With Pesach here, the natural subject everyone thinks about is of course, freedom. And you might think that I’m here to talk about freedom to be ourselves. And yeah, that’s a great subject. But I’m here to talk about something even more basic and essential than that: freedom from intense fear, shame and pain. And this is a subject that is very close to my heart and close to many, many others.
There are hundreds if not thousands of frum adolescent boys and girls who are absolutely terrified at this very moment. They feel abnormal, they feel like an outcast, they feel ashamed, they feel unwanted and surely many more emotions. This is incredibly sad.
For all the parents out there that have spoken disparagingly about gays; for all the parents out there who have made their intolerant feelings known: you may very well have a gay son or daughter and you have no clue. “MY son? MY daughter? No way! They like the opposite sex. They’re straight as can be!” But this child is putting on a great charade, rivaling the best actors on the planet. Because they are so desperate to not disappoint you or “hurt” you as they believe they would be if you knew, that this has become their survival mechanism. BE SOMEONE ELSE — is what they believe they need to in order to exist. So by making it known to your child that their feelings are unacceptable, the message you have sent them is that THEY are unacceptable and the message you have sent them is that your love for them is conditional.
These children have no freedom at all. They are oppressed. Arguably worse than the Jews in Egypt. They are mired in shame, fear and pain for lack of their acceptance by their own parents.
You may be sad and disappointed if you find out your son or daughter is gay, but is that the message you wish to convey to them? That these innocent tweens and teens are at fault for what they feel and that they should pretend to be someone else? Do you wish to make them feel like they would rather die than disappoint you by being a “defective” child? Do you want to take the risk that one of your children will kill themselves or attempt to kill themselves from being in such pain and turmoil? I hope the answer is a resounding NO.
Do you want to take away the shame, fear and pain that one of your children might be feeling unbeknownst to you? Tell each one of your children individually that you love them like crazy and will always be there for them no matter what, even if they are gay. That’s it. Say no more. No “but I hope you aren’t,” or “I’m sure you’re not, just saying.” And if they tell you “I’m not gay, why would you say that?” You just say, “I don’t think anything, I just want to make sure that you feel safe and okay with whoever you are and that you know I love you unconditionally.” This doesn’t mean you are endorsing homosexual activity. This doesn’t mean you are contradicting the Torah. All it means is that you are willing to be there for your child through thick and thin.
Whether you like it or not, you have a son, a daughter, a sibling, a parent, an uncle, aunt or cousin who is gay. No matter how gezha you might be; no matter how devoted to the Rebbe, the Torah and Hashem you might be; no matter that you can’t even fathom such a thing. No one is immune. No one.
So this Pesach, when we’re discussing the freedom we have and the freedom we hope to have, let’s think about the freedom of mere existence that so many—knowingly or unknowingly—are brutally denying their own children. Give them the most basic of freedoms—to not live a terrified life.
A blue Jew who is considered a somewhat prominent member of Chabad-Lubavitch that nobody suspects would be gay–
P.S. Many if not all of this can or does apply to transgender children as well, but I’m speaking about gay kids specifically because I was the kid I described above and it is more than likely that there is at least one gay son or daughter somewhere in every family (whether frum or not) to the denial and refusal of most individuals to acknowledge so.