A male chastity belt used in England during the time of Queen Victoria in the 19th century. This metal device was created for “masculine self-control in support of the bourgeois ideal of domestic life.” photo from bbcamerica.com
Celibacy. It’s an easy solution that was right in front of everyone’s face. Lifelong celibacy is the answer. Gay Jews can be out and proud and be accepted by a community comfortably assured that no rumpy pumpy is happening behind closed doors. This is the premise of an article I read this morning written by a gay orthodox Jew, who says that it is entirely possible and preferable for homosexual Jews to lead celibate lives. Of course, the article is written by someone who already sowed his wild oats in a formerly non-frum life, is now middle aged and no longer a hormone crazed teen or young adult, and who seems to be able to satisfy his need for male companionship through close friendships with chavrusas, community members, and the occasional non-sexual massage from a straight masseuse.
It’s a win-win situation all around, because our gay brethren can officially take themselves “out of the parsha” with a valid excuse and no longer have to endure the constant overtures of shadchans, pushy friends and relatives, and surplus female victims of the shidduch crisis. Gay men can openly admit to same sex attraction, while at the same time, assuring the rest of the community that, of course, such attraction is merely theoretical.
IF gay Jews were halachically permitted to date, fall in love, and marry other men, they would do so. However, since halacha never has and never will permit two men to be together in the same way a man and woman can be together, being gay is just a philosophical label. Practically speaking, no gay activity will ever happen in an orthodox gay man’s life. No heterosexual activity will happen either, which in this scenario of eternal celibacy, is the main purpose of “coming out.” To let people know to back off in terms of shidduchim or expecting a gay man to father children with a woman. It’s not going to happen – unless of course, there is a trace of bisexuality there that will permit these mitzvot.
Really, the solution to the “homosexual problem” in the orthodox community is to create a new subset of sexuality – asexuality. People who vow to never engage in sexual activity with anyone – not with the opposite sex (who they are not attracted to anyway, and who they would be lying to if they engaged them in a relationship without disclosing their true sexual preference) and not with the same sex (with whom they would be violating Torah prohibitions if they engaged in such a relationship).
Orthodox Jews can finally be “politically correct” in our open acceptance of homosexual (read “practicing asexual”) members of the tribe. The politically correct bandwagon isn’t something that we orthodox Jews often get to ride on in the 21st century. Here’s our chance to be trendy! We can feel good about asking an openly gay man to daven for the amud, give him an aliya, hagbah, or ask him over for Shabbos and yom tov meals. Heck, there might even be a rush to include homosexual Jews into services and into our homes to show just how accepting we are! As long as there’s no mailman knocking on the backdoor, it’s all good!
If you think that expecting lifelong celibacy (and for an orthodox Jewish gay man, of course that means masturbation as well) is cruel or inhumane, you are falling into the patronizing attitude common among the heterosexual population. Don’t bring your own issues into the discussion! Just because YOU wouldn’t be able to keep it in your pants for the next 120 years, doesn’t mean someone else isn’t capable, dang it! If you doubt the word of a frum homosexual man that he is remaining completely chaste, whether through his own hand or the hands of others, than you are simply a judgmental person who has never learned to be dan lchaf zchus and maybe needs to go back to cheder for this basic lesson.
Chazal have said, “There is a small organ in a man. When it is well-fed, it is hungry. When it is starved, it is satiated.” The less you use it, the less you need it. Therefore, maybe we can all take a page from this new movement of homosexual, or practicing asexual, Jews. Perhaps it is holier for all of us to suppress our sexual urges, and do as Chazal says. After a certain period of starvation, we will all eventually lose our sexual urges, and be practicing asexuals – free from sin, free from discrimination or discriminating, free from our yetzer hara, and as an added bonus, free from needing contraception!