A Religious Gay London Jew Comes Out
See the article on Arutz 7 over here.
Jack Yosef, from a religious Jewish family in London, struggled for years with strong feelings of Same-Sex Attraction (SSA). Eventually, he began maintaining secret gay relationships.
In a daring article below, Yosef analyzes his struggle with his feelings and describes the factors that helped him deal with his unwanted SSA.
The article originally appeared on the website of JONAH , an organization which works directly with Jews struggling with same-sex attractions and with families whose loved ones are involved in homosexuality.
Thoughts on My Experience At a Journey into Manhood Weekend
On Sunday evening, I returned from a Journey Into Manhood (JiM) weekend that is strongly recommended by JONAH to all of its participants. [See footnote below that briefly explains the JiM weekends.] It was possibly the most powerful, thought provoking, authentic weekend of my life.
In order for you to understand this post, I need to provide some background. I am 25, grew up in a frum (Orthodox Jewish) home, and in a loving family but like many other families, there are issues within our home that caused me to feel somewhat alienated from my gender.
My father is a wonderful man, but very emotionally sealed. He never showed me physical love, or what masculinity meant. In turn, this led me to search for these things in other ways, which sadly became sexualized. My mother has always been dominant and suffocating. I always felt I had to be there to safeguard and worry about her emotional needs; this attitude in turn made me very resentful to the world of the feminine and inhibited my ability to be truly intimate with a woman in a healthy way. I also was sexually abused as a child.
For the last 12 years of my life, I have felt some level of Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) that led me to act out with other men, although a strong degree of opposite-sex attraction (OSA) existed simultaneously. Because I was living with this dark, shameful secret--which I would admit to no one, I carried a huge burden that I did not know how to lighten.
I carried this baggage all by myself. For me, I felt unworthy and inadequate. Or, another way of looking at it was my feeling that I was carrying a cancerous illness that had no cure. Not being able to share my pain with others isolated me. I felt there was no one to guide me, no one to help me overcome the excruciating pain. The only feelings I felt were fear, isolation, shame, inadequacy as well as many other negative emotions.
At the JiM weekend I had an opportunity, for the first time and in a totally safe environment, to be utterly authentic with myself and with others. I allowed myself to be emotionally open, perhaps for the first time in my adult life. It was so powerful for me to tear down, piece by piece, the defensive walls I had built to protect my inner child from the core wounds I internalized in childhood.
Each of the processes at the weekend chopped away at the walls and ultimately I was able to knock down these defensive walls which I had built up over many years; it allowed me to return to my golden true self, my authentic inner core. I realized for the first time I am completely normal, and my suffering is only because of factors in my childhood for which I was not responsible nor did I have the ability to control. I realized that I did not feel in control of my life, nor was I the man I wanted to be.
For me, the greatest thing I learned from JiM was self awareness. The lessons I internalized from the weekend allowed me to finally understand why I acted out. I needed a deep connection with men, but no amount of sex with men would ever achieve that, because in same-sex sex one is projecting, not connecting. The only thing that brings the connection I truly crave is genuine, authentic non-sexual interaction with men.
I needed to feel like one of the boys, and needed to align how I see men with how I see myself. If my sense of self and my concept of what constitutes masculinity are in alignment, my need to seek out my sense of masculinity through others dissipates. In many ways, I saw men as emotionless, distant, and lacking in common sense, something I did not wish to be. I saw myself as the opposite of other men, but now, and only now, can I begin to realize that men can authentically express emotion without sex, can feel a closeness to other men without sexualizing it, and can function with a sensitivity and intuitiveness that permits authentic connection.
My concept of who I am and how I see other men are becoming more and more congruent. I am now finally able to start aligning my feelings about myself with how I feel about other men.
Another important realization I gained from the weekend is how SSA men such as myself are attracted to the projection of what they want themselves to be, and once they realize that, the sexual attraction fades. An interesting fact I'd like to report. At the beginning of the weekend, I felt attracted to so many of the participants, and by the end, not even one of them. As I got to know them as real people and not as a projection of who I visualized them to be, I found myself authentically bonding with them in a healthy, non-sexual way. What a change from the mentality I found in the gay world.
I hope these thoughts of mine may provide courage and help to other SSA men who feel isolated and alone, and are initially unwilling or simply scared to trust others such as the mentors in JONAH and the facilitators at People Can Change. I hope my experiences provide insight into how one lonely, fearful, and isolated person was able to feel authentically connected to other men.
At the same time this fearful and isolated person (me) gained both hope and a real sense of purpose and commitment to move forward and do what needs to be done so as to bring my sense of self and my sense of the masculine into alignment. I hope this may help others on their journeys, and help these other individuals realize that starving yourself of true needs is like starving yourself of oxygen.
I can't tell any of you what you should do, but I can certainly tell you what I need to do, and you may see some truth in that for yourselves. I certainly see the need for a counselor to help me continue my journey and am working with a JONAH counselor to help me figure out what more I need to do to achieve the ultimate goal of heterosexual marriage and family.
For me, I need to continue to become more authentic in my relationship with myself and with others, I also need to continue to surrender my past mistakes and overcome my shame. I need to place strong boundaries on my relationship with my mother, and to bond more with my father. Through these processes, I am confident I will achieve a depth of peace and continued diminishment of my SSA. I am available to help others on their journeys, so please feel free to contact me through email@example.com.
FOOTNOTE: The Journey into Manhood (JiM) weekends involve a 48 hour immersion in what might be appropriately called intensive emotional healing work. These experiential learning weekends are sponsored by People Can Change (www.peoplecanchange.com) and are designed to help a person identify and process the underlying issues that may be alienating him from his authentic heterosexual masculinity.
Deep emotional breakthroughs are often experienced and participants are able to affirm their inherent value as a man, just as they are. JIM weekends are open to any man who experiences unwanted same-sex fantasies, arousals, identity, and/or behaviors. It is non-denominational. (Men of every race and religion are welcome). Orthodox Jewish practices are respected and taken into account by the originators of the weekend and may be practiced during the weekends. More information is available at the people can change web site or by contacting JONAH.
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