I remember the first time I realized what “I totally support your life choices” might actually look like, coming from a frum person.
My brother and sister-in-law saw how much happier I was when I moved out and began living true to myself and my beliefs, so they were supportive of my choices. Fully supportive, they said, though my sister-in-law did admit at one point to hoping I’d come back – I didn’t see that for the backstabbing non-support it was at the time…
One summer day, I went to visit them in Midwood. I was still trying to figure out my personal clothing style then (when you’ve been confined to “Boro Park-style” all your life and suddenly everything an option, things can get confusing). I was wearing a light pink short-sleeved t-shirt and a ruffled floral mini-skirt. (I don’t wear anything remotely like that these days. It’s so… not me, as I discovered.)
My 7-year-old niece wasn’t supposed to be there in the afternoon. But she had a half day at daycamp, so she was home.
My sister-in-law said it’s fine, though. I could be there in a miniskirt and short sleeves.
As long as my tattoo didn’t show.
But the tattoo is on my inner upper arm, and whenever I lifted my arm, it was visible. So I just threw on a sweatshirt.
At one point, my niece asked me why I’m wearing a short skirt. “Because that’s what I’m wearing today,” I said. And that was that.
But as I was leaving, my sister-in-law told me that although she was fine with her daughter seeing me wearing a short skirt, she doesn’t want her daughter seeing me in pants.
“She picked this thing up, probably from kids at camp. She calls any woman or girl wearing pants a ‘goy,’ and ‘dirty.’ So I don’t want to confuse her. We’re working on getting rid of that, so wait to wear pants in front of her till we teach her that’s not true.”
Now, one of the best ways to smash a kid’s misconceptions would be – to present them with the truth.
Here’s someone – her aunt – who she knows is a Jew, and who she likes and would therefore have a hard time calling “dirty.” Have me show up in pants and – whoa, I guess not every girl who wears pants is a dirty goy after all!!
Besides, why does an OTD person have to tiptoe around others’ kids just because others don’t want to have potentially difficult conversations with their kids?
But I didn’t say that at the time. I’d been out for less than a year, and I was desperate for support.
I wasn’t strong enough to know what shitty support looks like.