The Jewish Press, a Brooklyn-based weekly tabloid with a strong religious focus, is standing its ground after its advertisers were “threatened” by unnamed groups who objected to a recent op-ed by a gay ex-Hasid.
That story, by a young man named Chaim Levin, revealed “bullying, silencing, and torment for being gay in the frum community”, forced therapy sessions aimed at changing his sexual orientation – and pressure in his Orthodox milieu that nearly led Levin to suicide.
In an op-ed this week headlined “The Jewish Press Won’t Be Silenced,” the paper’s editorial board thanked “our advertisers who have notified us that they plan to continue with us despite the threatening letters and that they won’t give into threats either, particularly when an article like this one may very well have saved a Jewish life.
“Pretending that there are no frum Jews with homosexual inclinations won’t make the truth go away. It won’t make the internal conflicts they fight with their yetzer hara (evil inclination) disappear,” the paper wrote. “The Torah itself is very clear on where it stands on homosexual acts. But the Torah is also very clear on how one should treat one’s fellow Jew, and certainly one who tries to be religious — whether he or she succeeds or not — should not be driven by fellow Jews to contemplate suicide.”
The controversy has also spilled out beyond the confines of the Jewish world. Nearly 3,000 people have signed an online petition launched this week on progressive web site Change.org urging thanks to “the Jewish Press for standing up to anti-gay bullies.” The petition was created by TruthWinsOut, a nonprofit that “counters right-wing misinformation campaigns, debunks the ex-gay myth and provides accurate information about the lives of LGBT people.”
“Please thank the Jewish Press for standing up to homophobic bullies who want to intimidate the newspaper into omitting any positive portrayal of gay Orthodox Jews,” the petition reads. “They have stood firm and I hope the LGBT community will express its gratitude.”