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"This is your stonewall"

During the past week and a half my life has changed in so many ways; my dear friend, mentor, adoptive mom, said to me: "This is your stonewall". She didn't need to explain what that meant, instantly I knew exactly what "my stonewall" means and that it was the perfect way to depict what was happening in my life. The voice and message that's been festering inside of me for the past 22 years finally made it's way to the stage and told the world the truth, my truth, my reality, and how for me, growing up frum and gay was like survival of the fittest. I'm thankful to be here today, to be able to send this positive message to people everywhere, although as was clearly visible in my life, things can be really horrible and can make us feel like we have no hope, like were crushed, but if you stick it out, hang in there, think about the good days that lie ahead for you, it will get better, trust me, it's not just a cliche, life really gets better.

My recent article printed in the Jewish Press where I give my account of surviving bullying, torment, and even reparative therapy ("change therapies), spread to a lot of places and definitely contributed to the end of this silence driven by a negative stigma towards gay people.When I was younger and in the closet, I tried to talk about my feelings, my "situation", my worries about the future, I spoke with so many rabbis and mentors in the hopes of finding a solution, an answer, an omen to my "plight", but to no avail, they didn't have what to tell me other than to ignore this "evil inclination" and treat it as if it were a dangerous malady that needed to be cured. Aside from that, there was the blaring sound of silence surrounding this issue; I was instructed by many to seek out places that can "cure" this seeming problem and that I will "god willing overcome it". The rest was pure silence, we didn't talk about it, read about it, or even think about it. I was told that the more time I spent associating myself with anything related to homosexuality the more I'd get "pulled in" to it's dangerous evil quicksand like "lifestyle".

The fact that all these elements of my story are now out there for the world to read, I know that by my ending this dangerous silence, I will have a positive impact on at least one person's life. To be honest, during the past 9 days I've gotten so many wonderful messages of support, inspiration and love for me and my story, so I know that I've already done something to try and make this world a better place, but I don't plan on stopping here. There's so much more to be done, so many stories to tell, clips to share, and the most important part of what I want whoever is reading this to know, HOPE. I've been inspired to want to share in the great mission of reminding you that you're perfect just the way you are, and that you have hope, you're not alone, you are beautiful the way you are.

I can't wait to be able to continue sharing my thoughts with all of you, and also to hear your stories, the things that inspire you, and the things that make you who you are. Without all of you, I couldn't have been here today; you have supported me endlessly throughout this quest to bring hope to others and to remind me that I am of value, that I can, and that I'm worth it.

Best,

Chaim Levin

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