Updated: Jan 1
MIKETZ (GEN 41:1- 44:17)
Continuing this week with the Joseph story, this parshah begins with the Pharoah’s dreams and takes us right up until the moment when Joseph accuses Benjamin (cliffhanger!). I think because this musical was so much a part of my childhood- Donny Osmond as Joseph will never not seem perfect- I literally could hear the Andrew Lloyd Webber songs as I was reading the Torah.
As a trans person, or a queer person, a bi person, a gay person, dreaming is part of who we are- or at least who I am. We/I fantasize constantly. We live in a world in our heads that, often, isn’t reality. So the idea of Joseph the dreamer, who becomes Joseph, the DOER, is really powerful. But I think the thing about this story that I like the best, and why it is probably my favorite part of the Torah ( I am always sad when Genesis ends!) – is because the characters in this story specifically feel the most human. Joseph, by any standard, is fine, after his family sells him off, kicks him out. Like so many queer kids, that feeling of not being a part of the family, whether is something as terrible as being kicked out of the family, or just (JUST?) having them not speak to you, is terrible. The people (literally, in the case of Joseph- his brothers) should be the first people in line in the world to understand you. Of all the people in the world to accept you, it should be your family. But that is so often not the case. It is so often in fact the opposite. For our families, and for people closest to us, for those with their own strong ideas of who we are, anything that goes against those expectations and understandings can be met with walls. Or…. Ditches. I think it is such a stereotype for a family to reject a queer person (although it happens less now with the younger generation) that people sort of forget what it means to have family reject you, to not understand you.
For all the talk that we, as queer people do, about “chosen families”, and “self- acceptance”, I feel like personally one of the hardest parts about coming out for me- was that, although I anticipated that my parents would struggle with it, I did NOT expect my siblings to have as hard of a time with it as they did. We need close people in our lives. We need family. We need intimacy. 'We need people we can lean on. And when those people abandon us, it is isolating in a completely unimaginable way. We expect our family, on some level, to always be there. So, at the end of the story, at the end of today’s Parshah, I get it. I get it that Joseph tests them. I get that he has to leave to room three times to cry. He’s been terribly terribly hurt. And yet he still wants a relationship with them. He still wants them to be ok. He still wants it to work out. I think, before I came out as trans, I didn’t really understand this. I would watch things like drag race, or movies, and see a queer character or something that gets hurt by their family and just want them, desperately, to cut the ties. I just KNEW that that was what was best. But when it's you, then you know, sometimes there’s just more to it than that. You only get one family. And you only get this one lifetime. And yeah, it may take years and years and years for it all to come around, and for everyone to sit around at a table and hug again. But it might happen. It might. I’m just not going to completely say no to the possibility.