Jewish Journal

Living with Conviction

by Lia Mandelbaum

July 4, 2010 | 12:52 am

Photo by Laurel Johnson Photography

I am blessed to have parents who are supportive of me regardless of my sexuality.  My father has made it clear that he loves me unconditionally, but in the back of his head, still wishes that I would find a nice Jewish guy to settle down with. I know that the main reason he thinks this way is because he believes that for me, choosing to spend the rest of my life with a woman, will be a difficult path. Throughout my struggles over the last few years, I have come to believe that life is tough no matter what obstacles you face. There is not a person in this world that does not struggle with something.  Some people’s lives appear completely put together on the outside, even if emotionally, they are falling apart. I spent a lot of time comparing the way that people looked on the outside to the way I felt on the inside. I was constantly projecting how I felt onto other people.  Everyone else seemed to be comfortable in their own skin, and the reality is that it’s possible that they were struggling too.  My experience has been that when I go through life pretending to be someone I’m not, that is extremely harder than the life I will live as a gay woman. 

Many times, I have been engaged in debates as to whether or not being gay is a choice, or if it is something that you’re,  “born with.”  I felt frustrated by these conversations, because I interpreted their opinions as underlying judgments. Granted there is some truth in the idea that we are born with a specific sexuality, and there is also some truth in the fact that we reach a place in our lives when we must make a choice. The point is that we must choose to live with conviction in every single thing we do, and embrace ourselves for exactly who we are.  Ideally, I would rather hear the debate shift towards whether or not someone accepts who they are, no matter what adversity that might bring.  The question becomes whether or not the person facing adversity surrounding their sexuality, will buy into the fear of judgment created by society, and whether that will prevent them from experiencing true intimacy both with them self and with others.  The sad truth for most people is that no matter what their sexuality may be, people choose to wear masks and hide who they are, out of fear of not being accepted.  Although I have made huge progress in accepting who I am, both sexually and spiritually, I still struggle with the idea that if they truly knew me, they would not accept me.

It is scary to think about how detached our society has become.  We are living in a world surrounded by constant distractions.  We have created a society that is tremendously uncomfortable in stillness.  I find that we often go to great lengths to find ways to distract ourselves from the voids that we feel and are often afraid to face.  If we have a desire for healing and wholeness in the world, we should make an obligation to ourselves to be brave and genuine. We must each find our own divine spark, that voice we find within stillness, in a society that we are often so removed from. 

I believe that coming out of the closet is so much deeper than just admitting your sexuality.  It is about being open and vulnerable.  It is letting go of the myth that perfection exists and bringing forth all the different parts of yourself, even the ones that are broken.  It is when I experience other people’s vulnerabilities that I find G-d’s tremendous presence in my life.  G-d speaks to me through other people, and allows me to see myself mirrored within those around me.  When I embrace the unique and divine spark that everyone has inside of themselves, I am not standing in the way of allowing other people to experience G-d in the way that I have.  I think that the bravest thing that you can possibly be is yourself.


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Tera “Nova Jade* Greene is a professional lesbian of color and Jew by Choice.  She is a producer of music and film, a renowned DJ and always finds herself in the midst of...

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