Stamie and Tracy,
Hi! There is this quote that seems to be a recurring theme in many individuals stories. “You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.”
Your website and your story has helped many people come to terms with their sexuality and who they are. Because of what you have given to the community they can have fulfilling and meaningful lives. So thank you for that!
For myself, as a gay individual it was always a struggle. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY as an Orthodox Jew. Most people don’t know this about Orthodox Jews, but they live in a “bubble” of naiveté so to say. What I mean is that most ultra observant Jewish people don’t have TVs, internet or the like in their homes. They believe that in order to serve god to the fullest, they have to separate themselves completely from the secular world. While that allows many individuals to stay within the religion, those who don’t fit in to the expected mold of jewish individuals get lost and confused, myself being one of them. Since i grew up with no TV, movies, non-jewish music or internet I could never figure out what was “wrong” with me. I always knew that i would not be the typical Jewish girl, I knew i was different.
It started in about the seventh grade. Genders are very separated within the Jewish community. Boys stick with boys and girls stick with girls. I had never had any interaction with a member of the opposite sex who was not somehow related to me. In seventh grade, my grouped of friends had started paying attention to boys. While we never spoke to them, we would sit on our porches watching them come home from school. All my friends developed these huge crushes on these boys that would pass by my porch daily. I however, never did. It was then that i realized that something was different with me. I thought it would be something i would eventually grow into. I was late with puberty so i figured i would be late with the boy crushes. But to no avail, Im still waiting for both to happen.
As i got older, i pretended to develop some sort of feelings for the boys, who by then were becoming men, who would pass by my porch. Some friends began to secretly date the guys who pass by. We all thought our parents didn’t know what was going on, but they did. My parents thought i was just this super obedient teen, who didn’t want to upset them. What they didn’t realize is that i didnt deserve that much credit, i like GIRLS.
In my parents house while growing up, gay individuals were never referred to as gay. I had no idea what gay or lesbian meant. I did not know that an individual can build a “relationship” with someone of the same gender. The concept, made no sense to me. Ironically, this was coming from someone who grew up in Brooklyn, probably one of the gayest cities in the States. Gay people were referred to as “the happy people.” Manhattan was avoided during the Pride Parade, and gay bashing was a very present thing. Its ironic how well isolated the Jewish community has become in such an amazingly diverse area.
I learned about same sex attraction when i was seventeen. Because I am a reader with a voracious appetite for books, I go to the public library and pick up a stack of books weekly. One week, I picked up a copy of Carrie Mac’s “Crush.” It was then that all things “clicked.” I realized that i was a girl who likes girls. The feelings i felt towards some of my friends had me in a tizzy. I never spoke about them because i knew there was something different about it. It was something i just kept shoving to the side. When i finished reading that book, there was an extreme sense of relief that came when i finally had a word that described my feelings. I came to understand who i was.
While i did not say anything about how i felt to anyone ever, i finally had the guts to admit to myself who i was and start a long process in accepting who i am and loving myself.
Along the way, i fell in love with an incredible person. Our relationship lasted an incredible 2 years, we never came out of the closet but we had our own little world. People thought we had an extremely close platonic friendship but it was much more then that. She’s straight (i was her experiment) but we’re still the best of friends until this day.
I have to say that thanks to your unbelievable selflessness, many people have grown to accept and love who they are. Thank you both for providing an incredible place to be ourselves. This is a place where we can choose ourselves.