When I was a teenager, finally making it to Atlanta Pride felt like the bravest thing I could possibly do. I never really had any gay friends in high school so gay pride was the one time of year I really felt any connection the gay community at all.
Flash forward 15 years, an internship with a major gay rights organization and four boyfriends and nothing much has changed. In fact, as gay pride rolled around this year on Yom Kippur, I couldn’t help but see the similarities in my relationship with the gay community and my relationship with the Jewish community.
With both, I am proud to say I am a member of a strong community with a legacy of triumph and perseverance. However, in a way, I am at odds with each of them.
Looking around Piedmont Park at the hundreds of white gay men with mussed hair, tank tops and oversized sunglasses I can’t help but think to myself – who the hell are you people?! Where once the rallying cry of gay pride was “diversity and acceptance” it now seems to be “fabulosity through conformity.”
I feel a very similar juxtaposition with the Jewish community. Despite my family having deep-seeded roots in various congregations, I am still searching for an Atlanta-based congregation that I feel fits with my own version of myself as a Jew.
In both instances, the idea of authenticity and unique expression play an important role in the search for a place to “call my own.”
With everything going on in my life, it’s easy for me feel surrounded at the macro level. I feel enormously lucky to have made connections with an eclectic, diverse group of people from all walks of Atlanta life. The challenge is getting down to the more basic level of community – one that most people take for granted.
For now though, I’ll leave it at this: I was walking out of Atlanta Pride, yesterday and happen to bump into a friend of mine. It was late in the day, my Yom Kippur fast was starting to get to me and I was eager to get home to take a nap. It was completely random but we ended up chatting about one of my groups and how he should come and speak.
Thus is my life these days – completely interconnected despite the randomness. Now, if I can only make sense out of it I’ll be all good.