Life & Culture

Unable to admit to being gay, and road rage shame


Q My Orthodox friend has only had boyfriends for the past seven or eight years, but insists that he is straight and will marry a woman.

I fear that his tolerant, mostly liberal outlook on life does not extend to his own sexuality, and that his upbringing is to blame. Whether it is implicit or explicit pressure from his family, it seems that he cannot conceive of ending up with a man, which seems a shame. Should I talk to him about it, or let him find his own path?

A The Orthodox community may have become more tolerant in recent years, with the Chief Rabbi recently speaking out against the "scourge" of homophobia and meeting Jewish LGBT advocacy group Keshet UK, but it's still far from easy to be both gay and Orthodox. Each individual has to find a path that suits him- or herself and, if possible, allows some way of expressing both their sexual and Jewish identities.

At the moment, it sounds like your friend is in denial about his sexuality and its impact on his future. To you, it seems clear that he's sleepwalking to disaster, deluding himself that, at some unspecified point in the future, he's going to be able to just stop having relationships with men, get married to a woman and live happily ever.

For him, the ramifications of the alternative - coming out as gay, telling his family, wrestling with religious laws - are probably too scary to face right now.

You ask if you should talk to him or let him find his own path. There's no reason why you can't do both. You clearly care about him and want to help him. But he might not want to hear what you say, or heed your advice. All you can do is try to discuss the issues and let him know that there is support out there. Let him know you're there for him, be non-judgmental - remember, this is his life, not yours - and keep the lines of communication open.

Tell him about GLON (the Gay and Lesbian Orthodox Network), a non-judgmental support and social network for Orthodox gays and lesbians (

Other sources of support include Oz, a new group for young, Orthodox gays and JGLG (Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group) If he's not interested now, perhaps you could write this information down to give him at a later date.

Q I'm a caring and sensitive person - or so my friends and family tell me - but for some reason, whenever I get behind the wheel, I see red.

I find myself getting incredibly frustrated, as well as using language which I normally wouldn't even dream of uttering. It's less of an issue when I'm on my own but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to hide when I'm driving with my kids. Any advice?

A You're not alone: something about driving appears to bring out the worst in people. A newly published study into road rage by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 78 per cent of drivers had engaged in at least one example of aggressive driving behaviour in the previous year. Almost half admitted shouting at another driver.

Clearly, though, you're concerned that your in-car rage is out of character and getting out of hand, and you want to learn how to moderate it.

Is it possible that you're taking out all your other daily frustrations on the road? It's easy - but ultimately unhelpful - to bottle up your grievances with your partner/boss/kids and let them out at random motorists instead. Far better to deal with them at the time.

As you know, getting angry doesn't achieve anything, other than raising your blood pressure and making you a less safe driver. So you need to recognise the signs that you're losing it, and develop strategies to calm yourself down. Feel the bile rising? Deep breathing techniques help, as does counting to ten - or a hundred if needs be - before allowing yourself to yell (or swear). You might even want to pull over and take a bit of time to collect your thoughts

If you're worried about using inappropriate language in front of your children, think of less offensive replacement words and repeat them until they become second nature. Funny words will make your kids laugh, too, which will diffuse the tension. Another good tip is to listen to calming music while you drive.

In the longer term, practising yoga or meditation might be helpful - but not at the wheel!

Contact Hilary via email at, anonymously or not. Or write to her at 28 St Albans Lane, London NW11 7QE

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