LGBT congregations have finally come into their own, providing a home for the Jewish community’s LGBT members and their friends and families in cities both large and small. But the increasing acceptance around gay issues in mainstream synagogues, from Reconstructionist to Reform to Conservative, and even on the fringes of Modern Orthodoxy, means that these synagogues are no longer the only option for LGBT Jews. So, the lines that once seemed so clear have begun to blur: LGBT synagogues in places like Cleveland and Atlanta are merging or outgrowing their original designation and drawing a more diverse membership, even as mainstream congregations sign up new gay members and become more diverse.
This well-written article in the Tablet is worth the read. It asks what happens to gay shuls as “mainstream” shuls become more welcoming and as gay shuls welcome straight members who like their progressive outlook.
I think gay shuls are going to be with us for the forseeable future, even as GLBT people become increasingly active and welcomed in “mainstream” shuls. But I think they will also become less popular.
Just like women who grow up in egalitarian shuls (hi!) have less interest in women’s prayer/Rosh Hodesh groups, GLBT people who grow up in welcoming Jewish environments are going to have less interest in gay shuls.
But women’s prayer groups are still with us – and gay shuls will be too. Because equality is still not the norm.