place that I live in.

So much of my life is stressful right now and my home, my sanctuary and protection from the outside world, needs to feel like that.  I’m a list maker and right along with finding a Hamsa Hand to put in my entry way I’m realizing that my books on Judaism are multiplying quickly, I don’t have a place in my house comfortable or conducive to writing, my small kitchen has so much empty and unused space that I could better utilize for cooking.  And even though my living space is small, I want to have Shabbat dinner here and invite over friends to enjoy it with.

I’ve taken so many steps towards my Judaism and there are hundreds of steps that I still need to take.  What excites me the most ist hat I’m excited to take them, eager to take them, but also realizing that I need to take them slowly so that I appreciate them.

A Day of Fasting

Thanks to a new reader I realized that today is Tisha B’av-“The ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, a day of mourning and fasting recalling the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.” from Living a Jewish Life by Anita Diamant.  Starting at sundown yesterday Jews are supposed to fast, mourn, and refrain from working and other activities, including the reading of the Torah.  The fast is supposed to be a 25 hour fast in which Jews do not eat, drink, and in some cases shower, bathe, or wear leather goods as a sign of respect and mourning. 

Hmmm.  How does this Jew-in-Training get off work at such short notice and ride her bike to work without eating or drinking.  I don’t.  Had I consulted the Jewish calendar hanging on my wall I would’ve taken notice and tried to work something out but I’m a slave to my blackberry which, unfortunately, runs on the Georgian calendar.  I wonder if there’s a app for a Jewish calendar.  Instead, I’ve decided to do a liquid only diet out of respect for the day.

Miriam sent me an interesting article from NPR today http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128636069 regarding the possible conversion law being debated for the validation of American Jews as “real” Jews in Israel in addition one of the rabbis from a temple I’m interested in spoke with me today about their upcoming conversion courses.  So you can see that my head is swirling with Jewishness today.  Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve only had liquids.  I’m always impressed by Muslims during Ramadan.  I remember in high school being baffled by the Pakistani girls in class who’d study or read during lunch period instead of eating.  I’d always ask them, quite ignorantly, ” But, aren’t you hungry?” because I didn’t, or couldn’t, understand their strong drive for their faith.  Looking at the observation of fasting now I’m in awe.  Could I do that?  I suppose you can always do whatever it is that you put your mind to but the importance of the thing is the why.  My head isn’t fully wrapped around the many injustices of the Jewish people but in terms of the injustices in the world as a whole-there are too many to count.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if other people gave up food, drink, and luxuries for a period of 25 hours for the sake of remembering.  Realising that people go without every day in our country.  Realising the injustice done, and still being done to minority groups in our country and abroad.  Remembering slavery and the results of slavery in the US.  Realising of the inequalities for civil rights for LGBT peoples throughout the world.  If I could have today off I’m not sure how I would honor it.  Next year, we shall see but I’d like to think that I would use the day to do good for others.  If I am to fast for 25 hours perhaps instead I would volunteer at a soup kitchen, or give the money or food I would spend that day to someone in need.  They are thoughts, ideas, possibilities of hope for the future and others.

Black, Gay, and Jewish Part 3

So my appointment with the Rabbi is on the 15th.  While I’ve only attended one Shabbat celebration at the Temple I’ve been doing a lot of reading and soul searching.  Thankfully, a lot of friends and family members have been helpful in asking me a lot of hard questions, which I’m sure the Rabbi will ask me as well.

1.  Why do you want to be a Jew?  Do you know what’s going on in Gaza right now?    That’s a question I got the other day.  Yes, I’m aware of what’s going on in Gaza right now but for me, it’s important to realize that not all Jews agree with Israeli occupation, not all Jews are Israelis, not all Jews are Zionists.  Personally, I think what’s going on in the region is fucked beyond belief.  I also think that it has less to do with belief and more to do with politics and power.  Those things are tricky and can make things really hazy. 

And why do I want to be a Jew?  Why not is probably the wrong answer.  Luckily, it’s not my answer and I’m not quite sure how to word the answer except to say that it feels right.  I’ve been a spiritual wanderer for as long as I can remember.  Growing up as a child of Baptist and Methodist parents attending a Catholic school and surrounded by Christians and Muslims a like I never knew a Jewish person until college.  In the time from grade school awe of Jesus to my rejection of Christianity as a college freshman I rejected all monotheistic faiths for Paganism.  I tried that on for about 5 years and can still cast with the best of them but when I came to NYC and was surrounded by so many beautiful houses of worship I tried on the Episcopalian hat. 

I loved that the Episcopal church ordained woman clergy, I loved that they welcomed gays and lesbians but as I took communion every Sunday I doubted and after a year I stopped attending all together.   When I opened my first Jewish Book, Being Jewish, by Ari Goldman I felt at ease; at home.  It sounds incredibly cliché but I immediately felt a sense of calm come over my being and I felt happy.  I was engrossed and in awe in a way that I can’t really explain except that it feels right.

I’ve since read Living a Jewish Life and Choosing a Jewish Life  both by Anita Diamant and The Color of Jews by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz.

Black, Gay and Jewish Part Two

Friday was Shabbat Services at the Village Temple and with great trepidation this black lesbian set foot into a synagogue for the first time.  Technically it was the second time since I’d chatted with the Cantor the week prior but the first time I stepped foot into a synagogue with the intention of going in, sitting down, and willing myself through an entire service composed mostly of Hebrew, a language I haven’t the faintest clue about.

Just the walking in part was really nerve racking and although I’ve finished Being Jewish, Choosing a Jewish Life and am half way through Living a Jewish Life I was not at all prepared.  My fears and reservations were subdued by the sweet gentle men who wished me, “Shabbat Shalom” when I walked into the foyer of the Temple.  There was lingering outside of the Temple doors before we were escorted in with blue binders that contained all of the prayers for service.  It took me a while to get the swing of things, the fact that the binder opened from the back threw me but after the third Psalm I allowed myself to stop trying to read the Hebrew phonetics of the songs or their English translations and just enjoyed the sound of this ancient language around me.

I’d be lying if I said that I was comfortable but I know I wasn’t uncomfortable.  I also know that while I have no idea how to speak Hebrew I have a desire to learn.  I was comforted by the queer couple behind me, the Latina woman who offered me wine, and the black man with a kippah on his bowed head as his lips moved while reciting Psalms and prayers in Hebrew.   My meeting with the Rabbi is next month so I have time to visit a few more synagogues and read more books.  So far, though, I’m feeling a little nervous but very confident in my decision.

Black, Gay, and Jewish Part One

Like the title?  It’s a play on Rebecca Walker’s memoir, Black, White, and Jewish, which is on my long list of books to read about Jewish Identity.  Now before you page back trying to figure out what you’ve missed rest assured you haven’t “missed” any big announcement.  I’m not Jewish, I’m still a_______.  It’s just something that I’m considering.  This considering converting issue has been a little bit of a debate as of late.  I suppose the word debate is completely wrong because no one has really been debating with me.  Folks just seem to have really strong opinions and strong reactions.  Funny thing is, most of those opinions and reactions are coming from all of my non-Jewish friends.  None of them are strongly affiliated to any religion that I am aware of.  Some of them affiliate with family beliefs, others don’t talk about religion and don’t seem particularly observant to me.  Yet, everyone’s got an opinion from a raised eyebrow of suspicion to a pointed “Why?!”  and the latest, “you should do some soul-searching” 

The soul-searching comment came from my sister and the funny thing is, I’ve been wanting to tell her to do that for 10 years!  I’m not getting into that shit because it pisses me off.  I will say this, you’d think that the one person who maybe would save the judgement call would be her.  For all of her faults, my frustrations and anger at her decision making I’ve tried so hard not to pass judgement on her.  Here I am making an adult decision that would virtually only affect me and my future children and she’s judging me as though I’ve announced that I’ve decided to worship Satan. 

Rant about my sister is over.

There is a saying that goes, “Not all who are lost wander.  Not all who wander are lost”  This is the perfect metaphor for me and my life.  It can be and has been said that I am always searching for something.  That something is most definitely, without a doubt, my identity.  I’ve been searching for what and who Erika is for as long as I can remember.  It occurred to me about 5 years ago that I was looking at myself right in the mirror-but I’d chosen to ignore me.  I was talking and I wasn’t listening.  Instead I was really, really good at making myself into the mirror images of everyone around me.  I’m astoundingly good at making myself into what someone wants me to be, a.k.a, what’s comfortable for them.  As a result, I’m still a wicked-good liar.  It was going to happen that way, I’ve spent the majority of my life lying to appease others.

There was something amazingly cathartic about leaving home.  For some it is unmentionable, something you’d never do, never consider, never an option.  For me, it was my only choice.  And it’s not that I’m turning my back on my parents, my home, my history per se moreover I’m allowing myself to better appreciate my parents, my home, my history.  In terms of coming out I made a choice.  I could live the life I wanted to live privately and continue to lie to my parents or I could live the life I wanted to live openly and risk losing them.  Knowing my parents I was quite certain that I wouldn’t lose them but rather my history of molding myself into the image of others would be thrown back into my face. 

My coming out letter (I don’t recommend sending a mass e-mail) catapulted a serious of heated e-mails zipping back and forth through the internet from my father to my cousins to my mother and always back to me with the great and amazing horror that became the “Reply All” button.  In the end those who know that I’m gay either don’t talk about the fact that I’m gay or have forgotten the entire incident.  My mom knows who M is and that we’re together.  She’s even gone as so far as to tell me which US cities are gay-friendly.  Yet, when I told her that I wanted to talk about something with her this weekend in DC she asked if it was about my “condition.”  Okay, I don’t think she actually said condition-she actually said “situation” which is equally appalling, like it’s some sort of under the table, back door, dirty family secret I wasn’t to discuss.  (Am I a dirty family secret?)  Seriously, everybody know’s I’m a homo!

I told her not to worry, M and I weren’t married or engaged yet and she breathed an audible sigh of relief.  So when I told her that I was thinking about converting to Judaism she dismissed it, as she’s done with my sexuality.  I suppose I understand, I have thrown a lot of things her way but the reaction that I got was a bit unexpected.  Maybe it’s because I chose the words, “considering” rather than just saying, “I’m converting”  The reason I did it in that way is because I’m still not sure.  I’m strongly leaning in that direction but I only stepped foot into a synagogue last week and the idea of not doing any type of work on Shabbat is still daunting.  I’m already knee deep in shit at work for the mention of applying for the Peace Corps (did I mention that part, too?) how am I going to explain to my boss that I need to start observing Shabbat?  I’m sticking with my guns on this one. 

Everything.  Literally everything from playing grade school basketball, to running for class president, to attending UD, to pledging a sorority, to my brief stint as a pagan has been to fit in to whatever group I wanted.  This living my own life thing is harder than I imagined and it’s taken until now, 30 years old, for me to feel comfortable with rejection of those closest to me, my family.  So welcome, readers, to this fun new world of self-discovery.  Black, Gay, and Jewish will be weekly observations and I hope you enjoy it.