Growing up there were two sections of the local bookstore I felt afraid to be caught in: the LGBTQ section and the Judaism section. I was raised in a family of Christian fundamentalists, and the mere interest in being gay or Jewish was unthinkable - as if the moment I was caught with one of these books I'd be sent to hell.
But something brought me back to those sections. Time and time again, I'd return and discover truths that felt right to me.
Fast forward almost twenty years, and I have been in a relationship with my Jewish partner for nine years and I've decided to become a part of the Jewish people. Let's be clear: acknowledging one's sexuality and becoming Jewish are two very different things, but both involve a change in identity, a change in how we present ourselves to the outside world.
I am not converting to Judaism for my partner, as he's never been particularly interested in the religious aspects of Judaism - this is my decision alone.
In the beginning of my relationship I was surprised when I discovered my partner was Jewish. I hid my books on Judaism from him. Too ashamed to tell him I had an interest, Judaism was his culture, his ethnicity, his family history, that I had no right to claim as my own. But I deeply craved a relationship with G!d through this sacred lens.
I kept finding myself - in London and Amsterdam and Berlin and Zürich and Paris and Krakow and Cape Town and Florence and Rome and New York City - browsing through the Judaism section in bookstores and visiting Jewish sites and museums. But it still never translated into something that I believed I could do for myself - I didn't have the strength, the confidence. Until I took a flight from New York to Zürich last February.
I was on a flight with a group of Jews traveling to Tel Aviv through Zürich. Across from me sat a man reading a book in Hebrew, and while watching him something within me clicked - I don't know what it was, but a strong feeling toward something. The indescribable feeling arose within me, something of what I knew was so strongly inside was now bubbling over the surface of my life.
After landing in Zürich, I began the task of approaching the G!d that existed all along. I just had to acknowledge the existence within; had to build the confidence to say "Yes" to myself, before I could fully acknowledge what was living in my soul.