Being gay vs. Being Jew

Newsgroups: ba.motss,soc.motss
From: (Vadim Temkin)
Subject: Being gay vs. Being Jew
Keywords: gay, Jew
Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 241-9760 guest)
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 1993 05:28:50 GMT
Last  few  weeks,  when I started my coming out  process,  I  was 
hunted  with  sense of deja vu while reading the  discussions  on 
self-identification, queer vs. gay, gay culture vs. gay  communi-
ty, what is Gay Pride, and so on. I found that I already knew all 
of that and then some more, but couldn't figure out from where. 

Then, last week I and my fiend saw excellent short feature  "Deaf 
Heaven" at the San Francisco International Lesbian and  Gay  Film 
Festival, which among other things drew parallel between old  Jew 
who  lost his family in Auschwitz, and young gay man loosing  his 
lover to AIDS. On our way home she (my friend) asked me 'Why  one 
have to suffer such terrible things oneself to understand what is 
love and what is life, why it's not enough to learn from others?' 
I  answered without a long thought, that  one had  survive  some-
thing, just about anything, to understand what is pain, love, and 

I  was  puzzled why I tried to explain to my newly  acquired  gay 
friends (my first GAY friends) what it was to be Jewish in Soviet 
Union;  it  didn't  seem to be "motss-relevant",  but  I  haven't 
talked (or even thought) about this experience for long time. And 
I  couldn't understand, why when asked 'How it was to be  gay  in 
Soviet Russia', my first impulse  was to answer 'I was not gay in 
Russia'. It was silly, because I knew I was gay very early in  my 

Finally, I put all these things together.  I don't believe that I 
am the first  who discovered this,  but it is my  own  discovery. 
Being  gay in America,  and being Jewish in  Russia are two  very 
closely matching things.  There are  parallels for almost  every-

First, why I wasn't gay in Russia? It's simple - because I was  a 
Jew  in Russia. One's self-identification is what  others  (let's 
say,  mainstream) call that person (or would call that person  if 
they new) in simple day-to-day situations. This is simple  social 
taxonomy. Mother of my non-Jewish friend would use something like 
"what's  his name, that... Jewish friend of yours". And  you  can 
substitute  "Jewish" for "black", or "Chinese", or in absence  of 
any  other  differentiating factors - "gay". However  "black"  or 
"Chinese" is little different - there is no a slightest chance of 
"coming out" - it's too obvious. 

There  is  no such thing as  coming out as Jew  to  you  parents, 
after all it's their fault or blessing. (BTW, it's the same  with 
sexual  orientation - because Jewishness in Russia is not  matter 
of  nurture, it's not religion, it's just your blood.) The  other 
difference is that you don't have to put "Gay" in your  Passport, 
school record, or library card.

Except  of parents and Passports - everything else is very  simi-
lar. You can be beaten, just because you are [Jew|gay]. You'll be 
called  [Yid|queer] and it will be very derogatory.  You'll  call 
yourself  amongst your [Jewish|gay] friends  [Yid|queer]  without 
any  hesitation.  You love to tell [Jewish|gay] jokes,  and  hate 
when  [non-Jewish|straight] people do the same. You have two  set 
of friends, [Jewish|gay], and [non-Jewish|straight], and you  can 
love  your [non-Jewish|straight] friends, but still  some  topics 
would be impossible to discuss with them. 

You would wear (or you would never wear) [yellow star|pink trian-
gle], so people who ordinarily wouldn't care about your[national-
ity|sexual orientation] would recognize it from the first sight - 
and  this  is [Jewish|gay] pride. You know names  of  all  famous 
people, who were [Jewish|gay] even if no Encyclopedia mention  it 
-  and this is [Jewish|gay] pride too. You hate  [Jews|gays]  who 
pretend  that they have other  [nationality|sexual  orientation]. 
And, when "liberation" begins, thousands people gather [in  front 
of Bolshoi Ballet|at the Parade route] to celebrate [Hanukkah|Gay 
Pride Day] together with other [Jews|gays] and in front of gener-
al public. 

And as a total liberation, you can emigrate to [Israel or  Ameri-
ca|the Castro or Greenwich Village], to find out that you are not 
[Jew|gay] there anymore, but rather [gay|Jew,  or  whoever],  be-
cause society always finds what is so different about you. 

I found that parallelism fascinating, and just wanted to share it 
with you.