Coming out, in joy
July 03, 2006
There's a terrific article by Tamar Prager in the current issue of Lilith magazine, which begins:
I never could have imagined a commitment ceremony for me and my partner, or dreamt that our parents would willingly and lovingly host a magnificent celebration for 165 relatives and friends. This would have been, sadly, only a fantasy. Six years earlier I'd thought of ending my life because I was in love with a woman and could not tell a soul. I felt my only other option was to hide, so I reigned in all of my emotions. Arielle and I shut out all family and friends, trapping ourselves in a tiny world closed off from our Jewish communities.
Between that narrow darkness and our day of celebration, we and our Modern Orthodox families took a journey that brought us back to the center of a Jewish universe and -- most importantly -- to ourselves.
The article is online in .pdf format: Coming Out in the Orthodox World. (Or you can view it in html if you prefer.)
Prager's essay resonated with me in a variety of ways. I'm moved by her tale of how she came to terms with her "twice-blessed" identity, and how she and her partner (and their community) grew into a place where they were able to fully celebrate who they are. I'm moved, too, by the image of her father offering the d'var Torah at the final celebration of their union -- it was perhaps not recognized as a sheva brachot ceremony by everyone in their Modern Orthodox community, but it sounds like it was transformative nonetheless.
The battle within the civil/secular world over gay marriage continues to wax and wane. But this story is proof that the value of sanctifying loving partnership is central across the Jewish religious world, from Reform to Renewal to Orthodoxy, and that gladdens me.
If you'd like more information on Jewish celebrations of same-sex marriage, the organization Keshet offers same-sex wedding ceremony resources, including partial liturgies and ceremonies. There's also a terrific archive of articles at the Shalom Center -- my favorite of those is Wedding liturgy for a same-sex marriage by R' Sue Levi Elwell.
Though I don't know Tamar and Arielle, I wish them endless brachot in their life together! May the time come, speedily and in our days, when marriages like theirs are understood to be remarkable only and exactly in the way that all marriages are remarkable. Every time two people take the leap of faith involved in a lifelong covenant, their holy sparks join together and create a joy which reverberates throughout all worlds.