More and more these days, opinions vary as to the necessity and relevance of maintaining a distinctly LGBT synagogue presence. Proponents of both sides sometimes vociferously air their views: When Etz Chaim was first established, LGBT members were not welcomed in synagogues and a separate organization was the only way to openly participate and celebrate one’s Judaism. Today, many years later, attitudes have changed and many synagogues either welcome and/or seek out LGBT members. It is thus no longer necessary to keep our distance from the mainstream, and separation keeps us from realizing full integration and acceptance in society. The contrary opinion asserts that while times have changed, and attitudes toward LGBT individuals have improved to varying degrees, the ideal of full acceptance is still a fantasy. Individual and regional hatred of gays is still very much present, and in environments of resurgent ultra conservatism and religious fundamentalism, at home and abroad, homophobia and related bigotries may actually be on the rise again.
The WLRN radio series, Under the Sun, recently featured one individual’s tale of shattered perceptions of LGBT acceptance in daily life in South Florida. The story is lighthearted yet poignant and serious. Read it here: