My Experience with Pride

By Jamie Glazer

Self acceptance is a long and seemingly never ending journey. In the middle of the many struggles people face there are times to pause and celebrate. Celebrate who you are and where you are going. Looking back and forward in the same sentence.
My rabbi often takes us back to one of two places when talking about equality among people and how they relate to Jewish history. Those places are the desert and Mt. Sinai. Before the forty years in the desert we were tired and oppressed and in the desert we were still tired and not quite sure about this supposed freedom we were experiencing. It didn’t feel free. We felt lost and afraid and oftentimes asked Moses to take us back to Egypt, it was easier there. Sure we were slaves but at least we lived somewhere. Out here we were wandering, unsure of if or when we would ever find our way home.

Slavery is miserable and comfortable, freedom is terrifying and exhilarating and none of those words are one hundred percent perfect.

Being free costs a lot and sometimes it costs us our “Egypt.” Our past relationships, past lives, past jobs, etc. The truth is though, if we were not free in those things, free to embrace who we truly are, how healthy was it? Slavery is no way to live. Slavery looks different today then it did in Egypt. In Egypt there were buildings to be built and fields to farm. Today there are people to please and outfits to change. There are people we should not be seen with in public, lest people will talk. We run around trying to make our lives look picture perfect so our slave drivers are pleased with what they see and all the while we forfeit our God given right to happiness.

Being one’s true authentic self can be a frightening journey with a few wrong turns and a lot of wandering but it beats the alternative any day of the week.

Crossing the Sea
What might “crossing the sea” or freeing ourselves from tyranny look like? To some it might look like wearing an article of clothing that your gender would not normally wear. It might look like changing your gender completely to match who you feel like on the inside. It might look like telling the people in your life that you are in a relationship with someone who they may not approve of for one reason or another.  It could mean moving out of your home if you don’t feel respected for who you are and who you are becoming.

It could be quitting a job that pays really well because of the derogatory comments made by some of your coworkers. It is saying “no thank you” to settling for a life that is not right for you. For me it was saying “no thank you” to the notion of marriage as it is not something I am interested in. Nobody fits one box for what a human being is supposed to look like. Our individuality makes the world the beautiful place that it is.

Mt. Sinai

We were all at Sinai. When I first heard that statement, being the spiritual person that I am, I interpreted it as though we were not born at the time when Moses received the commandments from Mt. Sinai our distant ancestors were, and with our DNA embedded into theirs, in some way we were there.

When Moses received the Ten Commandments there were many men who surrounded him. These men were significant in this event however there were more people. Women and children accompanied him, but they were not mentioned. Homosexual, transgender and bisexual individuals accompanied him but they were not mentioned. We were all there at Sinai but not everyone was acknowledged. Just because a people group is hidden in the shadows of history does not make their existence any less significant than those who were acknowledged. We were all a part of history and we are all a part of the present. History is peppered with the attempt to hide certain people, to fail to acknowledge their existence. They were told to be quiet, do not enter, people were told not to serve them. They were criminalized and they never even thought of trying to be their true selves because they knew there would be serious consequences.

We are extremely fortunate that in the times that we are living in people are allowed to express themselves authentically, however, there is still work to be done. We celebrate because we have come so far and we mourn because we have so far to go. Judaism has an amazing voice declaring that “we were once oppressed let us do the work of freeing those that still are.” We get to declare “all people are made in the image of a creative Creator, filled with the divine spark of life and each person deserves love and dignity.” I am extremely proud to be a part of a group of people that not only accepts me exactly as I am but works tirelessly to make sure that everyone they encounter has that same experience.
We were all at Sinai and while not all voices were counted then, they are being counted now, and that counts. 

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