Life As A Deeply Closeted Orthodox Rabbi

Some Orthodox rabbis are impossible to understand until you realize that they are deeply closeted gay men.

Sure, they might have wives and children, but at heart, they feel a romantic and sexual tug towards males. They may never act on these urges, but their closeted gayness shines through.

Gay men are more effeminate, more emotional, more teary, more precious, more empathic, more nurturing, more dramatic, more explosive, and more sensitive than straight men.

It’s not unknown in Orthodox Judaism for men to be married for more than a decade, to father children, and then to divorce and to declare themselves gay and to continue to live in Orthodox Judaism.

It would not be easy, however, as an Orthodox rabbi with a wife and children and a pulpit, to come out as gay. That happens in the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, but not in Orthodoxy.

Some of these deeply closeted gay rabbis are a threat to molest kids or to otherwise act out in ways that are deeply destructive to themselves and to others. I expect that they feel very alone in the world and very desolate.

Almost all priests who molest are gay men who molest boys (how often do you hear about priests molesting girls?). Orthodox rabbis who molest boys are also by definition gay or bi.

I am sure that many men who struggle with their homosexual urges turn to religion to try to transcend these unwanted parts of themselves. I expect the efficacy of this varies.

Heterosexuality and homosexuality are a continuum. Acting on these drives depend to an extent depends on circumstance and social norms.

Many of the institutional, theological, and interpersonal conflicts between Orthodox rabbis make more sense when you realize that these fights are between robust heterosexuals on the one hand and those rabbis who are confused (gays, feminists, marxists, pro-Muslim, want to share sovereignty of Jerusalem with Arabs, etc).

Many politicians, journalists and commentators make more sense when you realize that they are deeply closeted gay men. Columnist Michael Barone seems like a deeply closeted gay man who just so happens to enthusiastically support gay marriage as a conservative value.

A couple of deeply closeted gay men (including Jules Zentner at UCLA) helped me through difficult periods of my life when it seemed like everyone else had abandoned me (not true, just a symptom of my depressed thinking). They were attracted to my vulnerability, to my appearing lost and alone in a big world and needing a dad. One hit on me and the other didn’t, but upon realizing that they were gay, I was able to better understand why they always seemed so queer.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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