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• Frequently Asked Questions •
About Being Gay and Frum

Are there other frum gay Jews out there?
So is it possible to be gay and frum (a religiously observant Jew)?
What does the Torah say about homosexuality?
So what can I do about sex as a frum gay Jew?
What is "safe sex" or "safer sex"?
Can I still be frum if I don't abstain from having sex?
What if in the past I've had male anal sex?
What if for me male anal sex is a necessity for intimacy?
Why did G-d make me gay?
What about the mitzvah of pru urvu (procreation)?
How can I contribute to the continuity of the Jewish people?
What can I tell people who hate homosexuals?

Are there other frum gay Jews out there?
Yes, there are many people who are frum and gay. Until recently, most gay Jews in Orthodox communities were alone. Now there are more resources than ever. For one, check out GLYDSA - The Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva and Day School Alumni Association (found in the menu at the left; also, recorded information is available by calling 212-780-4656 or contact us by e-mail--or ask to join our e-mail list--at GLYDSA@hotmail.com). If you're under thirty, you should also check out JQYouth.org. And everyone should consult our resources and links on the Rescources/Links page.
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So, is it possible to be gay and frum (a religiously observant Jew)?
Yes. Being sexually attracted to people of the same sex - having a gay (homosexual) orientation - does not violate halacha (Jewish law) in any way. Halacha only addresses behavior and conduct; it does not attempt to control feelings or sexual attractions. A person can be gay and also observe all the mitzvos (commandments). There is no contradiction in being gay and being frum.
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What does the Torah say about homosexuality?
The Torah does not say anything about being gay--about having a homosexual orientation. What the Torah addresses is certain specific homosexual conduct. The Torah says:

"Ve-et zachar lo tishcav mishkevei isha to'evah hi" (Vayikra 18:22)
"A man shall not lie with another man as he would lie with a woman, it is an abhorrence (n.1)" (Leviticus 18:22)
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"Ve-ish asher yishcav et zachar mishkevei isha to'evah asu shneihem mot yumtu demeihem bam." (Vayikra 20:13).
"A man who lies with a man [in the way of] lying with a woman, both of them have done an abhorrent thing (n.1) and shall die for it." (Leviticus 20:13).

Chazal (the Rabbis) understand that here "mishkevei," which is translated as "lie," means anal penetration (Sanhedrin 54). So the Torah, Chazal tell us, says that two men should not have anal sex; it is a to'evah--an "abhorrence" (n.1). We learn that to'evah is a contraction for "to'eh atah bah" ("being led astray") (Nedarim 51a). A man may be led astray from his wife and home by having anal intercourse with men (Tosafos on Nedarim 51a) or go astray from the foundations of creation--from procreation (Torah Temimah on Vayikra 18:22). And while halacha has prohibited other things because they might lead to anal sex (Sefer HaMitzvos 353; Even HaEzer 20), other things are not a to'evah.

The Torah does not specifically address homosexual conduct between women at all, but halacha says that women should avoid it (Even HaEzer 20). Sexual activity between two women, though, is not a to'evah.
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So what can I do about sex as a frum gay Jew?
As frum Jews, we strive to observe as many mitzvos as possible. Some decide not to act on their sexual feelings and choose to be celibate. Others feel that they need intimate sexual contact with another person; so they kiss, hug, and caress, may touch in ways that lead to orgasm (such as mutual masturbation), and may also have oral sex. Many men, though, decide not to have anal sex based on the psukim in Vayikra (verses in Leviticus), and understand this to be a limit that G-d put on what two men can do (other limits, for example, are placed on what we eat (kashrus, the Jewish dietary laws) and when straight couples can have sex (niddah, the marital purity laws)). The important thing to remember is that whatever you decide, you are always a Jew and you can also be frum.
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What is "safe sex" or "safer sex"?
See our Safety/Health link--you can click here or always in the menu above and to the left.
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Can I still be frum if I don't abstain from having sex?
Every Jew is rewarded for each mitzvah he does and is responsible for each averah (transgression) he commits. Just because a Jew cannot observe every mitzvah does not mean he should not do any and does not mean that he cannot live within a framework of traditional Judaism. All Jews have shortcomings: "for there is no person so wholly righteous on earth that he [always] does good and never sins" (Kohelet 7:20). We can observe Shabbos and yomim tovim (the Sabbath and holidays), keep kashrus, daven (pray), learn Torah, visit the sick, give charity--in short we can do as many mitzvos as possible.
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What if in the past I've had male anal sex?
Homosexual activity has no bearing on one's Jewishness. And while the Torah says that men should not have anal sex, all humans, by their very nature, are imperfect. This is why teshuvah (repentance) was given to us.
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What if for me male anal sex is a necessity for intimacy?
"Be-kol drachechah da'eihu" (Mishlay 3:6) ("In all your ways know G-d," Proverbs 3:6), even when doing an averah (transgression) (Brachos 63a). If one does an averah, instead of breaking away from G-d, one can come closer to G-d by doing other mitzvos. G-d is always with us. When a person falls, he falls into the lap of G-d.
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Why did G-d make me gay?
"Va-yar Elokim et kol asher asah v-hinei tov meod" (Bereshis 1:31) ("And G-d saw all that He had made, and found it very good." Genesis 1:31). Every person is created in the image of G-d (be-tzelem Elokim, Bereshis 1:27 and 9:6). We do not understand why G-d has created us this way (whether it is genetic or acquired, the Torah does not express any view) and why G-d created others with different characteristics. We are as beloved in the eyes of G-d as any other Jew and we are as responsible as any other Jew in observing the mitzvos. We will merit the same share in the world to come as all other Jews, as it is written "Kol Yisrael yesh la-hem chelek l'olam ha-bah" ("All Israel has a share in the world to come" Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1).
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What about the mitzvah of pru urvu (procreation)?
Some gay people feel they can make a good marriage and fulfill the important mitzvah of having children. Artificial insemination and surrogacy give gay people other possibilities today they didn't have in the past. But many gay people realize that marriage and having children are not options for them. Not everyone is able to have children. Some people are infertile, others are unable to care for children, and some reluctantly are not in a position to have children. But anyone, gay or straight, who does not have children is still a full-fledged member of the Jewish community and can still be an observant Jew. For example, the great Tanna (Sage) Shimon Ben Azzai, who never married or had children, said "the world can be perpetuated by others." (Yevamos 63b). As it says in Isaiah 56:3:

And let not the saris [the male who cannot have children] say, "I am a withered tree." For thus said the L-rd: "As regards the sarisim who keep My sabbaths, who have chosen what I desire, and hold fast to My covenant -- I will give them, in My House and within My walls, a monument and a name better than sons or daughters. I will give them an everlasting name which shall not perish."
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How can I contribute to the continuity of the Jewish people?
There are many things we can do that make important contributions to k'lal Yisrael (the Jewish community). We can teach Torah to others, which furthers the education of future generations. And we can devote considerable time to others, something people with children may not have the time to do. This can involve community leadership positions in shul (synagogue), charities, or other causes. We can also generously give tzdakah (charity).
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What can I tell people who hate homosexuals?
Most often feelings of hate are based on ignorance, misunderstanding, and fear of the unknown. And it may not be so much "hate" as disapproval of certain conduct. Attitudes often change with education, and after meeting gay people and understanding halacha, most people will accept the fact that a person is gay. It may also help to remind them that Hillel said: Ve-al tadin et chavercha ad she-tagia li-mkomo (Pirke Avos 2:5) (Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place. Ethics of the Fathers 2:5).
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These responses are consistent with halacha (Jewish law) and Jewish tradition and were reviewed by Orthodox Rabbis.

Note 1: The translation of "to'evah" is usually "abhorrence" or "abomination." It is used in the Tanach (the Bible) approximately one hundred times in connection with various kinds of conduct such as arrogant behavior, using false scales, and most often worshiping idols (avodah za'ra). To'evah is used in many situations that do not involve issues of sexuality or "morality" and this broader use indicates that the transgression is more in the nature of a "mistake."

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