Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Gabbai and Homophobia

It's been a special few days. First the GH returns. And now Dovbear has attacked the Gabbai.

Hi, I'm The Gabbai, and I'm a homophobe.

(Everyone: Hi Gabbai!)

Before I respond, let me begin by saying this: I don't want to get into it with DovBear. First, he is an extraordinary writer and his writing skills are light-years ahead of my own and with that advantage I have no doubt that his views will be expressed much more eloquently, lucidly and convincingly than mine. Secondly, Dovbear is smarter (but not wiser) than me so even if I have a stronger position I will never be able to spell it out clearly and convincingly as he is able to do with his own positions.

With that said, here's a what happened. Dovbear thinks I'm homophobic. I suppose one qualifies as a homophobe if he either fears gays or hates gays. I hope Dovbear will at least admit based on the entirety of my post that if I am indeed a homophobe, I am one because I fear gays and certainly not because I hate them. I do not hate gays. I hate some gays. I hate the flamboyant ones. I hate the ones that march in parades dressed in costumes out of a scary B movie. I hate the gays that march in Jerusalem. But I hate a lot of straight people as well. I hate Jews who cheat. I hate Jews who are rude. I hate Jews who are boorish. I don't hate the gays that were the subject of my post. I pity them. My heart breaks for them.

Honestly, I think I am a homophobe. I am afraid of gays. They make me uncomfortable. And you know why I haven't come around? Because I don't know any gay men. I mean I'm sure I know some gay men but I don't really know any gay men. I don't have any gay friends (that I know of). I have my suspicions about some guys but nothing confirmed. My brother-in-law bothers me when he wears pink and mint green shirts but I'm pretty sure he isn't gay. Maybe if I had a gay friend I would realize that there isn't much to fear but I don't have any gay friends and frankly I'm not interviewing.

But besides being a homophobe, I am also confused. I don't know how to deal with gay Jews, I don't know what to think of them and I certainly don't know how to deal with Judaism's treatment of them. It is one of those damn areas where I am uncomfortable thinking about the religion I love and dealing with what the religion says.

Yes, I would not want my children to be alone with any gay man. I don't even think I would be comfortable with them at my Shabbos table because I don't know how to answer a child's question about a gay man if I would be asked.

I am disappointed in Dovbear for not trying to understand where I was coming from in my post before attacking me. Yes, my post bothered Dovbear and contained statements that offended his sensibilities. But Dovbear is smart enough to have looked deeper into my post for the contextual mea culpa that was contained therein. I certainly have bought into the things that Dovbear says I have bought into. But on top of all that I have the questions I have. In spite of my homophobia I want answers as to how Judaism says to treat the humans behind their forbidden acts. I want to know, if gays are "sick", why the Torah is so brutal in its treatment of them. Telling me that science contradicts my fears doesn't really help.

Finally, I am not ashamed of my discomfort around gays and my unwillingness to expose my children to them. I am confused but not ashamed. And for Dovbear, Steg and all the other enlightened individuals who jumped on Dovbear's bandwagon in his attack on me, when it comes to your own comfort around gay men, good for you. It doesn't amaze me at all, and I don't condemn it. I am sure that the gay men with whom you are friendly are fine guys and nice people. But regarding your claimed willingness to expose your children to them or to have your children spend time alone with them, I honestly believe that YOU ARE ALL FULL OF CRAP!

31 Comments:

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Woah... I did NOT jump on DB's bandwagon. I agreed with one point he made: That being around gays does not "make" you gay. In fact, I expressed disappointment in his not giving you the proper credit, and pointed to the excellent discussion in the comments.

I actually liked your post, and linked to it; I like this one too, save the last paragraph, which I think you should edit. I know I, and don't think that Steg, felt you were being homophobic - merely that you were misguided as to one aspect of homosexuality. In fact, I generally agree with a lot of what you said in this post.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

what was this then:

DB, when did you stumble on this? It's been around a while... Agreed, however.

Agreed? He slammed me! Bad choice of words. He attacked me! Agreed?

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

I was agreeing with the "and Steg says..." part. But you're right, I should have made that clear.

 
At 3:47 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Nevertheless, you assumed incorrectly, and should adjust your post accordingly...

 
At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Willendorf said...

"My brother-in-law bothers me when he wears pink and mint green shirts but I'm pretty sure he isn't gay."

Oy. Assuming you're not kidding, this comment demonstrates how very, very much you don't understand.

Would you like a reading list?

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger Robbie said...

Wow, ok, so, you totally had me there until the end. You had my sympathy and even my empathy, because, in the end, all we can ask for is serious thought and discussion on an issue that troubles us. We can't always expect tolerance, or, its better cousin, acceptance.

Your honesty impresses me and saddens me; your uncomfortability shows me it's an issue you've been thinking about.

There are plenty of things about what you've said that I disagree with. Your simple judgements about what a Pride Parade is infuriate me. Your generalization that flamboyant and fashionable people is offensive.

But if you keep talking honestly, without the intention to hurt, then I'll keep listening.

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

willendorf--

I'm willing to bet you are THE only reader of my post (of the 5 total) that "assumed" I was not kidding with that line.

chill out, man. even gay men have senses of humor. oops, I did it again.

ezzie--

I did.

 
At 3:58 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I didn't jump on any bandwagon... i was the first one here to respond to your post and deal with the issues you're raising.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

robbie--

I'm not trying to hurt. But lets not get into the Pride Parades, ok? Whatever strides the homosexual community makes each year with the non-gay public, trust me that those parades set them way back.

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

steg--

I didnt mean to group you in the bandwagoners. I meant (1) DB, (2) Steg and (3) the bandwagoners. Feel free to correct my grammar.

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

I think you should take Steg out too. He never attacked you at all, either.

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

DB used Steg's comment as ammunition. Steg stays.

 
At 4:15 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

That's disingenuous - Steg criticized only that one aspect; DB extended it to criticize you in general.

 
At 4:16 PM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

it was the "Dude". Hate the Dude.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

My children have been around gay men. As a child I was around gay men. Nothing happened. There were no problems.

This fear is similar to saying that you are afraid of black people or Chinese or whomever because you don't know them.

But regarding your claimed willingness to expose your children to them or to have your children spend time alone with them, I honestly believe that YOU ARE ALL FULL OF CRAP!

If it makes you feel better to try and say that everyone is uncomfortable you can do so, it is not very mature but you are entitled.

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

This fear is similar to saying that you are afraid of black people or Chinese or whomever because you don't know them.

Huh?

 
At 5:47 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Dude, you said it first:

Honestly, I think I am a homophobe. I am afraid of gays. They make me uncomfortable. And you know why I haven't come around? Because I don't know any gay men.

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

The Gabbai:

Sorry about that "Dude", then. My brother was over for Thanksgiving and Shabbos, and his hippy-talk rubbed off on me. Either that or one of my colleagues. 'Dude' is definitely not part of my everyday vocabulary.

Anyway, my point stands. Homosexual does not equal Person Who Has Homosexual Intercourse does not equal Child Molester.

 
At 7:25 PM, Anonymous willendorf said...

"I'm willing to bet you are THE only reader of my post (of the 5 total) that "assumed" I was not kidding with that line."

Well, that's a relief -- but given your many absurd misconceptions about gay/lesbian people, and the overall seriousness of your post, I don't think it's too surprising that I missed your attempt at humor.

One thing makes me curious -- most of the commenters on this issue have been men, and your discussion is specifically focused on gay men, not lesbians. Is that because lesbians don't rate our very own verse in Vayikra, or because gay men are scarier, or what? I promise not to try to seduce your wife over Shabbos lunch. :-)

I still think you could use a reading list -- if you really want to get over your fear, that is.

 
At 9:22 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Willendorf:

Lesbians are considered less scary than gay men in Western culture in general. At least to straight men.

 
At 10:07 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

I don't follow why you are afraid to let your children be exposed to gay people. Are you afraid the experience will make them gay? That's a pretty bad assumption.

Are you afraid the gay man will rape them? That's even worse. Gay men are lesslikely to be pedophiles.

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

I don't follow why you are afraid to let your children be exposed to gay people. Are you afraid the experience will make them gay? That's a pretty bad assumption.

To defend the Gabbai... he said: I hate the gays that march in Jerusalem. But I hate a lot of straight people as well. I hate Jews who cheat. I hate Jews who are rude. I hate Jews who are boorish. I don't hate the gays that were the subject of my post. I pity them. My heart breaks for them.

Though this is not what he was referring to, he could answer in a similar vein: As homosexuality [action-wise] is immoral/assur/whatever, he wouldn't want his children exposed to one; any more than if the person were a thief, a liar, or someone else immoral.

It's not a crazy statement.

 
At 2:35 AM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

look everyone. I'm not claiming to have a sophisticated or enlightened view towards these issues. I admit that I don't. I'm just trying to be honest and discuss an issue I find disturbing and important. I just hope you all realize that those of my views you don't like do not stem from hatred or bigotry. you want to call them societal, close-minded or ignorant, that's fine. I won't argue. but I don't hate the people about whom I posted.

I'm also sorry Dovbear and others picked up on the parts of my post they didn't like and the discussion got sidetracked. the intention of my post was to explore and discuss the orthodox community's approach, obligations and treatment of the individuals I discuss. not to discuss my own views.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may know many more gay men than you are aware of. Many are secretly gay -- married with children and live within us and among us, and suffer from their inclinations more than we can imagine.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

anon--

as i acknowledged:

I mean I'm sure I know some gay men but I don't really know any gay men.

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger The Lioness said...

I was feeling sympathy myself till the very last 5 words. Unless those were a joke too? Came via DovBear and what I don't understand is this. You seem to be saying you want to be educated, as it were, that maybe if you knew gay men this fear would be assuaged. And then you end the post in a manner that says I don't care how much you tell me abt this subject, gay men are dangerous, after my children and all little ones in general and live in, through and for their groin and I will never believe otherwise.

What bothers me abt this is simply that I don't understand the fuss. I am rather liberal you might say, but am uncomfortable w too exposed sexuality, be it hetero or homo. I don't, say, wish to see men pinching women nipples in front of me, or vice-versa, or vice-vice and versa-versa. There are bedrooms for that. What really, REALLY bothers me is your assumption that gay men are a) all obviously and vocally so, and b) unable to be around children without wanting to rape them and turn them into little clones of themselves. Most pedophiles are indeed straight men whose victims are little girls, this has been extensively proven. I don't know how you celebrate Shabbat but I dare say that, in general and everywhere in the world, sexual orientation is not a subject that often crops up. You're implying that a gay man at the table would act sexually in some manner. Why? Some gays, as some heteros, have pretty healthys sexualities. Their issues are resolved. They don't need to flaunt things or eternally discuss their boudoir moves. Take Robbie, I've only read his comments but does he strike you as the sort who'd tell your child "Young Gabbai, you'll never know what I did last night hanging from the chandelier *wink wink*"? Why would your children even come across the notion of homossexuality at the dinner table unless they could read your mind? It seems to me that, if your choice of gay guest were the right one, you'd be the one thinking "sex, sex, sex" all throughout the meal, not the other way round.

I'm sorry but I don't think your reasons are based on ignorance for lack of friendship w gay men, you pretty much sound as though you've made up your mind for good. I don't mean to offend but it seems to me that you are more uncomfortable with the idea that you might actually learn you are wrong than with gay men themselves and your ignorance abt them.

 
At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey gabbai-you hear the lioness roar! sexy. maybe we can get another girl to argue and have a real catfight. if you're a real seinfeld fan, you'll appreciate that.

 
At 11:31 AM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

anon

you challenging my seinfeld bekius?
-----------------------------

Elaine: Well, I tried, but he thought it was some sort of cat fight.

Kramer: Cat fight?

Elaine: Ok, why? Why do guys do this? What is so appealing to men about a cat fight?

Kramer: Yeye cat fight!

Jerry: Because men think if women are grabbing and clawing at each other there's a chance they might somehow kiss.

Kramer: T-t-t-t...

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger The Lioness said...

Oh for pity's sake, why do I even bother.

 
At 2:19 AM, Blogger The Gabbai said...

cmon lioness. lighten up.

 
At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NSU - 4efer, 5210 - rulez
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