December 10, 2009

“At Thanksgiving, it’s the turkey next to the kabob next to the hummus.”

I wish you could have been there as Ari shared his life with me. He comes from a Republican family in a town of 7000 people in Long Island. His high school was mostly white and Jewish, and by the time he graduated, was only out to four people. As we learned from last week’s blog entry, he didn’t like being closeted in high school since he didn’t have anyone to talk to about it.

Ari is a Jewish Israeli, with a mom from Tel Aviv and a father who served in Lebanon for six months. His family came to the United Stated based on persecution, so even though he does not consider himself very religious, he still feels very strongly about Jewish ethics and culture. “At Thanksgiving, it’s the turkey next to the kabob next to the hummus.” He remains very curious about his background and where he comes from, he says he knows it sounds cliché but “as an American I’ve become very detached, but I want to know more about my family.”

He spends his time reading and doing work (and watching films, as we know from his great film reviews on this blog). From how he talks about his shows, I can tell he watches a lot of TV too. Our interview was long and detailed and wonderful and he rattled off a list of his favorite things: The History Boys movie (Chris is going to make fun of him for this) [Ed. Note: Yeah, I am. This is The Weirdest Movie, Ari.], In Cold Blood, Into the Wild, The Smiths, his grandma’s food, New York pizza and bagels…

Ari is sensitive and hilarious but he showed a different side of himself when we sat down to talk. Granted, I don’t know Ari incredibly well in the first place, but it was great to listen to him wonder about the future. “I look forward to knowing how everything pans out. Where am I gonna be working? I don’t even know. It sounds so cheesy, but who am I gonna be marrying in Greenwich Connecticut and then going to where they accept me. I look forward to my parent’s acceptance as much as their growing process. I know my parents, I know what their reaction is gonna be. I want to see where my indecisiveness leads me.”

Our time together was interrupted due to the BDU meeting that was starting but I was able to get a little bit more information out of him. We talked about regrets, and he acknowledges that he’s going at his own pace so he doesn’t regret coming out sooner. He mentions that he regrets not being closer with his brother, but as he was saying this he realized that it’s definitely something he can still change. (So change it!)

One thing I do every night is think about three things I’m thankful for, so I ask this same question of my interviewees. Ari says, “Today I am thankful for my close friends here and at home, I’m thankful for (this goes back to the Jack thing) the LGBT students that are so comfortable with themselves, and I’m thankful I’m done with my history class.” I’m certain that we’re all thankful Ari is in our lives and I hope that he can continue to be a strong individual and be that beacon of light for some new individuals who are learning how to come out with their heads held high.