very Passover, Jews imagine ourselves into a story:
We were slaves; now we are free.”
we learn to identify with the
lives of our ancestors. We may see our own desperation in
Hannah’s prayer, our strength in Abraham’s response to God’s
call to “go forth,” and even our selfish impulses in Jacob’s trickery.
What of those of us whose gender identity or sexual orienta-
tion does not conform to society’s standards? Sometimes we
imagine ourselves into the narratives of David and Jonathan
or Ruth and Naomi, though others disapprovingly wag their
fingers at our daring to read the Torah “against the grain.”
Sometimes we place ourselves, through the creative process
of midrash, between the gaps of traditional Jewish texts. And,
too often, we leave our texts aside altogether, hoping to find
our stories elsewhere.
If your life is unimaginable by normative standards, how
do you find a way to live?
Gay or straight, Jewish or of another faith, our identities do
not emerge from infinite options, but rather, in negotiation
with our particular culture’s limited available notions about
acceptable social types.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgen-
der persons – and others who do not fit dominant norms
governing gender and sexuality – have found, and continue
to find, few narratives through which to imagine positive
and productive futures. Nor do we often find our pain
acknowledged in the mainstream. We are told our concerns
are “marginal” or “exceptional.” We are encouraged to look
and to act “like everybody else.” We are warned to keep our
identities to ourselves. Too many of us cannot even fathom
a life worth living.
The images and artists in
The Sexuality Spectrum
fragments of the dominant culture that can be reclaimed for
our own identification, as well as inspiring new images cre-
ated by and for those formerly dismissed as “marginal” and
The Torah, our Sages say, has seventy faces. Each of us has a
face molded in God’s image. And each of those faces deserves
to be reflected in the brilliance of Torah – broadly defined–
adding to the stories of the Jewish people, of all peoples.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony.
The Ethics of Identity.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 2005.
Nicole Lyn DeBlosi is a fifth-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR/
New York and holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies
from New York University and a B.A. in Women’s Studies from
Seventy Times Seventy Times
Nicole Lyn DeBlosi ‘13, Ph.D.,
Rabbinical Student, HUC-JIR/New York
My Mom is Gay,