Out, Orthodox Jewish Rapper Y-Love: It Got Better After Coming Out
BY Michelle Garcia
May 23 2012 4:28 PM ET
Already, I had been shocked the entire week at the outpouring of love and support I had received from the Orthodox communities. Each day would bring a religious homophobic post—only to be followed by hundreds of comments deriding the poster's bigotry. A few fans declared themselves "fiercely loyal" to Y-Love, and took to the Facebook groups to defend me against homophobes. Even an ultra-Orthodox (haredi) rabbi who booked me on an Israel tour—a rabbi I was sure would be incensed at how he was "deceived"—tagged me in a Facebook post two days after I came out.
Israeli artists I worked with were literally scrambling to tweet supportive messages—Soulico and Segol 59 tweeting their messages within hours of the story's breaking, and, with only two exceptions, even Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox artists I had worked with were showing support. Yeshiva students were standing up for me in front of their rabbis. Kosher businesses began showing up on my Twitter follower list and showing support on Facebook. One of my friends even tweeted to me that the word on the street in Boro Park, Brooklyn—the hasidic community I would have to leave—was increasing in positivity.
And then this Shabbat happened.
One rabbi from Washington, D.C., was declared a "pro-gay activist" by one of his students. Stories began to pour in; Shabbat table after Shabbat table filled with nothing but "support for Y-Love." At the rally for victims of abuse in Orthodox communities this weekend in CitiField (countering the anti-Internet rally put on by some members of the Orthodox community), a few of the activists held up "we support Y-Love" signs. And, as before, the anti-gay voices opposing equality—which were very extant and vociferous—were countered at every impasse by voices of support and solidarity. One rabbi from St. Louis even sent me a Facebook message offering to be a matchmaker for me.
And, perhaps most importantly, trickling in came the messages from new gay Jewish fans—"I just wanted to let you know that your story inspired me to come out." One of my fans came out to his Orthodox friends. One came out to his family. And in both of those cases, they were accepted with open arms.
Hardly the reaction I expected from the Orthodox Jewish community.
The religious world undoubtedly has a long way to go regarding LGBT issues—the most ignorant homophobia is still rampant, and many people in more insular communities still will not admit we exist. But this past week has shown me that, however slowly, even the most sectarian worlds are a-changing, to an extent few of us in the gay community truly appreciate.