Former Ex-Gay “Jewskimo” On Living In “No Man’s Land”

Jim Burroway

September 20th, 2011

Stories of former ex-gays are almost exclusively told from an Evangelical Christian perspective, which makes Jayson Littman’s essay in Heeb magazine so interesting. He is a former ex-gay client of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH, formerly Jews offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality). He described his entry into JONAH as being a choice between conversion therapy and dying. The idea of coming out as a religious Jew was unthinkable. In JONAH, Littman found like-minded individuals trying to figure out how to live in “No Man’s Land”:

I became close to other men around my age who were on the same journey. We would often sit around and talk. I called the stage we were in “no-man’s land”—there was an obvious literal meaning to that as we weren’t sexually active with men or each other, to the dismay of most who think that’s what happens at these retreats. And we weren’t attracted to women, so we mainly hung out with each other and talked. We decided we didn’t appreciate the term ex-gay. How can we be ex-gay if we were never gay to begin with? We spent hours one afternoon debating what to call our in-between status. We broke down ex-homo to ex-mo and because we said it so many times fast, we realized it sounded like Eskimo. We then further segregated ourselves to Jewskimos, Chriskimos. We never met any Muskimos (Muslim Eskimos) during our journey.

In his ex-gay phase — one in which he eventually came out of — he and fellow ex-gay Jews often attended Christian ex-gay conferences, where he was struck by one immediate difference between Christian culture and Jewish culture:

I learned a lot from my Jewish and Christian brothers on my journey. I realized that many Christians who were attempting to change had an end-goal of celibacy, while the Jews wanted to get married and have children. The obvious difference had everything to do with religious dictates. Celibacy was highly regarded and practiced in the Christian culture, while Jews focused on biblical procreation, also pleasing our families.

Littman’s cheerful essay is devoid of drama and regrets over his experience with ex-gay therapy. Indeed, he credits his coming out to many of the valuable things he learned there. And he observes that Jewish culture, including Orthodox culture, has come a long way over the past decade. Littman today runs He’Bro, a gay Jewish promotion events group in New York, and this Saturday he’s throwing a huge “Jew Years Eve” bash for Rosh Hashanah.

Timothy Kincaid

September 20th, 2011

I’m wondering: what is a new alternative to healing? Festering? Rotting?

When the choice is either healing or an alternative, I think I’d just stick with healing. And from what the mental health professionals tell us, recognizing realities about ones attractions and responding maturely to the expectations, assumptions, and even prejudices of others leads to healing.

Timothy Kincaid

September 20th, 2011

Littman’s cheerful essay is devoid of drama and regrets over his experience with ex-gay therapy. Indeed, he credits his coming out to many of the valuable things he learned there.

I know that ex-gay therapy can be damaging and destructive to some. But for some who are at conflict over their religion and their orientation, therapy – any structured therapy – can be a process that leads to greater self understanding and a resolution to the conflict.

And, as for many religious people the only possible considered therapy option would be one that does not affirm homosexuality, one of the unintended (but fortuitous) consequences of ex-gay therapy can be – for some – a happy, healthy ex-ex-gay homosexual.

Ray Harwick

September 20th, 2011

“He’bro” and “Jewskimo”. His humor certainly is intact.

TampaZeke

September 20th, 2011

I’ve never heard of Buddskimos either, but why would you? Buddhism doesn’t have anti-gay teachings or precepts. I’ve heard of a few Mormskimos though.

The kids humor is disarming. He could be a very effective spokeskimo for ex-“ex-gay” people and a clear voice against the sham of the “ex-gay” industry.

TampaZeke

September 20th, 2011

Timothy, I was thinking the same thing. Did they think through their new name? Jews Offering New Alternatives to HEALING? Really? It seems to be a very counter-intuitive name for what they claim to do. If you’re gay, there’s an Alternative to Healing? I’m gonna need some more splainin on that one.

TampaZeke

September 20th, 2011

One of the best days of my life was when I found an alternative to Christianity and unlike “ex-gays” I’ve never had to struggle, not for one second, to maintain my ex-Christian status.

William

September 20th, 2011

Just a small point. I think JONAH now calls itself “Jews Offering New Alternatives FOR HEALING,” the acronym remaining the same.

Timothy (TRiG)

September 21st, 2011

TampaZeke,

Buddhism does indeed have anti-gay teachings.

TRiG.

jnsm

September 21st, 2011

I’m sure Aish.com won’t post that article like it did with the ex-gay plant “David”.

TampaZeke

September 23rd, 2011

When challenged to back up his statement with a teaching of the Buddha or a sutta (scripture) the Dalai Lama (who is just a monk) admitted that there were NO such teachings or suttas and that his statement was based on his personal opinion.

So again I say, Buddhism has no anti-gay teachings or precepts only anti-gay individuals who happen to be Buddhists (some of them monks or lamas). But their homophobia is personal and not in any way backed up by any Buddhist scriptures.

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