Skip to main content

My Interview with Zev Brener recap and thoughts

As many of you know, I was interviewed by talk show host Zev Brener about my recent article in the Jewish Press, I hope you were able to listen in, but don't worry,if you couldn't, I will post an audio clip of it sometime in the next 24 hours.

The conversation with Zev, the interview, went rather well in my opinion. I think i stayed focused on the issues i was brought on the show to talk about, the issue of gay teen suicides within the Jewish community, the abuse that's done at the hands of organizations like JONAH that claim to "change" or "cure" homosexual. My story and message was that when I was at JONAH, I experienced something that goes way past the category of abuse, and was sexual abuse at it's best.

Some people called in with pretty tense tones, one man who identified himself as Rabbi Litner from Monsey asked me in a very accusatory tone how I can March in a gay pride parade that he has pictures of me doing so. I did my best to communicate that marching at a pride parade isn't about flaunting or celebrating anything that anti halacha, we are celebrating who we are as gay people; and having living so ashamed about who I was as a gay person for so long, walking in the pride parade, free proud, and happy, helped heal those wounds that were inflicted upon me by my community that adamantly rejected me. After some back and forth I reminded my host that the reason i was on the show tonight was not to discuss pride parades, but rather the more sensitive, intricate details of what it was like to grow up frum and gay.

The next caller, to my delight and the audience's surprise, my mother called in. In brief she said that she doesn't believe anyone should be bullied for who they are, and that the abuse that I faced only made my life harder and me feel less desirable. She even took it a step further and admitted to my father and siblings throwing me out of the house and she stood by and didn't stop it; this was something I never really spoke publicly about, because of the place that I'm in with my family now, I prefer not to pour salt on old wounds. But my mother admitted that this was one of her greatest regrets ever, and that if she could undo it now she would. That was comforting to hear, because yes, when I was thrown out of my parents' house for being gay, I felt so alone and so abandoned. But her message stood strong and bold: "He is my son, I love him, he comes from me, and I make her so proud.

God bless my mother, and father (who wasn't interested in going public for his own personal reasons), for their amazing love and support during this battle that I'm fighting, the battle for basic human rights and dignity within our communities.

One of the last callers was a self proclaimed therapist that tried inferring that the practice that I endured through the hands of JONAH (being asked to disrobe and fondle myself as part of repairing my masculinity), was actually a legitimate one being practiced by psychologists today. I cautioned her on the use of these practices and reminded her that in my case I was alone in the room with an UNLICENSED self identified "ex gay" man, and he manipulated me into taking my clothes off. She proceeded to ask had I done this in the privacy of my own home as part of a body healing process for people with body image wounds, if i thought that it might have helped me. I told her that I never had any body image wounds, and this practiced wasn't done in the privacy of my own home, it occured on JONAH's premises under the asuspices of their director Arthur Goldberg.

The last caller who identified herself as Nechama called to ask if I was sexually abused as a child; during my mother's dialouge with Zev, my mother stated that parents should be very cautious with their children, parents should watch their children, and she believes that a lot of children who were molested become gay as a result of that. I personally disagree with most of my mom's viewpoint in this case, but it didn't matter for when this "yenta" :) asked me a question that was so personal in nature that I chose to decline and not answer. The abuse that I'm talking about, the abuse that I'm trying to bring awareness to is one that takes place on the very doorstep of religious communities: throwing children out because their gay, harassing innocent children because they might "seem" gay, and most importantly the abuse that I faced at the hand of JONAH's life coach Alan Downing.

There were a couple of other calls that I wont mention now, all I can say is that some of the calls were by people who seemed to try and accuse me about my acts or the things I do behind closed doors. It got to one point where he started screaming religious text which is translated by some that gay is equivalent to hell.

All in all I believe the interview was very successful, I managed to communicate my points clearly and articulate them in a way that was understandable to every listener, and my message of hope and love towards the younger LGBT people out there within all communities that it gets better prevailed tonight. I can't wait to wake up tomorrow (rather later today) and enjoy life at it's best, because this, this is my now.

With love,

Chaim Levin

Comments

  1. Acknowledging/accepting people who are gay as valuable human beings and condoning gay s*x are not mutually exclusive. Duhhhh

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are very brave. I'm not of the Hebrew faith, but have a long background as a practicing Christian and minister. I came out publicly after fighting my orientation for about forty years. The change was not simply in the way I regarded myself, but included the way in which I related to the world and everything in it. I know that it can be extremely difficult for a deeply religious person of any tradition to make such a change. But it's worse to continue to fight with oneself. L'chaim.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As always - you were so well spoken! I was struck by your mom's conviction in her misconception that homosexuality is a result of sexual abuse.(How does she account for the heterosexuality in abuse victims?) You would know better than me whether her words reflect the community's, but still. Anyway, I'm not sure if you follow Rabbi Jeffrey Fallick's blog, but he recently wrote a post on the evolutionary basis for homosexuality. Just wanted to pass along the link in case you are interested:
    http://www.theatheistrabbi.com/2012/02/sex.html

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Feel free to post any comment or questions. Negative commentary that does not serve a useful purpose will be deleted.

Popular posts from this blog

MILWAUKEE JEWISH COMMUNITY SAFETY ALERT!

I am publishing this letter today to notify the public of an individual named Tuvia Perlman and the immediate threat he poses to the safety of any and all children in his vicinity. I first met Mr. Perlman when I was 18 while attending an organization called JONAH (a Jewish conversion therapy organization that was shut down in 2015 after losing a lawsuit). When I met Mr. Perlman, we were on a retreat together called Journey Into Manhood, this retreat was facilitated by an organization called People Can Change. After this retreat, Mr. Perlman, who lived in Baltimore used to call me often, to the point where even at that time I felt extremely uncomfortable by his calls and long voicemails. Mr. Perlman as far as I knew at that time, had recently stopped being a teacher at a cheder (Hebrew word for elementary school). In a group setting that was facilitated on by JONAH on their premises in 2007, Mr. Perlman admitted to the entire group that he molested at least 2 of his 12/13-year-old stu…

Chasing the Devil - Sholom Eichler in Shackles

Sholom Eichler was arrested on March 21st near Kfar Chabad for sexually abusing me as a child. I had already filed a civil lawsuit against him in New York and he ignored the lawsuit and fled to Israel with his family. The result of that lawsuit is still pending, I was awarded a default judgment against him and will hopefully know the amount of that judgment by this coming Monday, March 25th.
As I’ve written previously on my Facebook page and have told many people as well, the last place that Sholom Eichler molested me was when our families were visiting Israel together on a family trip while we were staying at the [then Hilton] David Citadel hotel. The details of that incident, along with many of the other incidents remain clear as day in my mind; I even remember the room number that he abused me in while we were in Jerusalem.
After ignoring the civil lawsuit against him in New York Sholom Eichler and his family fled to Israel because of the default judgment that I was gr…

Sexual Abuse Victim Demeaned and Put on Notice for Misconduct at Hebrew Theological College

Hebrew Theological College Dean Doctor Esther Shkop demeans student survivor of sexual abuse and puts her on notice for having the audacity to talk about her experience. Kaylie's* (a pseudonym) courage is to be applauded. The college's actions are outrageous.

Kaylie*, an 18 year old College student in Chicago, had recently posted this image on her Facebook page with this caption:



“I'm a survivor of sexual abuse.

This is not a new thing. I've been a survivor as long as you've known me.

Are you going to change your opinion of me just because three evil people took advantage of me?

Are you embarrassed of me? Are you willing to share our story?

Let's see who my real friends are.”

Just a few hours ago, Kaylie* received the following email from one of the dean’s at her school with the subject line “Breaking all Boundaries”:

From: Esther Shkop <shkop@htc.edu> Date: Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 12:11 PM Subject: Breaking all Boundaries To: [REDACTED] Cc: "olstein@htc.edu" …