What if I told you that I was gay?
Dear Mum and Dad,
What if I was gay?
Would you think any differently of me? Do you think you would be happy for me? Would you be disappointed in me? Do you think you would care?
Would you think I was any less Jewish? Would you consult the Talmud to see how acceptable my lifestyle is? Do you consult the Talmud to see how acceptable your lifestyle is?
Would it be easier if you weren’t Jewish?
How would you feel about telling people? Embarrassed? Nervous? Proud? How do you think your friends would react? What would you do if some of them offered their condolences? As though I was ill.
Would you try to hide it from Grandma and Grandpa? I know they are of a different generation so might view things differently. How much do attitudes change when it concerns their own grandchild?
Would you be wary of the gossip? What would you do if people stared at me in shul?
Would you be worried about me? Would you fear for me coming out in a Jewish community? Do you think it would be easier if I wasn't Jewish? Do you think it would be easier if you weren't Jewish?
What if I wanted to get married? What if I wanted to declare my love for someone else in front of the whole community, just like everyone else? As an Orthodox Jew, I would be unable to. Would you care that I wouldn't have the same choices as everyone else?
Would you be worried that I was depriving you of grandchildren? I can have children. It may not be as straightforward as it can be for other couples - but when is life ever straightforward? Do you think I would be a good parent? You raised me. I have inherited your morals and principles. Do you think that would change according to the gender of the person with whom I had the child?
Some people say that it is unfair for a child to be raised by parents of the same sex. Why do you think that is? Because it is unnatural? How natural is divorce? How natural is it to be a single parent? Surely it is more important for a child to be loved and supported, no matter what? The way that you always said that you would love and support me. No matter what.
Would you be concerned about the attitudes my child would encounter from other people? But would that be my fault? Or the fault of those people who harbour those attitudes? If my child gets bullied by another child who is homophobic, who would be the bad parent? Me - or the other child's parents? What happens if my child gets bullied for being Jewish? Is that my fault, too?
Would you laugh at those jokes that sometimes get told around the Friday-night dinner table? The ones that include words like "poof" and reduce gay people to ridiculous stereotypes?
What about those terrible best man speeches? The ones with the tired old punchline "and before you met her, we thought you were gay". Is that funny? Why is my sexuality something to be mocked?
What would you do if you overheard someone use the word "gay" in a derogatory manner? Along the lines of: "I can't believe you're not going out tonight, that's so gay." Would you find that offensive? If people say they don't mean it that way, what way do you think they mean it? What if they used the word "Jewish" in the same way? Would you tolerate that?
But what if I wasn't gay? Would you not have to worry about any of this? Would you be relieved? Would you see the point in me asking these questions?
Would you avoid a frank, open discussion about sexuality? Would you feel it was ok to laugh at those jokes? Would you gossip? Would you be the ones who stare?
We talk about everything else. Why not talk about this?
All my love,
Abigail Radnor writes for The Times Magazine