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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 1/30/09

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Last week’s column featured an overview of Light In The Closet: Torah, Homosexuality and the Power to Change, a recently released publication by Arthur Goldberg (Red Heifer Press).

In the interest of fair-mindedness, we present the following transcript of an interview with a (frum) SSA male who congenially shares his own personal perspective of the book. (For the record, our guest has no connection, nor has ever had any contact with Mr. Goldberg or with JONAH.)

Rachel: What was your initial gut reaction to [the existence of] the book, before actually reading it?

Anonymous: Frankly, I was absolutely stunned that such a book existed – especially with so much detail on every aspect of the topic. Before I even leafed through it, I wondered if it had a solution to such an impossible dilemma. I was also surprised at the size of the book. I never realized that so much could be written on the subject.

Being well read and well versed in the topic, and a professional writer to boot, was there anything about the volume that can have actually impressed you?

Believe me, Rachel, as a gay person, I did not want to be impressed with this book. I was leafing through it, desperate to find material that would be laughable and ridiculous – and found nothing of the sort. I continued to leaf through it, hoping to find that the author was narrow-minded, ignorant and bigoted. That is what I was HOPING to find. Instead I found a well-researched, sensitive analysis of a subject. This book, without a doubt, will become THE definitive work on the subject of changing sexual orientation.

I was also impressed that the author did not insult gays. The book was not at all demeaning. In fact, there seemed to be genuine respect for gays as human beings. That’s not what you would expect from what some would describe as a Bible-thumping perspective.

Of the 500 plus pages, would you say that most, some or little held your interest?

The entire book held my interest. The section on the causes of homosexuality was chilling. The religious prohibitions were explained in all too vivid detail. Initially, I thought the whole socialist gay agenda was a tad over the top. But the author buttresses his case with plenty of information.

I must say, however, that he seems to be overly concerned about gays having a positive self-image. There are many out there who are quite happy with their lot, and they are not necessarily promiscuous. In some cases, they are celibate.

Having acquainted yourself with the book by happenstance [I introduced him to my copy], would you seek to acquire it for your personal library, use, or the like?

Yes, without question. I would like to own the book for reference purposes, and . . . there were some parts of the book that were hauntingly accurate….

What kind of reader would be most likely, in your opinion, to benefit from the information in this manual?

I personally believe that this book would be of great benefit to anyone, in his 20s, 30s or even 40s, who is unsure, unhappy and ill at ease with his sexual orientation.

How do you think this publication would benefit the heterosexual reader?

It would help to demystify the conflicted gay man or woman. It would do nothing to inform them about gays who have come to terms with their imperfections.

It is important to add that the book will enrage many SSA individuals who will not appreciate being told that they are mentally ill and suffering from arrested development. The reason that they will be so upset is because it will ring true and they just don’t want to go through the anguish of once again questioning themselves and losing the self-esteem that was so difficult to build in a hostile and unaccepting environment.

Had this book been available for your consumption 30 odd years ago…

I would have laughed it off. In my 20s, I often said that if there were a pill that could turn you straight in one day, I would refuse to take it. Now I feel different and more mature. Less selfish… less interested in instant gratification. I would take that pill . . . as I am starting to grieve at never having had children or grandchildren.

What did you note, in your humble opinion, to be the most valuable aspect of Light in the Closet?

It was the section that deals with developing a loving and intimate relationship with a male in a non-sexual context. There seems to be something so amazingly satisfying, fulfilling and comforting about that possibility.

Anyone would agree that the author invested a tremendous amount of work and time in this painstaking project. Do you see him reaping the fruits of his labor?

Was it worth it for the author to do all this, you ask? Yes. It will help his organization and it might make a real difference in the lives of those who don’t want to be gay. But like weight loss and alcoholism, the success rate will never be what the author would like it to be.

If you would need to describe the book in three words, which three would they be?

Sensitive, caring and powerful.

Dear Readers,

It is our sincerest hope that our column has helped promote a clearer understanding of one of man’s most daunting challenges, and that those plagued by SSA (same sex attraction) will strive to overcome rather than succumb to their physical inclinations and thus distance themselves from Yiddishkeit – only to lament having done so in their later years.

We are most grateful to our guest for graciously sharing his insightful evaluation of Light In The Closet with the readers of this column

And last but by no means least, Mr. Goldberg is to be congratulated for his monumental achievement, which is sure to illuminate the lives of many. We wish him much hatzlacha in all his noble endeavors.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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