A few weeks ago I had a conversation with Rabbi Steven Greenberg. He wanted me to respond to some questions. I promised that I would reply within a week or two. Instead of responding privately, I have decided to make my response an open letter.
Rabbi Greenberg asked, "knowing what you know now, and having lived through this difficult time, what facilities could have been in place that could have made a difference?"
For us, there was nothing in place to assist us. We had no one to turn to and no one who could help us navigate these uncharted waters. Our rabbi was able to briefly console us, but we have not heard from him since our initial meeting. When I set up this blog, I notified him that I was doing so and I told him to call me for the address. I am still waiting for his call, even though there are young men and women in the community who have recently come out. I had a heart-wrenching and tearful conversation with Rabbi Steve Greenberg. He was a great help, but all he could offer was his words. We went to PFLAG meetings. They have been helpful as we could see and hear how their lives became normalized within time. We visited a psychiatrist. She is helpful in dealing with coping mechanisms. But that's about it.
In spite of all of our efforts, we still came up short and in need of help. Some days we feel we are in a bad dream, and not a single day goes by when something triggers a thought that brings on a tear.
That is why I thought it important to start this blog to try to bring other parents into the open to discuss, share and understand that they/we are not alone. Our struggles are similar, our fears are similar, our shattered dreams are similar, our guilt is similar, our questions are similar, our questioning is similar.
It has been a frustrating journey writing this blog. There has not been a large response and there are days when I think that it should be shut down. I don't have to be opening up every emotion I feel to the world, to my children and to my son in particular. They don't have to know how I feel.
A few weeks before Pesach I received a few private emails through the blog. One was from a young man who was married and is struggling, another was from a young man who has not told anyone yet and does not know what to do, and another was from a thirtysomething man who asked me for help because it was about time that he told his parents about himself.
So I will keep this blog going a little while longer because there is nothing else in place for us.
What could have made a difference? A place, a forum where we could ask the questions and receive fair and honest answers. Where we could deal with the emotional aspect of our children coming out, as parents and from the point of view of the children. Where we could get answers to our halakhic questions without feeling shunned or embarrassed. Where we could just have someone to talk to.
My vision would be to have an organization that would have on staff a rabbi, a psycho-therapist and a parent. This particular staff should be straight because they are talking to straight people, but with a deep understanding of gay men and women. These people should be on call to answer the urgent questions which we have and give us the strength to start breathing again.
I hope this answers your question Rabbi Greenberg.