Discover more from The Tali Steine* Writing Project (*pseudonym)
The Space We Cannot Make
I've been deeply affected lately by the dynamics of the LGBTQ+ student community at Yeshiva University, and their efforts to have their club be accepted and recognized by the university. I won't be able to sum up the entire chain of events, but feel free to look it up. It made national news.
I've been trying to pinpoint and grasp why I am so deeply upset, to just sit with my feelings. I am undoubtedly a LGBTQ+ ally, so of course I care from that perspective. But it's much more than that. On a very deep level, it's about belonging. It's about who we welcome and who we make space for. It's about who we will bend over backwards to include, and who we will bend over backwards to exclude.
I wish I lived in a world where the people who we bent over backwards to include were the kind, ethical people who never hurt anyone. The people who had consensual relationships and consensual intimacy, whatever their sexual orientation.
That isn't the world we live in, and every day I'm realizing that more and more. Instead, we live in a world where survivors of abuse are blamed and shamed for their trauma reactions. We live in a world where abusers are never really called to task. We live in a world where loving LGBTQ+ people who just want to marry and have relationships are told that they can't both be themselves and be religious. They are told that they should simply give up on their dreams of love, marriage, and intimacy.
What kind of solution is that? Why do we expect people to so severely limit their own humanity? I am thankful for the work of Eshel, and to Rabbi Ysoscher Katz, who studied sources on same sex relationships. Click here to check out a three part class (From Trembling to Thinking) and other videos from Eshel.
But most of our community doesn't actually want to embrace same sex relationships. They also clearly don't really care about finding immediate solutions for women chained to marriages. They will fight against rape or abuse cases being prosecuted or publicized. There is even an expectation that suffering can and should be part of being religious. And there is no expectation that we should be able to live in a religious community without having to see abusers, listen to music by abusers, have abusers continue to teach our children and so forth.
So I feel an immense sadness. Because there are some people that much of the religious community just can't make space for. Apparently, they have priorities over who should be welcomed vs shamed. They can bend over backwards, and widen their tent doors to make space for, forgive and only see the best in abusers. But when it comes to the LGBT community or to abuse survivors who speak out about their experiences, there is some space they simply cannot make.