Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Seeking a Mate: Inter-Group Partnerships among Gay Jewish Men

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Seeking a Mate: Inter-Group Partnerships among Gay Jewish Men

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT/RESUME

While documentation and discussion of out-marriage rates among heterosexual Jews is widespread, very little similar analysis exists for inter-group partnering patterns of gay Jews. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, this study addresses this void. The 2001 Canada Census data reveal that Canadian gay and lesbian Jews are "out-marrying" at a rate of approximately eighty-nine percent. This can be compared to an out-marriage rate of approximately thirty percent for Canadian heterosexual Jews. A qualitative sociological study on gay Jewish men both corroborates the census finding that gay Jews out-marry at a very high rate and offers a rich and nuanced account of the forces behind this statistic. We found that the majority of the gay Jewish men interviewed expressed a desire for a Jewish partner, but only a very small proportion of these men actually had Jewish partners. Several reasons are cited to explain this discrepancy. Findings about gay Jews are compared to both heterosexual Jews and to other minority gay men.

Tandis que la documentation et la discussion des taux de mariage exogroupe parmi les juifs heterosexuels sont repandues, il y a un manque d'analyse semblable pour des modeles de partenariat entre les groupes pour les juifs gais. En utilisant des donnees quantitatives et qualitatives, cette etude vise a combler ce manque. Les donnees du recensement du Canada de deux mille un indiquent que les juifs gais et lesbiens canadiens pratiquent le mariage exogroupe a un taux d'approximativement quatre-vingt neuf pourcent. Ceci peut etre compare a un taux de mariage exogroupe d'approximativement trente pour cent pour les juifs heterosexuels canadiens. Une etude sociologique qualitative sur les hommes juifs gais corrobore le recensement constatant que les juifs gais pratiquent le mariage exogroupe a un taux tres eleve, et offre un compte-rendu riche et subtil des forces qui se trouvent sous cette statistique. Nous avons constate que la majorite des hommes juifs gais qui ont ete interviewes a exprime un desir pour un partenaire juif, mais seulement une proportion tres petite de ces hommes a eu reellement des partenaires juifs. Plusieurs raisons sont citees afin d'expliquer cet ecart. Des resultats au sujet des juifs gais sont compares aux juifs heterosexuels et a d'autres hommes gais minoritaires.

INTRODUCTION

This study examines partnering practices among a small sample of gay Jewish males, a double minority. The specific topic of concern is the extent to which these partnerships involve Jews and non-Jews and the factors associated with exogamous or endogamous relationships. Questions of Jewish identity in particular will be explored as these relate to the partnership decisions of gay Jews. Comparisons will be made with heterosexual Jews as well as gay individuals of other ethno-religious minorities.

Out-Marriage in the Jewish Community

While the issue of the extent to which gay Jewish men form inter-group partnerships has never been systematically examined, much attention has been devoted to the question of out-marriage rates among Jewish heterosexuals (out-marriage is defined as a Jew who marries a non-Jew who does not convert to Judaism). Researchers in the United States have demonstrated that the rates of Jewish out-marriage have climbed continuously from marriages in the 1940s (of which approximately 7 percent were out-marriages), to marriages in the 1960s (approximately 17 percent), to marriages in the 1970s (approximately 30 percent) (Cohen 1988, 28-30; Sharot 1998, 95-96). The statistic that most startled the American Jewish community was the finding of the 1990 National Jewish Population Study (NJPS). The survey reported that, from the period between 1985 and 1990, some 40 to 50 percent (depending on one's interpretation of the statistics) of American Jews were married to non-Jews (Fishman 2000, 141). (1) Recent figures for Canada tell us that in the mid-1990s, Canadian Jews were out-marrying at a rate of approximately 30 percent (Weinfeld 2001, 154). …

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