Coming Out: When Bar-Mitzvahs Just Don’t Cut It

My parents took bets on when I would come out of the closet. Practically everyone in my immediate friend zone already knew before I did. It seemed as though I was one of those kids that everybody knew was gay before they themselves realized it. I had all of the signs: I gave my sister’s Barbies makeovers that would make Tabatha Coffey cry tears of joy, I would always be Princess Peach or Princess Daisy in any Mario game, I took ballet when I was 4, I began doing theater at the age of 6, and I resented typical boy colors because I thought a sexist world was wrong at the young age of 8.

Ever since I was young, I wanted a huge, beautiful, glorious, traditional Jewish wedding. I wanted a beautiful bride and three wonderful children. For the most part, that hasn’t changed. The only detail I’ve replaced is the bride is now a handsome, Jewish, doctor groom with perfect teeth, and coiffed hair. That change didn’t happen overnight and it took a little bit of inner turmoil and thinking, the staple of anyone’s coming out. The first feelings I ever had for a boy came in 7th grade. I was getting ready for my Bar Mitzvah, and as I was thinking of what classmates to or to not invite, I found myself bashful when I thought of my friend Scott. Did I want him watching me read from the Torah or getting lifted in the chair? At first I thought no because he might make fun of me. But then I thought YES because he would see me doing what I did best: singing. I had to impress Scott. At first, I thought it was so I could get into his “crowd” of middle school “jocks” (any pubescent gay boy’s dream). However, the more I found myself dwelling on Scott, the more I realized it could be more than an admiration. It was a crush.

I battled with my feelings for two more years, never acting on my homosexual tendencies, but definitely trying to (and failing to) act on my heterosexual tendencies. I asked a few girls out over the next couple of years only to be constantly denied by them. The phrase I came to loathe was, “You’re just my good friend, and I can’t see us as more than that.” Eventually, I think what led me to give up women completely at the tender age of 14, was that I figured maybe boys would want me as more than a friend, since I was constantly put down by girls. I was wrong. For the next 4 years, I continued trying to get boys to go on dates with me. I was a 28-year-old hopeless romantic stuck in an awkward high schooler’s body.

With all of the commotion of my trying to find my next husband, I had to extend my branches to some close friends who could maybe help me find some new candidates. Close friends couldn’t do it, so I extended to good friends, which extended to friends, which extended to acquaintances. Eventually, most of my peers knew or had an idea of my sexual orientation. Eventually, I knew I had to tell my family. But I assumed I had plenty of time to wait for that. In March of 2009, I came out to my little brother. He was only one year younger than me, so I knew he’d hear it from my peers eventually. He is notoriously known for spreading secrets, and for months I was terrified he’d get mad at me and tell my whole family I was gay (which he constantly threatened to do). In August of the same year, the worst scenario imaginable happened. One of my acquaintances told my older brother I was gay. My brother then told my mom. I knew my mom would be okay with it, but I still was not ready at all for the conversation. For years, my mom had asked me if I was gay and I had told her no. Finally it came to this. I knew she knew, but I still loathed telling her. One of the most important rules I have with people coming out is to let them do it on their own time, because I didn’t have that chance with my mother and older brother. However, I did have that chance with my little sister, father, and maternal grandmother. I told my sister the following June, and my father in October of 2010.

My mom had told me since I came out to her that I couldn’t tell her mother because she wouldn’t take it well. My grandmother has had cancer for almost 6 years and doesn’t have a lot of time left. She has always been a very strong figure in my life, but ever since I knew I was gay, I knew I couldn’t tell her. For years, that held back our relationship. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her, even though time after time, she would surprise me with how much in life she was okay with. So, on Election Day 2012, I called her and told her. She told me she loved me no matter what and that my “choice” was my “choice” and she would support me no matter what. I knew I couldn’t win everything with her, so I accepted she believed being gay was a choice, and celebrated that she still loved and accepted me. I hope she’ll be able to live long enough to see me marry my tall, dark, and handsome Jewish doctor. But even if she isn’t physically there, she’ll be there in spirit, sitting on the front row.


More from The Homo Life:

Coming Out As A Gay High School Athlete

Coming Out: I Was Outed In Rural Pennsylvania

I Wasn’t Hired Because I Was Gay

4 Colognes To Take You From Ratchet To Riches

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About GabeFriedman

Gabe Friedman grew up in Pensacola, FL and is now a freshman in the BFA Musical Theatre program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He likes kosher piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. You can always find him tweeting or instagramming at @friedgabe, posting on his Facebook, or checking his Grindr account. And for you theatre geeks, Gabe runs the parody Twitter account @homosexuactor.

One Response to Coming Out: When Bar-Mitzvahs Just Don’t Cut It

  1. Pingback: Adult B’nei Mitzvah Series Will Be Offered 5774 | Beth Chayim Chadashim

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