Day I told my Orthodox dad that I was gay

Coming out on Channel 4: Oli Kasin

Coming out on Channel 4: Oli Kasin

A gay Jewish man will explain how he revealed his sexuality to his Orthodox family on Channel 4's The Sex Education Show.

Oli Kasin, a Manchester University student from London, talks frankly about struggling as a gay Jew on the programme famous for its controversial full-frontal shots of genitalia.

A former Bnei Akiva member, the 21-year-old's experiences are contrasted with those of the UK's first openly gay rabbi, Lionel Blue, who also appears on the programme (Tuesday, 8pm).

"I am the only son, so it was always thought that I would keep the surname going another generation," recalls Oli, whose family attend Pinner United Synagogue and were supportive when he revealed his sexuality two years ago.

"My dad said that he still loved me and his initial reaction was not to tell family friends, but a week later he told me that he was fine with that."

As a JFS pupil, Oli secretly called himself bisexual from the age of 14 but only accepted his sexuality at 19. "Being Jewish made it hard," Oli admits. "I know one of the main mitzvot is to be fruitful and multiply, and this was something I really wanted to do in a conventional way. It is a mitzvah that I am not fully able to complete, and to come to terms with that is hard."

But Oli, a third-year theology student, says he has now reconciled his sexuality and beliefs. "To reject the Jewish part of myself is to get rid of a large part of how I identify myself. I have been on an Aish trip to New York and it taught us that in Judaism, it isn't all or nothing. So I might be gay and Orthodoxy doesn't agree with that, but it doesn't mean I can't practise other mitzvot," he adds.

Despite the TV programme's over-simplified style, Oli believes it "is a great way of reaching out to people who are closeted and telling them that there is a way to be gay and keep those other beliefs."

    Last updated: 10:04am, August 8 2011