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U.’s controversial 2009 panel about homosexuality—and those who answered the email began holding regular events and expanded across the country.

You feel less shame when you’re not the only one.” For Levovitz, the change happened when he discovered the website Gay in 2001 as a student in Yeshiva University.“The Internet has created the ability to have, first and foremost, this virtual online gay Orthodox community, which eventually became a non-virtual Orthodox gay community,” said Jayson Littman, the founder of He’Bro, a company that organizes and promotes events for gay Jews in New York City.Then again, the Internet itself is a source of consternation for many Orthodox Jews: A large anti-Internet rally held in Citifield in 2012, attended by more than 40,000 Ultra-Orthodox Jews, hammered home the resistance many Orthodox Jews have for such technologies.“Someone who has a question can reach out anonymously,” he said.“They have to get that going and take the first step.While he was still unable to confront his sexuality publicly, he felt he needed to connect with other people in similar situations—something the Internet allowed him to do without “going public.” “I was able to see people expressing themselves—Orthodox friends of mine expressing themselves with their homosexuality, and I wanted that,” he told me. I am convinced there are other people like me out there. I want to have the opportunity to hear from them and share my experience with them.” Moshe wasn’t the only one.

“I needed that.” His therapist at the time, a prominent rabbi in Moshe’s community, suggested he start his own blog to discuss his homosexuality anonymously. “I am a frum, gay & married male who feels compelled to share,” he wrote in his first blog entry. Since the Internet boom and the more recent growing popularity of social media—from blogs to Facebook groups, dating sites to Twitter feeds, as well as official organizational websites—there has been a veritable explosion of sites and support groups for LGBT Orthodox Jews, a population that until now, hid in the shadows.

Growing up in an ultra-Orthodox family in Brooklyn in the 1970s, Moshe struggled with his homosexuality.

“I went to yeshiva and there were no gay characters on television,” said Moshe, who asked that we not use his real name.

“The Internet did what a million progressive rabbis couldn’t do,” said Mordechai Levovitz, the co-founder of Jewish Queer Youth and the LGBT Coordinator for the United Nations NGO Committee for Human Rights.

“The key in surviving as an Orthodox LGBT is not feeling alone.

Levovitz, 19 at the time, recalls it as some sort of dating website where you could specify religious orientation, from Reform to Orthodox. “I felt very isolated and alone at the time, and I predominantly wanted friends who understood me and where I was coming from.” Levovitz, who had already come out, began corresponding with other LGBT Jews who identified themselves as Orthodox.