July 20, 2019

On Homophobia and Antisemitism

““Jews aren’t a real minority,” a college classmate once said to me.

Statistics say otherwise, but I knew what he meant. Jews are, of course, a minority in America. But for the last few decades, our comfort here hasn’t always made us feel marginalized. Until recently, anti-Semitism in America felt, by and large, like a thing of the past. Even as it was raging in Europe, American Jews — especially those who are white — experienced their home as a true bastion of security.

Not anymore. With the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway occurring sixth months apart and leaving twelve Jews dead to pure anti-Semitic hate, being a Jew no longer feels the way it once did in this country.

It’s been shocking to say the least. Growing up, I always assumed anti-Semitism was more of a historical footnote meant to be studied rather than an active threat to be confronted.

So much so that my biggest struggle growing up was not dealing with being Jewish at all. It was grappling with being gay.

Being Jewish was the easy part. Ever since I can remember, I was raised to be proud of being Jewish. It’s one of the first things I ever knew about myself that was instilled in me by my family.

I’m lucky to have never encountered vile bigotry for being Jewish. I can’t say the same about being a closeted teen whose classmates often had a way of “figuring me out.”

I feared coming out could mean the end of a normal life, or at worst, a death sentence -— either by taunts from classmates or by self-inflicted harm of my own doing; LGBT youth suicide rates are disproportionately higher than average.”

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