The following blog post is in response to “Coming Out, Causing Change,” a blog post on Gabriel Goldstein’s blog, The Thoughts of a Jewish Teenager.
I feel like we already know each other in an odd way — not in the sense that we’ve ever met before (because I’m pretty sure that we haven’t), but because you’re the same type of supportive friend that I was fortunate enough to find over the two years since I’ve come out of the closet.
Coming out of the closet is never an easy thing — and is even less so when you’re doing it in an Orthodox high school. When I came out during March of my sophomore year of high school to my best friends, I had no idea they would respond. I was welcomed with an overwhelming support that pushed me further out of the closet, and led me to come out to other friends and the rest of my school. It was these closest friends — the ones to whom I came out first — that led me to begin writing about my experiences coming out of the closet on widely-read blogs, like MyJewishLearning and the Huffington Post.
Even after being out of the closet for almost two years, part of me is still that scared, lonely 16-year-old who had just come out to his best friends, and was too incredibly scared to even think of coming out to anyone else, let alone my parents and family and the rest of my grade. You talked about in your blog post about the fear, rejection, and seclusion that you postulate a queer student would have to endure should he or she come out of the closet. For me — as I’m sure it was for your friend — those fears of losing friends were real, everyday concerns. Every time I was about to come out to someone, my hands would go cold, and I would ask myself: what if they think less of me because of it?
And that did happen: to be sure, I did have friends who couldn’t wrap their heads around the notion that I, contrary to once-popular belief, was attracted to members of the same gender. At the same time, though, coming out made my close friends closer. I wasn’t a fraction of a person around them; I was a whole person. I wasn’t afraid to act stereotypical; I wasn’t afraid to act differently. I became a different person because I came out. That wouldn’t have been possible without my friends.
So, Gabriel, thank you, thank you, thank you for being the amazing friend that you are. I’m sure that I’ve been asked all of the silly questions that you say you asked your friend — and thank you for asking those questions. On behalf of all of the queer kids out there who came out, on behalf of all of them who lost a friend because of it, and on behalf of all of them whose friendships became closer because of their coming out: thank you for being more than just a supportive ally. Thank you for being a supportive friend. It is people like you who are the drivers of change.